1978-01-04: GSFC – Operating System

Sometime around 1982, NASCOM replaced the aging 494 computers with more modern 1100s. They did not replace the communication processors that handled the low-speed circuits, known (if memory serves) as C2100; these were old, but still serviceable. Although I had not been involved with the applications that handled the low-speed circuits, I had demonstrated my ability to work on system-related tasks. The new configuration required a new interface program, called a ‘driver’, to allow the 1100 to work with the C2100. I was assigned this task.

The program that controls the hardware components of a computer system, such as its disk drives, tape drives, printers, and other peripherals is called an operating system (or OS). For the 1100, this was called OS1100. OS1100 has the ability to handle a wide variety of peripheral devices, but must be customized for each specific type, such as the C2100. Once the driver was available, application programmers could write programs to perform useful tasks, such as receiving and passing on messages received over the circuits connected to the C2100.

I, along with a couple of other programmers, attended specialized classes related to the internal working of OS1100. Using this knowledge, I soon wrote the driver for the C2100, and the message-processing application programmers could do their work. This was another feather in my cap, and prepared me for the best assignment in my time at Sperry. But first I received some special recognition.

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