An old friend of mine, Ted, passed away last week after a long battle with cancer. I hadn’t seen him in some time, and when I last saw him in a grocery store a few months ago he didn’t seem to recognize me. Ted worked with my dad for many years at AMC (now Daimler-Chrysler) in Kenosha. My dad introduced me to him when I was very young, in my teenage years. In fact, Ted introduced me to my first computer and was a major catalyst in my eventually pursuing a career in computers.
Ted bought and sold early computers and software years before computers were a household name. When I learned of his death last week I spent a lot of time trying to recall that part of my past, and researched a lot of the historical details of the computers and software we dealt with back then. Remember, this was way before today’s PCs, when computers were in their infancy. We were into Atari computers. And due to how rare computers were, it was very difficult to find software & hardware peripherals for these computers. Ted and I joined an Atari Computer Users Group in Waukegan and attended all the meetings. It was the only place “somewhat local” where we could find to get things for our computers, so we spent a lot of time buying and trading hardware and software. Since I was just a kid, Ted bought mostly everything we wanted, and then resold the items I wanted to me over time, when I could come up with the money.
“Colleen” was her name. She was an Atari 800, built in 1979. Ted and I both had one. They hooked up to your television, so you could run it black and white or even color if you have a good TV. The processor speed was 1.79 MHz and it came standard with 8k of RAM, upgradeable to a whopping 48k. The color was amazing–16 colors with 8 shades each. For storage it used an external cassette recorder. You could upgrade to an external floppy disk drive if you could afford the several hundred dollars investment. Don’t take all of this as sarcasm. For it’s time, this really was an amazing system. The entire history of those early computers can be found here, so I won’t bother discussing them further, except to say that, for Ted and I, those were our days of discovery in computers, and we enjoyed them a great deal, and became good friends because of them. Ted was also an avid CB’er back in the day, and went by the handle “The Blue Goose.” If you’re from the Kenosha area and recall having a CB radio, perhaps you might remember him on the CB. I do. Other memories connected to this that just popped into my head are The Phantom of The Lake (another more mysterious CB’er), many Fox Hunts, “kickers” and HUGE CB antennas, “Utility Man” getting his coax cut repeatedly for using an kicker, gatherings at a place called Smokey Stovers, and huge Jerry Lewis Telethon CB’er get-togethers. I lost touch with Ted several years ago, after moving out of my father’s house, so my only memories of him were good. This is probably for the best. He’s in a better place now. And I’m hoping that where he is he has the fastest computer The Almighty can afford, and a CB that can transmit around the world and to the Heavens! He would like that.