2006 Story Set
| Date: Last Edit February, 1998
A shortened version of this ran in Computer Design, January 1997, Vol. 36, No.1, page 40. They are no longer in Print.
Once upon a time, in the long ago and far away....
Well, it was not all that long ago (35 years) and not so far away (3000 miles)...
I entered college wanting to be a nuclear scientist and settling on being an electrical engineering major. I wanted to be a nuclear scientist because of the "Cutie-Pie" ray gun I got to touch and see at a nuclear reactor site in Idaho back in high school. I was visiting. He was swaggering.
Little did I realize, and I did not realize for some time, that it was the control room that had mesmerized me. All those dials and levers and all that responsibility. As the oldest of 6 kids and with 100 hens to raise, responsibility didn't phase me.
So, I majored in generators and tubes. Makes sense.
All those motors. All those wires. All that spilled oil. And, as the only girl in class, I was handed a clipboard. Of course.
Real men play with motor windings.
There was an elective class in something called transistor theory. It looked promising. I liked tracing the little holes and electrons all around the circuit. Besides, I had mastered the clipboard.
There was another class a few of us sat in on. FORTRAN II. C = a + b , Print C. Trivial. I found it fun.
Back in the regular classes, there were endless lectures about patchboards and trim pots and all that stuff. And in those labs, I got handed the clipboard. So I avoided more of those classes. And Analog Design was placed on my hit list. As in, "Not Interested". At least, I thought so.
Well, I graduated, drove to California and went to work for the phone company and was handed a clipboard.
Now, this was getting boring.
I flew over to the space program. Little did I know they just needed a woman, any woman, to make their numbers come out. The man who interviewed me was stunned when I arrived - he kept mumbling about how they looked at my grades and my record and thought I was a man. This was hard to believe since I was the campus homecoming queen.
So they took me to a lab.
And handed me a clipboard.
They also dragged me into hallways and proudly showed me their analog computer. Six feet high and the length of a room. A big room. All those wires and patch cords and trim pots. All those dials. And then they showed me their digital computer. Neat boxes. Clean room. Terminal on a desk. Hmmmm. Let me think.
Well, I got lucky.
Computer simulation was now a buzzword. The government , the space program and the military required it.
The only problem, real men don't type. And, they couldn't tell Runga-Kutta from Taylor's Series if their lives depended on it!
So, I traded my clipboard for a computer terminal and went back to school. Turns out, I had figured out that those little squares (ICs) and gates were my real cup of tea. Chasing those little holes and electrons around in class had been useful after all. I had a knack for logic design, minimization, simulation and programming. And real woman do math.
Anyone who thinks FORTRAN was trivial probably does well at these things.
And, at the least, I got away from the clipboard.
I was a logic designer. A systems engineer. A program manager.
I moved from circuits to systems to bit-slice to ASICS. I learned machine-level, assembly-level and high-level programming. Trivial. I avoided radar and analog and all things similiar. (In those days in fact, if you wanted me to change jobs, you could just hand me an analog design!)
I stayed out of labs. (I had learned.)
I taught older engineers how to hold a floppy. And how to type. (Real men, these days, need to type.) And how to point and click. And how to simulate.
I even taught the boys at NASA how to build some of their toys. How to write test vectors. How to do structured design. (This is true! They wouldn't let "girls" be astronaughts but they paid well to have me teach them how to build the stuff.)
And then, it happened. I was too old. I was thrown away.
So, I died my hair and got a new job.
Gasp! I was working with Analog!
But, wait! There are no more patch boards to plug and trim pots to turn. We do all that on a desktop computer now. We do it point and click. We do Windows.
Even though I'm a Mac person, I can handle this.
Just don't hand me a clipboard.
www.Donnamaie.com my home page
Main Story Index (top-level current year)
WhitePubs.com (Technical Textbook/Reference book publisher)
eBooks-n-Stuff (Fiction eBooks - under construction)
Jettison Saga (Jettison - Hellsfire - Kali's Song)
The Naked Housewife (Americanized Bridget Jones) (watch your typing )
Fabio International Fan Club (also see the Yahoo group)
Manta's Media My late son's pages and artwork
Copyright 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000-1984 Donnamaie
Material may not be reproduced without written permission of the author.
For information about this file or to report problems in its use email email@example.com