Programming by the numbers

Flashback to the early 1980s, when every computer science course at this pilot fish's university is taught using monitors and keyboards -- except one.

"That particular Cobol course was still taught using punch cards," says fish. "Not sure why -- maybe just to make sure we would be familiar with punch cards before we entered the workforce.

"Because every upperclassman who took the course complained loudly about the problems associated with punch cards, all of us younger computer science students already knew the horrors awaiting us -- including the fact that a lot of trouble could be averted by just numbering the cards.

"One day we saw a student with a huge stack of punch cards tucked under his arm stumble in a hallway. He didn't fall, but he did drop his cards.

"After a moment of silent disbelief, his face turned red and he began swearing and kicking the pile of cards. After dancing on them for a few minutes he walked away, still swearing.

"When he was gone, one of my friends picked up a card and examined it, turning it over and scrutinizing both sides. Finally he said, 'Nope, not numbered.'

"A year later, both of us made sure we always numbered our cards."

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