Thursday, October 6, 2011

you always remember the first time

When I first moved to Milwaukee, in the mid-1980s, I usually had more bills than paycheck, so the Public Library system was a good fit for my life.  Along about 1990 or so, the libraries installed public computers in most of the neighborhood branches and the Main library downtown.  If you had a library card, you could sign up to use a computer for one hour at a time. Phone reservations were accepted.

My computer skills at that time involved an IBM-card driven Univac.  But this was a Personal Computer.  Yes, it was called a PC even though it was an Apple IIe, and compared to the basic FORTRAN instructions I was accustomed to, it was quite sophisticated.

It was an amazing time on this Earth - For 52 cents, I could purchase a five-inch floppy disk at GK Enterprises, which was in the back room of a laundromat in West Allis, and with that disk I could carry my work with me wherever I went.  Imagine 56,000 bytes of my own thoughts and creations all on one disk!  So, I could book multiple times at multiple libraries, and continue uninterrupted through all my free time.  Some evenings I would even book two or three libraries one after the other and "make the rounds".

My biggest project, after learning general PC principles, was to convert the index of my music collection into a massive database, a database which I use to this day. 78s, 45s, LPs, cassettes, all indexed so I could find them instantly, 30,000 titles presently. And soon the database took up multiple floppy disks, and the Apple software would accommodate this.  Assisted by supplementary reading, and a subscription to PC magazine, I gained a self-taught working knowledge of computers,  Enough so, that when my company finally put in a computer, I was able to automate most of my office functions immediately.

And it started on a Steve Jobs Machine - an Apple IIe in the Milwaukee Public Library. I'm a P.C. and Steve touched my life, too!

1 comment:

Lydia said...

Oh how the world will miss him.