Friday, March 20, 2009

My Journey to Geekdom

I'm trying to figure out what influenced me so strongly toward geekdom.

I suppose it started with being rather unsuccessful at sports. I was fearful of being hit by the pitcher when I played baseball, and I hated running which limited most other sports. I played (and loved) volleyball and tennis in high school, but that faded away after college.

I loved Star Trek as a kid. It appealed to me very deeply, and I'm not sure I could tell you why. I had the Enterprise blueprints and all sorts of inane facts memorized. Star Trek was soon followed by Star Wars and it was all over. Yeah, I had the Star Wars bedsheets, what's it to ya!

I think the first real computer I saw was during a field trip to the National Weather Service. Buttons, lights, satellites, faxes, radios, meters, dials,... I was in geek heaven. It was on that day I decided I wanted to work with "buttons and lights". That's exactly how I phrased it!

At the time, the biggest job involving buttons and lights was at Houston's Mission Control for NASA. That seemed like the dream job to me!

I think my future geekdom was set in concrete though, when my parents sent me to Computer Summer School at JAIMS (Japan American Institute of Management Science) in Hawaii Kai with my best friend, David. It was also the first time I learned how to ride the bus by myself! We had 3 weeks of BASIC training on TRS-80s, and 3 weeks of FORTRAN on the schools giant mainframe computer! The computer guys wore lab coats! It filled a large room and required using a card punch to program! I am so glad I had that experience, even though I never again touched FORTRAN.

David's dad was a lawyer, and they had a WANG computer! He invited us over on a weekend once and we logged onto "The Well" (an early Compuserve-like service) and played a rudimentary Star Trek like game in all it's green monochrome text-based goodness. All resistance was futile from that point on!

TRS-80s, Apple ]['s, our family's first Mac (512k Fat mac) and the story continues on to today, as I sit in a Starbucks, reminiscing with you via my iPhone, about to go to work as a computer graphics artist. Amazing!

Peace, love, and dreams which come true,

Rich

2 comments:

Eutychus said...

Funny - Aaron Johnson, Peter Greenman and I went to the same JAIMS computer institute, probably the summer before you did. We actually learned how to program using punched cards!

Maierhauser said...

Rich,
I fell over laughing at this one! Long live geeks!
Sonja