It was the ‘nostalgia’ of English operators that set in motion last year what resulted in three reunions on Friday and Saturday:
- a visit to building 513 which was built for the CDC 7600 in 1972 and now houses a ‘farm’ of 9,000 servers – a few of us – guided by Frederic Hemmer – Head of the IT Department – the coverage in CERN’s weekly bulletin – showing me as the only woman invited…
- an evening cocktail in the VIP suite of the main canteen – another
constellation of ‘oldies’ who had left or where still at CERN – operators and programmers in what used to be DD Division
- a whole day in a ‘salle communale’ in one of the French villages near CERN – with ‘everybody’.
When I got the phone call by the former boss of the Operations Group, Neil Spoonley, I was very excited, especially since it turned out to be a favour as not being directly connected to the Operations Group. Here’s Neil’s EXCELLENT recollection of Computer Operations at CERN: 1962 – 1970. Here’s how the current IT Department publishes the History of Computing at CERN.
- the computers that were at CERN before the IBM 7094 that I got to know at the German Computer Centre in Darmstadt where I had learned its machine language as well as FORTRAN
- the operators who were sent to a whole bunch of places (incl. German Computer Centre Darmstadt) to process CERN jobs over the weekend – and their remarkable experiences on the borders
- the photo on my application that apparently ‘did it’ – besides ticking all the boxes of requirements – to deliver a computer SERVICE to physicists as USERS
- women were not allowed to become operators because they had to work shifts, but they were allowed as programmers and analysts
- the unorthodoxy with which Computing became the completely indispensable service for physicists to pursue their research
- the history of the CERN – Berkeley exchanges that I was privileged to benefit from – unfortunately with the result of falling off freeway 101, because Arnold Staude had fallen asleep on the steering wheel, after he had given a talk at CALTECH; he was going to drop me off in Berkeley, but that’s how 40 years of chronic pain began…
- however, it was this pain that led me to create software lenses as new instruments of investigation – in the spirit of Humboldtian science!
Thanks to the generosity of Pierre Bénassi, I am staying in a wonderful home. Thanks to Dave Underhill, Henk Slettenhaar, Neil Spoonley, Eric Macintosh and Ben Segal I was NOT forgotten and felt really at home!
Here are three historic videos produced by Henk Slettenhaar:
And now our visit to the Computer Centre:
Here’s the report of the local paper:
And here some photos of this ‘reunion of souvenirs’:
- Nobel Physicist: Society Should Convert To Natural Gas (forbes.com)
- Watch This Awesome CERN Animation of Big Data Behind the Super Collider (scienceworldreport.com)