You might expect Bell Labs would have state-of-the-art computers, and they did. But it is jarring to realize just how little that was in 1973, fifty years ago. If you started work at Bell’s Holmdel Computing Center back then, you might have watched one of the orientation videos below. Your first clue about how far things have come might be the reference to the IBM 370/165, which had “3 million bytes of core, 2 million of which are available for programmer use.” Even our laptops today have at least 8 gigabytes of RAM. There were at least two other smaller IBM 370s, too. Plenty of 029 card punches are visible.
If you were trying to run something between 8:00 AM and 5:30 PM, you had to limit your job run time to three minutes, 4,000 lines of output, and no more than 1,000 cards in and 5,000 cards out. Oh, and don’t use more than 384 kB of that core memory, either. If you fell within those limits, you could hand your card deck over at the express counter and get your results in only five or ten minutes. If you were not in the express line but still rated “premium” service, you could expect to wait a half hour.