COMPUTER MEMORIES, Chapter 07
(It is with deep sorrow that I report that Emmy Humberd, my wonderful travel companion and my beautiful wife of nearly 55 years, passed away on November 15, 2005 from complications of Alzheimer's disease. Her headstone tells the story of her life, it states, “Now the Angels have a Role Model.”)
SOMETHING GOOD FROM THE KOREAN WAR
I was called back into the Army during the Korean War, in November 1950, and was to be sent to Ft. Monmouth, NJ. Don’t ever think that nothing good came out of the Korean War. When I mentioned to my sister’s friend that I had no one to say good-bye to, she said, “I should have thought of you,” then gave me the phone number of her beautiful friend. Nearly 54 years later (see above), that “phone” still rings, or rather it is still “answered.” We most likely had seen each other in person a dozen times before we were married, so I don’t know if it will work permanently or not. These 54 years are just a trial to see if she can put up with me. (My parents missed their 50th by two months, and six of their seven children celebrated their 50th. That must be a record of some kind! One brother died before he reached that milestone. )
LEARNING IBM IN THE US ARMY
I wanted to get into the IBM business, but didn't really know what it was. At the Army induction center in Chicago, I met a Master Sergeant, who was a Supervisor in an IBM Department somewhere in Chicago, who did know. He suggested that each time someone asked what I did, I was to say, “I'm an IBM man,” and when I met someone who knew what that meant, tell him the truth.
That is exactly what happened. When I arrived at Fort Monmouth I told everyone who asked, that I worked with IBM machines, and no one, including me, knew what that meant, but everyone knew it was important, and knew they were not to assign an IBM man to any other job.
After a week or so, I was sent to an interview with the man who ran the IBM Room on the Fort. I admitted I knew nothing about IBM equipment, and Ted said, “That’s OK, I want someone who can read a Morning Report.” That’s a special US Army report that I knew most everything about. I had typed them as an Army clerk the first time I was in the service, and as a Battalion clerk, had proof-read thousands of them. As time went on, I developed and maintained a file with many names in it, but I don't really remember the details after 50 some years. I do remember that I visited many offices on the Fort, obtaining information needed to keep the files up to date.
IN THE IBM ROOM AT FT. MONMOUTH
We got along very well, and Ted gave me a key to the building so I could spend nights and weekends learning to run the machines. The IBM repairman said he knew to come there first thing every Monday morning, without waiting for a call, to replace all the fuses I had blown over the weekend. The machines included a 077 collator, a 513 card punch, a 405 tabulator, a 082 Sorter, a 601 Multiplying Punch, a 557 Alphabetic Intepreter, and the brand new 026 Printing Keypunch. Now I haven’t even thought of that for over 50 years, so I hope all the model numbers are correct.
Whenever the Army had the nerve to assign me some other task like KP, guard duty, or to march in a parade, Ted would sign any paper I prepared, telling the powers that be that I was too important for that, as I had to “IBM that day!” And it worked, every time, without fail.
MY PAST JOBS, MY FUTURE HOPE
By this time I was 23 years old, married, and had worked (was raised) on a farm; had been a diesel engine repairman; a spot-welder; lugged 250 pound bales of rubber in a warehouse; operated a metal band saw in a locomotive manufacturing plant; was a milkman (twice) delivering milk early in the morning in Chicago, and in small towns in the coal mining area in Pennsylvania; had sailed in the Merchant Marines (my 18th birthday was spent on a troop ship in the harbor of Singapore, on the way from Manila to Calcutta); and had served in the US Army twice. I knew I didn’t want to do any of those jobs for the rest of my life.
Similar tidbits in: Memories of Early Computer Days
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