Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Apple II+

My job with Mr. Alessi started out with a software project he called Forecaster-Buy. The idea was to create a trend following inventory management system for distributors and manufacturers so that overstocking was a thing of the past. The computer we did all our initial development was:

An Apple II+ with 48K RAM and Applesoft BASIC in ROM
Two 143K Apple Disk II floppy drives
An Epson MX-100 dot matrix printer
Later we added a Microsoft Z-80 Softcard but didn't do much with it

I learned so much about programming with Mr. Alessi. We worked in the basement. There was a small room at the bottom of the basement stairs where the computer was kept, and in the larger basement space there was a TV and some chairs. We would talk about the software (and politics) and I would go into room and write software. Mr. Alessi would come in and ask me how I was doing. He'd make suggestions to which I would sometimes respond "That's impossible!" Of course it wasn't impossible, but if I didn't know how to do it, that is what I sometimes said. Then we'd talk and I'd think it over and come up with some sort of code to do the previously impossible.

Working with Mr. Alessi was a great experience. He was smart enough to know what sort of software to create. He'd bring me endless coffee and cookies. On Saturdays he would make me breakfast. He made very nice scrambled eggs. His two sons Tom and Michael were a little older than me and they'd always be around. I remember I used to play with them (and with all the other kids around the block) up at the park at the end of my street; kickball, pickle, keepaway, capture the flag, and hide and seek with the whole neighborhood as our hiding place. :-)

Yeah, working with Mr. Alessi was a great opportunity. It didn't pay much, but I learned a ton!

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