by Darius Kazemi, November 3 2019
A remote job frontend
RFC-307 is titled “Using Network Remote Job Entry”. It's authored by Eric Harslem of RAND and dated February 24, 1972.
The technical content
RAND has been a heavy user (perhaps the heaviest user, at least implied by previous RFCs) of the remote job entry services offered by both UCSB and UCLA for over a year. As I explained in my blog post for RFC-88, remote job entry
lets you, for example, enter a batch of Fortran commands on a punch card system and then send them over the network to a computer to process as a “job”. You can also log in to the remote computer and ask it for the status of your job. You can submit a “stack of consecutive jobs” as well.
In other words, remote job entry is a way to get a remote computer to run an arbitrary program for you and give you the output.
Rand finally has a host PDP-10 online—previously they were a using site but not a host site. Their host PDP-10 now has an RJS Access Program (RJSAP) which acts as an intermediary to RJS. This was presumably created for internal use at RAND, but now that they are a host site, other sites can use their RJSAP to access the Remote Job Service (RJS) at UCLA.
There is a lot of human coordination required to use this service! You have to contact Ron Frederikson at RAND to get an account on their PDP-10, and then you have to contact Bob Braden at UCLA to get an account on their IBM 360/91, and Braden also has to give your account special access to RJS.
The basic workflow is:
- you log into the RAND computer
- you type your program you want to run into a special file format
- that file is saved on the RAND computer
- you open RJSAP
- you connect to UCLA's computer
- you point RJSAP to your file and it sends the program to UCLA's computer
- at this point you can either:
- log off and do something else, then log back in
- either way, you can issue a command to ask RJSAP if the job is done
- RJSAP queries UCLA and lets you know if it's done. If it's done then the output is in a file on the local computer
- you can close RJSAP and then access the output on the file system
There's a full session transcript at the original RFC that is worth reading, including a “
BYE, BYE BANANA” message when you quit.
RJSAP is a frontend service for another service on the network, one of the first of its kind, at least of those services documented in RFCs. This is how almost every “web application” behaves today: there's a piece of software (the website) that makes it easier for you to access another piece of software (some kind of server or service like an email server). Of course this is all 20+ years before the web, but the pattern here is similar.
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I'm Darius Kazemi. I'm an independent technologist and artist. I do a lot of work on the decentralized web with ActivityPub, including a Node.js reference implementation, an RSS-to-ActivityPub converter, and a fork of Mastodon, called Hometown. You can support my work via my Patreon.