Tom Dawes-Gamble
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Where I started.

My first computer related job was as an Operator working on and ICL 1902A. A monster machine. Single tasking with 16K words (24 bit words) of core memory and 16 Meg of Disk and it filled a huge computer room.

I wrote my first program in 1974 on that machine using a utility called TABN aka FileTab. It was a language based on Desision Tables. The simplest TABN program to write was the equivelant of cat(1) where STDIN was the card reader and STDOUT was the printer.
Here is the program


Thats about all I remember about the language now.

Next I tought myself PLAN 4 the ICL 1900 Assembler. But since I was working in a none computer related industry COBOL seemed to be the Language of choice. So I set about learning that. Though many of the PLAN programmers claimed it would not catch on as it generated such massive object files.

My First programming Job was in 1978 working on Texas Instruments 990/10 systems. The software house was a COBOL shop. Though I soon became bored with writeing accounting programmes. So I turned to 990 assembler. The 990 was strange beast. It kept it's registers in memory. :-)

I Joined Texas Instruments in 1984 as Software Engineer continueing to work on and support 990 systems running the DX10 and DNOS operating systems. COBOL still featured high in my skill set as it was so widely used. Though I was mostly writting subroutines in assember to allow COBOL programs to access or perform operations out side the scope of the language.

It was while there I first came across UNIX. In the shape of TI System V. Needless to say I came across C at that time too. UNIX came in for a lot of stick as the shells were not nearly as good as the SCI (System Command Interface) of DX10 and DNOS. However, I have to say in defence of the UNIX shells they do have some great advantages over SCI for the software engineer. C of course was marvelous. All the functionality off assembler and much more free in the style of the source.

None the less I still have great affection for COBOL even though my prefered lanugage these days is C followed by Perl.

Pet Hate

My pet hate is the constant argument in alt.cobol about whether C or COBOL is the best language. I am open minded about this. I have written a few polygot programs that will compile both via the GNU C compiler and Micro Focus COBOL compilers.


All of these programs compile with C or COBOL compilers. Though in some cases C will give warnings.

  • hello.cbl is my original "Hello World" Polygot.
  • hw.c is my latest "Hello World" Polygot.
  • best.cbl is my original program to compare the functionality of C v COBOL Polygot.
  • better.c is my latest program to compare the functionality of C v COBOL Polygot.

Quine (Self Printing program)

A favorite hacker passtime is writting a Quine. That is a program that when run will list it's source. These are some of the quines I have written.

  • A Bourne shell script of course it is really quite trivial. :-)
  • quine.cbl A COBOL program not quite so trivial. :-)

Real Programmers

When I grow up I would like to be a Real Programmer.      

The Jargon Dictionary

One of my favorite computer books is The Hackers Dictionary It is avilable on the web as The Jargon Dictionary

Grace Hopper

Story of Admiral Grace Hopper.
Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (1906-1992)
Google Grace


© Copyright 1997, 2004 Tom Dawes-Gamble

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