Curious how I got into computers?
I studied Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science in College, receiving a BA in Physics, a BA in Mathematics, a Masters in Mathematics, and a Masters in Computer Science.
The first three I received from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, and the last, from the University of Colorado.
I worked for a number of years for the Federal Government, advancing to a level GS-11 as a Computer Specialist
I worked for the Wave Propagation Laboratory in NOAA and managed/maintained and programmed our Digital PDP 11/60 (and other) computers. THOSE were the days 🙂
Alas, after a number of years, I simply got bored. There were no challenges left, and I had advanced as far as I could (I was working under a GS-12).
As comfortable as it was, (I had received a number of awards)
I was yearning to be out on my own – and one day I simply resigned.
Since then, although there have been some VERY lean times and I had serious concerns where my next meal was going to come from, at least I’ve NEVER been bored!
I’ve done just about everything computer-related from repairs (down to the chip level in the old days!), to programming (I’ve headed big development projects – and done other bigger projects by myself – with the aid of copious quantities of Diet Dr Pepper!).
JOLT is for newbies!
I ran one of the FIRST Multi-line BBS (Bulletin Board System) systems running MP/M (a multi-user version of CP/M hacked by myself to make it work!) – all LONG before the IBM PC even existed.
For years I was the Sysop of Pinecliffe BBS with 10 phone lines, running on a wonder rag-tag collection of 286 computers 🙂
My BBS computer set a lot of firsts. One of the first multi-line BBS systems. I had my own BBS software system that allowed the various people online to chat with each other. (Each line had its text in a different color to keep them apart). I had an AMAZING (ready for it??) 676MB hard drive – a full height hard drive. And by full height I mean the size of a football almost. I also had a 8 drive SCSI tower filled with CD Roms, loaded with the NightOwl Shareware Library. Thousands upon thousands of files available for download to the caller.
All with US Robotics Courier modems. the US Robotics company provided these at little – or no – cost to Sysops (BBS System Operators).
Pinecliffe was operational 24 hours a day for many years. And it was a part of FidoNet. My node was number 104/28.
Fidonet was a loose connection of all of these computers and they would call each other up at night to transfer files and messages to others in the network.
It came in very useful during the first Gulf War (1990) – because one of the problems was family members trying to contact their loved ones serving overseas. FidoNet provided a message area where a message entered on ANY FidoNet node would be batched up and sent to a system in Texas that had a subsidized phone link to another BBS in Kuwait City – and all the messages would be sent overnight, and then printed out in Kuwait and handed to the military for distribution. Messages left on that BBS system would be routed back to the USA and to the appropriate FidoNet system so that the family member could make a local call and read the reply – literally a day after the first message was sent. It was amazing at the time! No cell phones, no internet. Snail mail was how people were trying to contact their relatives!
One of my first computers I ever owned is at the shop – my NorthStar Horizon computer. a blazing 48kb of ram memory and a Z80 CPU running at 6Mhz! Just AMAZING!
I spent $4000 in 1977(!!) for the box and it had 2 floppies and NO hard drive. I spent another $7000 for a CDC Lark drive to go with it and I had 8MB on a fixed platter and 8MB on a removable cartridge! It was AMAZING!
And after spending this money, I was not done – as the 8 bit operating system dominant at the time was CP/m and it has NO drivers for hard drives! I got to write my own device driver to have the CDC Lark talk to my Northstar!
Neatest thing about the Lark drive (lost in a move years ago alas!) is the top was transparent and you could watch the heads to zip-zipzip around the platter!
One of the most amazing things, though, is that I can truly say that I LOVE doing what I’m doing – even after all this time!
I’ve seen SO many of my competitors go west (or south), and I’ve seen so many of them burn out.
My brother worked for me for some time (about 10 years) when we first started and for a while we were called the ”fabulous Baker brothers”.
But one day HE decided he HATED computers.
AND hated computer CUSTOMERS.
He moved off to the west coast.
I can hardly blame him he lives in a BEAUTIFUL house in the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington in Friday Harbor!