16 THE POWER OF POSSIBILITY NISC | 50 YEARS OF INNOVATION AND MEMBER SERVICE “It was pretty exciting to see those first bills roll out,” says Estal. “We had a little celebration and all went home for some sleep.” Adjustingtothenewtechnologywasn’teasyforMembers, either. The first conversions were slow and labor-intensive. Shelby’s first bills arrived two or three days late. If the paper tape tore as it was processing, a CADP computer operator called someone from the Member site at home to come into the office and resend the information. If the computer code wasn’t working properly, a programmer would try to fix it with a “fat finger,” making changes directly on the mainframe. To complete telephone bill calculations, NCDC received magnetic tape from regional Bell companies, detailing monthly long-distance charges — another potential cause of delays. Each time electric rates changed, NCDC and CADP needed to write new code. The energy crisis of the 1970s sent programmers into overtime, as oil prices rose 350 percent in 1973 alone. “We owe our friends in rural America a lot for their patience in the process,” says Estal. In 1965, Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, made a prediction that became known as Moore’s Law: The number of transistors that fit on a silicon chip would double every two years. In other words, computing power would rise exponen- tially as costs declined. He proved to be right. Computers became much more powerful and less expensive, but keeping up with advances required new investments. A year after incorporating, NCDC cards, which ran through the mainframe. A single program could have as many as 320 cards, which had to be kept in perfect sequence. CADP’s first programmer, Terry Tuttle, moved to Washington, D.C.,andworkedalongsideNRECAstaff,includingJohnMathews, to design and write billing code. Mathews would later work for CADP as a programmer and then field coordinator, eventually serving as General Manager from 1977 to 1980. Even with the help of NRECA, CADP programmers spent a year and a half writing the code for their first customer, Shelby Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation in Shelbyville, Kentucky. Tuttle, Larry Estal and fellow programmers worked 12-hour days, seven days a week, for months. When the time finally came to run the billing, they manually checked some calculations to make sure the bills were accurate. Punched paper tape captured the data that Member sites transmitted via phone line to NCDC or CADP. It could then be processed by the mainframe and stored on magnetic tape.