The “Wow!” source radio emission entered the receiver of the Big Ear radio telescope at about 11:16 p.m. Eastern Daylight Savings Time on August 15, 1977. […] The IBM 1130 computer running the N50CH program interacted with the receiver to acquire digital intensity values from each of 50 channels (each channel was 10 kHz = 10,000 hertz wide) once each second. Ten of these values were combined to generate one number for each channel and the number for each channel was converted to a single number or letter and printed out (2 seconds were needed for the analysis and printout of each line of information). This entire operation could be handled by the computer with no person present except for starting, stopping, resetting, and restarting the computer.
After the data began to come in regularly, we began a systematic survey of the 100 degrees of declination visible to the radio telescope. (from +64 degrees down to -36 degrees). I took on the task of looking at the computer printout on a regular basis. Gene Mikesell, our mechanical technician at the Big Ear, was trained to stop, reset and restart the IBM 1130 computer every 3 or 4 days. On his way to Columbus for supplies he would deliver the computer printouts to my home.
A few days after the August 15, 1977 detection (probably on August 19), I began my routine review of the computer printout from the multi-day run that began on August 15th. A few pages into the computer printout I was astonished to see the string (sequence) of numbers and characters “6EQUJ5” in channel 2 of the printout. I immediately recognized this as the pattern we would expect to see from a narrowband (i.e., narrow frequency band) radio source of small angular diameter in the sky. In the red pen I was using I immediately highlighted those six characters and wrote the notation “Wow!” in the left margin of the computer printout opposite them.