x'17' (23): FORTRAN protest @ UM

posted Dec 14, 2015, 12:32 AM by Jeff Ogden   [ updated Dec 14, 2015, 1:12 AM ]
An online article taken from the Michigan Engineer Alumni Magazine:

https://www.facebook.com/michigan.engineering/photos/a.98459823323.89852.51664048323/10153750827538324/

Throwback Thursday, mid 80s
October 15, 2015

Chemical engineering professor Brice Carnahan (PhD ’65) introduced computer programming lectures concerning the Michigan Algorithm Decoder (MAD) language beginning in 1960. The lectures proved so popular that they lasted until 1985 – by which time the topic had long since switched to FORTRAN. These computing center employees and student “picketers” (photographed sometime in the early 1980s) believed FORTRAN was old-fashioned, and preferred the more modern Pascal. But the protest was “only semi-serious,” according to Jeff Ogden, a former computing center employee, and Carnahan was good natured about it. “Alas for those protesters, Pascal fell by the wayside, and FORTRAN continued for many years,” says chemical engineering emeritus professor James Wilkes (MSE ChE ’56, PhD ’63).

This throwback is featured in the latest issue of The Michigan Engineer magazine. If you’ve seen it, please let us know what you think.



1 Reply
Carol Kamm
Carol Kamm Used both Fortran and Algol-W early on (i.e. late 70s). Pretty sure I had classes with at least some of these guys - they look really familiar.
Suzanne Botkin McGhee
Suzanne Botkin McGhee This brought back memories of learning both fortran and pascal in college. yikes.
Eli Garza
Eli Garza Yes Carol I did too in the late 70's. Fortran based programs were used in the two firms I worked for into the 2000's! I've never run into others who learned Algol. Never used it in real life however.
Jerome Gilbert
Jerome Gilbert Engineering 102 FORTRAN from freshman year 1975, remember it well!
Aaron Decker
Aaron Decker Fortran was alive and was the focus in our 1990 intro to programming class @ U of M
Connie Skinner-Klunder
Connie Skinner-Klunder I had to take Fortran in 1987 and NEVER used it after
Elizabeth C Hainey
Elizabeth C Hainey Brice was one of my advisors in grad school - great guy!
Greg Brand
Greg Brand I learned Fortran in 2004 for CEE 303
Janice Austin
Janice Austin I had Professor Carnahan for Fortran in 1996 and Professor Wilkes for Fluid Mechanics in 1997.
Lee Burnham
Lee Burnham gotta love geek humor
Jim Buczkowski
Jim Buczkowski Not me! Although I can identify with Fortran!
A Harvey Bell IV
A Harvey Bell IV The text was called the MAD Primer!
Like · Reply · October 15 at 8:28pm

=======================================================================================

Some background:

On Thu, Jun 18, 2015 at 11:13 AM Randy Milgrom wrote:
Dan -- any help you can provide with these photos would be much appreciated. (If you'd like me to stop asking you these kinds of questions, please just let me know.)

Thanks very much,
Randy

Randy Milgrom
Bicentennial Project Editor and Writer
Office of Communications & Marketing
University of Michigan College of Engineering

--------------------

From: Dan Atkins
Date: Sun, Jun 21, 2015 at 11:08 PM
Subject: Re: help with photo ID
To: Randy Milgrom

Sorry I can't help with these. They are from the computing center IBM mainframe days and I was not involved in that. Here are some old timers from the competing center that might be of help:

Gavin Eadie
Greg Marks 
Randy Frank
Toby Teorey 

--------------------

From: Randy Milgrom
Subject: Fwd: help with photo ID
Date: June 22, 2015 at 10:14:09 AM EDT
To: gavin, gmarks63, frank, teorey

Hello all,

Please see [above]. Dan Atkins suggested that you might be able to shed some light on some of the photos in the link I've provided. I would appreciate it very much if you might take the time to peruse them and offer any information you might have.

In addition (and even more importantly, actually), I also have provided a pdf of several other photos we are contemplating using for our two-page "throwback" spread in the next issue of Michigan Engineer magazine. I am particularly interested in knowing as much as possible about the photo with the several students (I assume they're students) who are carrying signs concerning the merits and demerits of Fortran and Pascal.

