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Allen White

[Tagged] Anatomy of a Geek

I got tagged by my buddy Michael Coles, aka Sergeant SQL to talk about how I "became" a geek. (I use quotes because I've really always been a geek.)

Back in the 9th grade (1968 for those of you counting) my math teacher asked if there was anyone in the class interested in learning how to program computers. My friend Bronis Vidugiris and I raised our hands, and I learned BASIC from a GE manual, then learned how to use a teletype machine with a paper tape reader/punch on one side and a 300 baud acoustic coupler on the other. We'd punch our programs onto paper tape, then dial the "mainframe", load and debug our programs, then punch the updated program back to a fresh tape when it was done.

After my attempt at being a theatre major failed I went to college and got a degree in Data Processing, while working as a nighttime operator at American Greetings, running 2nd Generation (transistor-based) NCR 315 Rod Memory Computers. (This is a long story best suited for an evening with my fermented beverage of choice.) That lead to years of being a programmer on mainframes using punched cards and COBOL, then working my way towards smaller systems - minis, then micros and to programming C on Unix based machines.

One of my engagements while a contract programmer introduced me to relational databases (Oracle 6, at the time), and the next one required Sybase. The latter company became my full time employer, and they switched from Sybase to Microsoft SQL Server in 1995, and I've been working with SQL Server ever since, in either a DBA or developer (or both) role.

(My personal life was not immune from computers, as I bought the TI-99/4A when it came out, then the Amiga 1000, and on to the Amiga 2000.)

So, to now continue the stories coming, I'd like to tag Aaron Bertrand and Paul Nielsen.

See you at PASS!


Published Monday, October 5, 2009 8:44 PM by AllenMWhite



Andrew Kelly said:

My first computer was a TI-99/4A as well. I then gradualted to an Atari 1024ST then a DEC Robin and finally an AT&T PC :).

October 6, 2009 8:36 AM

AllenMWhite said:

Andy, that's great.  I bought the TI because at the time I was a systems programmer (writing device drivers and communications add-ins and such) on the TI-990 business computer, and the TI-99 used the exact same processor chip as the 990.  It was pretty amazing.

October 6, 2009 9:07 AM

Aaron Bertrand said:

Funny headline, because I'm not a dork, really. Okay, who am I kidding? When introduced to new people,

October 6, 2009 9:09 AM

Aaron Bertrand said:

Funny headline, because I'm not a dork, really. Okay, who am I kidding? When introduced to new people,

October 6, 2009 9:22 AM
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About AllenMWhite

Allen White is a consultant and mentor for Upsearch Technology Services in Northeast Ohio. He has worked as a Database Administrator, Architect and Developer for over 30 years, supporting both the Sybase and Microsoft SQL Server platforms over that period.

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