A Strong Connection
Mainframer Clarence Golson reflects on a diverse career built on a single platform
"Reflecting on his career, mainframer Clarence Golson says, “It’s been a good life.”
Few careers span as many industries as Clarence Golson’s. Over nearly four decades, he’s worked for state government agencies, banks, a textile manufacturer, a coal-mining company, a hospital and NASA. However, the common thread in these varied jobs was the IBM mainframe.
“I’ve always had a strong connection to the mainframe,” says the recently retired Huntsville, Ala., resident, whose work focused on CICS* configuration, maintenance and programming. “In monitoring midrange equipment over the years … what I’ve seen has justified my belief that mainframes are the best thing out there.”
That ’70s Mainframe
After high school, Golson moved to Atlanta and attended Computer Career Institute, where his coursework introduced him to IBM Assembler, COBOL* and RPG. Golson accepted his first job in 1970, working for the state of Georgia as a programmer. There, he worked with an IBM System/360 Model 50 with 256 KB of memory.
“The very first system I worked on was a time-sharing computer,” he recalls. “It used BASIC and an IBM Selectric typewriter as the interface with an acoustic coupler.” His initial project involved creating a multilisting service to help the department of transportation determine comparable value of properties acquired for highway right-of-way.
After moving to the department of revenue, Golson worked on a tax-return entry system, which was exceptional in its capability to process returns rapidly. “We never got more than one day behind,” he notes.
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