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Re: SEMI-TECH: Luddite-Tech ;)
To: CRTech <crtech@crtech.org>
Subject: Re: SEMI-TECH: Luddite-Tech ;)
From: Mark Croom <markc@newmail.kinshipradio.org>
Date: Mon, 9 Apr 2018 22:34:36 -0500
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In-reply-to: <39BDB4B5A083864B9802AFB66985BC07012EAED2@KSGN-DC.KSGNNET.local>
References: <CAOkhgWrUj+Fhp1qTgzMYYvBV9k-pvSROpDpJ=J7PH1Ag6ZFjhg@mail.gmail.com> <CAE10cw9JfgFs3P9BKquZnikspRM5xCsJFfzX6DUufXY6ac0HMQ@mail.gmail.com> <AB51A9A9EC341A479655F592221FE8BD772579A5@mbx028-e1-va-4.exch028.domain.local> <CAOkhgWrCewy=Dd0adDJWOsLT8oTBHj8sUTZabkXzHDxs-UcCRg@mail.gmail.com> <39BDB4B5A083864B9802AFB66985BC07012EAED2@KSGN-DC.KSGNNET.local>
I've never properly learned any programming languages or done any real programming like many of you guys. I played with Visual Basic for Windows some and actually did develop some crude code with a couple of controls, one for playing audio and another to monitor the game port for button presses. With those simple things I was able to develop an audio player module I could automate through the game port button inputs. In my primitive digital automation for our AM station I was recording files using batch files and a command line recorder utility that came with SoundBlaster cards. Then I played those files back with the VB player. Within eighteen months we were implementing full Wavestation systems and the clunky stuff that only did one thing was replaced with a complicated system that could start the morning coffee if you wanted it to do that.

However, thinking about old software and off-beat choices: When I arrived at my first full-time engineering gig, the station owner/GM had ordered some weird Amstrad 386 PCs and a whole bunch of his favorite software. I actually appreciated that he didn't want to pay premium prices for Microsoft Word (for DOS at that point) or other commercial software. So his word processor of choice was "Textra". It actually wasn't bad as DOS word processors went and we used our available printers to the limit with it. He used CA's SuperCalc spreadsheet instead of Excel. The company comptroller had some very large and complex spreadsheets working in SuperCalc. I never did get conversant with SC because I had Microsoft Works on my machine and its speadsheet was fine for the stuff I was doing and I could make it work fine. He also had a pile of utilities of various kinds -- I learned about Norton Utilities in that era and had a lot of fun with some of the pieces of it.

At the same site I installed a Novell Netware ELS system on ArcNet. Compsurf anyone? When the ArcNet coax cables were not terminated into the network cards they really bit you at the connector because the studio building was in the main lobe of a 5kW 3-tower inline directional. Metal sheetrock corners bit, as did file cabinet corners in that place, and the metal mini-binds sang Country songs along with the radio. Long cables like the one from the front office to sales really picked up signal.

And one of my first data conversion projects I did with the help of a guy at the HCJB Engineering Center. We used terminal software on a TRS-80 Model III and on one of those Amstrad PCs and converted all our company databases that were on TRS floppies to tab-delimited text then imported them into Alpha 4, a dBase compatible database manager. That was where I learned about null modem cables. I've done a ton of data conversions since then, but I had to start somewhere.

At the same station all the company's original tower lease documents were on a Commodore 64. I ended up just re-typing those and used the project to force myself to type properly without looking at the keyboard. I was a ten finger typist but always watched the keyboard before that, looking back and forth between whatever I was typing up and the keyboard. The project definitely cured me of that bad habit and I have used the skill almost daily ever since.

Thinking about the primitive stuff we did with our machines back then, I really appreciate the flexibility of what we use today.


