Way Back When

This is going to be a short retrospective. Short only because it is so late at night, and I’m tired.

In 1971, I took a course in programming technology from one of the largest and most successful computer manufacturers in the world – Control Data Corporation. This was in Atlanta, Georgia, and I paid for the six-month course through the GI Bill.

I worked for about six months or a year as an entry-level database programmer following the course, and then moved to the State of Georgia Mental Health Department because they paid better. Same job, different employer. I was getting a bit desperate after the first six months with the new job, since I was still getting paid very poorly for all the hours I was putting in.

I was walking into a meeting with the docs I was working for one day, and happened to pass one of them, still gathering up his notes. I saw a new machine right in the middle of his fancy desk, and wished him well with his new typewriter. You know, it looked just like one of the newer (sic) electric machines with some kind of display window just above the keys. He looked up at me and said, “Gary, that’s not a typewriter. That’s a computer.”

He was serious. But I knew computers. I drew my own flow-charts, wrote my own code and used one of the keypunch machines to punch my own cards. Then I took my shoeboxes of keypunch cards and drove them across town to the data processing center. There I watched the under-the-floor guys in their white coats load my cards into the hopper and press the buttons to make the great machine go.

I knew computers. They filled entire floors of large buildings and had little men in white coats crawling under them to do weird stuff with wires and cables.

I looked again at the little grey thing on his desk, smiled and shook my head. Then I continued into the meeting room with my roll of flow-chart paper and my notes.

I think it had an apple on the cover. With a bite taken out of it. I think it did, anyway. I wasn’t impressed with my doctor friend. I think he got taken on that one.

About Gary Showalter

Gary Showalter was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He lived in Aruba, Florida and the Panama Canal Zone before joining the U.S. Army during the 1960s. Following his discharge from the Army, Mr. Showalter picked cotton in East Texas, baled hay in Ardmore Oklahoma, sold light bulbs in Los Angeles, California, and built cattle pens in Fallon, Nevada (during a blizzard, of course). After settling in Atlanta, Georgia, Mr. Showalter worked as a professional gardener before turning his hand to furniture making. In 1981, he moved to Israel, married, and raised four children while working as a furniture maker, silversmith, goldsmith, and ornamental wood turner. He served in the Israel Defense Forces Reserves for sixteen years, and when not on active duty he worked in government and private security. He has also served in senior management positions in two software development companies in Israel. During his time in Israel, Mr. Showalter published articles dealing with international terror and the Israel-Arab conflict in the Jerusalem Post, Israel national News and several political science web sites. Mr. Showalter returned to the United States in the fall of 2003, to care for an elderly parent. He published his first novel, “The Big Bend”, in the fall of 2008. His second novel, “Hog Valley”, is now in print. Mr. Showalter's third novel, “Twisted Key”, was published in the fall of 2011, and his fourth novel, "Lonesome Cove" is now available in Kindle format and should be published in paper near the end of 2012. Those words were written a few years ago. Frankly speaking, the literary well has dried up. I now live in Dunnellon, Fl, where I amworking as the caretaker on a horse farm and looking to build a workshop here on the property where I can get back to building furniture. With any luck I will be sinking piers some time early in November and hope to have the floor joists ready for flooring by the end of the month. I'll get back to you on that.
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