During CNL's 40th birthday year we continue to bring you historical curiosities from the early days of computing at CERN. This issue we take a look at the 1980s.

Fortran 8×

"Sometime next year we shall be able to start using new compilers, conforming to the ANSI 77 standard, on our CDC 7600 and IBM computers, and presumably this standard will be adopted for new programs some while after. Meanwhile, the ANSI committee responsible for Fortran standards, X3J3, has begun work on a new standard, presently known as Fortran 8×. The timetable for this revision is very uncertain… so it is perhaps unlikely that we shall have new compilers much before the end of the decade." (November-December 1980)

Removal of central card-punching and card-reading services

"The last central card punch and card reader, presently connected to the CDC 835, will not be available after the Christmas-New Year shutdown." (November-December 1983)

The end of the CDC 7600

"The 7600 User Service was finally stopped at the beginning of July and the 7600 itself was switched off for the last time on August 2nd… Unfortunately the cost of maintaining a more than 10-year-old system finally proved too high and the decision was taken to replace it… Nonetheless many of the concepts pioneered by the 7600 SCOPE 2 system live on in the later generation of fast processors like the CYBER 205 and the CRAY. Modern trends towards multi-processors and decentralization are very important and are improving the quality of computing services everywhere, but as long as cheap, powerful, efficient 'number-crunching' is required 'a good big un will always beat a good little un'." (July-August 1984)


"An agreement for the purchase of IBM PCs has been set up between IBM and CERN… it is the responsibility of each user to judge his requirements with respect to maintenance coverage, hardware redundancy, or interventions on a 'billing' basis." (September-November 1984)

A new computer and the introduction of VM/CMS

"The Finance Committee of the 30th October 1984 agreed in principle to a plan to update the IBM-compatible capacity of the Computer Centre. This plan seeks to replace both the Siemens 7880 and the IBM 3081 with the latest computers available from the two manufacturers over the next 15 months… One of the major consequences of having a hardware upgrade is that we can now announce the start of a VM/CMS service at CERN." (December 1984)

The central VAX 8600

"A Digital VAX 8600 computer was installed in the Computer Centre at the beginning of March of this year. The machine was mainly intended to offer a powerful interactive tool for the offline computing needs of the four LEP experiments, as well as a test bed for a VMS 4 public service." (June-July 1985)

Hackers - a reminder and a warning

"We still suffer from attacks by hackers every day. Twenty attempts to break in is now the daily rate for some VAXes at CERN. While we have taken steps to approach the Swiss PTT, with the advice of the CERN legal service, to find possible ways of acting against these people, we insist on the principle that each end-user system should protect itself. This is the only solution in that it gives a much finer granularity of protection and puts the responsibility for protecting resources where it belongs (i.e. on the owners of the resources)." (January-February 1986)

The FIND command in VM/CMS

"This article introduces FIND, a CMS command which allows you to find and access documents via keywords. At present FIND 'knows' about 1250 documents (HELP files in IBM jargon)." (January-February 1986)

Introduction of CRAYs

"At the June meeting of the Finance Committee, the acquisition of a CRAY X/MP-48 computer was agreed, for installation in October 1987. The system has four processors with a basic clock period of 9.5 nanoseconds, 8 million 64-bit words of bipolar main memory organized in 32 banks with a 38 nanosecond cycle time, and 128 million 64-bit words of secondary memory." (May-September 1986)

PAW - the successor of HTV

"PAW is a future substitute for HTV with substantial extensions. In addition to the data presentation capabilities of HTV, interactive data analysis and picture editing are possible. The PAW packages are now in a testing phase and they should be progressively released at the beginning of next year." (October-December 1986)

Computerized foolishness

"An electronic mail chain letter has recently been intercepted at CERN. Not only is such foolishness a waste of time and money (yes, electronic mail has to be paid for!), but also the superstitious nonsense in chain letters about 'bad luck if you break the chain' might actually worry some people. If you receive such a letter, please have the common sense to break the chain and send an appropriate comment to the person who wasted your time by sending it." (March-May 1987)

Electronic mail address change

"In order to conform to new de facto standards, and to prepare for transition to international standards, we are planning to introduce new electronic mail addresses for CERN users, namely user@host.CERN.CH or, for users of VMS Mail, to user@host.decnet.CERN.CH… (currently addresses are user@host.CERN or user@host. DECNET.CERN)." (September-December 1988)