2010-10-28 – Old Equipment

My ancient "Data Base I Reality" miniOverall Impression:
This dream was unusual for me.

Recurring Themes:
My current residence with modifications.

Setting:
A combination of Safeway grocery store and my laundry room, plus an annex off of the laundry room that doesn’t exist in real life.

Characters:
Primarily myself, but also an unknown couple with an older teenage son.

Important Props:
My ancient mini-mainframe computer that lives in my laundry room in real life.

Unusual Qualities or Moods:
In this dream I was able to count and do arithmetic operations in both decimal and hexa-decimial and remembered front panel paddle-switch sequences and hex entry points that I haven’t thought about in literally decades (and back then only as part of a workaday world), and perfectly recalled trivial procedures that I haven’t used in as long, all verified after waking.

The Dream:
I was standing in the floral shop at Safeway (a local grocery store), talking to an elderly couple that I did not know, personally. They were setting up some form of business, and needed a method for tracking their customers, and keeping their databases backed-up. They were very poor, and didn’t have the resources to buy a computer system and customer data management software.

I realized that the equipment that I had on-hand would meet their needs perfectly, so I gave them my old “Data Base I – Reality” 16-bit mini-mainframe (9 track tape drive, two RMO-5 disk packs and the CPU unit, all in their gigantic rack frame), a Wyse 50 terminal and keyboard, and some miscellaneous peripherals that would work for them.

As I was setting it all up for them, I discovered that the old system tape already had customer database software on it (the system had belonged to a dental school in real life, back in the early ’80s).

Things came together beautifully, and even though the system hadn’t been fired since about 1984, it came up, perfectly. I remembered the address of the bootstrap loader as 3FE0, and showed them how to key it in on the front panel switches and press the “run” paddle.

While configuring things for them, I showed them how to connect the keyboard to the monitor, and the monitor to the teletype port. (Geez, what a time-trip!) I also showed them how to set the monitor’s emulation mode, and how to key the auto-baud sequence to get everything talking together.

Next, I took a few minutes to teach the son how to do hexa-decimal math, and explained to him how directory entries on a hard drive worked, and how this ancient architecture was really at the heart of the file structures on his laptop’s hard drive.

Final Impressions:
Huh. Maybe even WTF?

I will also say, that upon waking, I frankly marveled that such esoteric crap is stored so lucidly in my memory, and that a dream could dredge it up lucidly enough that I would still remember everything that I hadn’t really cared before to remember upon waking.

The biggest impression, however, is how smoothly things went together. I was able to make connections between pieces of equipment with a minimum of fuss and bother; a thing that in real life would be just plain nuts, as I have a hard time even tying my shoes lately.

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