Of all the sources that I used to construct The Computer Boys, none was as fun or useful as the industry journal Datamation. Unlike the more academically oriented journals from the ACM, Datamation was unabashedly industry focused. It also was much more intimate, honest, and above all, humorous. Throughout the 1960s it included a series of parodies of pop-culture phenomenon. Here is one of my favorites, The Well-Dressed Programmer:
Click the image for a much larger version.
In the mid-1960s, the computer industry journal Datamation published a series of parodies of the cult-classic The Executive Coloring Book. The Executive Coloring book was itself a parody of the self-important man-in-the-grey-flannel-suit managerial culture of the period.
The cartoon above is from my favorite of the Datamation parodies, which was called The Programmer’s Coloring Book. The book is full of funny little in-jokes for computer programmers, including “See the programming bug. He is our friend. Color him swell! He gives us job security,” and “Here is an outlook. Color it bleak,” and “Here is a flowchart. It is usually wrong.” I wish that I had been able to include more such images in the print-version of the book. They really capture the flavor of what it was like to work as a programmer in the 1960s.
Here is the full version.
From the introduction:
“Chances are that you or someone close to you makes their living “working with computers.” In the decades since the 1950s, the technical specialists most directly associated with the electronic digital computercomputer programmers, systems analysts, and network and database administratorshave assumed an increasingly active and visible role in the shaping of our modern information society.”
Read more from the introduction to The Computer Boys Take Over