Those who know me would describe me as a dashing, handsome, modern renaissance man, full of poise and with a charming demeanor. It occurs to me, however, that from another perspective I’ve followed the life of a big nerd.
Age 6. My younger brother William takes apart a toy crane, leaving screws and nuts everywhere. My family is impressed that he took it apart yet seems unimpressed that I figured out how to put it back together. At the time I did not realize that it is unusual for a two-year old to be able to take intricate things apart. BTW, he continues to be able to take things apart, and has demonstrated some ability to build skyscrapers.
Age 10. I wrote my first computer program on Apple ][, and talked about computers on the schoolbus with Morris.
Age 12. My family buys an IBM PC. It costs as much as a car. I spend road trips reading the DOS and BASIC manuals. I buy Turbo Pascal 1.0. I spend nights on BBS’es downloading softare, mostly software to help me download software from BBS’es.
Age 14. Job in computer leasing company. I install memory (the chips looked like insects then) and configure computers. I see my first laser printer and portable computer (the screen was 9”). I have business cards printed up and wander around local businesses trying to get freelance work, unsuccessfully.
Age 18. I decide I don’t want to be an engineer. I go to the University of Virginia intending to major in economics or business.
Age 20. Realizing I might as well study what I enjoy and do well, I transfer into the school of engineering. As I remember it, a hundred or so people tried to transfer out of engineering each year (you had to get a 3.0 before you could transfer out), but I was one of six who transferred in, and the only one transferring in from the business school.