getting historical

I’m not one to think much of the past and reminisce about the “good ol’ days,” or about the future for that matter. Very much into the now, the present. Having said that, this is one of those rare occasions where I’ll recall the past. Particularly some names, in hope that someone will Google for their own names, or someone who knows them, and might reconnect me with someone. I’ve had very little response after using websites like classmates.com or alumni.net for years.

Actually, what triggered my memories was hearing podcasts of Dave Winer and Chris Pirillo talking about their early computing stories.

These are some of the people I hung out with during my high school days (Class of 1984, John Handley High School in Winchester, Virginia): Floyd Scott Finley (“Dr. F”), David Santilli, Kristine Hastreiter (“Kris”), and Allen Gray. In the earlier years, also hung out with golfer Joe Hourigan, who introduced me to birch beer along with my math teacher Mr. Pleacher. Allen taught me to drive a manual stick-shift, on a day-trip down to Busch Gardens. David was my roommate first year college, and introduced me to the college radio station. That’s where I deejayed at the 3-am shift and got my nickname “DJ”. (Granted, I’ve not been back to a class reunion, and don’t think my circle of people would anyways. I did submit my info a few years ago, when they were gathering a reunion directory, and I didn’t see my people listed.)

I won’t retell our antics and stories here, which would probably be as boring as watching family videos or missionary slide shows. But I can tell about how I got into computers.

Winchester was a very small town of 20,000, so we had to entertain ourselves in this town we affectionately called “Funchester.” I had next to no exposure to sports or extra-curricular activities. I wound up spending tons of time after school in the computer lab, where we had all of 3 Tandy TRS-80 computers. My hacker buddy Floyd and I played Scott Adams text adventure games and created our own. Then Big Five pixelated video games came along. Computers were something to do, and allowed some latent creativity in me to find an outlet.

One afternoon, I found one of the TRS-80 Model I’s to be malfunctioning. The teacher monitoring the lab was not very tech-savvy, and I took it upon myself to work on the computer and even fixed it. I elatedly told the compsci teacher the next day, and he was not pleased. He gave me a lecture, put me into detention (I think), and I’m tearing up badly the whole time (I’m a softie.) This wasn’t the incident that threw down the gaunlet.

One day after school, I stayed extra late at the computer lab. I was engrossed, as was the monitoring teacher. I got home at 7:00pm or so that night. And my parents were worried sick, and rightly so. I got a lecture and discipline there too, with many tears. And then I got my own TRS-80 Model 1, so I would be working on the computer at home from then on. No more hangin’ out at the school computer lab.

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