State University of New York
College at Oswego
(1970 - 1974)

Norm teaching Computer Science at SUCO
Teaching Computer Science as Assistant Professor at SUCO

Courses Taught:


  • Assembler

  • Numerical Analysis

  • Computer Graphics

  • Systems Programming

Some of my computer science students programming in the Computer Lab

Students Carol and Tim programming in the Computer Lab.
Some of my computer science students at work in the Computer Lab
My attempt to persuade students to save the rubber bands they wrapped around their card deck programs.
( The sign above was my attempt to remind students to save the
rubber bands they wrapped around their card deck programs. )

Students' Comments
Tim Masters:
  Mr Boynton (I still have to call you this!) - Many thanks
Carol for pointing me to you. I've wanted to contact
you for many years to tell you that in my years of college
(all the way to PhD in statistics) you were hands-down
the best professor I ever had. Your teaching skills and
dedication to students set you apart. Your influence on
me was profound. Thank you!
Carol Pogust:   I second that !
Tim Masters:   What I remember most about your teaching was your
MALIC language. When I tell people that the first
computer language I was taught was assembler, they
find it hard to believe. But if I ever taught programming,
I would do the same. What a wonderful introduction to
Ted Blank:
  Norm, I want to echo Tim Masters' comments below,
and also thank Carol P. for making the connection to
our "Mr. Boynton" from SUNY Oswego days. I was a
Chemistry major at SUNY College of Forestry (as it was
called then) for 2.5 years but drifted into programming
(in APL of all things) in my spare time there. When I
finally decided to make CS my major there were only
three SUNY locations that offered a BS in Computer
Science - Buffalo, Stony Brook and Oswego. Since I had
most of my general electives out of the way I "only"
had to take 5 computer courses in each of 3 semesters to
finish in 4 years, so I saw a lot of you (and vice versa).
I loved every minute and hour and overnight and
weekend of it. Thank you for teaching us the art and
beauty as well as the science of programming. I still
remember your MUSIC language that drove the
plotter to create sheet music. I retired back in 2007
from a 26-year career at IBM and have worked at
Oracle since then. It is not overstating to say I owe it
all to you, as each of us is the product of our teachers
as well as our parents. Hats off to you for doing it right.
Best wishes to you and all your family.
Ted Blank - Oswego class of '74

Example plot from my FORTRAN program that reads
a song in my own language for specifying music
notation, optionally transposes it to other keys, and
prints it on a plotter:
Example song plot from my FORTRAN program
IBM Plotter drawing my sheet music
My Polaroid
photo of my
  A few of my Systems Programming students
Ted Blank:   With punch cards and felt-tip pens in the pocket - well
prepared for 24 years with IBM. Printer behind Carol,
card reader behind me, IBM 1130 out of pic to the right.
Thanks for the pic!
Ted Blank programming in the Computer Lab
Carol Pogust:   Somehow, even without pockets, I was well prepared for 40
(and a half !) years at IBM : -) Still have my flow-charting
template and my 1130 reference card:
Carol's old Systems Programming tools

My Experience Teaching at Oswego

Campus of S.U.C.O.
SUCO is in Oswego, New York, on the Lake Ontario shore. It gets
severe winter "lake effect" snow storms there. The walks from
dorms to classroom buildings included ropes for students to grab to
pull themselves to class against the extremely strong winds blowing
off the Lake.  I purchased a mobile home in Kalamazoo, loaded it
with my few belongings, and had it delivered to an Oswego trailer
park while I drove my Volkswagen there. I taught there for four
years and usually drove back to visit my family in Michigan several
times each year.

I was assigned teaching a few basic FORTRAN programming
classes and a couple more advanced classes. I was given a syllabus
and textbook for each class, but I was required to create my own
lectures, assignment exercises, and exams, which I was already
doing at
MSU. The basic class included teaching about "machine
language", the cumbersome numeric instruction codes that tell
computers what to do.  It is normally too difficult for students to
experiment with machine language programming, but I was
convinced they could not learn the concept without trying their
own exercise solutions. So I invented "MALIC", Machine
Language for an Imaginary Computer, and had my students
solve programming exercises using it.  I wrote a FORTRAN
program that would read the students' MALIC programs and run
them as the imaginary computer would. This was a very effective
teaching tool, and the other instructors asked to use it in their
class sections too. Later, faculty at other colleges used it also. 
It soon became obvious that my students were learning
programming better than those in the other instructors' classes.
This was due to several factors: I stayed at the computer laboratory
assisting students with their programming exercises for many hours,
usually until late at night. I created clever programming exercise
assignments that forced the students to solve the problems using
only the tools I taught them.  I created concise handout sheets
summarizing the available programming tools.  And my assistance
was only to guide them toward their own solution; never to show
them the solution.

As students were appreciating my teaching success, they came to
me for independent study classes.  I turned one of those into an
official class on Systems Programming. My students rewrote the
operating system for the computer lab's IBM 1130 Computer
and changed it from a general purpose computer to a student
training computer.   Much of the manual work done by the hired
operators was now done by the 1130 itself!  My students
accepted assignments to add student-oriented features to the
1130's operating system. I shared their programming
improvements with other colleges using 1130 computers.  My
most interesting assignment was for each student to create a
special startup single card machine language program to make
the 1130 do something interesting. A computer punch card
normally had room for eighty characters, but in a special
keypunch mode, multiple codes could be typed into each card
column position to create a startup program. A popular
solution was to create an interesting animated pattern in the
1130's display lights, such as a rotating marquee message or
circling lights.  Other students made it read another punch
card or punch a new card, react to changing some toggle
switches, or draw a pattern on its drum plotter.  The plotter
fed paper forward and backward on a sprocketed drum and
moved a pen back and forth across the paper as the drum turned.
I suggested an imaginative goal:  Pretend the plotter is a remote
controlled robot, and imagine setting it upside-down on the floor
with the drum as a big wheel and the pen as a steering mechanism,
and then interpret toggle switch settings as commands to move
forward, backward, right, left, or stop.  Several students wrote
such robot programs. The biggest challange was to get the
complicated program to fit on one card.

In my fourth year of teaching, the University changed its
requirement policy to insist that all instructors must have PhD
degrees.  Since I had no intention of going back to get that degree,
I was to be dismissed at the end of the acedemic year. Ironically,
at about that time, many of my students nominated me for the
campus Excellence in Teaching Award.  I was apparently in the
lead among student voters.  My department head asked me to
decline the nomination, since winning and then being fired would
embarrass the University.  But I refused, so the University later
announced that I was being disqualified from the competition
because I would not be returning the following year.

One year, meteorologists held a conference on blizzards at our
Oswego hotel.   Appropriately, that conference got snowed in
for several days by a huge lake effect blizzard!  I can remember
the snow piling up six feet high or more at my trailer.

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