Memories of Times Past

When Walter Stibbs brought the first main frame computer to St Andrews University in 1965 it allowed physicists like me the option of x-ray crystallography as a Ph.D. program. However the IMB 1620 had only been invented five years before and was ominously marketed as an “inexpensive” scientific computer. Its use was restricted to undergraduates during the day and it drove those of us who spent our long nights on the monster completely bonkers. It was generally referred to as CADET, meaning “Can’t Add, Doesn’t Even Try”, referring to the use of addition tables in memory rather than dedicated addition circuitry. After three years I finally completed my Physics Ph.D. and immediately departed for a career in international business, journalism and eventually the church. It took about quarter of a century before I could bring myself to sit down again at a computer.


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