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CPS memories

June 10, 2008

Thank you to Roy Saper, who owns Saper Galleries and Custom Framing in East Lansing. Mr. Saper was kind enough to take time from his busy schedule to share memories of his time as a student at MSU.

How wonderful to learn of the 40th anniversary reunion in October. I will be there!
Next year will be my 40th year since beginning my CPS program at MSU in 1969. Of course I didn’t know much about computers before I selected the major as computers as we know them today did not yet exist.
I valued a friendship with professor Carl Page who asked me to help him with a CPS reunion not long before he died. I also remember enjoying classes with Richard Dubes, Richard Reid and (still-around) John Forsythe.
I suspect students today have no clue what it was like to have to key-punch our program cards and debug our code with once-a-day-turnarounds to find a missing character or typo.
One of my memorable experiences from senior year 1972-73 was when riding my bike on campus in the rain my box of 2,000 computer cards fell onto the wet street intersection and I saw months of work littered everywhere. The source code back then was not stored on disks and the cards were everything. Luckily I had recently made a back-up deck and was able to complete my compiler project in time to graduate with my computer science degree in 1973 — a few months after Larry Page was born and a couple years before Microsoft was created.
I believe there may have been about 2 or 3 women in my computer classes and most of us students spent hours each day on the second floor of the computer center working on our programs and submitting them for batch reading, returning the next day to retrieve our output. We dealt with a lot of theory in our classes but I don’t know of any of us that dreamed of the computing capabilities that we realize today.
And 40 years from now today’s students will probably have similar observations!
Thank you for putting together the reunion at homecoming! See you then!

Sincerely,
Roy C. Saper

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