Friday, August 5, 2011

Computers? A fad.

My next job, having had my hours cut to nothing at Best was as a lift truck mechanic. I got this job because the job placement people at my college had a request for someone with some basic electronics knowledge for a local lift truck (AKA fork lift, scissor lift, etc) repair company.

I hated that job. I hated being greasy. I hated smelling like grease. I hated not owning any clothing that wasn't stained by grease.

I was pretty tired of it, when one day one of olivetti word processors they used in the clerks office jammed up. It was determined to be "broke", and a call was made to Harrisburg to have a guy come and repair it. But they guy wouldnt get there until next week. Seeing my chance to spend some time in the air conditioning, I offered to take a look, based solely on my experience convincing people they needed these machines because typewriters were fossils and computers we just a fad.

I don't remember what was wrong with it, but I did manage to fix it. After that, I became the olivetti repair guy. Some of our satellite offices had issues, so I started going to those places. Then, a guy who knew a guy suggested I go look at some other guy's olivetti. The shop manager, ever one to smell money being dropped, made up a rate card for my services. I should have done it myself, since i was being paid mechanic's wages still for what was essentially a white collar job, but hey, I was stupid.

Before long I was a full time olivetti guy. Until the company computer broke, anyway, at which point I was also the computer guy (I had just bought, at the time, a brand new 66Mhz computer, which was top of the line). This, then, is how I got into IT.

Another company started up in our loft. They were a computer company. It took me about 3 seconds to realize I needed to apply there, and with my recent background in olivetti and PS/2 repair, I got the job easily. It seems funny to say now, but our business model was this:

-Buy XT/AT machines (this is pre-286 technology mind you) cheap,
-Install copies (not licensed copies, mind you) of Windows 3.0, Works, and whatever else we could get our hands on.
-Sell the computers to home users.
-Support those customers with our in-home installation service!
-Also, repair olivetti word processors for the government.

This is also the time that I managed to get dial up access to a mainframe, which allowed me to access a number of internetworked computers. And lo, I found out about Mucks.

I also found out that if you run up your company's phone bill dialing an out of state mainframe, they'll can your ass.