“Hello, Grant! I hope you are well.”
These words, some of the first I can remember any single entity uttering to me, started a relationship that would last my entire life. These words were the programmed greeting that came from the tiny 3.5″ speaker mounted inside an IBM 286 my uncle had just given to me.
“Hello.” I ventured back.
It was my 8th birthday, and my 8 year old imagination believed that this machine could really speak, and it was only proper to answer. I’ve been speaking to machines ever since.
I used my almond and cream IBM 286 to do the things most 8 year olds do. I played Battle Tanks and Scorched Earth. I played Zorg, my first text-based game since the choose-your-own-adventure series I read when I was younger. I broke it and rebuilt it several times. I learned a lot in the process.
Then I discovered Wordperfect. I didn’t really know what it was for, but I knew that my mom used it for these things called “reports”. I didn’t know how to write those so I wrote what I did know, fiction. I mostly copied comics and sci-fi novels I read as a boy. I created new worlds. I created characters. These stories are all lost to time, somewhat of a disappointment. I bet there was some good material there.
Fast-forward several years. I had been speaking to computers for years but not in a language they understood. I finally learned BASIC and my ability to tell a computer to GOTO any line and EXECUTE a command was finally realized. All kidding aside I learned a lot about drawing to the screen, and began to understand what it was to really speak to these machines that I’d only used as a tool up until then. It was then that I realized how powerful a tool they were.
Around the same time I became interested in music, specifically the drums. I had spent years irritating my family with clicking and banging, tapping and rapping on desks, pans and boxes. I finally pursued instruction and my parents graciously bought my first and then later second drum kits. Other than computers music has been my only constant interest. Perhaps that will change when I grow up someday.
The years went by and I discovered BBS’s. The thought of dialing into a remote computer somewhere in another city or state was enthralling, and I ran up several months worth of allowance in phone bills before I discovered ways to dial-in without paying the middle man. My interests exploded on the BBS. I discovered better programming languages and constructs, fun mathematics, and found kindred spirits musically. I dabbled in electronic music for the first time with Mod tools and hex editors. I recorded my first song around this time and shared several with other BBS musicians and programmers.
Then the internet showed up. A blessing and a curse, it allowed me to indulge and cultivate interests in a myriad of subjects. Film, photography, fiction, graphic art, 3D animation, more music, more math, more programming all followed.
In the years since I’ve become a software developer, leader of men, studio drummer, amateur electronics engineer, and writer. Somewhere in here I met my wonderful wife, had a kid and ran 100 miles.
I’m still waiting for the perfect storm of these interests, an alignment of the stars that will allow me to tie them all together with a big red bow to hand to the world.
Until then, I’ll create. I’ll report most of it here.