Wednesday, July 19, 2006

My Amiga

Back in college, I worked in a movie theater. It was also the first time that I bought a computer (a Commodore Amiga 1000). My theater job helped me to pay for my computer. More in the spirit of the Macintosh than the PC (I love those new Apple commercials), the Amiga was a great machine. Near my house in Churchill Height, there was a store that sold and serviced Amigas. Time has erased the name of the store and employee names, but, I remember the owner. As a nineteen year old, I went and asked him if I could trade my Commodore 128 (this was a graduation gift) and then make up the difference with a weekly payment of $50.00. I was not unknown to the store. I had come there to shop software and had developed a friendship with the employees. Probably, what I did not know, is that I was a distraction, but, it helped them pass the time (they were not that busy). The owner sat down with me, looked me square in the eyes and said "don't burn me" and the deal was struck.

It some time to pay off the computer. I remember that it was hard to get enough hours at the theater to consistently make more than $50 dollars in a week, so I started doing odd jobs at the theater (repairing seats, helping the cleaning crew, receiving and stocking popcorn seed and my favorite, changing the marquee) to not only cover the computer, but to give me gas money. I also wrote my first computer program on the Amiga: it was a simple program that I used to change the marquee. I would type in the name of the movies that were leaving (as currently spelled on the marquee) and the names of the movies that were coming and the program would tell me which letters I needed to bring out to the sign.

My Amiga did not have a hard drive, but it did have two floppies. I had bought a "Genlock" device that allowed me to merge video signals (incidentally, I never really ever used it). I had the machine for many years (as measured in computer years), but she eventually gave up the ghost while I was in Japan. I should have kept it, but, I sold it "as is" to an Amiga enthusiast.

Since then, it seems like I have had many computers, but, none of them has meant anything to me. However, the Amiga did represent something deeper than just a computer. It was the owner's trust, it was hard work, and it was honoring commitments. That Amiga today still represents those first steps away from a band directing career, to the job that I am about to leave my home for. Thank you Jay Miner.

1 comment:

James said...

Nice post, Dave.