[Some good friends, all met through blogging, are filling in for me while I take a two-week sabbatical from Time Goes By.
Today, it is Peter Tibbles, from Australia, who sent along this bio:
I was born in a small country town in western Victoria (Nhill, in case you're interested and it's pronounced nil) and lived there for my first thirteen years, writes Peter Mum was very happy there (that's where she was born) but dad thought he'd like to give his kiddies the best education possible. He said I could keep going as long as I won scholarships (as he didn't have much money).
Well, I was a bit of a smart-fart and did just that [that sounds a bit big-headed]. So, we came to the big smoke (Melbourne) and I eventually went to Melbourne University, initially as a physics major but I switched to mathematics as it entailed less work and was easier.
I eventually stumbled into the IT industry when mum thrust The Age in front of me (after I'd been lounging around at home for a couple of months) and said, 'There's a job for a computer programmer. Go get it.'
I married in 1971 and divorced not long afterwards. No kids (which means, of course, that I never grew up). Although technically not a baby boomer (I was born a year or so too early), I share many of the values of the older boomers - not worrying about the future especially. This is the reason I'm still working.
Peter also enclosed his short bio:
I drink wine
I listen to music
I read books
Often at the same time.
I may not be the oldest person working in the IT industry, or one who has spent the longest time doing this. However, I think I'd come close, certainly on the second count.
I thought when I started this I'd do it until something more interesting came along. Maybe as a fabulously well-paid, best-selling author, someone Paul Auster would look up to (oops, perhaps that should be Peter Carey). Or perhaps a great rock guitarist. Someone who would make Robbie Robertson think twice about playing alongside.
However, apart from the odd piece on TimeGoesBy and trying to get to the end of "Stage Fright" before the arthritis kicks in, I haven't given up the day job yet.
I started in this business in 1967. It's been 42 years now. The first computer I worked on, and this is for the folks who appreciate these things, was an IBM 360-20. This was a giant machine that had its own air-conditioned room. It was about the size of four refrigerators laid on their side. High enough to lean on (which we did quite often). This had 20K of memory, no disk, no terminal.
It had a card reader and punch, a printer and four tape drives. To compile a program required the computer to read it from the card reader, burble away for a long time, backwards and forwards on the tape drives and eventually spit out the program on the card punch.
This process took so long that we quickly learned to write efficient, accurate programs. If there was a mistake we couldn't repeat the process until the next day. Try telling that to the young folks today and they won't believe you (sorry, I couldn't resist that).
There were some positives about this industry. One was being able to travel and be paid for it. It resulted in my spending some considerable time in the USA (that's travel for a young lad from Australia) in a few of the more entertaining parts - San Francisco, Boston, Albuquerque and Los Angeles.
An interesting point, as we are on TimeGoesBy: about ten years ago I was on a contract for a development that had to be completed rather quickly, about a year or so - that's quick in this business. There were eight contractors brought in to do the job. Not one of us was under fifty years old.
The job came in on time and under budget (as they say in Hollywood). Actually, I don't know about the budget bit, but as it was on time I assume this was so. Imagine that. A bunch of fifty-plus folks doing cutting-edge IT work. Tell that to the young folks (etc).
I was out of work for a couple of years not so long ago which did nasty things to my bank account. The company I was working for (actually as a contractor, not an employee) decided I was surplus to requirements. Oh dear, check the job adverts.
I'd apply for jobs and pretty much always get an interview. However, you could see it in their eyes: "Hmm, I'd be employing my father. What does he know about computers?" Sometimes even grand-father. "What's this old codger doing here? My grand-dad doesn't even know how to turn on a computer." Well, he probably does, he's almost certainly surfing the web for whatever turns him on.
They wouldn't say anything like that, of course. That was just my over-active imagination.
Now and then the person was closer to my age. For ten or fifteen years after I started in this strange way to make a living, everyone knew everyone in the industry. Or at least knew of everyone. These interviews usually were more reminiscences of people and places we had in common. Didn't get those jobs either.
After a couple of years, the company alluded to above decided that they needed me after all. Back in the day I'd have told them to go jump but, as I was getting somewhat nervous about buying food and the like, I rejoined.
Fortunately, they decided they wanted me badly enough I could negotiate. More loose scratch than I was getting before and only working four days a week. I could buy groceries again (not to mention good wine, CDs and books).
[The story bin at The Elder Storytelling Place is empty so until some new ones arrive, let's revisit some from the archive. Today, The Ring-Tailed Tooter of Thunder Road from Cowtown Pattie. All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. Instructions are here.]