Adam Kalsey asked us to…

June 2, 2003 Comments Off on Adam Kalsey asked us to…

Adam Kalsey asked us to write about our early computing experiences. Here goes:

It was 1977. I was in seventh grade at Hyde Jr. High in Cupertino. A new box had arrived and word quickly got around that the school had received its first personal computers. I think it had 8KB (kilobytes, not megabytes) of RAM. No hard drive. No high resolution video card. No mouse. No floppy drive. Programs were loaded by typing them in and then storing them to cassette tape. You could buy software on cassette tape too.

One of the counselors started a computer club. It wasn’t all that popular, as I remember. A few students here and there.

A few months later I had a tour of Apple’s only building at that time. At least I think it was the only building. There might have been two over on Bandley drive at that time. The rest of the area was completely orchards. Except for the R Cali Brothers grain factory (torn down in the 80s for more Apple buildings).

I remember the first day the Any Mountain store opened. I remember for one of their Labor Day sales they trucked in a ton of snow and let people try their hands at Cross Country skiing.

Some other Apple history. You know the Donut Wheel that’s on De Anza right near the Apple headquarters? Well, that wasn’t its original building. It originally owned a far less swanky building about 100 feet to the North. The problem was that the city needed to build a road through there. So, it bought the donut shop a new building and built the road. Some businesspeople get lucky just by being in the wrong place at the right time, I guess. Here’s a look at the really old days, by someone who arrived in the valley in 1943.

Anyway, back to my first computer experiences. Did you know our family actually built several hundred Apple II mother boards at home for the Hildy Licht company. I just searched Google and found that Hildy Licht is still in business. Crazy. She was just getting started back then. Apple couldn’t keep up with its demand, so it hired Hildy to train and hire housewives in the valley to build motherboards at home.

My mom would get a hundred motherboards, or so, and thousands of components. My dad built a soldering desk out of iron. Took a welding class to learn to weld it together. We’d sit around watching TV at night plugging components into the mother boards. Then my mom would soldier them into place. After a while I even learned to soldier them. That was a skill that proved useful when I got a summer job working an assembly line at HP as a sophomore in high school.

Anyway, I remember staring at the design of the motherboard and thinking it was a work of art. Later I learned that Steve Wozniak had been the one to design those boards. I couldn’t believe my luck when I ran across Steve while taking college classes in 1989.

I asked Steve if he knew of Hildy Licht and he said he had. He said that Apple had fewer failures on those boards than the ones they had manufactured in more traditional plants.

Of course my dad bought the family an Apple in 1979 or so. Our first one had a floppy drive, a color screen, and 16KB of RAM. I think he spent a couple of grand upgrading it to 64KB or 128KB. I forget. Later he souped up a newer IIe with a CPM card.

I remember Apple’s ads that they ran in the San Jose Mercury News when IBM first announced its PC. I’m pretty sure the ads said “Welcome IBM.” Here’s some of the early Apple ads. I remember reading some of these and attending the West Coast Computer Faire with my dad.

I had an Apple poster and stickers in my room and I even had some on a trunk that I still own today.

Of course, my association with Microsoft also started in the 80s. When I first started playing with the Macintosh in the late 80s, I learned Microsoft Word and Excel. Here’s some of the history behind those.

It’s interesting to go back and look at all the history that I’ve seen since I first was a 13-year-old kid interested in playing video games on the school’s Apple II. Here’s a good list of links of Apple history.

Now, when was the first time I played on a Microsoft OS? That was in the late 1980s when I took a computer science class at West Valley Community College, and they were still using DOS 3.0. I thought “why am I learning this when I know the future is gonna look like the Macintosh?”

Later, when I got to San Jose State University in the early 1990s, I saw a beta version of Windows NT and talked with some Windows enthusiasts at one of the computer shows I attended. They evangelized me on Windows with their enthusiasm. My life has been Microsoft focused pretty much ever since.

There are about a dozen other people who are writing about their early computing experiences. Hey, why don’t you write your own? It’ll be really interesting to hear from the kids, like my son, who will never know what the world without an Internet was like. Heck, my son is younger than Netscape.

[The Scobleizer Weblog]

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