Thank you in advance for any insight you might be able to provide
Randy

Randy Milgrom
Bicentennial Project Editor and Writer
Office of Communications & Marketing
University of Michigan College of Engineering
734.764.3944

--------------------

From: Gavin Eadie
Date: June 22, 2015 at 10:52:43 AM EDT
To: Jeff Ogden
Subject: Fwd: help with photo ID

(a) you might be better at recognizing some of this (I see Fred Swartz in the PDF), and
(b) I don’t know what’s behind this, but thought you want to know about it .. Gav

--------------------

On Jun 22, 2015, at 10:14 AM, Randy Milgrom <rhmilgro@umich.edu> wrote:

I am particularly interested in knowing as much as possible about the photo with the several students (I assume they're students) who are carrying signs concerning the merits and demerits of Fortran and Pascal.

--------------------

From: Jeff Ogden
Date: June 22, 2015 at 10:46:56 PM EDT
To: Randy Milgrom
Cc: Gavin Eadie
Subject: Re: help with photo ID

I'm going to reply in two or three separate messages. This is the first reply and I'll tell you what I know about the "protest" (page 4 of the Throwback PDF).

As I remember it, the protest was only semi-serious. It was in response to the free lectures on an Introduction to "Fortran programming and MTS" that was being given and which had been given for years at the start of the term by Brice Carnahan, a Professor of Chemical Engineering. I think the the U-M Computing Center may have sponsored the lectures over the years, but I don't think I ever knew the details. Certainly the lectures were open to the entire University and not just to CoE. Brice often collaborated with Jim Wikes, another Chemical Engineering Professor. Brice and Jim collaborated on some of the lectures, but I can't remember if Jim was involved during the protest. Both Brice and Jim are Emeritus, still around, and respond to e-mail.

Here is an announcement for one of the series of lectures given at the start of the Winter Term 1984, but I can't say that it was this series for which the protest occurred. This is from the Computing Center Newsletter, 2 January 1984, page 16:



Here is a paragraph from chapter 12 of Jim's book, A Century of Chemical Engineering at The University of Michigan - A Miscellany of Contributions from Historical Documents, Students, Alumni, Staff, Faculty, and Friends 1898–2002, compiled by James O. Wilkes Arthur F. Thurnau Professor Emeritus, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2002, pages 285-286.

The Carnahan evening computing lectures.
As an outgrowth of the Ford Foundation project, Brice Carnahan presented a famous and
highly popular series of six two-hour evening lectures in the U–M Natural Science Auditorium
on computers and programming, first in “MAD” and later in FORTRAN; one memorable
lecture was given in a Batman costume to compensate for a time conflict
with the premier hour of the Batman television series. These evolving lectures
were attended each term by about 300 students, faculty, staff, and lay persons
who needed a quick, non-credit introduction to computers and programming; the
series began in 1960 and lasted for 25 years, until fall 1984, well into the PC era.
Jim Wilkes also presented several of these lectures in the final years of the series.

Chapter 12 of Jim's book contains lots of information on and photographs of computing at the CoE and at Michigan, so here is a PDF of Chapter 12:

The protesters were pushing the idea that Fortran was an old-fashioned and dying language and that people at U-M should be taught about and move on to using more modern languages such as Pascal. I know Brice came out after the lecture to talk to the "protesters". He was good natured about it and seemed to enjoy it.

I remember the protest, but wasn't a participant. The photograph was taken outside the Natural Science Auditorium on main campus. I know Jim Bodwin (not pictured), another U-M Computing Center staff member, participated. I'm guessing that Jim's wife, Diane Bodwin, another Computing Center staff member, may have participated. I have e-mail addresses for both Jim and Diane, if you would like to check with them.

Gavin is right, the second person in from the left is Fred Swartz. He was a staff member at U-M's academic Computing Center where Gavin and I also worked.  I don't recognize the other folks for certain, but the first person on the left might be Shawn KcKee. Today, Shawn is a Research Scientist in the Physics Department in LS&A, he could have been a student back in the days of the protest. I don't recognize any of the other three folks in the page 4 photo.

