Meet the Newest Member: J.J.


I've met some of the Dayton Diode members at the three business meetings and the one open house I've attended. But I'm still a stranger to most of you. So, a bit of an introduction.

I've lived in the Miami Valley for 22 years, having been born and raised in Saint Louis, Missouri. This makes me a Cardinals fan by the grace of God, but I adopted the Cincinnati Bengals as my pigskin team shortly after moving here. Since making that fateful decision they've been consistently awful. I blame Mike Brown.

Radio was my first love. I accidentally discovered DX'ing in front of the glowing dial of an AM radio. I graduated to my first shortwave radio at age 9. In college I got my novice ticket. That led me into tinkering with electronics and over the years I've built a couple of things, but nothing dramatic.

Computers were my third love. In high school I learned to program; first in BASIC, then APL, on an IBM 5100. This “portable computer” weighed 60 pounds and used a tape cartridge for offline storage (formatted capacity: approx. 320 kBy). The next year Commodore came out with their PET personal computer and my school acquired one. Then followed an Apple II (with integer BASIC) and a TRS-80 (Trash-80, for those of us old enough to remember). Then more Apples (now improved, with a floating-point BASIC).

It was during this period that I blossomed as a “hacker,” even though I was unaware of the term. In those days if you played around with “hobby” computers you had to hack. Rodney Zaks' book, Programming the 6502, got me started with machine language programming. In the bowels of the Apple II (in what today we'd call its BIOS) was a simple assembler, but I started out by plugging hex directly into memory.

From there I picked up a copy of Inside Apple DOS at a computer store for $25. I thought that was damned expensive for a book. (Clearly, I had not yet experienced the wallet-ripping phenomena that is the college bookstore.) Anyway, from there I was messing with Apple's DOS, primarily to defeat copy protection schemes on game disks. Word got around. I was a semi-popular kid in high school after that.

Sometime between high school graduation and the present I went to college, grew up, got a job, moved (Arkansas, Texas, Ohio), fell in love, got sick, got well again, got sick again, got sick and tired and dropped out, got well, got back on my feet, cheated death (for now)...

I'm nearing 50. Sometimes, when I look in the mirror, a 16-year old kid stares back at me. And he says,

“Do something neat. Build something. Break something. Learn something. Laugh. And quit smoking.”

If I can manage to do three of the six, then there just may be hope for me after all. With this group I think I've got a shot.

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