Setting the record straight: Mark Slackmeyer operated a PDP-112 in July, 1972
I was looking for a comic I remembered from my childhood – in fifth or sixth grade I bought a rubber stamp I was so inspired by it, so that bound the search a little. I searched the internet for possible publication dates, and it is widely reported that Mark Slackmeyer got a job programming (or operating, depending on which version you find) a DEC PDP 11/70 in May of 1971. I looked at every single Doonesbury comic from the start of publication until I found the actual set of strips – 28-JUNE-1972 (mention of the matchbook cover text), job starting 01-JULY-1972, continuing on 03-JULY (where he’s dealing with a PDP-112), 04-JULY, 05-JULY (mention of the matchbook and salary of $7300 a year as an operator, $41k inflation adjusted to 2015 dollars; he’s actually paid $1 an hour, or $2080 annually), 06-JULY, 07-JULY (in which Slackmeyer uses the still-common debugging technique of screaming), ending 08-JULY when Mark fights a threading problem with a tape drive. I’ll point out there was no PDP-112, but PDP 7 serial #112 is famous for being preserved. I don’t know the source of the widely (PDP 11, 1998) repeated (11/70, 1990 Usenet post) error, but I hope this post starts showing up higher in results than the wrong claim.
The strip for 02-JULY does mention a now-common technology. I’ll note Slackmeyer did have an undisclosed job at his dad’s brokerage in 1971 for a single day, and he does mention IBM in that story arc, but only as an equity, not a product he’s using.
I found a book review:
Throughout the book, the famous comic strip character Doonesbury and his friend, Mark, marvel at the many wonders of the computer. A newspaper ad for computer operators convinces them that they have found their true vocation in life. "Earn $7,000, impress your friends. MEET GIRLS'"
"Earn $7,000, impress your friends. MEET GIRLS"
is my new motto.