The Weekly Video, plus a Surprise that Came with a Mystery

I’m interrupting my completely unsolicited disquisition on the library to bring you this week’s video. The topic is one you won’t soon forget—the renovation of Baker Commons. First go back and take a look at these images of the bare walls from last December and I think you’ll be impressed with how far things have come. Also impressive are the performances under pressure–it was really noisy in there–of Susann Glenn, Brad Thacker and architect David Bucek.

Next, I was amazed yesterday when this turned up in a storage room on campus:

It’s two reels of film of the inauguration of Norman Hackerman! They’re being sent off for digitization even as we speak. And here’s the mystery: See that little pink roll inside the case? It’s a thin strip of pink paper, about the size of a roll of film, with an elaborate series of holes punched in it. Does anyone have any idea what this is?

Bonus: I guess I’ve seen bigger puddles on campus, but this is the first time I’ve seen a heron in one.

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14 Responses to The Weekly Video, plus a Surprise that Came with a Mystery

  1. Leoguy says:

    Nice video! David Bucek is a friend and fellow architect. He’s a perfect choice for this project.
    The Baker Commons is unique among the college commons at Rice. The other colleges could never compete with this historic space. Hanszen, for example, went through three different commons and finally gave up trying to match the grand old club atmosphere of Baker!
    Changing the subject (as you do so gracefully), I can’t wait to see the video of Dr. Hackerman.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      Me too! I’m all atwitter!

    • Deborah Gronke Bennett says:

      Hey. let’s be fair. One Hanszen commons replacement was due to a fire!

      And one of the reasons Baker commons is so special is because it was the first dining hall, and built back in the era of fine craftsmanship.

  2. Doug Williams says:

    That looks like a computer punch tape. I wasn’t around Rice until near the end of the Hackerman era, so I couldn’t tell you what sorts of machine may have been on campus at the time of his inauguration that could read or write these tapes.

    This link shows some 1960-era machines that used “Friden Tape-Talk:”

    Might be an interesting student contest to see who could decode this tape first.

  3. effegee says:

    At the start of the Hackerman era, ICSA (as IT was then known), had model KSR33 teletype machines as terminals attached to a Burroughs B5500 computer. The terminals both read and punched tape like that in the picture. Each terminal had a roll of blank tape that was about 9 inches in diameter that fed into the punch. Once a tape was punched, one could read it back into the computer with the read station. Both operations ran at a maximum of 10 characters per second.

    When ENGI 240 moved to the Burroughs from the IBM 1620 in Ryon Lab in Fall 1970, paper tape was the only storage medium for class projects.

  4. Don Johnson says:

    Back to old computer technology. The roll of pink tape is punched tape read and written by teletypes and special paper tape readers/punches for minicomputers. Probably can be read somewhere. Can’t explain why it would be kept will reels of film.

  5. Richard Schafer says:

    I’m pretty sure that’s not from a KSR-33 teletype, since the punches look like they are using a 6-bit code. If that’s right, then perhaps it’s punched for a Friden Flexowriter, which probably makes that paper tape roll a relic of the R1, which used a Flexowriter for input/output. That wouldn’t explain why it’s in a can with film of Hackerman’s inauguration, however.

    • Richard Miller (Hanszen '75 & '76) says:

      If it is punched for the flexwriter it may be input to the flexwriter with information about the can of film. Consider it the early equivalent of a diskette. Many of the machines sold to offices were touting integration but we still had the chasm between office processing and data processing. I think there were many different data storage mechanisms for the office level systems and if the paper tape could be input into a flexwriter to produce a document about the film it would make sense to put it in the can with the film

  6. Richard Schafer says:

    Another possibility is that it’s in TTS code for a Teletypesetter that might have been used by news services for transmitting stories to newspapers. I’ve not been able to find a reference for either the Flexowriter or TTS code, and a few minutes puzzling over the coding on the tape doesn’t come up with anything obvious, except the peculiar consistent grouping of three characters separated by spaces.

  7. The heron is a crested heron by the way. They abound on our side of town (La Porte), and on Fairmont Parkway.

    • loki_the_bubba says:

      It looks to be a yellow capped night heron. I see them occasionally along Braes Bayou.

      • Yellow capped night heron seems to be the official name, while people around here call it a crested heron or a yellow crested heron. Check under Google and you find the same pictures for both, but under the bird guide, yellow crested is not listed. So you are officially correct. 🙂

  8. Deborah Gronke Bennett says:

    Melissa, can you spread out the whole punched tape and take a picture and post it here or somewhere else? I’m sure that someone who reads this blog will know someone who can decode it. (I’m waiting for FEG or Walter to weigh in).

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