My First Program
Normally I don’t call scribbles on paper a program until it has been transcribed to machine form and debugged.
In 1950, however, as a teenager I found a sketchy description of the commands of the SWAC in the publication MTAC.
(MTAC was then the closest thing to a computer magazine.)
I scribbled down on paper a sequence of commands to compute the logarithm base 2 of a number by observing overflows upon squaring.
I lived in Pasadena at the time and a bus ride took me to UCLA where the SWAC was under development.
I told them that I had a log program for their machine.
They did not seem at all surprised.
The machine was not running that day and they already had a faster log routine.
They did, however, give me a first class tour of the machine and answered many of my questions.
I think I met Professor Huskey that day, but I am not sure.
I took classes from Huskey 4 years later at Berkeley.
I never did learn the steps to get my program into the SWAC.
I debugged my first real program on the IBM 650 when I arrived at Livermore Labs in 1955.
About 1995 I was talking to Laroy Tymes who was renting a house in Santa Cruz.
He told me that he had found an old computer in the barn and it said “G-15” on a metal label.
I asked him who his landlord was.
He said “Harry Huskey”.
Laroy, a significant contributor to computer science, did not know of the fame of his landlord.