I caught the computer bug early
on. I took a night class where they told us about mainframes and Basic
programming and showed us punch cards. We got to write our own little
programs on punch cards. Mine was much too complicated for a first try.
I figured out later that Dungeons and Dragons was not the best model for
a first attempt at programming. This exposure, however, satisfied some
of the itch.
after the very, very early computer models. I used to go into Eatons Department
Store and stare at them and, watching them, learning a little bit. I learned
to program a loop, so the screen would say, endlessly, 'Hi, I'm a machine"
or whatever. It was a big thrill to give that first command and see it
being downsized from my job with an insurance company, so I took a portion
of my retirement funds and studied on getting my first computer.
With the Apple I got my feet wet. I used to go to Apple User group meetings held in a big high school auditorium. This auditorium would be pretty well filled by computer hobbyists, the early adopters of the technology. Floppy disc sales were at the back of the hall. I would study the list of programs and games available and buy. These were on 5 1/2" floppy discs, of course.
Eventually, I ended up running the telecommunications SIG ('Special Interest Group') We met at a local library. They let us run a long extension cable, after hours, from their phone to our 1200 baud modem in the meeting room machine. We could get on line thus proving that we could. There wasn't as much to do then on line as there is now but, hey, we were there.
I also got involved in early Unix and attended a local group called 'Unix Unanimous'. Yes, you heard that right. Unix Unanimous was the name of the group. I also got involved with Usenet and a very kind man there, Bruce, helped me to get started. I had by then segued over to the Amiga, an early multitasking computer with excellent graphics for the times. It had a Unix flavour. With Bruce's help I was able to set up my own Newsgroup. The first in Toronto to do this on an Amiga 500, a big deal in those times.
my computers about every 3 years. I joined an Amiga user group and later
ended up running this at the 519 Church Community Centre in Toronto. Popular
with a small group of loyal fans, this group was called ABUG. I scoured
the Internet for public domain programs to demo at this group. Like most
such groups, it was a hands-on Show-and-Tell kind of production.
AES Data,successfully marketed its brand of word processors worldwide until its demise in the mid-1980s. It was a true office machine and organizations, such as medium-sized law firms, could afford an AES. The AES machine could be learned and operated by secretarial staff which was a big deal. These were big clunky machines. The printers were extremely noisy and had heavy plastic covers to mute the noise so you could hear yourself talk during a print job. They broke down a lot. Technicians used to come in regularly about every two weeks and patch them up. Later on, I learned to run a few simple CP/M command line instructions on the AES Data machine
A law office hired me as a temp
because I had some computer background. That first AES job was a baptism
of fire. Had to figure everything out myself but, thereafter, the AES
machine was my meal ticket, as a temp at Environment Canada and later
as a temp and then full time employee with Industry Canada.