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Origin Stories: Kelly Hodgkins


Looking back, I should have known that I would end up working in science and technology. As a kid, I loved exploring how things worked -- from mixing different colors and type of soaps in the sink to taking apart our radio. My favorite Christmas gift was the chemistry set shown above. Look how thrilled I was to be mixing chemicals in my living room!

Most of my youth was non-tech oriented. We had a single TV with a rotary dial, but I didn't watch a lot of it. I was more into sports and spent hours outside shooting hoops. It wasn't until I got into college at Loyola College in Maryland that my interest in technology began. I entered school as a Biology major and had my first encounter with a Mac. It was an Apple Mac II, though I don't recall the exact model.

The Mac II sat in the school's computer lab, and it was required by my Latin class because one of the language apps was Mac-only. As someone who used a PC and DOS sporadically, the move to the graphical UI of the Mac was unsettling. I was afraid of the trash can and what it meant to throw things away. Despite my uncomfortableness with the Mac, I was determined not to be afraid of it and spent an entire 3-day holiday weekend on campus learning how to use the thing.

After college, I headed off to graduate school to enter the Ph.D program in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire. That was 1994. As a graduation gift, I was given a brand new PowerMac 6100 with an external LaCie drive and a monitor. It was a 60MHz machine with a 250MB hard drive and System 7. I used it to record the results from my experiments, write research grants, and create presentations. It served me well for 5 years.

The internet was just starting to take off, and I was fortunate to be able to plug into the high-speed internet connection at the university. I chatted through Telnet, BBSed my heart out and then Mosaic came out and changed everything. I was able to move beyond text-based commands and into the world of a graphical web. Netscape Navigator became my favorite tool, even though it froze ... a lot.

I met my husband during these graduate school years, and he made fun of me for using a Mac. When we got married in 1999, he was a web developer working with javascript, ASP and other popular web standards of the day. I transitioned over to Windows 95 as it was easier to network and maintain a bunch of PCs, instead of a mix of PCs and Macs.

Other than a brief stint with a used Newton MessagePad, I spent the next eight years away from the Mac and away from the world of Apple. I was on a PC working with Macromedia Director and doing video editing in Premiere for Windows. I was as geeky as ever, but my interests were in tablets and Windows PCs.

It was the iPhone that roped me back in when it was announced in 2007. I couldn't buy the iPhone at launch as AT&T didn't have coverage in my area, but I did grab the first iPod touch that I could get my hands on. It didn't take long for me to transition back to the Mac with a brand, spanking new MacBook Pro.

It was about that time I started writing at Boy Genius Report. I did it on a whim -- I was a stay-at-home mom working on websites on the side. I was always a decent writer in college and decided to try my hand at blogging. This side job provided me with the extra cash to keep my gadget addiction well satiated. I owned several iPod touch models, and was all over the iPad like butter on toast. I always wanted a decent tablet and owned almost every Microsoft TabletPC device made. When the iPad came out, I was in hog heaven.

At that point, there was no going back on blogging and with Apple. I was now writing at BGR and at IntoMobile and used a Mac, an iPod touch, and an iPad in this endeavor. At that point, I had enough Apple geek cred points to land a job writing for TUAW. It was a dream position to be writing along with the people whose articles I had been reading for years. Such smart people and I was going to be counted among them --- swoon.

Within a year of the iPad launch and shortly after I joined TUAW in December 2010, Verizon Wireless started to carry the iPhone 4 and I finally became an iPhone owner. Since then, I've owned every iPhone and iPad model Apple has released. I usually sell the older models to buy the newer ones and keep two lines on my cellular service so I have an iPhone upgrade available every year. Those two lines are used for my iPhone and my iPad.

My whole family also has transitioned over to Macs, iPhones, iPads and the like. Even my husband, a card-carrying Microsoft ASP.NET developer, has transitioned to the Mac and dual-boots it so he can work on iOS and his Microsoft stuff.

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