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Comments about General Electric Computer Department, IBM, Control Data, Measurex, Landis&Gyr,and, Dilbert Thelen, Ed & Digital Computers
A Typical Day, Some flattering pictures of Ed, a memorial

A "Short" Biography of

- Ed Thelen -

I started this web site in 1996, when most guys showed themselves in their favorite T-shirt next to a red convertible. Being a contrarian, and having no favorite T-shirt nor red convertible, I refused to do that.

In 2003, George Runkle asked for a picture, and J.P. Moore asked for a short bio.
Sensing fame and fortune at my doorstep ;-)) I agreed.

Here goes!

Left puppy died April 2005 at age 16 :-((
Center puppy still writing web sites ;-))
Right puppy was a super dog, died April 2004 after challenging/ignoring an auto for right of way :-(((

Hmmmm - a bio - you asked for "a little bio" -

Ah good, that means I can
    - leave out all the disgraceful stuff
    - leave in only the hero/intellectual stuff.
    - and spin everything to my advantage :-))
    - - Gee - I could go into politics

OK - lets try it -

A "short" autobiography of (bring up the sound of trumpets)

ta ta ta - ta ta

Ed Thelen

Executive Summary of Ed Thelen

A proposed script for "Dilbert" by Scott Adams
- Lady says to Dilbert, "Say something romantic."
- Dilbert (Ed Thelen) says "Kepler discovered the paths of the planets."
- Lady thinks "I wish I remembered Bill Clinton's telephone number."
Dilbert vs SalesTypes
What NASA is hiding on the moon ;-))

Ed has sophisticated tastes, likes Uff da, Minnesota, Minnesota, St. Patrick's Day in Minnesota ;-))
Also a music lesson :-)), a carrot clarinet and OH Yes - Senior Moments, My Life Style
Ok, I really like this, and Renée, and, and for a change of pace ;-)) - and this (Hazmat) ;-))
and this for you space junkies - a horse laugh for folks trying to back up a trailer ;-))
A guy's guide to avoiding sexual harassment problems.

A short tale of my life

As a kid, I seemed more curious about the world than most -
Other kids would say "Curiosity killed the cat!"
I would respond "But satisfaction brought it back!"

In high school I liked physics & chemistry
- but chemistry appeared restricted to DuPont, which seemed limiting
- but I was also stumped by the double slit phenomena, or more seriously
so I became a enjinerr .
In my usual chaotic fashion, after getting married and having 1st kid.

Now I'm a grandpop, and remember all of this
A ?universal? truth
My corner

  • Ancestors - People keep digging them out of the ground - in Africa yet -
    1. 13 million year old proposed ancestor of great apes, and me
      Alesi skull Alesi skull - from the the Leakey Foundation.
      And a 3D animation of the Alesi skull computed from the ESRF microtomographic data. It shows first the skull in solid 3D rendering, then transparent surface rendering is used to show the endocast shape (light blue), the internal ears (green), and the permanent teeth germs (grey and brown). © Paul Tafforeau / ESRF
    2. dated as "just less than 3.18 million years old."
      Lucy skeleton - More info.
      Her knees and other skeletal features indicated she could easily walk upright, not shuffle as a chimp or gorilla.
    3. No other skeletons - that I admit to ;-))

  • Parents? - Yes, two of them - see Tales Of My Parents
    1. Mother - a nice picture
      - Mom was "stay at home", a farm girl with college degree, had taught high school math
        - knew the meaning of "hard work - physical labor"
        (A day of farm work makes us city slickers moan and groan!)
            No kidding, some people really work.
         - gave our food to the "out-of-work" in the 1930s
        ("Out-of-work" seemed the only option for many good people at that time.)
        Oh - mother & father married, then found mother had tuberculosis.
         No drugs then, she lived on the front porch for several years.
        After cure, had me, then my sister
    2. Father - So you would like to know about your grandparents
      - Dad was a farm boy, worked through college with help from his sister Lucy, held elected county job. A writing about Lincoln
        Stillwater was primarily a farming community of 7,000 in the 1930s and still is.
        He was an excellent tenor, by far best in town. He sang with an entertainment group to stay in the public eye for election. Had considered trying for N.Y. opera. Decided that even if he won, how ever remote, life as a singer was not a good way to raise a family. Took up law instead, his sister helped with his expenses, worked as a reporter for the other half.
         I thought he sang like Richard Crooks YouTube but needing just a little more practice. He would listen to Sunday afternoon opera on the radio. If Puccini's "Madame Butterfly" was on, tears would stream down his face.
         The story, music, and this aria rattles my cage even today, 75 years later.

