I was an operator for a short time then a programmer at Fine Art Developments in Preston on an ICL 1901A in the early 1970s. This machine was so state-of-the-art it had just been upgraded with an 8Mbyte disc drive!
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Much of the programming was done in Cobol, but the real men used Plan. This was in the days before operating systems - the new-fangled George still hadn't gained any credibility - and programs were manually loaded into the memory from a backing store (increasingly on the disc but still occasionally tape) by the operators.
I remember hand punches well - when I left Fine Arts in 1980, I was presented with the last one in the installation because I was the only person left who knew how to use it! In fact, I still have it, up in the attic, along with a supply of blank cards. Recently I taught BTec IT and took it in to show a class of streetwise 16-year olds how things used to be when programmers were "men not machines".
We used to call the waste paper rectangles "chad" and when I got married, some kind soul filled my suitcase with the stuff - it took ages to get it out of my in-fashion Arran sweater.
Worse than punch cards was paper tape - you could guarantee it would feed through the reader beautifully until the last few inches, then get shredded. It was then a case of extracting it from the machine, ironing it flat, splicing it back together, rewinding it and feeding it through again.
Ah me, those were the days!