Sunday, August 19, 2012

Extreme coolness for geeks!

Via a link at Instapundit, we learn of a fascinating encounter between a blogger and a seminal figure in the early days of the computer era.

I sat down at yet-another coffee shop in Portland determined to get some work done, catch up on some emails and write another blog post.

About 30 minutes into my working, an elderly gentleman at least 80 years old sat down next to me with a hot coffee and a pastry. I smiled at him and nodded and looked back at my computer as I continued to work.

"Do you like Apple?" As he gestured to the new Macbook Air I had picked up a few days prior.

"Yea, I’ve been using them for a while." Wondering if I was going to get suckered into a mac vs. pc debate in a portland coffee shop with an elderly stranger.

"Do you program on them?"

"Well, I don’t really know how to code, but I write quite a bit and spend a lot of time creating online projects and helping clients run their businesses."

"I’ve been against Macintosh company lately. They’re trying to get everyone to use iPads and when people use iPads they end up just using technology to consume things instead of making things. With a computer you can make things. You can code, you can make things and create things that have never before existed and do things that have never been done before."

"That’s the problem with a lot of people," he continued, "they don’t try to do stuff that’s never been done before, so they never do anything, but if they try to do it, they find out there’s lots of things they can do that have never been done before."

I nodded my head in agreement and laughed to myself – thinking that would be something that I would say and the coincidence that out of all the people in the coffee shop I ended up talking to, it was this guy. What a way to open a conversation.

The old man turned back at his coffee, took a sip, and then looked back at me.

"In fact, I’ve done lots of things that haven’t been done before," he said half-smiling.

Not sure if he was simply toying with me or not, my curiosity got the better of me.

"Oh really? Like what types of things?" All the while, half-thinking he was going to make up something fairly non-impressive.

"I invented the first computer."

"Um, Excuse me?"

"I created the world’s first internally programmable computer. It used to take up a space about as big as this whole room and my wife and I used to walk into it to program it."

"What’s your name?" I asked, thinking that this guy is either another crazy homeless person in Portland or legitimately who he said he was.

"Russell Kirsch."

There's more at the link.  Engrossing reading for geeks!  There's also a follow-up 'lessons learned' article.

Some things can make me smile for hours.  That article is one of them.



Jess said...

All I can think is: Wow

Old NFO said...

Wow is right!!! That had to be a fantastic conversation!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow. Just wow. And ... way cool.


Stretch said...

This may be the ultimate definition of COOL.
And I've got to spend more time in coffee shops.

Chris said...

Amusingly, the image from the blog post is now the picture of him in the Wikipedia article.