  • Born? - Sounds likely, but I don't remember.
    • Age? - 39 - Oh Yea - well maybe a little more
      My kids are now older then when I started to lie about my age.
      - born in early 1930s - upper mid-west
      - - and now that I'm into volunteering, I'm "fudging" my age again
    • Sex? - Yes :-))

  • Life as kid? - I hated it. (And people would smile and say this was the best time of my life!)
    • - I have a sister, two years younger, but faster, bigger, smarter than me :-((
        (Are sisters designed to torment brothers?) (I catch up with sister about age 15.)
    • - My mother wanted me to get into college quickly, talked the grade school into taking me a year early
        Unfortunately, I was small for my age and maturing slowly,
         Complete with thick glasses and braces on my teeth.
          I was so far down the pecking order that girls would talk bullies out of beating on me
            by saying I was not worth picking on. I never had a real fight.
        AH - I hit a kid once, some kid from 2 grades down started beating on me -
          the thing to do.
        I hit him back, and everyone jumped on me "pick on someone your own age !!!"
    • My father worked for the county, near the Superintendent of School's office. The kindly man let me look at the books publishers sent to him. Science books were a big hit with me, he let me borrow them.
        - In middle school I studied all the science books in the local library
        - Saturdays in high school I took the bus to the St. Paul Public Library.
    • We had "adopted" an extended family.
    • - I was the middle and high school science whiz,
        - the complete nerd - thick glasses, dental braces, social retard -
        - Boy Chemist
        - WWII Pig Farmer :-((
        My favorite non-science book was "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" - I felt oppressed -   The politically correct book was "Adventures of Tom Sawyer" - but he had friends, was too middle class, I didn't empathize -
        I wanted to run away, but was too incompetent.
          Later came "A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court" ;-))
      Many weekends went to nearby big city library for science books.
      Sometimes lurked around the physics and engineering buildings at the University of Minnesota.
    • It would have been great to have the Khan Academy !!
    • - Summers mostly spent on family farm, mostly not working hard
      I now think of myself as a farm boy and super-techie
    • Did I mention that my parents were thrifty? You don't get rich working for the county. But they wanted to save for a "rainy day", and medical insurance was unheard of.
      So - my father bought a bushel of wheat (probably from a feed store) each fall, and all winter we ate boiled cracked wheat for breakfast. I got SO tired of the stuff. I tried all the different spices to get a change from that blasted bland tasting stuff !!
    • - During World War II, I was about age 14, my father met a renegade optometrist
      who said that he could get many young people out of glasses (and into the AirForce).
      His method worked on me until age 50, when I got the usual presbyopia :-)))
    • - Again, about age 14, we had a neighbor who lost "everything", wife, family, business, house, ... playing with booze and benzedrine -

    My high school class was 155
    - didn't need a nose ring and spiky green hair to be recognized ;-))
    Three guys eventually died in the Korean war.
    I promised to leave out all the disgraceful stuff - but -
    When my bio chemicals kicked in - I just couldn't get my eyes off of buxom Marian White, two seats to my left
    The teacher should have had mercy on us and moved me to the front of the room! I was embarrassed and awful :-((

    Our family got its first TV (black & white of course)
        - after I got out of high school.
    Executive Summary of "growing up".
    I hated it !!!
    If I could live all over again, but have to re-live this childhood,
    - I'd likely say "thanks but no thanks".
    but I've always wanted kids

  • Graduate from High School? - Yes - at last - longest 12 years of my life
    - there has got to be a better way!!!
    The teachers seemed glad to see me leave
    I guess that was nice and friendly.

  • Long Held Biases

  • First Job

  • Military Career? - A short three years
    • Title? - "Knob dicker", I adjusted and fixed Nike radar and computer things.

