Bill Ponder

1. When was the first time you touched a computer and what kind of computer was it?
My first encounter with a computer was in an Introduction to Computers class at Kent State University in 1967. I didn’t actually get to touch it. Instead I had to write Fortran programs on a coding sheet; use a keypunch machine to punch Hollerith cards, one per line of code; hand in the cards at the computer room where they were executed on an IBM 360; then picked up my cards and the error report that told me what I’d done wrong the next day; fix the errors and repeat.
The first time I actually touched a computer was when I acquired a Microdata REALITY(r) minicomputer, an innovative demand-paged, multiuser, virtual memory, time-sharing computer operating system based around a unique MultiValue database for a drug treatment and healthcare program I ran in 1976. The system had 24k of virtual memory and a 10 MB hard disk and tape backup and we couldn’t imagine how we would ever use a whole 10 Megabytes of disk space. It was the size of a small refrigerator and supported four user terminals. Languages were databasic, English(r) (an amazing function at the time that let you ask English queries like, “List all male clients younger than 18 who had heroin overdoses after midnight and before 8 am between January 1976 and July 1976.” and Proc that let you create and store complex queries including complex selections, subgroups, subtotals and formations of reports and/or displays. It was however, only monochromatic text. In addition to work I enjoyed playing the text-based Adventure game on the machine in my free time.

2. When was the first time you actually owned a computer and where/how did you get it?
The first computer I owned personally was an Atari(r) 400. It connected to a TV, a matrix printer and used cartridges to perform a variety of tasks including programming in Basic, font creation, word processing and playing a variety of games.
3. What was the first job that you had which required you to use a computer? Executive Director of Terros, a drug crisis intervention and treatment agency and free clinic. That morphed into a business analyst position and eventually a manager of business software development.

4. When was the first time you got online and how did you? -Was it a BBS, AOL, Netscape etc.?
AOL (You’ve got mail!). Can’t say exactly when but as soon as I could find a less restricted environment, using Netscape I think, I moved to it but I don’t really remember much of the blur after that. Things advanced pretty fast.

5. When was the first time that your job required you to have internet access?
Northrop Corporation (now Northrop Grumman) in the ‘80s. We had one of the first PCs with two floppy disk drives, but only one for a while as we figured out what to do with it. As I remember it had 16 or 32k of memory – not sure which. As things progressed we got many more and better ones over time including hard disks and more memory. I remember when Bill Gates said, “I can’t imagine anyone needing more than 640 k!” Expanded into other brands – mostly HPs since we were a mostly Big Blue (IBM) and HP shop with UNIX machines scattered around for the scientific work. I also remember when a couple of engineering labs got Xerox Stars, the first commercial machines that used a GUI desktop approach with a mouse. I thought it was magic and knew I needed one. Unfortunately it was WAY outside my price range but when Steve Jobs demonstrated the Lisa (named after his daughter) it was getting closer. Finally when he demonstrated the Macintosh classic at COMDEX, I think that was in Las Vegas, we got two at the office and I was in love. It never gained acceptance at my office but my wife had an advertising agency and she bought several including one for at home. Since then I was forced to be a PC person a

6. What did you not see coming (in the computer/internet industry)? Facebook and the expansion of social apps was a surprise but the complete interconnection of business, industry, banking, even machine controls and infrastructure. Even if I had imagined all that I never would have expected the Russian government (aka Putin) to use the internet to attack our electoral system using hacked emails strategically released and social media to identify willing dupes and then use that medium to influence their votes with targeted “fake news.” Bank robbery I could imagine, even perhaps infrastructure hacking but election hacking? I guess I just think too small.
**Sorry to be so long but I’m old 

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