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MKhomo

Cut my computing teeth in 1971 on an IBM Mainframe acquired by Univ of Zambia circa 1969, boasting a whopping 16K core memory, and as a Physical Science major was forced into doing computer courses in order to graduate, so Flow charts it was and FORTRAN IV with punch card machines, and I reluctantly passed them with distinction.

Much later as Engineer for a steel mill got hands-on access to HP3000, HP2100's and PDP8's used in process control. Here I got to hold in my hands actual 4K magnetic iron core boards, and programmed the Mini's in Basic and FORTRAN via punched tape, but soon after got promoted to work on the Corporate IBM mainframe, application programming using the SAS package, crunching monthly stats for the entire primary processing Quality Control function.

I remember the HP3K had a module called Mass Storage Disk Operating System (MSDOS) to supplant punched tapes, and was quite taken aback when Microsoft came up with MicroSoft Disk Operating System (MSDOS) some years later.

Thereafter I became a functional hacker, especially during my PhD research, using Ultrix, BSD and System7 unices, but mostly on Sun3 BSD/SunOS workstations across City, University of London.

For some 15 years thereafter I served mostly as consultant / programmer mostly in the Securities industry of Chicago's La Salle Street before returning to my home country South Africa.

I characterise myself mostly as a technology hobbyist who learned enough through burning midnight oil to be a competent consultant, especially in the 1990's when UNIX finally got accepted as a low-cost alternative to expensive mainframes and mini's. Sun led that charge, but Linux eventually felled them in turn post Y2K with Intel commodity CPU's. But hobbies have limited resources.

So I bought my first Sun386i from a Sears & Roebuck fire sale for $2000, and promptly called Oracle for their Database to install on it, and they quoted me $25,000. "How valuable is your data?", asked the salesperson, giving value for money context after I finally came to from sticker shock. So I said enough from Oracle, and called Sun Micro instead for a quotation on a port to their intel platform (they already had DBMS's on 68K and sparc chips). $150,000 said their sales engineer, six months work by a dedicated programmer he said; and that was also the end of that I ended burning midnight oil on contraband INFORMIX and ORACLE installations on sparcs I acquired later. MySQL also came later and is now a Mature MariaDB nipping at Oracle's heels.

I was off hacking during my 10 years University Administration jobs in South Africa, but nowadays I'm off the 9-to-5 grind as a retiree but am rededicated to the hobbies, and especially the one intending to turn a smartphone into an electronic stylus as per my patent specifications granted a decade ago. A lot of Sensors, but even more Kinematics to make the application complete. You'll know I'm done when I when I stop trawling SO for quick leads.

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  • Polokwane, South Africa
  • Member for 8 months
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  • Last seen Aug 6 at 17:45

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