University of Virginia Library

The First Program

Concurrently with the proofreading I ran the deck through a special program designed by my programmer, Mr. George Rompot. This clever program checked the data for "illegal" characters, other "illegal" combinations of key-strikes, and sequence. It was easy to tell the computer what keys were "legal" in our punching, and to direct the machine to locate all those key-strikes which were of non-allowable characters. Though this program cannot find other spelling errors, it is a back-up for the oral proofreading. Further, we could tell the computer which combinations of key-strikes were not legal (e.g. consecutive blank spaces, blank spaces on either side of a hyphen, blank spaces at the beginning of a line, consecutive q's, capital letters within a word [except in hyphenated compounds], and so on), and the machine would list for us all occurrences of these. Finally, since most texts will have some consecutive numbering of words, lines, or pages, and since this 'consecutive numbering' information will most likely be fed into the computer along with the initial input of raw data, it is a simple thing to have the machine check for correct 'sequence' (i.e. whether the line numbering is correct). Since the deck I worked with had lines numbered consecutively from 1 to over 32,240, it was easy to locate errors in line numbering in the deck of cards. I think I can safely say that there will be no errors in this area in the final concordance. And the time saved by not having to proofread all those numbers was great.