\ How I became a geek. Or am I a nerd?

How I became a geek. Or am I a nerd?

From an early age I learned and loved nerdy things.  My father and mother were both Ham Radio Operators, in the 60’s, so I grew up around Amateur Radio, Morris Code, teletypes and the like. I still remember their old calls signs; K0YWP & K0WNR.

Mom & Dad in the Radio Room
Circa 1962

After nearly joining the Air Force in 1970, they really wanted me because of my exam scores in the electronics and mechanical tests; I began working for the engineers at what was then the Ordnance Division of Honeywell in Hopkins, MN.  Oh, I didn’t join the Air Force because the sales guy at Musicland convinced me that 4 years of my life was such a long time, after all… I’d be 21 by then.

While working at Honeywell, I garnered a “top secret” security clearance, because of the Vietnam weaponry they were developing and learned the skills that would later get me into, what was to become, the IT world.  I remained at Honeywell for 3 years; until leaving Minnesota’s snow covered streets for a vacation in Denver, upon arriving in Mid-February I washed my car in my swimsuit.  I decided that was a much better climate for me!  Six months later I moved to Denver.  I spent the next half decade learning skills that would be the catalyst, for my 34 year career.

Computer Room – Circa 1962

In April of 1977, when I was 25, I was gifted with a most precious bundle of joy when my daughter was born.  Being a wasn’t easy and making enough to earn a living was also very challenging.  In 1978 I applied for a job at May D&F in their new Construction & Engineering Department; I’ve always felt I got the job because I knew how to run the office blueprint machine, something I learned at Honeywell.  Being the Xerox key-operator, their, didn’t hurt any either!  What’s a key-operator you ask?  I had the only key to open the copy machine to clear jams, put paper & toner in, a highly prestigious responsibility at the time, after all it was in a secured room adjacent to the 500+ sq. ft. computer room!

In 1980, the store moved away from Mountain Bell as our telephone provider and installed a shiny new orange Rolm CBX phone system; one of pioneers in computerized business systems. After convincing my Manager the company needed someone to manage “the computer” I was put on probation as the Telecom Manager, a title I would earn 6 months later.  Several years into running diagnostics, making software changes, doing traffic studies, upgrades and installations I was on my way in the technology industry.

Early Computers

1980's PBX
Believe it or not – I could not find a Picture of a Rolm M CBX on Google!

1980's Portable Computer
The 50 lb. laptop

Having purchased a new Compaq Computer to help with traffic studies on the phone system, it became clear how much a personal computer (PC) would also be beneficial in the office keeping track of expenses and projects.  I convinced my manager we needed one in the office.  By 1984 or so I had an IBM Clone on my dining room table too; although, my first computer was a Commodore 64 with an attachable cassette tape drive that I programmed tic-tac-toe on; introducing my then 6 year old to the world of computers.

Enter the new computer age… the !  We have arrived.  Prior to Microsoft Windows being introduced; I was working with MS-DOS and using a Free-net, Compuserve or AOL to get connected to the “internet”.  In fact when I was first introduced to Windows, I wondered why anyone would need such a program.  I didn’t wonder long.

40 Years of Removable Media Storage
40 Years of Removable

Over the next 30 years I would go from being a single to being a widow and back to single mom.  I went from being a girl-Friday to being a Regional IT Manger for one of the nation’s largest retailers; from having no employees, to having a team of 11 technicians that maintained 46 Department Stores, across multiple states.  During that time, I took advantage of every opportunity to learn new skills, whether it was related to the Telecom Industry or Information Technology.  I learned CBX Programming, SQL, HTML, Dreamweaver, ColdFusion, Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft SharePoint and a number of other programs used to develop websites.  I designed and implemented the first equipment Service Ticket System for our company and created numerous department intranet pages.

It’s been personally rewarding to design websites over the years, for myself, family, and friends and I’m still a single mom so it’s also a great a side business and is something I still love doing now that I am retired and taking care of my aging mother.  So that’s it in a nutshell, as they say… I’ve been a or if you prefer all of my life; in fact you might say I was a geek before being a geek wasn’t cool!

Glossary of Terms

CBX

A hybrid system leveraging the military computer controlled communication framework voila the Computerized Branch Exchange

IBM Clone

The first generation personal computer’s not built by IBM

Free-net

A community internet system provided by many Universities and Colleges to access bulletin boards (chat rooms), data transfer and the internet.

Check out this excerpt from the Cleveland Freenet about them.

Girl-Friday

‘go to’ girl; a female who will help you get things taken care of; a female you can rely on when you are in need of extra assistance; a female who acts as a ‘jack of all trades’ and is capable of doing almost anything; a girl you can count on when you are overwhelmed with your own chores and the duties must be done; a girl who does most of the leg work on a project, but never takes (or gets) credit.

Curated from Urban Dictionary: Girl Friday

Nerd vs Geek

The original meaning of “geek” was a carnival sideshow freak, generally portrayed as a fool or idiot and whose act included biting chunks out of snakes, biting the heads off chickens and eating rats, and similar disgusting acts. Only in the latter half of the 20th century did it come to mean someone obsessed with technology or other nerdy activities or hobbies.

A “geek” is someone with a lot of expertise in, and passion for, a specific subject which could be anything from computers to history to astronomy to cooking gadgets.

A “nerd” is someone who is overly interested in some subject in a way that is detrimental to his or her life. You can be a nerd about anything, though it’s easiest to be a nerd about technology. Being too much of a nerd is associated with a lack of interest in other important life areas and incompetence at dealing with the opposite sex.

Update, 22 months after writing the above: I am getting the impression that usage is evolving over time such that “nerd” and “geek” are getting closer and closer, and that today, “nerd” is much more commonly used in a totally non-perjorative way than it was a couple years ago. Many people probably use the words interchangeably these days.

Curated from What’s the difference between a geek and a nerd? – Quora

 Parting Thoughts

I’ll leave you with this quote from Zachary Levi (AKA “Chuck Bartowski”)

“Being nerdy just means being passionate about something, including everyone – the coolest people on Earth are passionate and therefore nerdy about something whatever it is, whether it’s sports, or gaming, or technology, or fashion, or beauty, or food, or whatever.”

 

One thought on “How I became a geek. Or am I a nerd?”

Leave a Reply

PrestaShop Theme