Remember floppy disks?

I somehow find that hilarious (both the “card” references and the need to use JCL 60 years later). Of course I still call main memory “core”, so I guess I’m hilarious too.

I would have thought that after 60 years of befuddling users of IBM computers, JCL would have had a well-deserved demise. Alas, no…

I was surprised to see JCL mentioned on these pages. When I was much younger I was very glad when one could use TSO and then ISPF to enter JCL etc. It was fun to write code on a Mac in the mid 80’s using a 3270 emulation card. One could cut and paste lines of code which you couldn’t do on a 3278 vdu. Hows that for mentioning a number of TLAs and other abbreviations!

For those that don’t know TLA stands for three letter acronym. IBM users were prolific users of acronyms, and system programmers would test new colleagues by speaking in TLAs to gauge their knowledge.

In the last few years there has been an increase in the use of acronyms on these pages but luckily a quick search normally expands the TLAs.

When I started grad school in 1991 we were generally using SAS on an IBM mainframe, which required JCL and all that fun stuff. At one point, I think in 1993, I submitted a statistical call that blew through a semester’s worth of billed computer time in one attempt and then got canceled without results because it exceeded the maximum allowable CPU time for a single job.

Immediately after that, they offered me access to a Unix machine from Convex that they called a “supercomputer”–it was maybe a little faster but got me away from the system of “billing” for computer time use. More importantly, the Unix SAS code that replaced the JCL was completely trivial and straightforward. I never went back to the IBM mainframe.

(Footnote – by 1997 or so they had released SAS for the Mac, and the job that blew up the mainframe in 1993 ran in under three minutes on my Power Mac 7200.)


There’s a great interview with the last major seller of floppy discs:


That’s wonderful—adding to next week’s issue!


I worked for a military contractor for a while (Raytheon). TLAs were de rigor, but ETLAs were creme de la creme!

And note that TLA is a TLA, and ETLA is an ETLA…


Good one, hadn’t heard of ETLAs before but easy to guess!!

An update on the original post - mission accomplished…