Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sharing Memories Sunday - Work at Space Technology Laboratories

Sharing Memories Sunday
Work at Space Technology Laboratories

In my Those Places Thursday post this week, we had moved to Redondo Beach, California, in late May 1961; which lasted about six weeks before we went off to three years in the Air Force.

In case you missed it, I also posted some 1961 photo highlights on Saturday.

Here are my thoughts about that Southern California work experience:

Space Technology Laboratories, at One Space Park, in Manhattan Beach, eventually a part of TRW, Thompson Ramo Wooldridge, was my employer. I was one of about 200 'computer programmers' in this huge, new facility. My job was to work with parameters, on paper and on the big 'main frame' computer, for one of the Atlas Missiles they were building/developing (whether that was actually the project or not, I have no idea - reading, now, it may have been another project). I was one little cog in a very big operation - I had no idea what the were really doing, just did what they told me, and loved it.

As I recall it, it was an iterative process. I would choose (or was given) a 'payload' figure, for the top of the rocket. This was punched into 'punch cards' and verified - you remember punched card, right - 80 columns of data - one digit at a time. I would turn these in one day, the following day, I got back the green-lined paper report. Did the rocket, with that payload, go into orbit, or plunge back to earth. I would read the results from the prior day, and enter a new payload amount - and run it again. I don't remember what I did the rest of the day… that is what I remember doing.

Perhaps, I was thinking about going to Disneyland with Nancy and Annette on the weekend, or, to the beach, or down to San Diego to the zoo. But, most important, I was an ISU college graduate, working in southern California, that paid a nice paycheck.

I think it is probably also safe to say I wasn't too impressed with the prospect of being a 'computer programmer' for the rest of my career… just saying…  ;-)

Families are Forever!  ;-)

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