  • College? - Yes - several - Maybe too many - like how many folks you know took 8 years to get a B.S.?
    • College support? - Parents, reading to blind, janitoring, loading trucks, G.I.Bill, instructing, manufacturing techie
    • Got asked to leave College? - Yes
    • Graduate from College? - Yes
    • Major? - That was a problem, tried several - didn't seem to fit,
      but now I are a happy enjineer :-))

  • Ed, the Oil Well Consultant ;-))

  • Vice(s) other than the "seven deadly" - I compute Pi :-))

  • Hired? - Yes, Several times
    Honeywell, G.E.ComputerDepartment, IBM, CDC, Measurex, Landis&Gear
    • Fired? - Not too often
      Measurex - insubordination - Yup, this product sucks, I ain't goin ta do it. ;-))
    • What did you do at work? - I don't tell people,
      especially not my bosses.
      Folks have a right to privacy you know!!
      (Actually a computer programmer in industry, had seen enough of government.)
    • Memories? - frustration, what did I get done today?? this week??
      Why are my feet stuck in mud?? - It is mud isn't it?? - Oh! No! - its poop!!!

  • Married? - Yes - too often
    • About 1958, a young lady gave a no longer drifting ex-soldier, now engineeering student, a serious book - "Introduction to Finite Mathematics" by Professor John Kemeny, of Dartmouth College. The student was so impressed by the young lady's obvious good taste, and other things, that a year later he proposed and was accepted.
    • First lasted 24.3 years - just couldn't squeak it to 25?
    • After 24.3 years of my Dilbert type imperfections, and kids mostly out of high school, she left. Now 29 years later (2011), she is still searching. I figure it was a better marriage than most :-) but I sure was sad at the ending !!
      Amazing what you can find on the Internet ;-))
      from - included in a long list of terminations -
      "Irene S Talsness Secretary St Paul Student Center effective May 28, 1959"
      The poor dear had resigned to marry me.
    • Current marriage has lasted 22 years (2011)
    • Nerds like me shouldn't get married,
    • Guys with property and/or prospects worry about this
    • While others are "attentive", which seems to attract women
    • most women seem to prefer jerks like Bill Clinton

  • Got pregnant? - Never :-((
    • Got someone else pregnant? - Yes, several times :-))

  • Kids? - yes :-)) Sons, in order of birth and grandkids, Mason, Rose, Arthur ;-))

  • Comment on kids? - If ya ain't got kids, yur missing out on half of life.
    I've always wanted kids.

  • Kids on welfare? - Not too often

  • See kids? - Yes - Everybody about 20 miles apart,
    maybe right distance.
  • Gramps?
    - Hey, Hey - Look at this :-)))

    "Kids" and Mason



    Christmas 2013
    Two grandmas, one grandpop, three sons, two daughters-in-law, three grandkids :-))

  • Millisecond of Fame? ;-))
    1. The first edition of "Fire in the Valley The Making of the Personal Computer", Paul Freiberger & Michael Swaine - Osborne/McGraw-Hill, Copyright 1984, IBSN # 0-88134-121-5 has my picture at the Home Brew Computer Club on page 92. I'm the guy with the beard in the exact center of the audience. :-)) I ain't vain - I bought only 3 copies of the book!!! ;-)) Unfortunately, this picture did not survive into the next edition :-((
    McGraw-Hill didn't ask me to use this picture of me, I didn't ask to use it either ;-))
    2. My adventure in the Steve Jobs garage.

  • Current occupation?
    - Retired in 1996 -Knockin about, tellin lies, goin to enjineerin talks way over my head, docent at several local museums. Havin fun, almost as good as young Muslim males kill for, and I also have Betty,
    a pond, and the Internet :-)) - - Spending a lot of time helping restore an old IBM 1401 computer, and when I can play with Big Toys.

    The idea that I am not totally dependent upon the government Social Security system seems to horrify some of my liberal friends - who seem to think that the government should be "the Great White Father in Washington" to us all, not just the tormented Native Americans.

