When I was a Lad

Lyrics © 2001 Stephen Savitzky. CC-by-nc-sa. To the tune of When I was a Boy by Frank Hayes

Lyrics [pdf]

When  I was a lad our computer
Had v acuum tubes and a dr um
And we w ound paper tape for our inp ut
E7 A
Betw een our forefinger and th umb.
Back when sm alltalk was sports and the w eather
And an  object was what you could s ee
And we watched Captain Video  in black and white
E7 A
Bef ore there was color T V.
And we walked seven miles to the schoolhouse --
It really was uphill both ways --
Through weather in summer and winter,
Back in the good old days.
Back before fortran 77
When the PC was only a fad \spoken{Nobody'll ever need more than 640K}
And we entered our programs on punched cards
When I was a lad.
When I was a lad all our networks
Ran on modems and UUCP
When the ARPANET had only sixteen nodes
And it didn't support FTP.
Now you kids who think your T1 line
Is fast, better watch what you say
And consider the speed of a truck full of tapes
As it barrels along the highway.
And we walked...
Back when fortran was not even fortran IV
And Unix was only a fad \spoken{For serious computing you need VMS}
And we entered our programs on paper tape
When I was a lad.
When I was a lad our IS shop
Used mechanical sorters and such
And we numbered our decks with a drum-card
To protect them, though not very much
Back when space travel was science fiction
And a mainframe weighed fifty-five tons
And we programmed in ones and in zeros *with a hand-punch!*
And filled up the chad-box with ones.
And we walked...
Back when fortran was not even fortran II
And the mainframe--Ha! Only a fad \spoken{we'll only ever sell six of 'em}
And we entered our programs on plugboards
When I was a lad.

OK, the chronology is screwed up, it was only three miles, and I never actually programmed a plugboard (but our IS shop did). Everything else is true. Note that ``vacuum'' in the second line has three syllables.

``Only six computers will ever be sold in the commercial market'' has been attributed to Howard Aiken of IBM. (reference)

Also note that I'm about 10 years older than Frank Hayes, so I don't have} to exaggerate.