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C&EN Special Issue – CAS Celebrates 100 Years

June 11, 2007
Volume 85, Number 24
Web Exclusive

Having Fun On The Job

Vicki Nichols, Department Manager, Editorial Systems

When I first came to CAS 32 years ago, I was a programmer. Every programmer had a six-month rotation assignment to provide production support. This involved working three shifts, because the computer systems run around the clock. Things could get pretty silly at 3 AM, and often there were practical jokes to get people's attention.

Back then, we were using punch cards to create computer programs, and the real status symbol was if you had a metal tray to put the cards in to submit it to run. If your rubber band around the card deck broke, it was not a fun time trying to get the program cards back in the right order. One of the practical jokes was to drop a fake deck just to see the reaction—including one time when the cards were dropped when someone was getting out of the elevator and went down between the floors. Hmm, actually I think that was a real deck.

When I started, the information technology department was just ramping up staffing, and the CAS Recreation Association (CASRA) was a big help in getting a lot of new staff together after work. We used to play volleyball on the lawn on Monday nights, softball on the lawn on Friday nights, and many staff participated in bowling or golfing, for example, together after work. It really brought people together. We had groups that went white-water rafting and skiing together (the ski group still has an annual trip).

Rafting was great fun. I do remember on one occasion when a person from Finance got out of the raft to push the raft off a rock and then it left without him. He truly was "up a creek without a paddle." He had to jump into the middle of a rapid and float downstream. Don't worry, he survived.

Nichols received a B.S. degree in mathematics from Marshall University and joined CAS in 1975 as a staff programmer. She spent her first 24 years in IT, then two years in new product development, nine months in marketing, and the past five years back in IT.

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