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Greetings from 30,000 feet

David Winograd

I'm typing this somewhere in the skies over Utah using a fast wireless connection on an 8 GB MacBook Pro killing time while flying to Las Vegas. When I started with computers this experience would have been considered somewhere between science fiction and magic.

Hi, I'm David Winograd and although I've been writing for TUAW for a couple of months, all of us new arrivals have been asked to write an introduction to give all of you an idea of just who is writing this stuff.

Steve Sande introduced himself as the old guy in a piece he did when coming on board. Well, I'm the new old guy. I beat out Steve by a couple of years, but we both have gray beards and wear safari-looking hats from time to time.

I got started with my first Apple ][+ in 1979 after overdosing on Creative Computing, a long defunct hobbyist magazine. I was in awe of all the neat (albeit amazingly pointless and even more amazingly expensive) things that could be done with what seemed to me as the best toy since the Betamax.

Eventually I saved enough to buy the Apple ][+ at a franchise called ComputerLand (also defunct, there's a pattern to this), where for $1795 I bought a 48k processor, a bunch of expansion slots and a yellow on black, decidedly non-graphics capable monitor. No disk drive of course since Apple hadn't made them yet, so programs were sold in hobby store racks in baggies containing a cassette tape and a mimeographed instruction sheet. Getting the volume level just right was critical for computing since one mistake and you needed to go back to the start of the tape. When playing a game,when you lost, the tape would rewind and reload taking another 20 minutes.

Ah -- Good times!

Since then I started what was arguably the first themed BBS (Bulletin Board Service) in New Jersey, called 'David's Place' which was themed like a restaurant that read like Zork. After signing on and getting my first monthly CompuServe bill, which was over $2,000, I wheedled a decade-long CompuServe gig checking Apple ][ downloads and later running their Macintosh Community Club Forum. I also wrote for the long dead Apple ][ GS Buyers Guide.

Later, I substitute-taught my son's junior high school computer class and found that in a newly donated lab loaded with state of the art Macs, the LC III at the time, the teacher, math of course, knew nothing about computers and the curriculum was totally comprised of the UltraKey typing game, and some shoot 'em up games. Becoming melt-down mad, I decided that my calling was to teach pre-service teachers how to 'get it', so we packed up and moved to Phoenix where I got a doctorate in Educational Technology. The thing that amazed me was that academics were getting published doing the same thing I had been doing as a hobby for fifteen years. This was a strange world and one where I felt right at home.

A couple of teaching jobs later, here I am. I am not a developer and have not written more than a four line BASIC program. What I can bring to the table is the viewpoint of a long time user (not an industry insider) and hopefully I can provide a historical perspective on all things Apple.

I am incredibly happy to have this opportunity, not only to write for one of the top Apple-oriented blogs, but to have the good fortune of hanging out with some of the most insightful and scary-smart bunch of tech enthusiasts housing the broadest range of skill sets I've had the pleasure to type with.

I've finished and transmitted this post on another Internet equipped flight, Virgin America Flight 260, on my way back to New York. I love technology.

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