Computer Time Sharing coverComputer Time Sharing for Managers

Submitter: When a book on computers has a punch card on the cover you know it has to be good, and this book is no exception.  It includes all the most relevant tips for sharing a computer in 1975.  It details how 40-400 users can use the same computer, just like NASA does!  It also wants to clue us all into “Paperless communication” that will be available “in the future,” which I have to admit I’m really looking forward to.  In addition the book also includes a 28 page one act play, which is really just waiting for the right group of middle managers to bring it to life at your local community theater. This book was out of date twenty years ago. I can only assume at this point this book is being saved for some database administrator waiting for leisure suits and punch card computing to come back into style.  Otherwise I think this book might be a candidate for the recycling bin.

Holly: Ooooh, the “future” is looking bright!


Computer Time Sharing about the author

How to get time sharing started

Computer terminal

Cathode Ray Tube Terminal

The V.P. a play in one act

Optical mark-sense cards

optical mark-sense reader

Paperless communication


  1. Punch cards were still being used in 1975? I know 5¼” floppies were already in use five years later, so I’m a bit surprised. (I completely missed the era of the 8″ floppy disk.)

    1. Punch cards were used into the 1980’s. I used them all through college (graduated in 1988) to register for classes.

    2. Oh yes! I worked one college summer in 1974 as a “tape librarian” for AT&T. They fed call data into the refrigerator-sized computers and stored it on reels of magnetic tape, just like film. My role was to keep the reels organized and fetch reels for new data requests. I typed punch cards, too. And very daringly fixed the punch card shuffler–a machine designed to edge stacks of cards so that they would feed properly. I was supposed to call the fixer dude if it jammed, but after watching him once or twice, I couldn’t resist reaching into the guts myself.

    3. Punch cards were still being used when I took computers in high school, and I graduated in 1983. I never did master them and quit the course.

  2. That looks like an ASR-33 TeleType terminal with a paper tape reader/punch – which was outdated when this book was published!

    1. Outdated maybe, but still in use in places. When I took my first computer class in 1976 (in high school), that was the type of terminal we had. We’d connect to a mainframe by dialing a phone number–actually dialing, on a rotary phone–and then putting the phone receiver down on the modem when we heard the beeps and squeaks on the other end of the line. And we saved our little programs on paper tape.

      1. Yep, that would be my high school as well. It ended when one of the really bright kids in the computer class realized he had access to the mainframe’s entire file structure and did a little grade editing… fortunately, there was still a paper trail for back-up.

  3. That one-act play is probably fascinating from a historical perspective, to see how someone’s prediction of how the new technology would be used differed from reality. So often the thought was “we’ll do things more or less exactly like we do now, only with a minifridge-sized machine in the room”. The classic example being “housewives will store their recipes in a computer instead of on index cards” – no one ever thought of multi-restaurant meal delivery services, or “you’ll use a computer to schedule someone delivering you the exact ingredients you need for a meal, as well as the recipe for it, so you can enjoy cooking with less hassle”.

  4. While the computer technology in this book is outdated by today’s standards, I nonetheless consider it important to remember that computers have indeed existed since 1946, let alone 1975, whereas today’s small kids or adolescents, or uneducated persons, might gain the mistaken impression that such technology never even existed back then.

  5. A time-sharing computer … is programmed to give the impression that it is handling only your program.
    Yippity-yay, an early reference to what is now known as “multi-tasking”. Computers, unlike humans, really can do it.

    the V.P. treats the console in a very casual fashion. He turns, pecks out a few numbers and then leans back, relaxes and watches the result appear on the screen.
    Hidden in those lines is one of the real changes brought about by computers, and I’ll bet the author didn’t even think about its significance: bosses (i.e. men) started to do their own typing instead of handing it off to secretaries (i.e. women). The mental picture of sitting back and twiddling your thumbs while waiting … for … the … computer to do its thing is pretty entertaining, too. Reminds me of the assorted jokes with the punchline “Yes, I used to have a car like that.”

    1. I still spend way more time than I’d like waiting for my computer to do its thing, mostly because of annoying ads and auto-playing videos on websites.

  6. In 1975 I was working for a data company that didn’t use punch cards or tape, just plain old CRTs connected by solid cable to the huge mainframe in another building. We were considered very cutting edge by our peers in the punch card field, even though our mainframe had been purchased second-hand from another company which had already upgraded to something newer and smaller.

  7. I love the smug expression on the guy’s face. To put it in theatrical terms: JOHN (V.O.): “Ha, ha. I just wrote a book about something almost nobody understands, and the suckers’ll never realize that I don’t know what I’m talking about. Now, I might be found out if the average reader owned a computer themselves–in, say, their home or something–but I’ll be in my cold, cold grave before that ever happens.”

  8. am I the only one who noticed in the one act play all of the men got first and last names while the two female parts are Secretary and Ms. Jensen?

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