About the author
They Call Me PapaGeek
A lot of my friends at work call me PapaGeek, but I want to set one
thing straight before we start, “I do not predate the first
computer!” Work on the first electronic-digital computer started in
1939 and the first real computer, ENIAC, was created for a military
contract in 1946. I wasn’t born until 1947, so there, computers
existed before I did!
Even during my grade school years, I was fascinated with the
articles about computers published in Popular Science and Scientific
America. Unfortunately, very few colleges had any available
undergraduate courses in computer science in 1965 when I graduated
from high school. I started my college studies as a math major but
soon discovered that my real interests were in computers. So, I
dropped out of college in 1967 to join the Army Security Agency
where I could get computer training and experience. This was during
the Vietnam conflict, and I was very lucky that they did recognize
my aptitude for computers and trained me in that field.
Early computers were a real challenge. You couldn’t go out and buy
a USB interface to anything, much less a Linear Displacement Array
Antenna or the frequency knob of a radio receiver. You worked at
the bit level with Boolean math, AND and OR gates, and you had to
wire wrap just about everything. The work was tedious, but I learned
It was also during this time (1968) that the military began working
on ARPANET, the precursor to today’s Internet. They wanted a
reliable communication system that would automatically reroute
communication if the primary link from point A to point B was
The TCP/IP protocol was standardized in 1982, and the Internet was
born, but all communication was performed with keyboard based
protocols like telnet and ftp. What we know as today’s internet,
the World Wide Web, began with the first documented version of HTTP
in 1991. In the early 90’s computers did not come with the internet
installed. You had to obtain a floppy disk from AOL and install the
modem and software yourself, so only a few techies were on line, I
actually started on the net in the mid 80’s; does the term geek have
any meaning here?
The popularity of the Internet exploded when Microsoft began
shipping Windows 95 with the web browser and dial up networking
pre-installed. My first website was on-line before Microsoft
started shipping Windows 95.
After The Army
I began work with a typesetting company when I got out of the Army
in 1971. Within a few years we had developed an automated text book
The software would break the raw text of the
book into pages, place the footnotes at the bottom of the proper
page, place illustrations and tables near their references in the
text, number the pages, place chapter and section names at the top
of each page, and most important, typeset complex mathematical and
chemical equations in place.
This software became so popular that by the mid 80’s over 80% of
all college level textbooks in the US were typeset using our system.
Due to the ability to set equations in place, the majority of that
number was in the math and science areas. Many if not most of the
college professors knew how to “mark up” their raw manuscripts for
entry into our system. This is a paragraph, this is a chapter
heading, reference an illustration or footnote here, this is a block
quote, etc. Though no credit has ever been given, it is by no
coincidence that the initial HTML language that was created by these
same professors looked very similar to the mark up for our
Oh, by the way, as a side note, Al Gore did not
work for us! Sorry, just had to drop that one in!
To typeset a book, and fix any problems, the operator had to be
able to see the finished product. We actually created a standalone
windows type product with WYSIWYG fonts and used a mouse as a
pointer. This product was introduced and in production in 1981.
We didn’t think of it at the time, but we had beaten both Xwindows
for UNIX (1984) and MS Windows 1.0 (1985) to the market.
The typesetting company went the way of the dodo with the advent of
the personal computer and word processing software. The technology
group in the company said that shrink wrap software was the way to
go, but sales told the owners to move toward a mainframe approach
where you could sell huge systems for millions. The company sunk
every penny into huge editorial management systems that no one
Into The Financial World
From typesetting I moved on to a large personal loan company that
specialized in loans for those with less than perfect credit
histories, those that the banks would not even talk to! While there
I modernized their loan document preparation by producing documents
with the customer’s name and personal information already embedded,
just sign on the dotted line!
When the government started pushing banks to make loans to our
client base, not only make the loans, but with no money down, things
started going south for our company and eventually the entire
Now I have another position with an investment group and run my
internet business as a side line.
The investment company that I was working for was a hedge fund. The
value of the funds did not go up and down with the stock market. The
hedge was that all of the company’s investment were in various
commodities. I had nothing to do with any of the decisions to buy
crude oil with pork bellies, or invest in Japanese Yen with British
Pounds. My job was to be a Computer Geek! I had direct contact with
all of the major commodity markets around the world. I would get real
time information on bids and asks and trades, convert each market’s
currency into dollars, enter that data into our internal stock market
in US dollars in real time. Our traders could then compare world wide
commodity prices on an even scale, in real time, without looking at
separate windows for each individual market.
Everything was basically available in a single stock market!
I was basically forced into retirement at the age of 66 and 6 month due to a lower back surgery that went wrong and had to be repeated within 9 months. I had finished the major project I was hired for and was able to go on Long Term Disability where I received 60% of my pay for 2 years, but I was also required to start my Social Security benefits.
Not knowing what I know now, I made a personal mistake when I was forced into retirement. Since my income for the first two year was basically tax free, I should have done some Roth Conversion paying almost no taxes. Instead, I started my Pension and Annuity. I should have let them both grow into larger income levels.
I know what I should have done and I want to share what I have learned free of charge, so enjoy this
site and I hope you learn a lot from it. But again, I’m not certified in any of this so use it at your own risk!