Meltsner, Kenneth Kenneth.Meltsner at
Sat Sep 20 18:27:46 PDT 2003

[amazing life stories!]

Just a bit older than me, although much better travelled.  I started with ASR-33 hooked up to a HP 2000 B (1969) at the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley.  I was an annoying 7 year old at the time; definitely a beneficiary of UC's attitude towards kids and computers.  I'm still annoying, but much bigger and older.

Junior high was a step back (to punch cards and FORTRAN).  High school brought the first microcomputers (SOL-20 and North Star Horizons) and I wrote a "universal" set of I/O routines that worked on either machine (8080 assembler), most noteworthy for fitting into 256 bytes.  Summer jobs included a stint as a big (CDC) computer operator and helping out at the Byte Shop of Berkeley.  Wrote a text formatter (dot commands) that could be embedded in CBASIC programs (40 pages of 8080 assembler) as a way to produce WP-quality docs from accounting programs.  Hung out or met various S-100 computer gods -- Godbout, Morrow, etc.  Didn't do much of note, to be honest, although some of my custom software (CBASIC) was still in use years later.

MIT beckoned and I left computer science temporarily (~10 years) depending on whether you count a thermo program written in LISP as CS or not.  Worked on AI for metallurgy, then AI for engineering in general, then CS applications in engineering, and finally dropped the engineering part.  I kept getting pushed down to the stack -- AI to databases to network stuff (like the Web, ick) -- a pattern that has persisted since the really cool ideas at the top levels tend to die because of lack of attention to the bits beneath, which is probably yet another statement of the Law of Leaky Abstractions.

Married along the way, so I could drag my wife to Schenectady and Johnstown, along with kids increasing from 0 (in 1988, at GE Research) to 1 (in 1993, laid off and moved to Johnstown), to 2 when we moved to Milwaukee in 1996.  

Actually changed jobs in 1999 without moving -- a first!  And I've been the "portal/knowledge management dude" at CA ever since.


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