Using the PET as a punch card terminal

I may have asked this already, but here goes:

In my first year physics course in 1985, we learned Fortran. Our setup consisted of a VAX 11/750 and a lab filled with PET computers used as terminals and one of the Commodore dual-drive boxes for storage. Most BASIC commands worked, LOAD, SAVE, etc. You also typed in your Fortran as it if were BASIC, using the same line editor, requiring line numbers, and using LIST to view it. But the “chunker” of MS-BASIC was turned off, it did not attempt to read the line at all.

When you were done, you typed something (I don’t recall it being RUN, but can’t really say) and then it would pretend to be a card reader, sending each line of code, with the line number removed, to a VMS queue. The queue was set up to read the program into a temporary file, compile and run it, and then send the output to a printer queue connected to a DECWriter in the lab.

Does anyone know of this system and where it might have come from? I can’t believe my school was the only one that used it. I recall being told it required changing only one ROM in the PET.

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