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CSIRAC - a woman programmer's view

Keys of CSIRAC editing keyboard

Image: Keys of CSIRAC editing keyboard

Source: Museum Victoria

In 1962 I was a student in Physics III at Melbourne University.  One of the units was 'Digital Computing'.  The machine language we studied (but did not implement) belonged, I believe, to CSIRAC.  I remember that the instruction word had 3 parts: data address, command and where to store the result.  Jump registers were updated and used to transfer control to a different core address;  I think this structure was used with mercury delay line machines to optimise performance. 
 
In 1963 I did a Maths unit on computation at MU. Initially we did computation using manual calculators (Facits I think) then we graduated to semi-electical machines; I remember we had to hold down the add/subtract button for an appropriate time!  Then we were liberated into using Interprogram on CSIRAC!  As I remember it, we had enough assistance with the paper tape and language components to write, punch and run mickey mouse programs.  What a wonderful relief.  
 
At Aeronautical Research Laboratories from 1963 to 1964, one job was to support a missile project using critical path software; we treked down to IBM in Fitzroy Street weekly to process our data, using cards on unit record machines (sorting and collating) and the IBM1620 for calculations.  The results were printed using software on the IBM1430 (a more commercially oriented machine). 

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