Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Career Day

Because, sometimes, the best laid plans......

Has anyone ever asked you about your choice of career, or why it is that you do what you do? Some people probably have strait-forward answers to such questions... Memories of childhood passions and related college degrees or trade apprenticeships. Some people might even be working in the same career they started out in, or possibly even for the same employer.

I am not 'some people'.

In high school, my passions were music and writing... Music because the band room was a place to hang out that was [relatively]free of gangs and violence, and writing because it provided me with a creative outlet my 'academic surroundings' (to use the term loosely) didn't provide. I wasn't particularly good at either though, which likely explains why I'm not a professional musician or best-selling novelist (though I am a writer... of sorts).

By the time I'd recovered from my high school experience enough to motivate myself to go on to college, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to be... So I decided to become a teacher [Note to any educators who may read this: I was a naive teenager at the time, unaware of the daunting challenges teachers face each and every day]. I spent more than four years working my way through school, eventually earning a degree but ending up so deeply in-debt I couldn't afford to take time off to student teach.

After college, I worked a number of odd jobs in a variety of industries, eventually ending up where I am today... A marketing manager for an international information technology (IT) company. And my circuitous career path certainly contributed to the modest success I've achieved, as did the many people I met along the way... Coworkers, managers, some of whom I'm still friends with to this day. But the initial contributor to my eventual success, the 'muse' that pushed me down the IT path, was a little friend I 'met' twenty-six years ago... A friend who is still with me to this day, and who I just spent some time with this very evening... My first computer, a Coleco ADAM.

When I started college, I was looking for a typewriter in a local shopping mall when I stumbled across a large, colorful box in a local toy store containing something called a 'home computer'. And unlike other 'home computers' of the day such as the Commodore 64 or Atari 800, this particular model came complete with a printer, high-speed tape drive, and built-in word processing software. So, though it sounded too good to be true, I slapped down the clearance price of several hundred dollars and took my first steps down a path that would eventually lead me to where I am today.

Now allow me to introduce you to my little friend, my ADAM... Still working after more than a quarter-century......

My Coleco ADAM

Uncovered for the first time in years, and the stack of third-party expansion units I purchased over the years (e.g. external serial port, external 80 column video unit, etc)
The ADAM CALC intro screen (notice the icons for dual Digital Data Pack drives, floppy, keyboard, and memory expansion) and worksheet screen.
The built-in SmartWRITER word processor, and the ADAMLink II telecommunications program
CP/M, the add-on OS that enabled my little ADAM to run business-class software like WordStar, SuperCalc, TurboPASCAL, and more.
The opening screens of "Dragon's Lair", one of the most awesome 80's-era videogames ever made (and yes, it was originally written for the ADAM) as it loads off DDP
More "Dragon's Lair" screens (what can I say... It was one of my favorite Coleco 'SuperGames' for the ADAM)
"SpyHunter", a fav because of its three-channel "Peter Gun" soundtrack, and "Donkey Kong Jr.", both ColecoVision console games compatible with the ADAM.
Another "Donkey Kong Jr" screen to prove I could still make it to 'level 2', and the ADAM covered back up again.

I hope you enjoyed the history lesson. I know I certainly had fun visiting my old friend, and proving (if to no one else but myself) that you can still have fun with old technology! :-)

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