Military Computer Books (Waz: Off-topic...)

From: Roger Merchberger <>
Date: Wed Jan 28 23:49:45 1998

;-) Clearing the snow from my glasses, I saw Sam Ismail typed:



>I also found some armed forces computer coursework manuals which are
>pretty interesting. I found one called _Introduction to Programming in
>BASIC_ from a Navy traing course. I also found a manual on programming in
>(I forget which language) on a CDC Cyber mainframe. Both of these are
>from the late 70s.

Time for a quick history lesson... (and yes, it's on-topic.)

My Uncle is a lifer in the Navy (just now retiring - 28 years) and he was
one of the highest ranking NCO's in the entire Navy (spent 14 years at E-9)
and the first time I'd ever been to his house was when I was 8 years old
(in '75)...

He'd hand-built a little "computer" that (while unimpressive to "normal"
people) converted binary to digital and back, and displayed everything on a
little 8# 7-segment calculator display... it was all done with SSI chips.
He was just finishing up building it when we arrived, and had gotten it
working. I recall (and this is amazing for a kid of 8) that the rest of my
family was "That's cool, Ed... How do you get to Disneyworld?" but I was
"Wow... how does that work?" and my uncle showed me. 20 minutes later, I
learned everything about it, including how to convert binary to decimal and
back. I was hooked. He was amazed. He showed me the schematic he drew, and
I thought they were awesome, and I wanted nothing more than to build
something like that... and I've not changed since.

When we left Florida, my uncle gave me a gift: some graph paper and colored
markers like he'd used to draw his plans. I "drew plans" all the way back
to Upper Michigan, and never looked back.

Well, a few years after, he visited us in Michigan and asked me if I was
still serious about computers. I emphatically said "Yes" so he gave me 4 of
his old Navy course books from the early 70's -- Mathmatics Volumes 1, 2,
and 3; and "Digital Computer Basics"... When I did all the tests in Math
Vol. 1 and most of the tests in Vol. 2 without needing to read the books,
he was amazed. He worked with me the entire week he was in Michigan to
finish Vol. 2, and I finished Vol. 3 & DCB on my own.

That man did more to nuture my interest in computers than the rest of my
family combined, and those books (which I still have -- they're in my
library) are worth more to me than any other book I own.

Just this past year, my wife's uncle was throwing out some "old books" when
he decided I might just like them, so he dropped them off at our house.
Wouldn't you know it, but there was a Navy coursebook in "Introduction to
Programming in BASIC" in perfect shape, revised in 1983.

Even tho I never even owned a computer until 1985, the seeds of interest
had been planted a decade before. Sam, thank you for reminding me of that
wonderful piece of my past.

Roger "Merch" Merchberger
Roger Merchberger       | If at first you don't succeed,
Programmer, NorthernWay | nuclear warhead disarmament should *not*  | be your first career choice.
Received on Wed Jan 28 1998 - 23:49:45 GMT

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