Friday, September 12, 2008

quest for fame

I took my middle school students on a short trip down my memory lane. My purpose was to provide a glimpse into the time line of technology during my lifetime, to give a few examples of IT jobs and frankly, to show off my part in the Quest for Fame.

When I was in middle school, my glasses were way too big and I didn't have a computer to use at home or school or anywhere. I did get to lug around this big cello though.

In high school, I learned to type on a typewriter. I loved math. My dad bought a new fangled gadget called a microcomputer, the TRS-80, affectionately known as the "trash 80". It had a whooping 16K (16,384 bytes) of memory and a highly unreliable tape cassette drive for storing programs. Compare that with computers sold today that usually come with at least 1G of memory or 1,073,741,824 bytes and huge, reliable hard drives.

I went to a small liberal arts college and majored in math. Then I took my first computer class and changed my major. I still didn't have a personal computer and had to go to the computer lab to work on all my assignments - I was afraid of crashing the mainframe computer.

I was lucky enough to be at Texas Lutheran College (it's now called a university, but it's not any bigger) for the one and probably only year that IBM came recruiting for co-ops. I became a tester for the System 36 in Austin, TX.

After graduating college I worked for IBM for 12 years starting as a tester for OS/2 LAN Server. A tester is someone who tries to think like an actual user of the product and to make sure the software operates as expected on all supported platforms. If I found a problem, I would write up a bug report. Then the developer who wrote the code and should fix the problem, would try to convince me that a customer would never actually DO THAT! Yes, it was fun times - it's where I met my developer husband. We still argue like this.

Next I tried technical writing because the manager of that group was looking to mentor a new manager and that's how I got on the fast track to management. I became a manager of people (writers & GUI developers) and products. From there I mysteriously went to the dark side - ISV support for DCE. If you don't know the acronyms, that's okay, I was speaking about it in front of lots of developers and I didn't really understand it either.

The highlight of my IBM career came as the test manager for Interactive Media, a short-lived multimedia publishing studio complete with it's own high-strung Hollywood producer. I really enjoyed setting up the test lab and working with a great bunch of young people. We tested and published one of the first voice-recognition games with JungleBook, the world-class Worldbook, many sporting event websites and my personal favorite, Quest for Fame - the precursor to Guitar Hero (and a lot less bulkier).


Nick Wilkens said...

Do you have any copies of Quest for Fame left? And what about that doctor game?

Seeing your junior high picture reminds me of how kind and supportive I was to you in those years, and how I took every opportunity to build your self-esteem. Your sarcasm is all the thanks I need for that.

Kim said...

Just one copy of quest and one of emergency room. Now I wished I had saved a computer that they could run on.

Lucky for you, my long-term memory sucks - weren't you the perfect little brother?

I see you created a blog account - so start blogging already!