Sinus Iridum

Saturday, October 07, 2006

More about me?

Where to start? The interesting bits, I suppose.

I trained at Art School in the 70s after a distinct predilection and modest ability for the subjects of English, Maths and Art at school. Not a great combination for a career. These days, I'd have been off to College for a course in Computer Graphics but there was no such thing at that time. In the 70s, programmers were Highly Intelligent Men who flipped Important Switches and a program patch was Sellotape.

I wanted to be a silversmith/jeweller and was accepted for Birmingham School of Jewellery (largest School of Jewellery in Europe) but left when I was part way through my first year because I found out that I was pregnant. I was 17.

I married Steve because I loved him but had little choice. The result was my wonderful son Bryn, and a divorce within a year.

Time passes, I remarried and we separated after 6 years. So I had two lovely sons - Ewan arrived in 1978 - and I'm a single parent again.

After Ted (my second husband) had left, one of his friends knocked on the door one day. His name was Pete, better known as Little Red Pete due to his habit of wearing red clothing from head to foot. I'd never really spent time with him before, he had an eidetic (photographic) memory which was both his blessing and his curse. He had taught himself advanced programming from books to the extent that he'd found a highly paid job in computing without any previous experience.

He began to visit us regularly and, one day, he brought his VIC-20 with him. He was programming all day and going home to program all night and was losing his sanity, his social life and his hair. Bless him, he left it with me and said he'd "visit it" every weekend.

Within a couple of weeks I'd progressed further than the scope of the manual. Gradually, Pete kept bringing bits of hardware and I also had an Arfon expansion unit and as many cards as could be crammed into it: chess, extra memory and the Graphics Expander. Cool!

Within 2 months I'd moved on to 6502 machine code and assembly language, mostly coded in BASIC. Anyone here remember peek and poke?

Around this time I was given a modem by another friend who had just bought a new one (he was a hardware development engineer). These days, a modem is a box the size of a cigarette packet with a few discreet flashing lights showing connectivity etc. Then, it was bigger than my computer, got so hot that you could make toast on top of it and buzzed like a swarm of angry bees.
I didn't care. I was able to log in to Prestel and Micronet, and met my first on-line friends.

This is another, even longer story and includes the reason for my Rainbow nickname. I'll tell it later, if you're interested.

Within a year I had a Commodore 64 and graphics software. Oh joy! I could draw using my computer! It was primitive by today's standards but I didn't care, at last I didn't have to use the Graphics Expander cartridge to make pictures. Around this time I met Paul Woakes and Jeff Minter, and worked with both.

I was offered a job but needed an Atari ST for it to happen - my father-in-law didn't hesitate to help me. It was 1985 and I had one of the first STs to be made available to the public.

With it, and other hardware which began to accumulate, I started the career in computer graphics which should have begun back in the 70s.



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