1969: Student Technology

JP: I love technology: cell phones, the Internet, laptops, Mac OS X, Linux, VOIP (voice over IP), wireless, ink jet and laser printers, etc. Today I briefly touch on student technology – what it was like as a student back in 1969.

Papers: The instructors required that papers be typed (and the expectation was that they had to have no-typos!). One either had typing skills or not. I took a typing class in High School so I had some skills. If one did not type, services were available on campus to type up papers. At the University of Cincinnati, there was a large classroom at the Teachers’ College with scores of IBM Selectrics.

Selectrics had this cool golf-ball sized typing element. More on this here. Mistakes were corrected with an eraser brush (Wite-Out having not been perfected!). Having typing skills saved both time and money!

Calculators: There really were not inexpensive calculators available! Wang Laboratories produced a Nixie tube calculator that cost in the mid-four-figures ($ 5000!). I had some experience with a Wang calculator in my summer job at Monsanto Chemical!

Pickett Slider Ruler

Students either did hand calculations (students were trained to calculate square roots and cube roots by hand!), or use logarithmic tables, or use a slide ruler (or sometimes a combination of all three!). I became very proficient with my Pickett aluminum slide ruler.

Connecting up: Before cell phones one simply arranged to meet someone at such and such place! If that someone didn’t show up, typically one would wait for 15-20 minutes and then move one (and catch up on the land line phone later in the day!)

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