  • Retirement - hopes vs reality
    HOPES - 1960 REALITY - 2011
    Live long enough to retire
    - my father died at 64
    I'm 15 years longer lived
    Own home Yup - nice water garden in back
    Be married Yup, different woman :-)
    Have grand kids handy Yup - three ;-))
    Have computer, maybe a transistorized LGP-30
    w 16 K words of memory
    Yup - a super scalar, pipelined ...
    w a million times more memory
    - maybe twice as fast Yup - a million times faster
    - a faster Flexowriter Yup - two color moniters, faster than me
    - current cost about 5 houses - current cost about 1/500 of a house
    Spend a lot of time in library Spend a lot of time on Internet, even better
    Have some interesting friends Yup - almost too interesting
    Have some health Gettin old is a drag
    Have enough jingle in the jeans to:
    1. NOT have to live in the men's dorm
      - of the county poor farm
    2. Enough control and cash to
      have spiked egg-nog for New Years
    3. Eat ice cream every day :-))
    Mostly Yup:
    1. Yup - paid up house - no bank loan/lien
    2. Yup - got enough jingle in jeans
      to take wife out every week
    3. Nope - I'm round enough already !!

  • Known Beauty?
    - Yes, some aspects
       - Even though I like some country/western & popular music - 
          Mozart, Beethoven, Puccini can truly send me
          (I still tear up when listening to Madame Butterfly talk/sing to her son
            of his returning U.S. Navy father.)
       - One late night while studying differential equations, Green's theorem, etc.
          I had a flash of the beauty of the symmetry of mathematics.
             Unfortunately the flash did not last, 
                but it was a *really* interesting feeling!
       - There is something beautiful about gardening and raising kids.
          but bugs and noise ain't
       - and mountain meadows and peaks in the growing season - sublime
       - I'm told that poetry can be beautiful -
          but something doesn't resonate with me :-(

  • Biases (known)
       1) Primitive
          I grew up in Minnesota, 
             Obviously Minnesota people are better than say Iowa people!
       2) Always did like history.
          Figured the world would be a better place if:
             a) History was as accurate as possible
                News "spinners" really irritate me!
             b) Folks bothered to check history for what seemed to work
                and what didn't work.
             c) Watching what we have been doing to/with our country
                  for the past several decades - is depressing -
       3) Within certain limits, science seems a good way to know the world.

  • Admired People - with a bias toward physics ;-)
    Shake hands with:
    - Galileo Galilei
    - Seymour Cray
    - Hyman Rickover
    - Isaac Asimov
    - Copernicus
    Sit respectfully at feet of:
    - Johannes Kepler
    - Isaac Newton
    - Archimedes
    - Albert Einstein
    - Carl Friedrich Gauss
    - Richard Feynman ;-))
    --- a stolen quote --- from John Dubinsku
    From what I've read, Galileo was.... on the arrogant side while Newton was an unpleasant, sociopathic sort of guy ... . Kepler — seemed to be the one who was the most 'normal'. While unravelling the mathematical mysteries behind the motions of the planets, he still had time to raise a family with a bunch of kids, write science fiction, think about music and mathematics and defend his mother in a witchcraft trial, all in the midst of the Thirty Years War. Now that is an interesting person.

  • Most appreciative of - last 50 years
    Mikhail Gorbachev & Ronald Reagan
    Who had the courage and confidence to wind down the "Cold War", peacefully.

  • Religion?
    Not Currently, I'm not really hungry or scared.
    but I'm open - just don't know which religion yet
    Muslim but the idea of being awarded 78 virgins for killing some "unbeliever"
    doesn't seem right - I take it the virgins don't have a say in the matter -
    - besides, I like classical and country/western music
    Buddhist but I like Chinese chicken salad
    Christian my mother tried to get me to believe
    but I couldn't understand why a loving God would give us mosquitoes and cancer
    and I'm not much into turning the other cheek -
    Conservative boring - sad but true, except when arguing with Liberals ;-))
    Liberal too far from reality, especially when arguing with Conservatives ;-))
    Atheist but are we sure?
    - we don't even know what a photon "looks" like

