The father of a friend of mine was a high profile programmer back in the day. He got tired to wait for the results of his compiles, days, sometimes week. Worked mostly from home, write the program, punch the cards, drive over, give the box to the operator and argue for a while his code was more important that all the others and wait.
Sometimes the code never reached the computer, my friend told me the story of the time his father really, I mean REALLY got mad at him. He never really understood why until much later in life but boy this box full of rigid papers looked like fun... hey their full of holes too !!!
One day he took the argument to management and I guess He made a good case cause they delivered a mini-computer to his house. I should mention that, by then, the computer took most of the living room which, of course, became off limits.
So yes, swapping disks between stages in a compilation is a definite possibility and trust me when I say it was a VAST improvement from what was available before that !!!
Just wait 20 years or so, I can imagine someone asking a question somewhat like :
Is it true that before, they had to use keyboards to type their code letter by letter ?