It doesn't seem all that long, since I penned the last Computer Corner for TCJ - The Computer Journal. The magazine as such has long since ceased publishing, but it seemed I never stopped writing. The last issue of the magazine, #81, said it was for "Spring 1998". It is now ten years since I last penned an article for TCJ. So for me this "II" or "second take" on the Computer Corner has only been in the works for ten years.
For those who were not avid readers of TCJ as well as those who wonder what happened, let me recap it's past history. Art Carlson, the founder of TCJ, started the magazine orginally in 1982 as "The Computer Hacker". Needless to say the name had negative appeal and so he quickly changed it to "The Computer Journal". The format however was directed toward those willing and wanting to do more than just use a wordprocessor.
We need to keep in mind, that in 1982, IBM was just rolling out their first Personal Computer or PC. There were plenty of powerful computers being used, but not lots of accessories or special software. Art felt his Journal would answer questions and help would be "hackers" roll their own special "whatever". Those whatevers were plenty and varied. We had SCSI interfaces, IDE interfaces, serial added to everything, 8031 projects, and all sorts of fun projects.
Around 1990 Art's health caught up to him and he passed the Editorial duties over to Chris McEwen. Chris started with issue #48 in January 1991, with features on Z-System, Forth, and Minix. Chris did a great job, but after a few years of living without sleep while trying to put out the magazine, he decided it was time to turn it over to me. I took over with issue #56 in July of 1992, with an article tittled "TCJ - The Next Ten Years". While all the editors of TCJ have kept Art's ideas alive in print - doing so demands a great deal from you and your personal life. I tried working part-time but it still didn't pay or make life any less problematic. I too had to give in and turn the duties over to Dave Baldwin.
Dave took over with issue #76 in November of 1995 with my help as a co-editor since he lived just accross town. Dave gave it his all, and with him being local, I was able to help and keep tabs. It didn't take long for Dave to experience the problems us previous editors faced, although my wife didn't up and leave one day like Dave's. It didn't take long after that for resources to dry up and publishing had to cease. The last issue of TCJ was #81, or "Spring Issue of 1998".
Well here it is many years later and TCJ is gone and will stay gone. The worlds technology has moved to the internet and a new way of doing business. We had considered making the TCJ a web only interprise but too much of the infrasturcture wasn't in place then. My interest however is not in bringing back the past, those days are gone for good. My interests still belongs in "hacking" small projects, educating people in alternative ways of doing things, and finding the fun in computing.
I have brought back my old "Computer Corner" as a means for me to keep talking about things that interest me and are keeping me busy these days. I am sort of retired now - by that I mean, no regular 9-5 job, but instead do contract projects, small things for a select group of customers. All things that should keep readers interested in what I have been doing for some time to come.
For those interested in what I did between TCJ and now, it is a short list. I was working at a company that used PLC's to control prisons and doing TCJ at the same time. I left both to do data processing software on HPUX, but when the company moved headquarters to Kansas from Sacramento, I went to HP instead. At HP I suported terminals, wrote tons of perl automation scripts and lastly managed a rather large build factory. Last year HP made me an offer I couldn't refuse and with a part-time contract waiting in the wings I left HP.
You will soon be reading about my contract, or at least about some of what I learned using "myForth" and SiLabs 8051Fxxx devices. There are several articles waiting to be done on those and some that are already on my site, but need to be revisited. I expect as well to try and put on-line all my old corners and articles. I will try, but no guarantees offered, to put all the back issues on line in PDF format as well. There is too much code and neat items still of interest to be lost forever.
I have been creating web pages on the fly using perl for many years, and keeping the articles flowing as well. This "take II" corner however will be something new, as I try and produce a new "corner" each week. Unlike blogs that can be random musings, my corners were always based on projects and research I actually performed. These new corners will be just the same. So grinding out real stuff each week, I think will be a big challenge.
One feature of this new medium I look forward to, is being able to edit a past work. When we printed TCJ, all the editors including myself worked many days and long hours to get it right. It seemd however that no matter how much time I spent getting it "right", when the actual magazine came back from the printer, I would find on first reading several typos and mistakes. This time around I can go back and correct those errors. That is one feature I am going to enjoy.
I am available for contract work, but expect to be spending lots of time on the Corner and it's projects. If you have questions, advice, or need something built - send it all to my email address. While checking over some back issues for this corner, I noticed that my contact information is still the same as it was when publishing TCJ. Remember however that I can not and will not be brining back TCJ or honoring any past obligations. This is just myself doing what I enjoyed the most while editor of TCJ and that is writing about my real life trails and tribulations with all things computerized.
Looking forward to the next ten years - again. Bill Kibler.