Good Old FORTRAN 77

I walk up to a conversation a few of my coworkers are having. It’s a typical old guy to young guy “you don’t know how good you have it” speech.

“…well, complain all you want, you should have been around to endure the misery of punch cards,” the older admin comments to two students we just hired.

“Yeah, I don’t think those would have been much fun,” comments one of the young guys.

“If you want a taste of the misery you could always program in FORTRAN 77,” I add.

“Why’s that?”

“FORTRAN 77 was built to read programs from punch cards. Punch cards used the first seven columns as control information, to indicate line continuation, etc. So when you write your program you need to observe that, even though you are writing in a modern text editor.”

“Ooh, that sucks,” comments the student. “I guess I’m lucky that I am learning Java.” That’s debatable, I don’t add.

“When did you do any programming in FORTRAN?” asks the older admin of me, suspicious.

“My first CS classes, FORTRAN 77 on a VAX running VMS. Missed FORTRAN 90, which fixed all that nonsense.”

“And all that knowledge sits uselessly in your head now. The wonders of technology.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that. Last fall I helped a guy get some ancient program of his to compile on a Macintosh, of all things. It was rocky, but I got it working. The guy was ecstatic that I, being under 60 years of age, figured it out.”