Aw Shite!

Stephen D. Williams
Thu, 17 Jan 2002 20:51:38 -0500

I was stranded in small town Ohio (Defiance, Ohio) in a computer store 
in 82-84.  We sold 8-bit atari computers, CP/M 80, NEC CP/M 80/BASIC, 
Kaypro, Columbia (the first IBM PC clone I think), TI-99a, and the Epson 
office PC (all OS and apps written in Forth).

I learned a lot, but the only guy who ever wandered in was the 
electrical engineer who wandered in from Cleveland because of the 
crosstitch shop next door his wife wanted to visit.  That's how I made 
it from the outback of Ohio at $50/wk. to controls programming and Unix 
at GE Lighting's Labs.

When I joined the owner in the computer store, it was a record shop with 
1 computer.  When I left, we were doing 1Million in sales.  In a town of 
19k.  And I had completed several contract programming jobs.

I should have moved to the west coast as soon as I could.  Ah well.


Jeff Barr wrote:

>You are young. When I sold Osborne stuff it was
>only books ("An Introduction to Microcomputers",
>I used to sell Altairs, IMSAIs, and Sol-20s in 1975
>at the Retail Computer Store in Seattle (I was
>in High School at the time). My entire summer's
>earnings bought me 4KB of static RAM (that's KB,
>not MB or GB).
>We did have some celebrity visitors, including
>Bill Gates, Gary Kildall (CP/M and PL/M), and
>Bill Atkinson (Mac QuickDraw). Atkinson was working
>at the "U-Dub", (University of Washington), doing
>some kind of image processing using the IMSAIs
>that I sold him.
>Several of the store's employees went on to
>fame and/or fortune:
>Tim Paterson - MS-DOS. He was the store's hardware
>technician. Not a software guy as far as I could
>tell, during the time he was at the store. Later
>he was just up the hall from me at Microsoft. Tim
>is now retired and a grandfather.
>Mike Courtney - Microsoft Basic and MS-DOS. He worked
>very strange hours, fueled by a very large cup of
>coffee. Famous for handing out the "Kick-Ass Seal of
>Approval" when impressed by a technical feat. Mike would
>work until his body gave out and he would fall asleep
>in his chair. We would carefully roll him into a spare
>office until he awoke. I have not been able to find
>Bob Wallace - Microsoft Pascal. Bob was in charge of
>ordering books for the store. He also built a way-cool
>portable computer (predating the Osborne which spawned
>this thread by several years). Bob was into community
>and shared information long before it was in vogue.
>Bob wrote an amazing text preprocessor for Altair
>Basic which added structured control constructs and
>long variable names. Bob now runs a book store devoted
>to information about psychedelic drugs.
>Me - Being all of 15, I did a lot of random things.
>I wrote lots of little demos on the Sol-20, and wrote
>a nifty auto-boot routine for the Northstar disk
>(the first 5.25" disk drive). I was good at entering
>in the octal boot sequence for Altair Basic using
>the console switches. I think it starts "063", "307".
>I am still working on the fame and fortune part. I
>also got to unpack the books (and read them as I
>did so). I once received a phone call from a guy
>named "Steve" who asked me why we did not sell
>the Apple I. It could have been Jobs or Wozniak.
>I was lucky enough to get to fly to San Francisco for
>the First West Coast Computer Faire (1976?) and
>met Ted Nelson. Amazingly enough my parents let me
>go by myself with little more than a plane ticket
>and a hotel reservation.
>I once met Paul Terrell, founder of the Byte Shop.
>Ah, the memories.
>>Old enough?  I used to sell Osbornes (Byte Shop of Berkeley/Track
>>Computer Center -- summer job 1979 and assorted fill-in periods).