    Maybe sun worship ain't so bad after all -
    most of us do it anyway
    - what day is today (how many times did the sun re-appear)
    - it is time to go to work (the sun angle is that way)
    - and we wear watches, watch clocks,
    and most of us gear our lives to the sun much more
    than to any other idea, except maybe various hungers -

  • Aggression?
    "Good fences make good neighbors." ;-))
    You stay on your side of the fence, and we'll all feel comfortable.
    If I dig a well, I might be willing to share, especially for something in trade
    but you want to take it - I'm willing to fight unless you can scare me off

    I'm told our likely ancestors - the ramapithecines of 15 million years ago - had already lost their baboon like fighting teeth.
    Had they already picked up the stick/spear to poke the eyes and throats of hungry predators

    - like the big cats (lions, leopards, ...) which made their/our fangs redundant?
    To carry clubs and spears proto-people need to walk/run on two feet
    To hunt/defend effectively, a group helps, and detailed communicated plans/commands help group actions.
    A fun read - The Hunting Hypothesis: A Personal Conclusion Concerning the Evolutionary Nature of Man by Robert Ardrey

  • Worst Mistakes?
    I've had a long and varied life, and have done my share of regretted screw-ups that I know about,
    and surely many I don't know about.
    However - suggesting/permitting two of my three kids go to University of California at Berkeley seems to take the cake!

    I thought it good for them to go where

    1. free discussion,
    2. diverse opinions,
    3. varied backgrounds
    would open up their world.

    Instead they were thrust into an environment where

    1. dissidents are shouted down or demonized,
      'cause "they would do that to us if they could"
    2. fire or fail anyone with different opinion
    3. varied backgrounds by a *really* unfair quota system
    and I think they suffer long term negative effects of this brain-washing.

  • "Human Resources" in companies "H.R."

  • Philosophy?
    Modern college folks tend to tease folks that have kids by calling them "breeders".
    Having read about the birds and bees, and Darwin, I call "non-breeders" - "drones", "Darwinian Failures". :-))
    Possibly the world would be a better place if say Grace Murray Hopper had great kids instead of COBOL.
    (Actually, she developed predecessors, and sent others to COBOL committee meetings.
    Konrad Zuse may have defined the first computer language.)

    - Ya know, we ought to redefine marriage, like we are redefining everything else. People expect too much - we aren't like the beaver couples or farm couples going out two-by-two to set up house in some remote region - and trying to cooperate with each other in the struggle against nature and make a family together as long term partners.

    We ought to face that we are now a city people - and do change partners about as fast as we change cars or houses. We ought to tell kids early "This is your Temporary Daddy - soon Temporary Daddy and I will have a big fight or get bored or get the hots for someone else - then we will make a hell of a mess, split - then I might get you another Temporary Daddy.

    "Yeah, I know that Temporary Daddies tend to mistreat their Temporary Kids, but he's got such cute buns. And I just know (my intuition tells me) that he won't get drunk and beat me like he did that other woman. And he promised me not to do drugs anymore if I let him move in with us. If that doesn't work out I can get the county to help pay the bills and the child care. We will see what works."

    That way kids know what to expect, and might not be so shattered when the inevitable happens. We should recognize that with DNA testing we can figure out who made who, and not expect the liberated females to hang out with just one guy - just so some guy isn't stuck with supporting somebody else's kid. Time to face reality.

    Or maybe the Muslim idea is realistic - the guy repeats "I divorce thee" three or four times and "thee" is outta there. (Apparently the woman has to appeal to a local (religious) court if the husband does not wish her to divorce.) In "Western" countries the effect is about the same except it takes a few months and the lawyers and accountants get into the act - for what reason? So that the lawyers and accountants can get a cut of the deal? (I have no idea what the Muslims do about any kids involved.)

    (The above is not necessarily personal experience, but I've watched a lot of unpleasantness and needless sadness.

    If we remember that we are just silly ducks quacking and dancing around the pond, and not the serious, studious geese nearby, we should all feel better.)

    I am reading "Lord of Arabia", by Armstrong, a biography of King Ibn Saud, and his rise to power in the early 1900s from very humble beginnings. Muslims can have four wives at a time. Ibn Saud kept three most of the time - so that if it seemed a good idea to marry another right now, he would not have to return home to divorce one. He claimed to have had hundreds of wives during his life time, with out ever exceeding the allowed 4 concurrent rule - smart fellow. I think? :-)) In one raid, he got wounded in the thigh. (page 94) His allies figured he was useless and were ready to leave, or even turn on him.

