May I show you my collection of slide rules?
When it comes to doing econometrics, students today just have no idea how lucky they are - compared with old geezers like me, that is. So, just for the record, this is how it went down when I was running regressions as a student, in the pre-P.C. (personal computer and politically correct) era:
So, we'd have a deck of cards ready to go at 12 noon. You got your output; looked at the errors and raced down the hallway from the computer room to the punch machine room. You re-punched the offending cards and then ran back to the computer room desk and handed in your deck for another try, And so it went on, back and forth, as you de-bugged your program or tried to cram in a few OLS regressions before the hour was up.
Everyone called it "The Monkey Run" !
You'd arrange to "......grab a coffee after the Monkey Run", etc. And yes, I still have some of those punch-cards. And yes, I still have my slide rule!
There was something comforting about the clatter of the mechanical line-printer behind the glass, tapping out to a rhythm was unique to your output, and that you could recognize from half-way down the hallway. Not that anyone in their right mind would want to go back to all of that!
Yes, it seems primitive now, but it made us think before we computed. So next time you're running your 5 million Monte Carlo simulations, just keep in mind the immortal words of Fred Dagg (aka John Clarke):
"We don't know how lucky we are! We don't know how propitious are the circumstances...."
© 2011, David E. Giles