DAN SKWIRE
Mainframe Print Support for IBM

Company—
CDI Corporation

Years in IT—
42

My first mainframe job—
“Programming Assistance.” This was an interesting position where I would sit, on duty, and receive and resolve problems and questions from any and all members of the university community. This included business students compiling programs their last week of the semester, with simple questions, graduate students in all disciplines with difficult FORTRAN problems in huge programs (How big? A whole box of punch cards long!), and every kind of user in between. You never knew what kind of question would come up! I actually enjoyed this, the great variety and surprise of unstructured questions (I was the WHOLE support center.) and found it was great training for my first major job at IBM. This entailed testing, crashing and debugging the earliest versions of MVS—we call it z/OS now.

My favorite mainframe memory—
It was seeing MVS software recover from a problem, automatically. We wrote a program that injected errors that could cause crashes, for testing recoverability and serviceability, and MVS regularly took a licking and kept on running! It was also a great thrill to see the cleverly designed Alternate CPU Recovery feature recover from all kinds of internal hardware failure test situations (a real button that injected hardware failures—a customer pushed the actual RED button, in demos) and seeing this recovery actually happen in the field, and in many internal tests. ACR was so cool!
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