The year was 1979. My first experience with computers came in the form of an Apple ][ in my elementary school Westwood Elementary in Prince George, BC, Canada. My mentor? Dave King, my grade 5 teacher and computer studies teacher. I first started programming in Basic “Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code”. I quickly mastered the language and won first prize in a local computer fair with my mathamatical program that I completely wrote on graph paper first while camping and then entered it in the Apple II when I returned. Not many people will remember this form of programming whereas the programmer envisions the program first and then write it down almost in flow chart format on graph paper with specific packets of code within each step of the flow chart relevant to that specific part of the program. I use to sit for hours beside the lake writing code. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, computer time was still monitored and hard to come by so making the best of when you did get a moment was crucial. Kind of heavy for an 8 year old hey? Yeah I know but it all paid off.
Shortly after mastering Basic I then was introduced to a language called Logo (variation of the LISP language). It’s intellectual roots are in artificial intelligence, mathematical logic and developmental psychology. At first I remember thinking what the hell is this? Let me get this straight you program your instructions in and it draws a shape? Yippy! It took me awhile to get over this fact then I quickly mastered the language and for this I was awarded with the first opportunity to use the Logo Turtle. This was essentially the first mouse I had ever seen and it was a monster. The thing must have weighed 20lbs and it had a pen inserted up under where its mouth should have been. Roll out the drawing paper for giants! The drawing paper for this thing took up about 80% of the school hallway. Oh yeah…this mouse was on a leash. No such thing as cordless yet. Hahahaha….
Throughout my elementary school I was fortunate enough to experience an array of Apple computers including the Apple ][ , Apple ][+, and Apple ][e. Then one of the most pinnacle moments in my childhood happened when my grandparents came to visit us from Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada.
When my grandparents came to visit us, at that time my father’s union office had purchased an original Apple ][+ and whenever I had a moment when my dad was working, I would get on it and ‘hack’ away. I have always been a ‘hacker‘ at heart. Then came that great moment when my grandfather told my dad that he would loan him the $2500 to buy a computer. So we did…only it wasn’t an original but the next best thing as far as I could tell. It was an Apple ][ clone called the Apco. First thing I did when my dad brought that thing home was sit down at it (summer holidays) and hammered out some code. I worked until the wee hours of the morning on that program but when I went to save it I discovered I had forgotten something. See in the Apple ][ computers your BASIC interpreter was contained in ROM and I had forgotten to load the interpreter and was programming on a blank machine without any OS or interpreter. Never being satisfied with the status quo I immediately tore the new Apco apart and dug inside. I immediately spotted the ROM and thought to myself…I am going to burn the original Apple ROM at the office and dump it on to the Apco so in essence I would have an original Apple ][+ instead of the clone Apple ][ we originally bought. So I did this. Not only for our computer but also for a couple of my dad’s buddies. One of which got me the EEPROM burner to copy the ROM. I was about 9 or 10 when I was doing this.
Then the next step in the evolutionary process was the Atari ST. Being still a child you don’t get much input as to what your parents spend their money on so I just went with the flow even though I would have preferred the Commodore Amiga over the Atari. (Cant forget to mention my short stints with Tandy Model I, TRS-80 and Vic-20 computers) So I worked a bit with this line of computers but found myself more in to the graphics of the games than doing anything productive like programming. But thats what they were promoted as…THE GRAPHIC MACHINE to go against the famous bouncing ball of the Amiga.
Then came the IBM clone (again…no input as to the direction we went). My dad decided that there wasn’t enough software out there for the Apple line so he went with buying a PC clone. I had previously dabbled in being a SYSOP (System Operator) for a BBS (Bulletin Board System) on my Apple but now with the larger variety of options for PC I was free to do what I wanted. And trust me…I took full advantage of it. I setup one of the earliest BBS systems in Prince George and was calling fellow BBS’s all over North America. It was a revolution. BBS is what spawned the internet. I also got in to programming in Q&A, a database programming language and soon I was selling my programs to companies like Rogers/Cantel Cellular and Rapid Arrow Aviation.
As I began to enter my teens it wasn’t such a cool thing to be a computer geek so I edged away from the scene and denied I ever knew much about computers from the ages of 13 until around 21. That was the time to party not to play on computers. I couldn’t avoid the skill I possessed when sitting behind a computer screen any longer and new that if I wanted to be successful at something I better love what I do. So the choice was obvious.
At 21 I purchased my first PC clone with my own money and started doing part time work on it while still refusing to completely let go of the party scene. Which of course posed a problem. It wasn’t until around 24-25 when I started going hard with the computer industry and taking it seriously. I opened my own shop up on 1st Ave in Prince George in 1995. At the time I was building and repairing PCs with the odd network job. Basically working for beer money. Then me and my roommate purchased a DSS statellite system from RCA. This would have been the second pinnacle moment in my life growing up with computers.
The story of my part in the DBS industry would fill a book (its been offered dont laugh) so I will keep it short. This was around the time I started to dabble with #C and C++. Now by no means did I ever come close to mastering these languages however I learned enough to get me by with a little help from my friends! Like I said, this chapter could fill a book so I will stop right here and move on to the next chapter…
Back in 2002 I got irritated with working all day repairing computers and helping friends and family non-stop with theirs, only to come home and have to fix my own computer if I wanted to get anything done. So I started looking back and remembering my time with Apple. And the new Macs they were putting out were something to behold. Apple has always been the leader while Microsoft plays catch up while they rip apart Apple product to figure out how they can steal it and call it their own. Re: Pirates of Silicon Valley. So without much hesitation, I bought the 12″ Mac Powerbook. This little thing packed a punch in such a small package. It was perfect for war driving expeditions. Then it spread like an infectious disease and I couldn’t stop. Then I bought their power house Powermac Dual Core 1.8Ghz. At the time it was dubbed the world’s fastest person computer. Mac was back!
Since that decision to move back to Mac I have never looked back. To this very day I run nothing but Mac and dread the day I have to sit behind someone’s PC to help them reload their computer’s crappy operating system because of OS Decay. Windows is the only operating system that suffers from this and actually its because of Windows that the term was first coined. So here I am living in Costa Rica, doing what I love and living/working with stress free computers that JUST WORK! Like my childhood, I am still a hacker at heart and my talents with computer has grown immensely to include graphic design, web design, PHP scripting, HTML, system/network engineering, software engineering/design and of course the minor things I don’t like to mention and still cant belive colleges and universities around the world issue diplomas for. (i.e: MS Office ) I am an A+ certified technician with my MCSE from Microsoft. I am also certified with Intel and AMD microprocessors. I’m kind of like the Heinz 57 of the computer industry.
So that is what it was like growing up Mac! Actually to be formally correct it should be growing up Apple but that just doesn’t roll off the tongue the same so f**k it!