Gavin was also correct when he said that the U-M's academic Computing Center was not part of or directly associated with the College of Engineering.  You might take a look at these two URLs for additional information about this:

http://archive.michigan-terminal-system.org/myths#TOC-Myth:-MTS-was-developed-by-programmers-at-the-UM-College-of-Engineering

http://archive.michigan-terminal-system.org/myths/correction-from-bert-herzog

  -Jeff

--------------------

From: Jeff Ogden
Date: June 22, 2015 at 11:23:49 PM EDT
To: Randy Milgrom
Cc: Gavin Eadie
Subject: Re: help with photo ID

This is the second reply and I'll tell you what I know about the rest of the Throwback PDF images.

The images on pages 1, 2, and 3 look like an old time telephone switchboard.  The U-M's Bentley Historical Library wrote a booklet, A Century of Connectivity at the University of Michigan, Nancy Bartlett, Nancy Deromedi, Alice Goff, Christa Lemelin, Brian Williams, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, December 2007, 40 pages. It covers a lot of U-M's telephone, computing, and networking history. A version of the photo appears on page 17 of the booklet with a note that says:
Walter Donnelly, Wilfred B. Shaw, Ruth W. Gjelsness, eds., The University of Michigan: An Encyclopedic Survey (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press,1953), 3: 1228.

The photos on pages 5 and 6 are beginning of term registration at Waterman Gym on Main Campus before the days of CRISP when everything was done by hand or with punch cards.

I don't know anything about the photo on page 7.

The photo on page 8 includes Apple Macs, probably the 512K "fat" Macs. You can see the words "UM Comp Center" in white stenciling on the side of the "floppy" disk drive that is bolted to the side of the Mac. I've no idea where the photo was taken. It looks nicer that the Computing Center's typical public site in those days. It might be in the Michigan Union or League or it could be in a residence hall. It sort of looks like a library. Gavin might know more. He was in charge of the Computing Center's microcomputer support in those days, while I was responsible for the public sites. Deb Masten may know more. Deb took over the responsibility for public sites when I left the University. She is still with U-M ITS.

I don't know anything about the photo on page 9.

   -Jeff

--------------------

From: Jeff Ogden <jco@umich.edu>
Date: June 22, 2015 at 11:44:38 PM EDT
To: Randy Milgrom
Cc: Gavin Eadie
Subject: Re: help with photo ID

Oops, I got the note on the photo from the Bentley library booklet wrong, it is actually:

Telephone operators, Systems History (Display Photos and Documents),
Box 68, Information Technology Division Records, Bentley Historical
Library, University of Michigan.

   -Jeff

--------------------

On Jun 22, 2015, at 10:46 PM, Jeff Ogden  wrote:

Gavin is right, the second person in from the left is Fred Swartz. He was a staff member at U-M's academic Computing Center where Gavin and I also worked.  I don't recognize the other folks for certain, but the first person on the left might be Shawn KcKee. Today, Shawn is a Research Scientist in the Physics Department in LS&A, he could have been a student back in the days of the protest. I don't recognize any of the other three folks in the page 4 photo.

--------------------

Gavin wrote:

.. I’ll go out on a limb and say the rightmost person is Mark Hersey who programmed IBM PCs for the Computing Center.

.. Even further out on that branch, could the second from right be Dave Martin (white shirt in this pic)?

--------------------

From: Jeff Ogden
Date: June 23, 2015 at 1:01:30 AM EDT
To: Gavin Eadie
Subject: Re: help with photo ID

I wondered if that was Dave Martin. It might be, but I wasn't certain enough to say for sure or even speculate.

   -Jeff

--------------------

From: Gavin Eadie
Date: June 22, 2015 at 12:13:32 PM EDT
To: Randy Milgrom
Cc: Jeff Ogden
Subject: Re: help with photo ID

I wouldn’t bet they are students!

At least, the “Pascal” person is Fred Swartz who worked for the Computing Center when I arrived here (late ‘70s).  The other faces are more and less familiar, but I can't place their names easily.  There are certainly people who’ll do a better job, however.  Dan’s list of possible sources is good, but not optimal for Computing Center history (and some of your other pictures relate to the CC and not CoE).  I’ve forwarded your email to Jeff Odgen and copied him on this reply.

One place to check for CC history is this site, mostly Jeff’s work: http://archive.michigan-terminal-system.org

I’m curious what you’re doing for the Bicentennial Project for two reasons.  One is that I’m curious in general; the other is that the Computing Center and College of Engineering have been mixed up in previous “historical” material over the last decades.  The two organizations weren't organizationally connected, nor worked in the same areas.

