Obsolete Technology + Norman Hackerman

There must have been a lot of fairly rapid technological changes in the 1970s and it looks like Norman got in on all of them. Over the years I’ve run across many images of him using equipment the likes of which I’ve never seen before. I’ve already posted this one:

Hackerman teaching

Here he is using some sort of dictating machine:

NH dictation nd but likely 70s

And last but not least, this is one of my favorites. What the heck is that thing?

NH computer nd

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20 Responses to Obsolete Technology + Norman Hackerman

  1. mjthannisch says:

    I’d be tempted to say a word processor. Just a guess, but I did have a Brother Word Processor at one time about that size.

  2. Charles TacquardPatillo says:

    Dear Melissa Kean, I am a recipient of the Rice History Corner, even though i did not attend Rice. My late Father, John T. Patillo BS in EE ’43/ BS in ME ’47, is the reason I am on your distribution list. I find your articles very interesting since I knew some of the people pictured and written about. Consequently, as we have been going through my Parents’ house I have come across many articles of Rice Institute memorabilia and would be interested in finding a proper home for these things. An example would be my Father’s photo albums covering the pre-war period of 1939 through early 1943, and the period after the war from late 1946 until graduation in 1947. There are also bound copies of the “Rice Owl”, engineering papers and a host of files related to Rice. An important note is that Dad clearly identified the subjects in his photos. In total there are probably between six and ten file boxes of Rice related materials. My Father died in 2002, and my Mother Jane Tacquard Patillo (UT- BS in HE ’47) has been in Skilled Nursing since a bad fall in late 2012. Subsequently we have been going through things and seeking the appropriate museums and collections for various items. Mother’s UT memorabilia has posed less of a challenge since I am a UT graduate from ’79. Please let me know if you all would be interested in receiving these things, and if so how best to proceed. I do enjoy your articles and have forwarded some of them to friends at the University of Texas as an example of very fine communication between a University and its Alumni / supporters. Kindest regards,Charles Tacquard Patillo

    Date: Mon, 9 Sep 2013 20:12:15 +0000 To: tacquardpatillo@hotmail.com

  3. I was in Dr Hackerman’s freshman chemistry class. He wore a similar microphone rig
    when trying to be heard in the Chemistry Lecture Hall (without much success).

    I believe that the dictation equipment might be a Dictaphone. My dad had one of those.
    It looks a bit similar to the equipment in this ad: http://www.bureauoftrade.com/product/1959-paul-rand-dictaphone-ad/

  4. Bill Peebles (Hanszen '70) says:

    In the third picture, that’s a Sanders terminal that would have been connected to a mainframe computer.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      Connected how?

      • Bill Peebles (Hanszen '70) says:

        With a wire.

      • Melissa Kean says:

        So would the terminal have to be in the same vicinity as the mainframe? I’m trying to figure out where the picture might have been taken.

        • effegee says:

          I’m almost certain that the first line on the screen says “THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN”. That’s no guarantee that it was at UT though. For example, ICSA housed a remote terminal off a UT CDC mainframe in the basement computer room in Herman Brown during the Hackerman years. (Neal Lane was a user.) And, for some inexplicable reason, the curtain backdrop in this photo makes me think LIBRARY,. Perhaps this was a remote into an early online card catalog at UT?

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

        True but with the cost of remote access in those days I doubt they would pay for a connection to the UT library since it was probably much cheaper to pick up the phone
        and ask someone there to do the work. I suspect this may be a picture when he was at UT

    • Grungy says:

      First advertised in 1970, which is a year that Dr. Hackerman was listed as being president at UT and at Rice. So the picture could have been taken at either university.

      • Ooh, nice find. So the Sanders equipment was designed for remote access to mainframes. In those days, “remote” could mean another floor, another building, or another city.

        The Sanders equipment could have auto-dialed a matching system in another city, then shared that connection between multiple users. Those old half-duplex terminals were very efficient for that sort of use.

  5. marmer01 says:

    I agree with Farrell. It’s a terminal to something, probably an early library catalog project. Doesn’t have to be as early as 1970, could be a few years later. One other thing I guess it could plausibly be is some kind of terminal for an early financial accounting project. I’d be willing to guess that it’s not a word processor; he had dictating machines and secretaries for that.

    • Richard A. Schafer says:

      I agree with Farrell that the first line says UT Austin. Although the rest of the screen is illegible, it just doesn’t look like something I’d expect to see in a library catalog system. I don’t think it would be the CDC terminal, because the curtains don’t look like anything I remember from the machine room in Herman Brown. To me, it looks more like a terminal to some financial/investment system.

      • Melissa Kean says:

        You guys know way more than I do about the terminal, but I’ve looked at thousands of images of rooms at Rice and that just doesn’t look like Rice to me. I’m quite willing to believe it was taken somewhere at UT. I’d also note that Hackerman looks very young.

      • That is professional studio lighting. Look at the highlight from behind him (hair and shoulder) and how different the light is on his face and on the terminal. The drapes could have been set up by the photographer, to avoid a distracting background.

        It might not not be in a studio, because the table looks like it came from a lab or an office. There may be no way to tell where it was taken. The photographer has intentionally made it non-specific.

      • Mostly, photographers spend a lot of effort trying to avoid the unflattering lighting you see in the photo of Hackerman with the Dictaphone. I even avoid turning on the overhead lights in our house, the light is just nasty.

  6. Melissa Kean says:

    Photographers can be tricky.

  7. Pat Campbell says:

    There should be a picture somewhere of Dr Zevi Salzburg wearing the microphone in the first picture. He stopped a few minutes into his third CHEM 120 lecture when I was a freshman (1965) and told us there was always a bet on when he would tangle his feet in the cord and fall off the stage – he wanted to enter his bet for “not this semester”. He was the winner of that bet.

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