Hmmm. I learned assembly language on the PDP-11, and there was no panel-switch-flipping involved. We entered our code on a DECWriter terminal, and saved it on an 8" floppy disk. The system had a hard drive (I don't know the capacity, but it must have been microscopic), but we kept our personal work on the floppy.
The DECWriter had its own problems, though. It was a terminal whose display was essentially a dot-matrix printer, and the thing's printhead would get in the way of seeing what it was typing. So you'd type a few characters, then forget where you're at or wonder if you hit the right key. So you'd have to sit there for 5 seconds and the machine would realize it was in the way and move the platen out of your way.Fun/Funny Videos Teaching how to Program an Ancient PDP-11
Kids these days, they just don't know how easy they have it. But those were good days, and we were happy with what we had.
More than you ever wanted to know about it here
Youtube video here
(jump in 30 seconds of the 1 minute piece).