Through a series of flukes, I wound
up in graduate school at the University of Utah in the
fall of 1966, "knowing nothing."
At Utah, my professor Dave Evans was
not a great believer in graduate school as an institution.
As with many of the ARPA "contractors" he wanted
his students to be doing "real things"; they
should move through graduate school as quickly as possible;
and their theses should advance the state of the art.
Dave would often get consulting jobs for his students,
and in early 1967, he introduced me to Ed Cheadle, a friendly
hardware genius at a local aerospace company who was working
on a "little machine." It was not the first
personal computer but Ed wanted it for noncomputer professionals,
in particular, he wanted to program it in a higher level
language, like BASIC. I said: "What about JOSS? It's
nicer." He said: "Sure, whatever you think",
and that was the start of a very pleasant collaboration
we called the Flex Machine.
Ed had a display (for graphing, etc.)
even on his first machine, but a Sketchpad-like system
[based on the work of Ivan Sutherland, also a professor
at the University of Utah] seemed far beyond the scope
that we could accomplish with what our cost budget allowed.
This was in early 1967, and while
we were pondering the Flex Machine, Utah was visited by
A prophet of Biblical dimensions, he was very much one
of the fathers of what on the Flex Machine I had started
to call "personal computing."