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Growing up Geek: Clayton Morris

Clayton Morris

Welcome to Growing Up Geek, a new feature where we take a look back at our youth, and tell stories of growing up to be the nerds that we are. This week, we're happy to have Clayton Morris, host of Fox & Friends, Gadgets & Games, and longtime friend of Engadget.

I can't remember a time in my life without gadgets. Born on New Year's Eve in Bicentennial Philadelphia, just three days before Apple Computer added an "Inc." to its name, my crib was filled with toys that buzzed, beeped, and burned through batteries. Don't tell Child Services, but I'm sure the soldering iron in the 'build your own radio set' wasn't safe for babies. Boring wooden toys were cast aside in favor of Speak & Spell, Simon Says, and Verbot: the voice controlled robot (although I could never get that damned thing to bring me a drink).

There have been two phases in my life: pre-Atari and post-Atari. Even though I was only two, everything changed the day my mom and dad brought home an Atari 2600 in 1978. I could barely walk or go to the bathroom by myself, but I could play Pong with the Atari's paddle controllers and blow up tanks in 'Combat.' On Easter Sunday my sister Nicole and I would get 'Demons to Diamonds' and 'Pitfall' instead of chocolate bunnies.

My dad worked in the meat industry. His job was to oversee the distribution of meat to hundreds of stores across the East Coast. For this he needed to manage a data base, and for that he needed a computer. In 1980 we were the first and only family in our neighborhood to own a personal computer. One of my earliest memories was sitting on my dad's lap while he wrote Basic code on his IBM 5150. That thing was a haulin' mother with a whopping speed of 4.77 MHz.

A few months after he got the computer our house was robbed. We'd only left the house for 10 minutes to drive my grandmom back to her apartment, but it was enough time for crooks to break in the back window and steal hundreds of dollars in jewelry from my mom and the $22.00 dollars I'd saved in my plastic piggy bank. My dad noticed a light on, raced into the house, and the first thing he did was check on his precious IBM. It was still there. I think the thieves probably had no idea what it was. Either that or it weighed 200 pounds.

Video game producer Shigeru Miyamoto and Clayton
Like every good 'geek' raised in the 80's I obsessed over Star Wars, idolized MacGyver, and beat Mother Brain in Metroid. But nothing meant more to me than my Jason Telescope model 311 with wooden legs and multiple lenses. I fell in love with astronomy, and routinely rounded up the neighborhood kids to show them Saturn or Jupiter through my view finder. Maybe that explains my obsession with UFO's, a subject I routinely try to squeeze into 'Fox and Friends' broadcasts.

As an adult 'geek' I'm now in a unique position. I'm privileged to cover technology for the number one network in the country. I get to take something complicated and break it down so millions of people can understand it. My proudest moments are when FOX viewers write to tell me they never knew anything about technology until they started watching me on Fox and Friends or on my tech show Gadgets and Games. Maybe those viewers will have little ones who will someday grow up to be a geek too.

Clayton Morris is a host on Fox & Friends as well as Gadgets & Games, a weekly tech show on the Fox News network. He is @claytonmorris on Twitter.

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