I’m still trying to decide how I feel about our long married kids and grandkids calling me a Geek. I suppose I have always been one as was demonstrated when I built the Imsai 8080 computer from a kit. It literally was the first PC to ever hit the market. You programmed it by flipping switches on the front panel. The $599 kit purchase price was staggering in the mid-1970’s for a father with a young family.
The Imsai was followed by about every computer or computer kit that hit the market. I still have many of them down in my computer graveyard, much to the annoyance of my long-suffering wife.
The problem with them was that there wasn’t genealogy software on the market, so I wrote my own in Basic and later more mature languages until PAF was first released in all of its DOS glory.
Living near WordPerfect in Orem, Utah at the time helped (I might have been employee #4 or so if I wasn’t so risk adverse), because they had a stable full of good programmers who inadvertently developed software tools that also made the life of genealogists a lot simpler.
Growing up, our flock of children always had computers and computer games to use. The size of the computer bone yard grew and grew as every new milestone platform was released. We didn’t have money in the budget for all of these toys, so my 3rd side job was specifically designated just for Dad’s “computer stuff”.
I didn’t bother to get certifications until I had around 2,000 people working for me and thought that maybe I’d better get some initials after my name when one of them asked me what “education” I had related to their jobs. Thus ensued the flurry of Microsoft, Linux and Cisco study, testing and subsequent list of initials that I could claim.
The trend continued even after our bevy of children and foster kids were married and had children of their own. I still “fix’ their laptops when they visit although one of our sons is now the educated computer geek that works with ‘the current cutting edge magic and tires of being relegated to maintaining ‘”just” security and connection issues. He lives in a world that never stops demanding his time and attention. The blush is off the bloom when your life is so heavily impacted by your job.
Technology has been very good to my genealogical research. Not only could I record my data in easily navigated forms, the data could be stored and protected on disks and drives of ever decreasing size and ever increasing data storage density.
Although few genealogists had computers way-back-when, a few of us frequented bulletin boards and traded research information. When email started being adopted by many in the genealogy community, shared data started to flow in earnest.
The magic of webpages caught my eye shortly after the University of Utah started publishing them along with other institutions associated with the DARPA project and its worldwide successors. I remember that the first time I visited the newly minted site of a university in Hungary, I wondered if the guys with dark suits and black hats would soon be knocking on my door. The screen full of not only text but beautiful color photos captured my imagination. Wow! I had to learn how to do that ‘stuff’ with html, domain registration and all of the attendant hosting and related requirements.
Computer and Internet technology has repaid my monetary investments so many times that the original painfully expensive investments now appear to be the best financial investments I’ve ever made. For almost four decades, I’ve visited the locations of my ancestors births, lives and deaths vicariously through video and voice thanks to cousins who lived near those locations. Others have done the same because of my location and the technological tools in my research quiver. (Yes, you read the year span right – don’t ask how we figured out how to do it long ago – legally – or at least on the fringe so far that no one else considered it to be a problem.).
This post was inspired by the double handful of grandsons that have spent the last couple of days visiting us before school starts again. “Grandpa, would you connect my iPod, iPad, phone, laptop, etc., to your WiFi, so we can start a game with each other? “Grandpa, do you know how to fix or resolve this or can you help me – I think someone is hacking my email account.”
The title has changed a bit too … “My Dad’s a Geek” has expanded to “My Grandpa is a Geek”.
“Ok, grandpa, you’ve spent enough time writing, let’s start working the 30-meter band and send some PSK31 traffic while the conditions are so good. “
It sounds like I’m outta here. My Demi-Geek grandsons demand my Ham attention.
73 to all of you. (Look it up).