This is the story of my life so far: 68 years and counting.
Prequel: A Brief History of my Family in France
During the 3 years I was in Halifax, in 1979-1982, I was in a Canadian Forces establishment, probably in the Canadian Forces Naval Engineering School, in the Electrical Division.
During the first year, I was a teaching "digital techniques" to Canadian sailors
Teaching "digital techniques" to Canadian sailors
Digital techniques included Boolean algebra and logic gates.
For the first two months, I sat on the back of the classroom, following two courses of digital techniques, taught by a civilian instructor, so that I could learn what I was going to teach.
Then, I started to teach the course myself.
I had not had much experience teaching before. I had only done alphabetization for immigrants, mostly from North Africa, in France for a few month, volunteering at our church in Saint-Ouen.
However, I realized that I could teach effectively.
One of my pet peeve was spelling. Each time one of my students was making a spelling error when he was writing on the blackboard, I would ask him to correct it. Sometimes they would ask if it was a class of digital techniques or a spelling class!
However, after several months of teaching multiple times the same material, it began to be quite boring.
So, after a year of teaching, I was moved to a new entity to develop Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI) courses.
Developing Computer-Assisted Instruction courses
We were two officers in the new CAI lab: Don, a Canadian lieutenant-commander and myself.
Don was a reserved officer, who had just started working full time for the Canadian Forces, specifically to start this CAL lab. He was an expert in Computer-Assisted Instruction.
We were using a specialized CAI programming language, CAN8, that was the 8th version of the CAN languages. Initially, I thought that, as these languages had been invented in Canada, that explained why they were called CAN. I learned later that in fact CAN was standing for "Completely Arbitrary Name"!
We were also using sometimes the legendary text editor and macro programming language TECO, that, according to Wikipedia is a direct ancestor of Emacs, which was originally implemented in TECO macros.
At the Electrical Division, I had met a francophone Canadian officer, Ron, who was working in a hardware lab.
In his lab, Ron had an IMSAI 8080 microcomputer, that was his personal property.
Every day, during lunch hour, I would go to Ron lab and we would play with his microcomputer.
This was my practical introduction to personal computers. Until then, I had only dreamed of owning such a piece of equipment.
Ron introduced me to one of his acquaintances, a guy who was literally building microcomputers in his garage. So, I decided to buy one of those computers in September 1980.
Continue to Part 64
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