Me, Richard Garriott, My Commodore PET, and the Wonder of 1985

Brad programming in 1985I received a Christmas card in the mail today from my middle school math teacher and his wife, although to classify them as simply that doesn’t do justice to our long relationship.

Steve was the man who taught me how to program computers (back when I knew how to program computers). I would go to his house every Saturday around 7 or 8 am, and we’d work in his small pantry closet that sat just off the kitchen while his wife and two small children puttered about.

While I’ve traveled far and wide since then, my relationship with their family has remained one of the more foundational ones in my life.

I tell you that because out of the card dropped that picture of me.It’s one of four pictures taken sometime in 1985 when I was in the 8th grade.

This picture was an important piece of evidence because for years I’ve told stories about learning to program on the Commodore PET, the computer that introduced me to games such as ASCII-styled spaced games where your “]–@” shot “*” at “@–{“.

Those were important times for me. As I look at the picture, I remember the pure joy I felt as I learned how to write BASIC, as I used Telnet to tunnel through libraries and out into cybserspace, and as I entered into the weird world of Bulletin Board Systems (BBS).

NCSoft2 009When my parents finally purchased me the Commodore 128, I’d graduated to games such as Zork, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Ultima.

Richard Garriott, the guy who created Ultima, would eventually be one of the main characters in Dungeons & Dreamers. And although Richard was a little bit older than me at the time and living in a different part of the country, he didn’t look all that different from me (or really most of the people who were building and playing these games).

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This newsletter is the outgrowth of The Downtown Writers Jam podcast. What that means is I will collect information about the authors I interview, book happenings around the Web, and other literary events that I find interesting. Without you, I'm just a crazy guy sitting in his office furiously screaming on the page for no reason.
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