My journey to a computer science career began in 1986 when I was 11 years old.
One of my Dad's Army colleagues invited us to visit him in Grapevine, Texas and took our family on a nickel tour of his home. I have no idea what the occasion was, I just remember grilling, lots of people and then... Heaven.
When we entered the bottom floor of his house, my eyes were probably as big as saucers.
Shag carpet, wood paneling and 3 glorious smokey vanilla colored computers sat on rough wood hewn waist high tables. No windows in that room. It may have been a basement.
He noticed how captivated I was of his personal computer network.
While the other kids glazed over his introduction to his IBM systems and couldn't wait to run up the stairs and leave the adults, I was all eyes and asking questions.
A week or two later, he gave my Dad an old military field computer, the Kaypro II and a box of older software (some of the programs he said he had written himself) with instructions that it was specifically for me.
I've since looked up that system and discovered the computer wasn't actually that old at the time. But as far as technology, it was probably very dated and from the looks of his home network, he liked cutting edge.
Tech was growing in leaps and bounds every year and that Kaypro II would have been no exception.
My Dad told me how the man had been excited about my interest and wanted to encourage me to learn about computers. In the box were several loose 5 1/4 floppies (software) and a case of more floppies that I would never figure out how to access. Plus a few paperback books. Some of those floppies were floating like castaways without covers while others were inside blank paper sleeves with titles written in pencil on the outside. I assume they were the programs he had told us he had written. The visual memory of that box is still extremely vivid in my mind.
I didn't know how to operate a computer at only 11 years old in 1986, it was probably only the second time I had ever touched a computer. In the box was a book about MS-DOS, I want to say it was called, "Learn DOS in a Day" but I can't remember the title. Only that I poured over every character, every number, every line. Completely in love. And it took me about a week to soak it all up.
Using it as an instructional guide for entering into this high tech realm of TRON or maybe, 2001, a Space Odyssey... I cautiously typed out commands... sometimes nothing happened. So each time the computer obeyed, I was exhilarated and triumphant. Every click of the keys on that beautiful piece of machinery was like music to my soul. I would never look back.
Erin (back left) age 10 - with two of her siblings and mother
My Dad held a variety of jobs and at that time, he was a photographer for the local newspaper and a weekend soldier studying to be a Physician's Assistant. I remember him coming home from the newspaper and me showing him what I had figured out on the computer. You would have thought I had just told him I had cured cancer, he was so proud... He loved technology and thought I was a computer girl genius.
For the next several years, he urged me to pursue my computer skills, anytime new tech would come out, he would share it with me. When I entered college and originally chose Art as my major, he kept telling me I needed to switch majors.
Erin (center) during her college years with one of her siblings (left) and Dad
This military man with a civilian degree in Fine Arts and an MOS in medical, was convinced I would be rich one day with my ability to program. (that never happened lol) His belief in my abilities gave me confidence to focus on what I loved. When a few boys acted like I wasn't welcome in the computer department, he told me I was smarter than all of them. Though I admit, it took my college professors to agree with him before I really took it seriously.
My younger brother also took an interest in that little old computer. As adults, he and I both joined the IT field. He works in Cyber Security with the Navy and I founded and run TNW Creations, LLC, a web development agency.
And it seriously all began with that Army field computer gifted by a man who was inspired to pass the tech torch to a child.
If only I knew his full name. Thanks Jim... for seeing something worth investing in, that little girl in 1986 who thought your computer network was the most beautiful thing on the planet.
When I was 16 years old, I sold that little computer to help pay for Driver's Ed. My mother had told me I couldn't attend the classes unless I could pay for it myself. So I listed it in the newspaper for $200. and an elderly woman got me down to $150. She bought it for her grandson.
I always regretted selling my beautiful computer. But maybe I passed the torch too.
I've been programming, designing, writing and publishing professionally online since 1995. I've worn many hats throughout my life, but the common core of my career has always been media. Besides theportfolio you see on TNW Creations, my internet presence has been substantial for over 2 decades. In 1995, while still in college, I founded TNW Creations and became part of the grassroots development for teaching the Lakhota language online. By 2004, my bilingual work was listed on many sites, including National Geographic , Encarta and Touchstone Pictures Hidalgo. When I'm not developing and writing, you'll find me managing MagicStoryLand.Com, creating kid-friendly game & video content, investigating and initating hostile website takedowns, posting salty articles about cyber threats, moderating UnifyLife.Org and enjoying my community, church & family.