When did you first use SAS?


Data on punched-cards, SAS software delivered on tape, jobs in the queue on the mainframe, printouts on green-bar paper ...  we really appreciate all our SAS users, but if any of the above are part of your "SAS memories" we especially appreciate you!

I guess I'm a computer geek, because I find it fascinating to hear stories about when people first used SAS -- especially stories from the really early days! And I'm dedicating this blog to the early SAS users!  I invite you to add a comment to let everyone know a little bit about your "first time" with SAS!

And to help you remember the approximate year and version of your first SAS experience, I have created the following graph (inspired by similar graphs in blogs by Rick Wicklin and Jiangtang Hu). Click the image below to see the full-size graph, with mouse-over text and drill-down images (to help jog your memory).

Now, let the reminiscing begin!   :-)

Tags sas/graph

About Author

Robert Allison

The Graph Guy!

Robert has worked at SAS for over 20 years, and is perhaps the foremost expert in creating custom graphs using SAS/GRAPH. His educational background is in Computer Science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from NC State University. He is the author of several conference papers, has won a few graphic competitions, and has written a book (SAS/GRAPH: Beyond the Basics).


  1. It's the Neolithic period for me. It was 1989 and I was installing SAS 6.03 on MS-DOS from a big stack of 3.5in floppies. I guess I was a platform admin back then but just didn't know it at the time :)

    • Robert Allison
      Robert Allison on

      I remember installing SunOS (unix operating system) on a Sun workstation about that time, from floppy diskettes ... after trying the install twice, I determined that diskette number 20-something was bad! It was painful! LOL

  2. Michelle Homes

    Great blog down memory lane... For me it was using SAS/ETS, proc arima, on unix in my Time Series Forecasting subject at university on 6.11. It's where my interest of forecasting accelerated!

  3. Neolithic period in 1989 in Paris (France) : I used SAS for a french airline company when I was student.
    I developed a tool with SAS for optimizing the human resources required for the maintenance of airplanes.
    I used the graphical capabilities of SAS - my first Data Visualization :-) - and did my Master Thesis on this subject.

    • Robert Allison
      Robert Allison on

      Man - I loved watching those old plotters! ... I remember thinking "that's so much faster than drawing it by hand!" :)

  4. It was 1982 for me, on a Texas Instrument Silent 700 with a coupler dialed into an IBM mainframe and thermal paper printing, but of course, I was only 5 years old at the time :)

  5. Started using in 1977 at Iowa State University Stat Dept on the mainframe. I believe the version was SAS 76 with a blue 1-inch manual with text that looked like typewriter type. It wasn't much of a manual; we pretty much had to learn SAS techniques from professors and more experienced statistics students. Mainframe SAS jobs have to queue up of course, and we might not know for hours how the job went until we get our printouts...and then dang...left off the semicolon.

  6. I was introduced to SAS in 1985 by Steve Wander -the programmer. We wrote code using PC SAS and an IBM mainframe. I loved it ever since!

  7. Prehistoric for me. SAS 75 on the TUCC (Triangle Universities Computing Center) in 1975. It was punched cards, blue line paper, data on tape ("big data" for those days!), and OVERNIGHT runs. With only one shot a day, I became very good at desk checking my work!

    • Gee Doc, I didn't realize that I was that much before you! I go back to Prehistoric as well, but for me it was mimeographed sheets and we rejoiced when the bound, white SAS 72 manual came out. The amazing use of Partioned Data Sets for SAS datasets within a library was great and really helped to make SAS superior for data management. Being able to MERGE and UPDATE made organizing studies so much easier than any of the other stat packages of the day.

  8. Prehistoric.
    My first encounter was in 1978 while at A.O. Smith Corp.
    My really Intensive relationship with SAS software began in 1981 when I needed to use SAS with MICS, which was a built-over-SAS tool to manage, analyze, and report data for usage, capacity, and performance of computer and network resources. In the 1980's, MICS was the biggest SAS application in the world.
    Once I really got into SAS, I decided that:
    "If you can't do it with SAS software, you might not really need to do it."
    I had to write one last Cobol program for some reason, and never touched Cobol or Assembler language again.
    Question: Why do the yellow dots lie along a straight line?

    • Robert Allison
      Robert Allison on

      An "old timer" indeed - an expert then, and an expert now! :)

      There wasn't really a convenient/consistent measure available that would make sense to plot on the y-axis (release numbers aren't really consistent nor comparable, I don't really know number of users, or number of lines of code in each release, etc) ... so I plotted the release date on both the X & Y axes. It's basically plotting the same thing twice (which is a little redundant), but I like the visual effect, and I think it "does no harm" :)

  9. Neolithic era - 1993 in grad school at NCSU - birthplace of SAS !!! Can't remember the version, maybe 6.07 on a SPARC station.

