my first demo: an apple II story

Apple II User's Group

While cleaning out my closets today, I ran into this drawing I proudly made after presenting my first work of software on Oct 25, 1994. I was an enthusiastic 13-year-old member of the Portland Apple II User’s Group, which met monthly on the Tektronix campus in Beaverton. Of course, in 1994 the Apple II was retro; the internet age was ascendant, with local dial-up available for Windows 3.1 and Power Mac. A group of dedicated enthusiasts still met in the Tek cafeteria to discuss Apple matters and swap 5.25″ floppy disks.

Through the user’s group, I discovered Pinball Construction Set. Although I had experimented with AppleSoft BASIC and written a few tiny programs, the PCS offered a drag-and-drop interface for making a pinball game, complete with custom art and wacky physics, the end product being a bootable disk that I could contribute to the user’s group library. My journal entry for the day notes that my disk was given #104 in the library, and it was named “Fester Blaster” (apparently Pinball World was a later idea). It was a seriously dull game; I’d be surprised if anyone besides myself ever played it. I recall the group banned any further contributions of pinball games to the library. But, for a few minutes, a group of adults sat down and listened while a 13-year-old girl presented a program that she designed, built and tested using software almost as old as herself. They asked questions and gave feedback. I felt safe and respected as a contributing member of the group.

Nowadays I write useful code on current hardware (can’t wait to get my Nexus 9), and still attend user’s groups in my areas of interest. From PDXWP to PDXNode to PDXGlass, I love learning what people are doing in my tech community. Thanks, Portland Apple II User’s Group, for encouraging my lifelong interest in technology and programming.

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