Flummoxed Adopter — Me, Tech, & The Early Days

Here’s the thing: I’m as shocked as the next that I’d end up having anything at all to do with computers, let alone have them play such a utilitarian and seemingly seamless and natural role in my everyday life.

In fact, there was a fair period early on that I was relatively convinced that computers and such could well be the gateway to perdition (frankly, I’m still not completely unconvinced, especially on days I get to help with the one Windows machine we have at the office).

When I was in junior high school, my grandmother bought me a DIY binary computer kit, with little spring contacts, bridge wires, little incandescent light bulbs, and sliding switches. I’m pretty sure there must have been a manufacturing defect in some part of the device, as I could never get it to appear to function the way the instruction manual indicated that it should. Computers: 1, me: 0

It’s also important to keep in mind that back in my high school days, portable hand-held calculators were just becoming affordably available to the average family, and were typically verboten in class. The computer “lab” class was a DECwriter connected to some machine that ran enough BASIC to program the printout of a big green-bar paper banner. However, to even get that close to the machine, you had to have made your way through Calc and Trig, and my loose grip on math skills got derailed somewhere early on in Algebra II my sophomore year. Computers: 2, me: 0

It wouldn’t be until I had moved to California and found myself in the position of operations manager for Pacific Bell’s paging services vendor that I would finally break through my old notions as SysAdmin on the 3b2/400 mini mainframe from AT&T that ran a solid System V Unix. The score was about to even up, and even a turnover would seem plausible…


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