    "He would show them he was not unmanned. He was still a man. He called a sheik of a neighbouring village and bade him find him a girl, a girl and a virgin, fit for him to marry. That night, that very night he carried out the ceremonies and consummated the marriage in his tent in the middle of the camp and ordered all the camp to celebrate the occasion." It worked, he was a hero again. On to the eventual conquest of Arabia.

    Hmmm - this "short bio" isn't any longer - Another re-definition of marriage could be:

    "We will raise some kids through high school together, then all bets are off".
    That might help a lot!! My (our) kids were mostly through high school, when the wife left, "to pursue other interests". (Well - OK - She asked me to leave the ski touring section. There was Jim Weaver, a ski touring leader.) There was ample evidence of her plans, getting college, working her way "up" the income scale. The timing was a little unexpected - but I was devastated anyway. If the marriage "contract" had stated "kids through high school", I maybe would not have hoped/dreamed of later "golden years" together.

    Lots of folks split "when the nest is empty". I just read the Lowenstein biography of Warren Buffett. Wife "Susie-O" did a great job of raising the kids and caring for the absent minded, pre-occupied Warren. But when the kids left, she went off to fulfill her dream of becoming a cabaret singer. Settling in San Francisco, a thousand miles from Warren, visiting family affairs as though all was just fine. They didn't divorce - Warren's friends found him a compatible girl friend, a compulsive bargain hunter, and the three seem just fine at family occasions. Maybe there is a lot to be said for that.

    Same sex marriage? - Ya just gotta be kidding - I think all marriage should probably be outlawed as too risky.

    We make motorcycle folks wear helmets, when they are much more likely to be shattered by a failed marriage than any other "accident".
    And what gives the government the "right" to make "us" get a license to get married anyhow? What a whakky idea. George Washington didn't need to get a license - this marriage license stuff was invented in the 1800s presumably as a way to prevent us from marrying another race!

    Marriage is a horrible financial decision!

         - Long ago, there was a little tax incentive to get married -
         - Now, unmarried women with children can get "Section 8" paying 90% or more of the rent. Also, they are eligible for many other financial aids from the feds, the state, and local governments.
    So, I recommend that couples that want children SHOULD NOT MARRY!!
    They are way ahead in many ways living together, having children, and getting a lot of financial aid.
    A friend of mine rents out houses in Silicon Valley, and there women with children can get Section 8, to pay $3,000/month rent :-)) Imagine having all that extra money to spend !! And they can still live with the "boy friend".

  • Heroes
         - (Admiral)
    Hyman Rickover - got the navy superb nuclear submarines 10 years early.
         - (Computer designer) Seymour Cray - world's fastest computers for 3 decades.
        unfortunately, they were both a little asocial and a pain for administrations.
         - (Executive) Andy Grove, author of "Only the Paranoid Survive",
            added after experiences "volunteering".

  • What I think I learned
    • A "little white lie" ain't all that bad -
      Still don't like 'em - and - I don't fool anyone :-((
    • I'd rather be a little hungry all the time :-(
      rather than big fat all the time :-((
      - Now when I take a break, I get a glass of hot water instead of food. It helps a lot!
    • "Being a little hungry is a good strategy."
      from Robert Garner (who, based on results, uses a number of good strategies.)

  • What I haven't learned
    • Patience, do nothing - just relax
      All my life people have said:
      • Ya gotta learn this stuff better and get better grades than most of your classmates
        But I ain't that much smarter than most of 'em.
        And in college I was always working part time.
      • Ya gotta hand in this assignment in Monday
        OK - so its Thursday, ya got all weekend!
      • Ya got 14 months ta do this project that most knowledgeable people think will take two years
        If ya succeed, we will keep you on the payroll and challenge you again.
      So I figure the goal of life, victory, is to do it fastest, cheapest, documented, maybe some pizazz.
      I are a good enjineer! - and I like it that way!

