Leo III Reminiscences Part 2
The programs for a particular customer were arranged in a 'suite'. This usually consisted of an input program, a sort, the main processing program, another sort, and then a print.
For a payroll suite, this would contain data like hours worked that week per employee, etc. The input data was punched onto paper tape by a Data-Prep group. This was a team of about 40 (all female, never saw a male DP). Each set of data was actually punched twice. The first time it was punched onto yellow tape, then the yellow tape was fed into a verifying machine while it was punched a second time onto white tape. The verifier would compare what was being punched with what was on the yellow tape, and stop if there was a discrepancy so the DP could fix the discrepancy. These DP girls were amazing - they could carry on full conversations while punching and not miss a beat. As a fresh faced 18 year old, it was quite intimidating walking into the room to collect the paper tapes, and have all the conversations stop so they could check you out.
The tapes from the DP group were read and the data written to a mag tape, using the first program in the suite. This mag tape was then used as the input tape to a sort program, that sorted the data into the right order for processing (duh). The standard sort program (07004 if I remember rightly) had an input tape, an output tape, and two work tapes. The data was read from the input tapes onto the work tapes, and then the work tapes were successively read/written and rewound while the data on them was progressively sorted into order. Usually it would take several read/write/rewind passes before the sorted data could be written to the output tape. More intensive sort jobs could be done using program 07006, which used 3 work tapes. Sort programs were what were running when you see the old computers in movies. They were quite impressive to watch, as all the tape decks would be in action, sorting the data between them.
This program read the tape produced by the sort program, and did all the calculations and number crunching on the data. On a typical payroll suite, this would do all the pay and tax calculations for each employee. The calculated data was written to an output tape that was then sorted again by another trip through the 07004 sort program.
The output tape from the sort was then read by the print program (06060) and printed onto either continuous plain paper, or continuous special stationary (like paychecks). The printers were 120 0r 160 column drum printers. To start with there used to be carbon inserts for 2 or 3 part printing, but later they introduced new-fangled carbonless paper. As operators, we would have to take the boxes of printed paper and 'decollate and burst' them. This involved a complicated an temperamental machine that would feed the continuous paper through, and simultaneously remove the carbon and split the paper where it was perforated into individual pages. I never managed to get away without getting covered in carbon ink from sorting out paper wrecks.
That's probably enough information for anyone to take in one sitting. For anyone still reading - thanks for indulging me :-)