12 November, 2013

Where's My Underwood?

Earlier today, I had been writing some stuff as a writing exercise which brought to mind, what OS's (operating systems) have I been exposed to since I started with computers. That would be a couple of years before I got out of the US Coast Guard.

At the time, for search and rescue planning, we used software called CASP, Computer Aided Search Planning. We would plot out our search areas on navigation charts, transfer the coordinates to special forms, and detail what sort of assets we had to use (fixed wing, helos, boats, etc.) then the forms were radioed in to Governor's Island, New York, (back when it was still a Coast Guard Station) where the info on the forms was fed into the actual CASP computer, also located at Governor's Island.

Usually, anywhere from several hours to the next day, the results would be radioed back to us (we were up in the Bering Sea or in the Gulf of Alaska). The message detailed the specific search parameters, spacings, timing, currents, drift, etc. that we then had to plot back on the charts, brief our boats and/or aircrew, and commence searching. That was considered high-tech back in the day.

This also is the same area and weather where 'the Most Dangerous Catch' and 'Alaska Fishing Wars' are shot. Only we weren't making the kind of money the fishermen make. We just had to rescue their asses when they got into trouble. We also played continuous cat and mouse games with Polish, Korean, Russian, and other country's fishing fleets who were all trying to steal everything that swam up there.
after I got out of the Coast Guard in 1978, I took my first computer class in 1979 at my Alma mater, Eastern Washington University.

Up in the computer lab, on a Teletypewriter (TTY) unit, weirdly similar to what we used for communications aboard ship. That OS would be some form of Unix, on a timeshare system. Which meant, when the University was doing payroll or similar, you could count on spending hours in the lab waiting for your program to compile, and then run, and finally you'd get your error cards back. Oh, yes. This was the era of the Hollerith cards. We all ran around with a cardboard tray full of them. It was considered great fun to reorganize them for any student who left his tray unattended for any length of time. Ha ha.

1980 saw the introduction to DOS by Microsoft. Disk Operating System. We got our first IBM PC into the computer lab. First time I got to sit on that machine, it scared me to death. Compared to the old TTY and timeshare, it was blazing fast. It had no hard drive. Everything was on 5-1/4" floppies. It terrified me until one day, it made a mistake, or froze, or something, I don't remember what. I thought then, Well, you stupid machine. I've never been afraid of them since then.

By 1981, I began learning what was then called MS-DOS. In December of that year, I graduated and Dianna and I moved to Vancouver, USA. That is, Vancouver, Washington, not to be confused with Vancouver, British Columbia.

I convinced my boss that desktop computers were the way of the future, and he reluctantly let me buy a Radio Shack Model III computer using TRS-DOS - Tandy/Radio Shack's version of DOS.

Around then, for home I bought a nice Commodore (Common Whore) Executive, with a little 2-1/2" screen and two (yes, two) floppy drives, that I later upgraded to be double=sided. Woo hoo! That was hot.

I could play at that time, what I considered the best game going - Sub Search, and World War II action. All of it on a double-sided floppy. You could leave from any of five ports in the western Pacific and sail just about anywhere over there. Come up to periscope depth and sight see just about anywhere or you could engage the Japanese fleet in several different ways.

It was tough for one person to play against the computer. Several times three or four of us got together and divided up tasks (torpedo problems, sonar, navigation, etc.) Keep in mind, this is all on one 5-1/4" floppy. Elegant programing, no bloat anywhere. It was a tough game to play.

I saw my first and only Lisa (Apple's forerunner to the Macintosh) over at one of the County offices in the courthouse. It had this weird thing they called a 'mouse.'

By then, our office had upgraded to a Radio Shack Model IV, still with two double-sided floppies (standard issue).

Then in 1984, I purchased a brand new Apple SE/30 for home. Hard drive, one floppy drive, and the mouse. It was so cool.

1986 came and I moved from City Hall in Vancouver to Olympia, Washington and State government where I got introduced to Windows 1 or some such number. That was cool too, but not near as cool as my Apple.

Then came a blur of operating systems - OS/2; Mac OS; Windows 3.0; Mac OS System 7; Windows NT; Windows 95; Windows 98; Linux; Windows 2000.

Around 2000 or so, I lost track of Mac systems; Windows XP came along; Windows Service Pack 1 arrived along with Windows Server 2003; and more Linux variations.

Then in 2005 or 2006 comes along Windows Vista. Now we're getting into the current times. About 2008 or 20009 Windows 7 rolls into town. That was a comfortable Windows system, at least to me.

And now we're up to Windows 8 and 8.1. Me? I'm staying with Windows 7. Guess I'm getting older. I just don't see any reason to upgrade to something that uses rectangles as a sorry excuse for an artistic front end. I'm sorry, it's ugly and I don't want to learn a new way of doing things that has no artistic appreciation.

And there you have it. A rough history of my journey through the fun world of computing.


John said...

Mac Mac Mac…. Love them!!!!!! LOL

(just down the street from you)

Dave Rider said...

Hi John,

Mac's are still what Windoze machines always wanted to be.


JRinSC said...

I didn't go the Mac route... although I now have an iPod Classic and an iPad 4 -- I do love 'em.

The one thing I was forced to learn on an early business compter (Basic 4) was lpm - a competitor to MSDos. Weird stuff that.

One funny and true story I saw on a documentary on the first 25 years of the personal computer was this. IBM wanted to introduce a desktop pc and went out to see Steve Jobs (and his lpm) but Jobs made the IBM guys wait an entire day. So they said "what is the name of that guy up in Seatle, Gates was it?
So they went and asked Bill Gates if he had an operating system for a pc that they could look over. He told them 'yes, but give me a week'. They set a date and left. Bill turned to one of his guys and said, "What is the name of that guy who showed us his operating system last month?"

They found him, bought the rights to it and that became MSDos!

John Combe said...

I sure miss your weather station :)


Dave Rider said...

Hi Julian,

Your comment reminded me - I left out CP/M. I converted the TRS Model IV to CP/M. Really seemed uptown.

Also reminded me of my fav wordprocessing program back then - WordStar. You had to insert control codes to do everything, even linefeeds. I don't remember the codes. I just looked up WordStar on the Intertubes to see if someone posted a chart of all the control codes and guess what? WordStar is still available! See Amazing!


JRinSC said...

My first pgm was VisiCalc (I think I spelled that right) and my favorite was good ole Lotus 123. Wow, a long time ago -- and I'll bet someone is still running them too. How about... and on and on... LOL



Dave Rider said...

Hi John,

My apologies for the weather station. It's always been cantankerous and now it really seems to have developed a mind of it's own.

I'm not sure what the problem is. I'm going to replace batteries in the receiver (plan old AA's in that) and I'll get up on the roof to replace the rechargeable ones (AA's but Rechargeable via the 2" solar cell).

If that won't do it, I'm not sure what the problem could be.

This morning, it was displaying wind, precipitation, etc., now, not so much.

I hope it gets back on the air soon.


Dave Rider said...

Hi Julian,

I remember getting a copy of VisiCalc in the office and being confused by it. At first I couldn't understand that you could plug in formulas and get it to provide answers - all in these tiny cells.

Once I got over the initial confusion, then we tried to get it to do everything.

I never was a fan of Lotus. We got sidetracked with dBase and dBase III and IV to keep all our Search and Rescue stats.

They were all great, powerful programs. We really put them through their paces - especially as it was new technology.

Fun times.