Reaction score

Profile posts Latest activity Postings Resources About


    [part 1 of 6]

    In 1981, a powerful force gripped me that to this day has never let go. I was at my neighbor’s house, visiting, and passed by his dad’s office. There, I saw a strangely alluring television-like object. It had a typewriter attached to it and I could control the movement of an animated personage on the screen! It only lasted 10 minutes. His dad came home and we had to go outside and play.

    I thought about this dynamic television for the next year or so. When I was dragged along to department stores I would ask store clerks about this object. They couldn’t give me an answer.

    Then one day, while drudging through another department store (why oh why did I always end up at these things: JCPenny’s, Gemco, K-Mart, Mervyns, Emporium, …), two years after that initial discovery, I saw a giant banner in one of these so-called department stores: "Atari".

    [part 2 of 6]

    And right below was a longer line than I had ever seen at any blue light special. I saw flickering lights, and glimpses of televisions with blocks moving around. There was a loud uproar, and a disappointed kid walked and pushed his way out of the line.

    The line moved forward.

    Could this be the wonder that I was seeking?

    I waited in line (after begging, pleading, rending my clothes and threatening an infusion of demons upon our house). And I waited. And finally I arrived.

    The insanity and craving over the next few months just grew. But I had no means to explore these "computers" and "video game systems". My school library had nothing on this topic. Third grade libraries were terrible and the librarian was barely a match for it. "They are used by the military and take up the space of several rooms," she told me. I told her I saw one the size of a television and I promptly received a dismissive pat on the head.

    [part 3 of 6]

    We move to Dublin, California that year. This was at the beginning of my fourth grade. And luck shone upon me. This elementary school was part of pilot program to bring computers to elementary schools. Once per week, the class would go to the library for 45 minutes, where we would take turns on 16 Commodore PET 4000s. We practiced math, of course, but it was much more difficult to do than paper math because the the program was just awful and took 7 minutes to load from cassette tape.

    That ate up 7 minutes of the 20 minutes that were dedicated to ME; the teacher blabbering before each lesson took up another 4 minutes. I was left with 9 minutes. NINE MINUTES!

    The anxiety was too much but I lived with it as much as I could.

    [part 4 of 6]

    During one of the subsequent lessons, after learning the arcane user interface of "Math Blaster" (or something sounding like that) I rushed through the lesson, giving me 4 minutes to spare. I was already tired of always typing LOAD "*", 8 on that very interesting blinking thing. What else could I type? I had seen my teach type LIST at one point. And so I did, too.

    My eyes exploded.

    This is how it works! 2 minutes left…

    I typed it again, noticing line numbers on the left. I also noticed that one of the lines said PRINT "MATH BLASTER".

    What if I changed it?

    And so I did.

    [part 5 of 6]

    The second half of library time was spent with the books. No computer books were there -- I had already checked the first day. While perusing something on astronomy I heard the teacher say, "How strange. Did you load a different program, Bobby? Math Confuser just doesn't sound like the right program. We'll have to re-load your program." The laughter was terribly hard to control. I buried my head into my lap. I did it! I was able to change the program!

    It took only a little bit of pleading, but I was able to convince my teacher and librarian to allow me to have the full time during once-per-week computer time (there were 15 kids in my group), to come in at lunch, and to come in, when possible, during the shift schedule (early vs. late start).

    [part 6 of 6]

    Miner became my friend. I found it in the box of cassettes next the computer center. Miner slowly turned into a 60s mash-up with rave-like, seizure-inducing game-play. I loved blinks; and colors; and blinking colors. And Miner was soon able to discover swords, magical staffs, and eyeballs. David Lynch would be proud.

    The city library surprised me. Thank you Dublin. It had three books on Commodore BASIC -- which I tore into within days. They were checked and re-checked all year long.

    So began my programming career. It took another leap forward the next year, in fifth grade, when I discovered BBS’s. My father’s anger also took a leap forward when he saw his first phone bill. And I took leap forward in logical reasoning not just in computers, but in life.

    My journey had began; this one had no final destination but the path itself was the reward.

    Welcome Friends.

    I hope to find many willing to join me on my projects or even join others on their projects. I've been a professional developer for the last 21 years and hacker (in the true sense) for over 30. I love what I do (Soccer sometimes takes first place). Please reach out to me if interested in any collaborative work.
  • Loading…
  • Loading…
  • Loading…
  • Loading…
Top Bottom