    • Robert Allison
      Robert Allison on

      I remember those old SPARCstations!
      SAS was installed in AFS filespace, and once you run the 'add sas' script you were ready to go! :)

  10. I'm spoiled!! as a retro-user (9.1), I had the benefits without the growing pains. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all of the different applications that SAS has.

  11. Neolithic.
    I went on a course at ULCC computer centre in 1983 -- running on a custom MVS called Phoenix.
    Then later in the year I was SAS rep and advocate running VM/CMS

    It was nort my first package I had been using Genstat and Glim since 1976ish.

  12. My first SAS was 5.18 MVS and 6.03 on a PC with this great background colors (1990). I was really glad to have 6.06 on MVS and wondered how anyone could work with any previous version. During a presentation with the pulldown menus switched on and resizing windows and using commands like tile and cascade, someone asked if this is really just a terminal and looked under the desk to see, if we have hidden a PC

  13. Prehistoric for me.
    I started using SAS in college. I remember the green bar paper and the really loud and rambunctious printers. I marvel that they didn't across the floor to the other side of the room when they were printing a long job. I don't really know what version I was using in college, but at my first job, I was using mainframe SAS, version 5.18. Still had the green-bar paper, but the HP laserjet wasn't far behind.

  14. James Silva-Garcia on

    It was in 1992, while I started to work as visitor student in a sugar cane research center in my home town, Cali, Colombia. It was also an opportunity for me to learn English, and start dreaming about coming to the U.S. Guess what, now I live with my family in Cary! You can say it: "From Cali to Cary!" but I have not visited SAS main campus yet (can you believe it?).

  15. Started with SAS V5 as an undergraduate statistics major, running on a VAX (VMS). I don't remember what I paid for the 2 thick manuals, SAS Language and SAS Reference, which we were required to get at the college bookstore when we took a stat computing course. (It might have been about $30 each.)

    At my first professional job it was SAS 6.03 on a PC. I think I was up to SAS 6.08 when I moved in 2000 and went to my first local users group meeting. The presenter was showing some cool stuff, and I asked, "What SAS modules do you have to get to do this?" He asked what version I was using. All heads turned around when I said 6.08! Needless to say, I quickly contacted the SAS rep at my company when I returned to the office so that we could request SAS 8.1 installation media from Cary NC. Ever since, I have been the in-house SAS rep for licensing.

  16. Edward Ballard on

    I wouldn't have thought of myself as prehistoric but it was version 5.18 on IBM mainframe. The joys of reading tapes, setting pen colors for the plotter and scheduling batch jobs at 2AM so other folks had computer time available and writing printer control codes to make pretty text and table output.

    Worst project involved reading a bunch of PRN files from Lotus 1-2-3.
    Current pet peeves: Reading Excel.

    • Robert Allison
      Robert Allison on

      Anything with a '5' in it pre-dates my experience with SAS! :)

      I agree about Excel ... some excel spreadsheets import into SAS cleanly, some don't ... it's difficult to keep up with the moving targets called spreadsheets!

  17. Arlen Harmoning on

    I first used SAS in graduate school in 1976 and when I started my first job, my only access to SAS was to drive 200 miles on the weekends (each way) to use the software on the North Dakota State University mainframe. I would not only need to keypunch my programs and the data, but then wait around for the job/results to be manually filed in user bins. I've used several mainframe operating systems, line feed terminals, PC SAS display manager, SAS Enterprise Guide and other client-server interfaces. The most amazing thing is that some pieces of code written over 30 years ago have continued to perform through all these changes.

    • Robert Allison
      Robert Allison on

      Now that was some true dedication! (I'm also amazed that really old SAS code continues to work, year after year - we try really hard to keep SAS downward compatible, so those old jobs continue to run, while we still enhance the software ... but that's sometimes tough to do!)

  18. Chandler Caulkins on

    SAS 6.0.x.was what I got to use on a Solaris workstation at my first job out of grad school. Funny how I never learned that SAS had data moving capabilities until a couple years later when I learned about proc sql and the ODBC capabilities. Up until then, I thought Oracle was the standard and pretty much the only database technology that everybody used.

    I still remember gettting the "first" Enterprise Guide, in 2003 or 2004, and thinking this was a game-changer - workflow for SAS projects! - even as the SAS Users group at work got off the ground. All of this being part of an "upgrade" to SAS 8 on Windows desktops... and that was just in the first 3 years!

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