Steve Baker

1. When was the first time you touched a computer and what kind of computer was it?

My first time using a programmable device (I hesitate to call it a computer) was when I bought an HP-25C programmable calculator back in the 70s. It hooked me on programming, and by the early 80s I was doing part time work programming HP-41s and HP-71s for colleges and private firms, mostly in the fields of archaeology and surveying.

My first time using a “real” computer was in high school in the mid-70s. They brought in an ASR-33 teletype with a paper tape reader for a week. It connected to an IBM mainframe of some kind in Detroit. We got to learn a little BASIC and FORTRAN during that week.

2. When was the first time you actually owned a computer and where/how did you get it?

Aside from the HP-25C mentioned above, my first computer was a COSMAC ELF, which I built from plans in the Aug 1976 issue of Popular Electronics. It initially had 256 whole bytes of RAM!

3. What was the first job that you had which required you to use a computer?

US Air Force. We tracked maintenance information on a system which ran on a Burroughs mainframe. This was about 1980.

4. When was the first time you got online and how did you? -Was it a BBS, AOL, Netscape etc.?

I bought a KayPro II around 1984 and discovered BBSs. There were 5 or 6 in my city. One was written and operated by a lovely young woman, who eventually consented to become my wife. We just had our 33rd anniversary.

5. When was the first time that your job required you to have internet access?

In 1998, I started working at AOL. This was my first job which REQUIRED internet access. I was in the Air Force before that, and while we had internet, it was not very well adopted at that time, and wasn’t greatly relied upon.

6. What did you not see coming (in the computer/internet industry)?

The divisiveness of social networking.

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