I started my career in technology as a trainee computer operator on a very old ICL 1902, one of those things that had paper tape (look it up youngsters) and you had to boot the machine by flicking switches in a certain order... She was an unpredictable beast who would, for no apparent reason, get a parity error after 18 hours of processing and you had to start all over again... lovely for the overtime and you always prayed it took you into double time.
I only operated on that machine for about 6 months before they replaced it with a beauty of a machine called a Honeywell Level 66 and she was housed in a massive computer room. This was a huge time for my personal learning and development: timesharing; real time processing transaction processing; distributed computing; a mix of a dozen computer languages. But what was even better was big computer cabinets all placed in rows and lots of flashing lights. This was important because:
Those cabinets gave us the ability to play computer room cricket. Bring in a bat, take some computer print out, screw it into a ball and surround it with sellotape – Bob's your uncle. There was a slight problem when the batsmen in his over enthusiasm to get a six let go of the bat and it crashed into the back of a computer cabinet causing a huge unsightly dent. No matter off with the door, find the brick and hammer it back into some sort of shape, if that didn't work sticking up procedures over the bump was a dead cert for a cover upJ
However the true joy was competitive computer room Olympics...I'm getting tense just thinking about it. Take two waste paper trolleys (you know the ones where you can sit in). Design a course around the cabinets, around the tape decks, consoles; throw in a few hazards like chairs etc. Split into two teams of two (as at least four on a shift) and see who can get around the quickest, cheating is allowed. We did have a slight crash in one particularly heavily fought competition. Just by the tape racks, there was a very tight left hand corner which you had to take at speed, and you must turn left else you went through the emergency crash exists which had horizontal blinds covering them. You guessed it, didn't quite might make the corner and went head first through the blinds and through the doors...down came the blinds and off went the security alarm...oops
As you can see I went through a torrid time, but it made me what I am today.
Computer Operators, does such personal development exist today?