An 'Old Lag' reminises.

There are two of us here at Evergreen that have careers in IT almost as long as the others here have been alive (and that is a really scarey thought).

I was thinking back to when I first got my hands on a 'computer' and I think I typed in 'What is the fastest car?' or something similar and its reply was 'Syntax Error'. "Pfft, not much good are they, these computers". This was back in the heady days of 1980.

I was very lucky to have an excellent computer science master at school who actually built the school computer from an electronics magazine. We had lots of other kit such as a Teletype, a paper tape punch desk, 8" floppy disk (single sided of course). All quite advanced for that time. (Secretly we all thought that Mike Scaggs, for that was his name, was a 'Free Mason' and  blagged all the gear for free!). Mike Scaggs helped us understand how these computers functioned from the ground level upward, how the electronics inside the z-80 microprocessor based computer worked, from then on I was hooked. There was no 'Windows', no mice, no MS-DOS. We had paper tape, a keyboard, a monitor and an operating system called CP/M (Control Program for Microcomputers). I always thought that the tool we used for debugging was called DDT, only then to realise years later that DDT was an insecticide for 'killing bugs'. We had a screen that was 80 characters wide, by a strange coincidence that is exactly the same as an 80 column punch card (that's no coincidence). Paper tape was eight channels wide, which matched the number of bits in a byte. Its why things are the way they are.

Of course the advancement of computers and microprocessor technology has been exponential since 1980 and I feel lucky, even privileged that I have been part of the early years and understand how things work and why things are the way they are.

I visited The National Museum of Computing for a geeky day out a couple of years ago, it was quite odd walking amongst the exhibits realising that the stuff I thought was sharp edge technology back in the day are now museum pieces - I guess that means you've reached a 'certain age'.

So here I am 30 years on and still 'bashing out the code'. "Why?", because I enjoy making the 'lights' turn on and off.

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