Gavin Eadie

PS: I just noticed Dan wrote “.. old timers from the competing center that might be of help.”
Maybe a Freudian slip .. It did feel sometimes like competition !!

--------------------

On Tue, Jun 23, 2015 at 12:59 AM, Jeff Ogden wrote:
This is the third and final reply and I'll tell you what I know about the images in Google Docs folder that you sent a link for.

1.jpg is a photo taken on the second floor machine room of the U-M Computing Center Building on North Campus (now the School of Information North). The photo was taken looking to the northwest. We are looking at the remote console for the IBM S/360-67 computer. The computer and its local console are up on the third floor of the building. You can also see an IBM magnetic tape drive, either 7- or 9-track and a fancy IBM paper tape reader/punch with vacuum column feeds to the left of the mag tape drive, something you didn't see very often. Racks of user magnetic tapes are in the background.  The person facing us in the photo is Charles Engle. He is talking to Mike Alexander. Charles and Mike were both senior staff members at the U-M Computing Center. Not sure who that is standing in front of the paper tape reader/punch. This photo appears on page 4 (the copyright page) in the booklet from the Bentley Historical Library with a note that says "IBM 360/67, Box 68, Information Technology Division Records, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan."

2.jpg may be the loading dock at the North University Building.

3.jpg was taken on the second floor of the Computing Center building on North Campus looking to the southwest. We are looking at three strings of removable pack disk drives.

4.jpg was taken on the second floor of the Computing Center building on North Campus looking to the northeast. It is looking at the same remote console for the IBM S/360-67, paper tape reader/punch, 7- and 9-track magnetic tape drives, just from a different angle. There is a teddy bear on the top of a cabinet in the center of the photo. The cabinet holds a DEC PDP-8 based Data Concentrator. The story is told here: https://www.eecis.udel.edu/~mills/gallery/gallery7.html (Dave Mills was a staff member at the Computing Center while he was a PhD student in Computer and Communication Sciences (LS&A) at Michigan). I think that the person in the foreground with a mag tape in his hand is John Schaefer, an Operations Manager at the Computing Center. Not sure who the person in the background is.

5.jpg was taken on the third floor of the Computing Center during the installation of the Amdahl 470v/6 computer.

6.jpg was taken at the UNYN public site in the basement of the Michigan Union. We are looking at Apple Macs, probably the "fat" Macs.

7.jpg was taken at the Computing Center in the North University Building on Main Campus. I don't recognize the people in the photo, but they are working with power cables for the IBM S/360-67.

I'm guessing that 12.jpg is an IBM 7090, possibly at the Computing Center in the North University Building on Main Campus or at Willow Run. Don Boettner, Len Harding, or Bruce Arden, all old time Computing Center staff members, could probably say for sure.

I don't know anything about 8.jpg, 9.jpg, 10.jpg, or 11.jpg.

Hope this is helpful. Several of these photos are from the time when I was an undergrad student at Michigan and before I became a staff member at the Computing Center. Some of the folks that have been around longer than I have might be able to recognize more people or confirm some of my guesses. These include Scott Gerstenberger, Mike Alexander, Len Harding, Don Boettner, and Gary Pirkola. Most of these folks are in the U-M directory, but if not, I can provide e-mail addresses.

You'll find short bio sketches for some of the Computing Center staff members mentioned in this message or previous messages here:  http://archive.michigan-terminal-system.org/people.

There are more photos here:  http://archive.michigan-terminal-system.org/images. In particular the photos here http://picasaweb.google.com/103267580193222253134/UMComputingCenter?feat=embedwebsite include many photos of computers and other equipment at the Computing Center.

  -Jeff

--------------------

From: Randy Milgrom
Date: June 23, 2015 at 10:44:55 AM EDT
To: Jeff Ogden
Cc: Gavin Eadie
Subject: Re: help with photo ID

Jeff,

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this. All the time and effort you put into your responses! I cannot thank you enough.

And thank you, Gavin, for forwarding my request to Jeff. I hope that both of you will be willing to be available for other questions I may have over the course of the next couple of years.

Thanks again,
Randy

Randy Milgrom
Bicentennial Project Editor and Writer
Office of Communications & Marketing
University of Michigan College of Engineering



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