On Computers

Meet Jack, 'daWabbit'

Bust image of Jack Let’s see; What to write about myself? First off; I guess I should admit that the picture on the left really is me and was taken recently.

I’m in my mid-50‘s and have always been fascinated with technology. When very young, it was the technologies of racing automobiles and motorcycles, aircraft and farm machinery that held my interest. (All of those still fascinate me.) As a result, I trained as a toolmaker and machine designer and worked pretty close to those fields for much of my life. I’m lucky enough to have been able to do a lot of things I wanted to do in fields I found interesting and enriching. I’ve also worked as a gunsmith, gun maker and restorer of old aircraft and automobiles, as well as adapting motor vehicles for use by folks with physical disabilities.

My first exposure to computers was as machine tool controllers. In those days, we did all of our programming work on teletype terminals. Noisy and slow old things they were, too. Programs were taken to the machines on reels of punched paper tape that were read by light sensors picking up on light passing through the holes in the tape. More complex programs were transmitted via acoustic modems and calculated on a mainframe 350 miles away. It was a very slow and expensive process. I learned several machine control languages and became reasonably proficient in them, though never really achieving mastery of any of them.

I got into PCs rather early on, buying an 8080-based machine with 64k of RAM ($2000!) upon which to maintain mailing lists and then using it to print envelopes for targeted bulk mailings. I got to know dBase running on CP/M well enough to both appreciate and loathe it. I don’t recall which version, but it was one of the first. WordStar was the application of choice for editing text, in those days, and all printers were of the impact type. I must have learned to use those tools well enough because I still use WordStar bindings and keyboard shortcuts in my *nix text editors.

Being an almost compulsive writer, I have written several technical articles, some manuals for private concerns and a few books intended for limited circulation within a specific technical community. I have also been lucky enough to publish several short works of fiction under a pen name, in the last few years.

In the middle 90‘s, I retired and renewed my life-long passion for travel on foot, walking about the northern plains states on and off for a few years. That eventually took it’s toll on my health and I came back to Texas, meeting and marrying Jayna “Otter” Gause. I’ve been here ever since. Both of us have suffered major health problems in the last few years and are, for all intents and purposes, disabled. Still, we have fun and a nice life together. We’ll be doing a “real” marriage in September of this year (2003) in Lewisville, Texas, and every one is invited. I’ll keep you up to date on plans as they mature.

Besides working on the “On Computers” show, I do a small amount of consulting, web design work and helping my wife with her business. I also rehabilitate older computer hardware for those who otherwise would not have access to these wonderful machines on a strictly unofficial and non-profit basis.

Jack's family pictures


© 2003 Jack Imsdahl


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