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GE Canada struggling to find PDP-11 programmers for its nuclear control systems

AmiMoJo (196126) writes | about 9 months ago

5

AmiMoJo (196126) writes "A representative from GE Canada has posted a job offer to the Vintage Computer forum for a PDP-11 assembly language programmer. Apparently the original job posting failed to turn up any qualified candidates to support the nuclear industry's existing robotic control systems, which they say they are committed to running until 2050. If they are having trouble finding anyone now one wonders how hard it will be in 37 years time."

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5 comments

Did that in college (1)

dpilot (134227) | about 9 months ago | (#44981495)

And I'm in my late 50's. Clearly those 2 facts are related. Also in college I wrote a PDP-11 instruction emulator in Algol-60. Start your emulator, they hand it a piece of code, and it either crashes or prints, "It Works."

PDP-11 is easy--they must not be paying enough (2)

dpbsmith (263124) | about 9 months ago | (#44981519)

The official job posting doesn't mention a salary; neither does the informal posting. It acknowledges "Yes I know this is a hard-to-find (existing) skill." It doesn't say whether the compensation is commensurate. When pointy-haired bosses say that workers with certain skills are not available, what they often mean is that they are not available for the salary they feel like paying.

The PDP-11 was an extremely popular machine and remained so up to at least the mid-1980s. I remember the RSX people at DECUS griping about being high-hatted by the VAX people, and a slightly bitter funny song, "He's got the whole world on his VAX." Someone who was in their twenties at the height of the PDP-11's popularity would be in their fifties today.

And it's not an arcane architecture, it is crystal-clear, logical, and symmetrical; it set the pattern for a number of popular microprocessors, including the Motorola 68000, and the posting says plainly "We will also consider programming experience with other assembly language." Frankly, anyone with ANY experience in assembly language programming could pick it up in a couple of weeks.

I'm in my late sixties, retired, not interested in working full time or moving, but I can't believe their problem would be difficult to solve IF they offered appropriate compensation.

Re:PDP-11 is easy--they must not be paying enough (1)

x1n933k (966581) | about 9 months ago | (#44983749)

I wonder if they'll take my DCPU-16 experience. Seems like a good way to walk into a nice middle-class job since I've been laid off.

Re:PDP-11 is easy--they must not be paying enough (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 9 months ago | (#44986973)

The mid 80s was nearly 30 years ago. I can believe that it isn't simply a matter of cost, and don't forget they want to keep this thing going for the next 37 years. I don't think whoever thought writing critical control systems in assembler with no plan to update them as time went on, while expecting a 70+ years of support, was all that wise.

Re:PDP-11 is easy--they must not be paying enough (1)

LeadSongDog (1120683) | about 9 months ago | (#45004107)

The 11s were sweet machines to code for, with a very regular instruction set architecture. Put in a few days practice and you could write octal machine code from memory. If the company "can't find" someone it just means they don't want to find someone. They're looking for an excuse: either to offshore the job, to bring someone in, or to replace customer's systems with new ones, at a fat markup.
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