Joanne graduated from the University of Calgary in 1980 with a degree in Psychology. One of her classes was in Computer Science where she learned to code in Fortran. She still remembers the anxiety of her final project – making sure that the punch cards she carefully created didn’t get out of order feeding into the card reader that sent information into the university’s computer.
Having been raised in the Northwest Territories, Joanne’s first job after graduation was in Cambridge Bay – a small village about 1,800 kilometers north of Edmonton. In 1983, she moved “south” to Yellowknife and started a 15-year career with the Correctional Service of Canada. Urgent communications were sent by Telex. The message was typed out on a strip of paper that was fed into a telephone hookup, similar to a fax machine. Joanne recalls the office getting a computer with large floppy discs, but doesn’t remember what it was used for.
By 1988, she has been transferred to Saskatoon to the department of Policy, Planning, and Information Technology. She was initially a Resource Officer and used a spreadsheet program on a computer to calculate budgets. To create a written report, she had to close the spreadsheet app. In late 1988, Joanne was at a conference in Ottawa where she saw Windows for the first time. She was ecstatic that this wondrous new tech would allow here to have a spreadsheet AND a word processing program open at the same time!!
Over in BC, Andrew was living in Aldergrove, building computers, creating programs and video games for Apple, IBM, Commodore and NES systems and running dial up BBS servers. At the time he had the look to pull off the Don Johnson Miami Vice vibe.
Mike was 18 and working his way through college while employed at construction jobs. He was also building at home – a 386 XT clone. He was dating Angela, a grade 11 student who was doing high school the old fashioned way, books, and more books. Computers weren’t part of the curriculum and the internet wasn’t part of her life.
Across the pond, as they say, 11-year-old Paul lived in Romford, just outside of London, England. He was the proud owner of a Commodore VIC-20 with 20 KB ROM and 5 KB RAM.
Mike’s nephew James, a grade 3 student, was already teaching himself how to code. He figured out how to connect a computer to his TV and created a training moving across the screen.