Tuesday, December 1, 2009

30 years working in the computer industry

On December 1st, 1979 I started my first computer job at "the computer store" (Yes, that was the name, and it was in all lowercase).  It was a Friday and I started after school that day and I was 16 years old at the time.  I was paid $2.90 per hour, and got a raise on January 1st, 1980 only because the minimum wage was increased to $3.15 per hour!  I didn't care about the pay.  I got to get up early on Saturday mornings to drive my Dads 1978 yellow Jeep Wagoneer to Cambridge and sell and test Apple II computers.  They cost $1495 and came with 16K (that's kilobytes, not megabytes).  Each additional 16K cost $180, and you needed 48K to run most software, unless you loaded programs from cassette.  The only program worth loading from cassette was SubLogics Flight Simulator.  It took 30 minutes to load, but I'll never forget the thrill of taking off and the even bigger thrill of landing the first time.  I sold a lot Apple II's because of Visicalc, which was the first spreadsheet program for a personal computer.  I also sold a lot games, space invaders being one of them.  My favorite game, written by Robert Clardy of Synergistic Software is "Wilderness Campaign".  It was one of the first adventure games with graphics, and I still play it to this day on an Apple II emulator, but I still have my Apple II and sometimes use it as well.  My current Apple is Macbook Pro that is light years ahead of an Apple II, but those sure were the good old days when the home computer industry was just starting.