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My Life with Computers

My experience with computers began in 1970 while I was employed at Ampex Corporation. We used an System Engineering Laboratories (SEL) 810A mini-computer as the system controller in the Ampex Videofile system. This was a very large, scalable system for the storage and retrieval of document images to video tape. These systems were used by several large insurance companies, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, New Scotland Yard, and several other law enforcement agencies. By today's standards this computer was quite slow, but was state of the art in 1970:

I originally worked on the hardware design of one of the peripherals for this system, a video hardcopy printer, from 1967 to 1970, when I then went into Field Service. I worked primarally on the hardware at first, and later assumed software maintenance duties as well. During this time I wrote several complex and useful diagnotics routines, and developed my keen interest in programming which has lasted with me until the present.

Several of the Videofile systems were utilized into the late 1980's and beyond.

My next assignment with Ampex, from 1981 to 1987, was with the Terabit Memeory System, specifically the system installed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research located in Boulder, CO, where I was the Field Service Site Supervisor. This system was much like Videofile and leveraged off the same technology, but the Terabit system was for storing mass quantities of digital data as opposed to document images. The major components of this system were:

The Terabit Memeory System at NCAR was de-comissioned in April of 1987. As far as I know, there are no such systems still in existence. My exposure to PC's at NCAR was minimal as they were just beginning to make their appearance. Our computing needs were met by access to NCAR's UNIX systems via a terminal. I had my first exposure to the Internet while at NCAR, but it would be unrecognizable to today's Web surfer. It mainly consisted of Usenet and FTP, and was used mainly by scientists and engineers that had a government affiliation.

My entrance into "home computing" really came in 1990 when we purchased our first PC, although I had used PC's extensively while at Exabyte starting in 1987. Our first home PC was an NEC 386/16 SX with a 42 Mb. hard drive, MS-DOS 3.0, and Windows 3.0. The extent of my online world was CompuServe at 300 baud (there was a substantial surcharge for higher rates), and later, GEnie, no graphical interface or browser as we know it, just straight DOS. I also continued honing my programming skills in C with the Microsoft Quick C Compiler. I'd had exposure to other languages in the past such as Basic and Fortran, but all of my professional experience was in assembly language on DEC, Data General, and the SEL platforms.

Over the years we've continued to upgrade our computing power:

Future expansion plans call for connecting the two newest Gateways in a home network, and a CD-RW drive for the Athlon. We are also looking at adding an all-in-one printer/scanner/whatever in the very near future.

I am still continuing my work and continuing education in C++ using Microsoft Visual Studio and MS Visual C++ 6.0, and am currently learning Windows programming with Microsoft Foundation Classes. Jimmye will be starting a class in Visual Basic shortly. Over the years we have both become expert level users of many different types of software especially the Microsoft Office suite. In addition, I've had significant experience through my work with developing and maintaining a large MS Access database. I was also the maintainer of our department's intranet web site for some time and gained a lot of experience in HTML (although it may not show here!). I will continue to update this page as significant changes come about and will also add some links to some of my favorite relevant sites.

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