I believe an introduction is in order…

Well, here I am, writing again, this time purely for pleasure (yet still feeling guilty I’m not earning money for it).

My name is Sean McNamara and I’m an Apple consultant based in Sydney, Australia, but that’s only part of my story.

My journey as it more directly relates to this site began in 1980, and in very inauspicious circumstances.

Actually, no, it began before then, so please indulge me as I dig further back in my digging back than I’d originally set out to do. (A word of warning, though: I’m prone to rambling, side-tracks, musings and irrelevancies – it’s just the way my mind works.)

My first experience with computers was in the late 70’s – my Dad was 2IC in what I guess could best be described as the HR department of the Sydney City Council. They did payroll and leave entitlements, had the personnel files, etc. As was wont to happen in organisations of that size and function, even “back then”, they had a mainframe computer to do all the grunt work (well, OK, there was real grunt work being done by wetware on the roads and such, but you know what I mean).

If I made the long train journey in to visit Dad at work, I would often detour on the way in or out (or while waiting, he worked long hours) and stand and stare through the glass walls of the computing facility. Anyone who’s seen documentaries or news reports about computing facilities from the 60s or 70s would recognise the scene: brightly fluoro-lit, row upon row of gleaming tech gear, tape drives whirring, disk platters in what looked like cake containers moved to and fro…and lots of “blinkenlights”.

Even without being able to ever touch the bloody thing, I was fascinated. I literally whiled away hours at a time just staring. And staring. I couldn’t tell what the computers were doing, but that didn’t distract from the spectacle nor detract from the appeal for me at all.

A slow fast-forward a couple of years to 1980, and I’m sitting in a Yr 7 (first year of high school) Science class, when the teacher (an odd-ball Patrician Brother by the name of Br Cronin, who could tie a Windsor knot with one hand and liked to speak in rhymes [“Be on the run to lab one”, etc. {he was hardly Shakespeare, but he was lively}]) made an announcement that a new teacher at the school, Mr Bates, was prepared to teach interested students about computers during lunchtime classes. A (very) few hands went up, including mine and that of a good friend (also named Sean).

It was only BASIC on a TRS-80 Model I, it was only (up to) a few times a week, but it was a start and it wasn’t too long before I was using a more fruit-flavoured computer – more on that in separate posts. (Fast forward 32 years, both Sean and I still work in and on computers. From such humble beginnings we’ve both got established careers in our chosen paths.)

Nostalgia has been a strong emotion in relation to my computing history for many years now, hence my decision to begin being a little more lively in the vintage computer sphere and try and be active with this blog.

Preservation has always been very important to me – it’s just another form of hoarding, and if there’s one thing I am, it’s a hoarder (Your Honour, I present Exhibit A: I still have my two boxes of 5¼” disks from my Apple ][ days). So I’m a member of the Australian Computer Museum Society, I image disks that come into my possession, I try and rescue hardware I’m not even interested in collecting so it doesn’t end up in the tip (I have gotten better at passing that stuff on, at least). I’m not in Jason Scott’s league, but every bit counts (no pun intended, but I’ll run with it now I’ve seen it).

So Nostalgia and Preservation are two themes which will recur here, sometimes combined, sometimes one much stronger than the other. Nostalgic stories are important: they give context (I love context). Sometimes the resonances I feel in a story will be why I’m trying to preserve something; other times, I just cringe at the thought of it ending up in the tip or I think more people should have access (or exposure) to something from computing’s past.

So I hope you find something worthwhile or interesting in this blog and its supporting materials. I look forward to your feedback.