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Rank Newbie to Linux, Ancient Computer Geek

Posted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 12:18 am
by daches
Hello, Linux world!
I am a retired octogenarian scientist/engineer (PhD 1963 physical chemistry, BS ChE 1959, both from Rice). My experience with computers started in 1957 when I wrote a program for least-squares fit to linear data for an IBM 650, using the Bell programming language, which was essentially a calculator with trig functions, logarithms, exponential, et cetera. In era the state of the art for calculation in science and engineering was an electro-mechanical calculator with a single-cell memory. I was immediately convinced that computers offered a way to eliminate much of the tedium for calculation.

Rice sort of stumbled into an interesting position in the development and use of computers for technical research and application. Two professors in Physical
Chemistry, John Kilpatrick and Zev Salsburg, both required computers for their research interests, molecular quantum mechanics (Kilpatrick) and statistical mechanics (Salsburg). The two of them tried to get the university to buy a computer, with no luck. The learned about a program for research in what is now known as computer science sponsored by the Atomic Energy Commission (now DOE), applied for a grant to build a replica of the Maniac at Los Alamos, and were awarded a grant. They hired Martin Graham from Brookhaven to manage the project, and he pointed out that they did not have to use the same logical design as the Maniac, but could use the same basic circuitry to design a superior machine. Ultimately I got my PhD thesis completed under Salsburg, after a couple years of being the heaviest user of CPU time (40 hours per week or so. The topic was Monte Carlo calculation of the thermodynamic properties of the 2 dimensional lattice gas. All of my programming was in Assembly language, hand-translated and key punched in octal on paper tape.

I became more interested in the problems that could be tackled using computers than in computers themselves. When GUIs first hit the scene, I was reluctant to give up command line access, but finally succumbed to the convenience and reduced need to remember a vocabulary of commands. As I result I have been stuck in the Windows world for the past 30 years or so. I have W 10 on a couple of machines, but I am still running W 7 on my HP Z1 generation 1 workstation. I have never been much of a fan of W 10 -- too much cute stuff from the smart phone world, and I don't want my computer to look like a smart phone.

Of course, now I need to master a whole new vocabulary, and I am joining this forum in hopes of easing the transition.

I have already discovered pbear's posts and used his posts to learn how to implement Linux Mint on an external HD while leaving Windows on the internal hard drive. Plan to give that a try tomorrow.

Re: Rank Newbie to Linux, Ancient Computer Geek

Posted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 2:03 am
by Pierre
Hi daches,
welcome to our forum.
:)

there is a few other retired octogenarian scientist/engineers around here - would you believe !.

Re: Rank Newbie to Linux, Ancient Computer Geek

Posted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 3:33 am
by slipstick
Hi daches,

Welcome to the forum and the world of Linux. I'm a Rice grad, too - BA '68, MEE '69. My computer experience started at Rice, programming an IBM1620 in Fortran II and assembly. I also played with the Rice computer a little bit. I have some not so fond memories of paper tape (Rice computer) and punch cards (1620). During my career as an EE, I did a lot of assembly programming for embedded microprocessors and some C language programming, though I was primarily a hardware designer. I used Windows until MS discontinued support for XP, then switched to Linux Mint. I have never been tempted to use another distro, as Mint meets all my needs. I just wish I had switched to Linux a lot earlier. I think you'll like it here.

Re: Rank Newbie to Linux, Ancient Computer Geek

Posted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 4:35 am
by farkas
Welcome to Linux Mint! :)
I too am ancient (sort of)! :wink:
First experience with computers was in the navy with analog computers. Electro mechanical nightmares. First PC was an Apple][+. Various iterations of windows machines. Graduated to linux after win quit support of XP. Haven't looked back and I don't miss it.
You will find this forum very friendly and helpful. :)

Re: Rank Newbie to Linux, Ancient Computer Geek

Posted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 5:03 am
by Pjotr
Welcome! An interesting look into computer history. :)

Re: Rank Newbie to Linux, Ancient Computer Geek

Posted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 5:27 am
by lsemmens
Hi daches, from a youngster. You started in computers the year I was born. A a retired octogenarian, does that now mean you are in your 90's? :lol:
Welcome to the last OS you'll ever need to learn.

Re: Rank Newbie to Linux, Ancient Computer Geek

Posted: Sat Dec 21, 2019 8:03 am
by kc1di
Hello daches,
Welcome to Linux Mint Forums, enjoy ;)

Re: Rank Newbie to Linux, Ancient Computer Geek

Posted: Sat Dec 21, 2019 9:07 am
by Greencedar
Hello! All newbies accepted.

Welcome to the world of Mint!

Re: Rank Newbie to Linux, Ancient Computer Geek

Posted: Sun Dec 22, 2019 12:57 pm
by WharfRat
Hello daches Image

Welcome to Linux Mint and the Linux Mint forum :)

Re: Rank Newbie to Linux, Ancient Computer Geek

Posted: Wed Dec 25, 2019 11:21 pm
by bob466
Welcome to the Forum. Image

Re: Rank Newbie to Linux, Ancient Computer Geek

Posted: Sat Dec 28, 2019 10:37 am
by deepakdeshp
Welcome to the forum.