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About Me

My first computer job started in January of 1972. I accepted a position working for Ross Perot's company - Electronic Data Systems (EDS). I was hired as a computer operations trainee, but I had to start in the tape library. We were in the old Exchange Bank building at Mockingbird and Harry Hines, near Love Field in Dallas. Within 6 months, I got off the loading docks and out of the tape library to work out on the computer floor. I was hanging tapes for the overnight data processing runs of various banks, insurance companies or state Medicare systems.  By the end of my first year, I had progressed to running the Master Console on our newest 370/165. 

When I started, our computers were room sized, and had to be installed on raised flooring where industrial air conditioning systems kept them cool by blowing air from the bottom up.  Back then, most of our data was stored on large 12 inch reels containing 2400 ft of magnetic tape.  Often, input data was produced on key punch machines. 

At the time that IBM released the System/360 (like the one pictured), they were beginning to make the transition from discrete transistors to integrated circuits, and their major source of revenue moved from punched-card equipment to electronic computer systems. 

When I was first assigned to the Fort Worth National Bank account, they were still using electronic accounting machines such as paper tape, manual card sorters, and wire boards. Learning about the hardware and equipment in computer operations helped me better understand the big picture of Data Processing systems.  This proved invaluable when I later progressed into the programmer ranks. 

I spent a couple of years working out on the computer floor, a couple more in technical support, and then got to teach Computer Operations full-time at EDS for a year and a half. I was finally admitted to their SED (System Engineer Development) school and learned about the Assembler and COBOL programming languages.

Towards the end of the 1970's, East Texas State University offered me some course credits for my work experience at EDS, and I finally had a degree plan to major in Computer Science. I continued to take night courses at TCJC, the Tarrant County community college, and many, many extension courses from ETSU (now Texas A&M University, Commerce), and graduated with a Bachelor of Computer Science degree in December, 1981. 

By the early 1980's, personal computers (PC's) - had begun to spring up everywhere. The Apple II became an instant success when released in 1977. Radio Shack had it's 4K TRS80 and had been around a few years. In 1981 IBM introduced its PC, igniting a fast growth of the personal computer market. The first PC ran on a 4.77 MHz Intel 8088 microprocessor and used Microsoft´s MS-DOS operating system. 

I bought my first computer from Toy's R Us.  It was a Commodore Vic-20, and was mostly just a keyboard that hooked up to our Television and used a cassette tape player to store data.  By the time I added 24kb of memory, a disk drive and a printer, I had over a $1,000 invested in this toy. But, I could program it myself with the BASIC interpreter language to keep my checkbook in balance, and it had some swell plug in games like Space Invaders, and Vic-Man (their own version of Pac-Man).

By this time I was working for Frito-Lay, and they were very leading edge. Apple Computer launched the Macintosh - the first successful mouse-driven computer with a graphic user interfaceWe began to see many managers begin to use spreadsheets and word processors, and very expensive plotters that could draw wonderful color charts and reports.

Around 1984, IBM released its PC Jr. and PC-AT. The PC Jr. failed commercially, but the PC-AT, several times faster than original PC and based on the Intel 80286 chip, claimed success with its notable increases in performance and storage capacity, all for about $4,000. It also included more RAM and accommodated high-density 1.2-megabyte 5 1/4-inch floppy disks.

In the mid-80's, while I was working at Chilton Credit Bureau, we saw the PC market explode into the corporate world.  Hard-drives with 10, or 20, or even 40mb of storage made the old 8 inch or 5 1/4 inch floppies obsolete.  Everybody had to have the "new" 3.5 inch floppies.  Why, they could hold all of 1.44 mb!

In 1987, IBM introduced its PS/2 machines, which made the 3 1/2-inch floppy disk drive and video graphics array standard for IBM computers. The first IBMs to include Intel´s 80386 chip, the company had shipped more than 1 million units by the end of the year. IBM released a new operating system, OS/2, at the same time, allowing the use of a mouse with IBMs for the first time.

It would be about 4 years later before I could replace my old PC Jr, with a new Dell that sported the highest speed 33mhz 80386 CPU that would be able for me to upgrade to my first Microsoft Window's based home computer running the Windows 3.1 version. I was a very happy camper ... for a little while.

In the 1990's, computer hardware and software began to increase in speeds, capacity, and capabilities that we had previously not even thought of. When I arrived at American Airlines, they were leading edge because they had rolled out 80386 based workstations across the company. Within 4 years, we needed at least the 80486 based CPU to run larger Project Management programs like MS Project

I went back to work for EDS in Plano in 1994, but it wasn't the same company Ross Perot had sold to General Motors back in the mid 80's.  I had a good run thru 2001 when EDS bought half of the SABRE airline reservations business. In just those 7 years back at EDS, we saw the Intel 486 platform become obsolete to the Pentium CPU (80586)The Pentium Processor was Intel's successor to the i486 chips, and used features such as pipelining and larger L1 caches to significantly increase the performance of the chips when compared to the i486.  It was shortly replaced by Pentiums II, III, and then IV's.  Today the latest offerings are 64-bit based.

Microsoft's Windows operating system has evolved rapidly over the years - from Windows 3.1, to Windows 95, and then Win98. Then Windows ME & Windows 2000. Windows XP came out in 2001 and has already been replaced by Vista, and in 2009, now we have Windows 7.  ...  It was My Idea - :>)  OK, not really.

This is a slide rule (pictured on the left). Have you ever seen one of these?  When I tried chemistry in high school and college, we only had these for calculators. They were invented in 1625 and these were in continual use by scientists and mathematicians right up until the introduction of the first handheld electronic slide rule - the HP-35 by Hewlett Packard - in 1972.  It was the first handheld ever to perform logarithmic and trigonometric functions with one keystroke.

I have been working in this computer business for over 40 years now.

When I started in this business in January 1972, I had not even seen a computer. Yet, I have dedicated my entire adult career to this technology. 

I continued to attend night school while holding down a full time job and balancing a wonderful marriage to Vicki, (my loving wife and childhood sweetheart).  Together, with God's help, we raised three grown, married kids (all college graduates), who have provided us with eight fantastic grandchildren. 

Since I did my first CPU upgrade from a 486/66mhz to a Pentium/100mhz, I have been maintaining and upgrading Personal Computers at home and at work, and as a personal hobby, helping friends and family get the most satisfaction using their PCs in their homes and offices.

I started  Eagle Computer Services  in April, 2004 to help you get the most out of your personal computer or local network hardware and software.  We provide on-site support to homeowners and small businesses.  Our customers call us for experienced help at improving their computer system's performance

I hope that short little personal history helps you see how far we have come in just a few years.  ...  phh


Author & Webmaster: Preston H. Hazzard, Sr.
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