On Mon, Apr 9, 2018 at 12:12 PM, Jon Foreman <Jon@ksgn.com> wrote:

If I recall correctly, a Northstar computer with an S-100 bus was our office computer when I first started at KSGN in the early 80s. I used it some in the office a bit, but my “major” use was to help port data from it to our new IBM AT via RS-232. That Northstar had a hard drive that was almost as loud as a vacuum cleaner. And that hard drive was in a case larger than the IBM AT case.


I learned BASIC on a TRS-80 my senior year in high school. No computer classes yet. We just learned on our own—The best kind of learning.




From: Willie Barnett [mailto:wbradiolists@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, April 9, 2018 9:18 AM
To: CRTech <crtech@crtech.org>
Subject: Re: [CRTech] SEMI-TECH: Luddite-Tech ;)


Thinking of esoteric software... has anyone here ever used Northstar BASIC? :)

I used it at Summagraphics, to do a significant re-write of an existing diagnostic program that would write values out to address & data busses on the boards that we were testing. I don't know what the original programmer was thinking, but that software would output the results of a "failure" IN DECIMAL!! it was up to the user to figure out the failed bit patterns!

I was like... "NO WAY! This is a COMPUTER, and dag nabbit Wabbit, it is going to do that work FOR US!: And so, I re-wrote that program, and got it to give us beautiful, detailed reports of bit errors, and patterns! You could see in an instant, which data/address lines had faults. The other tech that I worked with LOVED it! It saved him a bunch of time! :)

One interesting little quirk about Northstar BASIC: It used "EXAM" and "FILL" instead of "PEEK" and "POKE". Well, I fixed THAT, too! ;) A "sector editor" allowed me to find those strings in the BASIC EXE file, and change them. :) They also used "!" as a shortcut for PRINT, and I changed that to the more common "?".

Fun and useful stuff. ;) I learned BASIC in the mid 70's on a Radio Shack Model 1 computer, after school, thanks to a patient & understanding store manager letting me spend hours on his store demo computer. :) Then I got a VIC20, and later a Commodore 64, where I kept honing my BASIC skills.

I'm also glad to have been able to use GWBASIC to make some 21'st century systems work with older tech and with the Internet tech. :)

I just need to put more time into learning C on the Arduino... that's a fun little system to tinker with, but this old dog really needs to learn some new tricks to get to where I want to be with that! If the thing had a good implementation of BASIC, I'd have it doing a whole lot more. ;)

OK, lunch break is winding down... back to work! :)




On Mon, Apr 9, 2018 at 10:39 AM, Jack Epperson <Jack.Epperson@alphamediausa.com> wrote:

Actually I have used Leading Edge as well as MultiMate, AmiPro, ed, edlin, vi, nvi and a few others that I cannot remember and WordStar through version 3. I had an NCR Dimension V with the NEC V20 chip replacing the 8080 and a 20M hard drive in a slot and dual 5.25 floppies. 640K definitely ought to be enough memory for anyone!

Mark W. Croom
Riverfront Communications, LLC
Yankton, SD
Follow-Ups: Re: SEMI-TECH: Luddite-Tech ;)
(Willie Barnett <wbradiolists@gmail.com>, 16 Apr 2018 14:16:59 -0000)
References: SEMI-TECH: Luddite-Tech ;)
(Willie Barnett <wbradiolists@gmail.com>, 6 Apr 2018 15:34:23 -0000)
Re: SEMI-TECH: Luddite-Tech ;)
(John Stortz <ka4flx@gmail.com>, 8 Apr 2018 04:48:58 -0000)
RE: SEMI-TECH: Luddite-Tech ;)
(Jack Epperson <Jack.Epperson@alphamediausa.com>, 9 Apr 2018 14:39:47 -0000)
Re: SEMI-TECH: Luddite-Tech ;)
(Willie Barnett <wbradiolists@gmail.com>, 9 Apr 2018 16:18:08 -0000)
RE: SEMI-TECH: Luddite-Tech ;)
(Jon Foreman <Jon@ksgn.com>, 9 Apr 2018 17:12:13 -0000)
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