Bob LaFara’s Computer Biography

I have had a varied educational background. A bachelor’s degree in Education from Indiana University, and advanced degrees in Astronomy and Engineering from Indiana University and Purdue University, respectively. Although computing has been my profession, I still have an active interest in astronomy. I have included a brief essay on the Solar System for your education and entertainment.

Computing has been my profession for over 40 years. However, I never tell anyone that I have 40 years of computer experience. Due to the rapid changes in computer technology, I prefer to tell people that I have had a different year of experience 40 times.

Milestones in this career are:

1951 – Visited Remington-Rand factory and saw UNIVAC I, serial 1. Ran a demonstration program on serial 2.

1952 – Started using an IBM Card Programmed Calculator. It was less capable than a programmable pocket calculator of today.

Bob LaFara at IBM 650

1955 – Began programming an IBM 650 computer. This was my first programming experience with a computer (vs. programmable calculator.) The 650 had a cycle time of 100 microseconds. Furthermore, it took a minimum of 8 machine cycles to do an integer add. Primary storage was a rotating drum.

1962 – Moved up to a GE 225 computer which had core memory and a cycle time of 18 microseconds. An integer add took only 2 cycles. Originally the machine had 20K bytes of RAM. Later it was upgraded to 40K. The 225 was less capable than an IBM XT.

1967 – Started using time-sharing computing on a remote computer at 110 baud. This was my first exposure to Dartmouth BASIC.

1970 – Began using a Honeywell 600 series computer. This machine was very fast, could handle multiple remote terminals while processing several large batch jobs.

1973 – Hayden Book Company published my book: “Computer Methods for Science and Engineering.”

1976 – Took a microcomputer course from Gary Kildall (author of CP/M and founder of Digital Research.) Also started using a Digital Equipment Corporation 11/70 computer with the RSX-11 operating system.

1979 – Began using a microcomputer with the CP/M operating system.

1981 – Purchased a microcomputer for own business. It used the CP/M operating system, had an 8-bit processor (8080), 16K RAM, two 8-inch floppy drives.

1982 – Started using several DEC VAX computers with the VMS operating system.

1986 – Purchased an XT clone with two 5.25 inch floppy drives, a 20M hard drive, and a CGA color monitor.

1990 – Purchased a 20MHz 386DX machine with a 40M hard drive. This machine has been upgraded by adding RAM (total 9M), an 80M hard drive, 4 floppy drives (two 3.5″ and two 5.25″), VGA, CD-ROM, Sound Blaster, Miracle keyboard.

1995 – Purchased a 90MHz pentium, 16M RAM, 850M hard drive, 28.8K modem, SVGA with a 15″ monitor.

1999 – Purchased a 350MHz pentium, 64M RAM, 8.4Gb hard drive, 56K modem, SVGA with a 17″ monitor


Bob LaFara

Also, during the 70’s and 80’s I taught BASIC and FORTRAN as an adjunct professor for Indiana University – Purdue University, Indianapolis (IUPUI).

Since 1989 I have been a shareware author and have customers all over the world.

Tags: computers
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