Artifact Details


Ellis D. Kropotechev and Zeus, A Marvelous Time-Sharing Device

Catalog Number



Moving image


1967; 1985-07-12


Eisenson, Arthur


Stanford University, Department of Computer Science






This student-produced film from Stanford University is a humorous spoof of the trials and tribulations of a college hacker condemned to use batch processing. Set in the Stanford University computer center and cafeteria, the film gives the viewer a feel for the process of computer programming in the 1960s.

It illustrates the transition from punched card batch processing computers (using teletypes) to time-sharing computing (using video terminals). Additional technologies employed throughout the film include the IBM 7090, the IBM 26 Printing Card Punch, the Zeus time-sharing program and the Algol/Gogol computer languages. The film's soundtrack includes "Cool, Calm and Collected" by The Rolling Stones (1967).

Ellis D. Kroptechev is a "man with a problem, a girl and a deadline." We watch as Ellis struggles with jammed card punches, and numerous errors to complete his program in time and meet his girl friend. Ellis has to wait hours for his turn. Finally, when his program is run unsuccessfully, he must work through the listings by hand to find the errors. He cannot use the computer to assist him, in fact, he never even sees it, he can only submit his program on punched cards to the operator. In his final moments of despair Ellis is saved by Zeus, A Marvelous Time-Sharing System, in which he can directly enter the program into the computer, debug and run it himself. In no time his program runs perfectly, and in triumph Ellis walks arm in arm with his girl friend into the sunset.