      Now I volunteer at museums, where most staff members seem to think they work for the government

      - this year or next year or ever, who cares?
      - lets form a committee to discuss what we discussed in the other committee last year
      If you *do* something, someone will find fault, real or imagined.
      - What a mismatch!!! Instead of a success, I am now a misfit :-(
      - Maybe I should change Heroes, above.

  • Advice for the "young"

    What U.S. job to aspire-to/study-for? - probably government. I prospered in the golden age of Engineering - mostly now off-shore. Too many lawyers, unless you are *really* slick.

    I might not be the best one to ask - I'm basically a rural kid of long ago, lost in a sea of current city slickers - a total misfit. Most of my friends are

    - ex rural (self reliant)
    - ex techie or ex engineers (self reliant)
    - or both

    Rural folks have to take care of many of their problems themselves -

    If you don't fix your own problems, no one else will - you are forced to be self reliant. The government is far away and has no clue.

    City folks are not permitted to be so self reliant -

    Seemingly most of your problems have to be handled/fixed/denied by one or more of the various government bureaus, departments, agencies, czars, ... . You have to have the government, whether you like it or not - and "don't fight city hall".

    Problem Rural Folks
    - have to be self reliant
    City Folks
    - not allowed to be very self reliant
    Want a house Build it- need to buy cement. boards & pipe Need building codes so contractors don't screw you too much.
    - Codes are so complex you just can't build your own house.
    - Probably go $ rent an apartment.
    Neighbor wants a house You help build it (1/2 mile away) - he helped you Neighbor (next door) ..., building codes again.
    - Need government $ permits and $ inspectors
    Feeling about house It's mine, I fix it
    - I will defend it
    It belongs to landlord or city, "they" fix it
    - Why defend what I don't own?
    Need water Dig a well
    Need to buy pump & pipe
    Aren't allowed to dig a well, use $ city water
    Need food, Grow it No room to grow food, landlord/city won't let you
    - You buy $ processed food in stores,
    Need government food rules office, codes and enforcement inspectors
    Need money, cash find farmer who needs help
    Legal jobs *REALLY* hard to find
    - Most legal jobs now off-shore,
    - no minimum wage law enforcement
    - Illegal money easy and tempting
    - - If I get busted, go to crime college (jail)
    Got trash, Burn or Bury it Illegal to burn or bury trash.
    - Deal with city approved $ trash company,
    - which hauls it to government trash dump
    Toilet Make your own "out house" or cesspool/drain-field If you don't use the $ city sewer you are in big trouble.
    - Your contractor needs a $ permit and $ inspection to assure he/she didn't bust the city sewer.
    Transportation to city services Automobile
    very few buses, trains disappearing
    Auto (on city streets), city bus, city metro-rail, city approved taxi, bicycle (in city approved lanes), walk (on city sidewalk - unless in city park), ...
    Road to your house bumpy Fix it Road to your apartment belongs to the city.
    - Beg/plead with city and/or your city council representative
    A tree needs cutting, Cut it Tree along the street belongs to the city.
    - Beg/plead with ...
    Got sliver in finger Find tweezers & iodine, pull it out Go to hospital emergency room, wait in line for doctor.
    - In Crazyfornia you don't need to pay, so lots of folks in line.
    - Lots of rules and regulation to inhibit the doctor from screwing the state. Need $ inspectors and $ enforcement
    Weather too dry Big trouble, dip into savings No trouble, maybe city will $ fine you if you water yard in daylight
    - Need $ inspectors and $ enforcement
    Savings Save for "rainy day"
    - Or a drought
    Why save? Government will take care of you.
    - Live for today, tomorrow will be taken care of.
    Work is boring Move to city. Welfare is OK, sell stuff at tourist traps, (no taxes :-))
    What to do at night Tired, worked hard all day, easy to sleep Hang out at mall or bar. Late night TV - take sleeping pills, ...
    Getting up in morning Chickens are loud! Need feeding I have a hang over - maybe call in sick -
    - If no job, roll over for another nap or cuddle.
    Boy "friend" might get me pregnant Multiple problems
    - Not a good idea
    Easy access to abortion
    13 different welfare programs to help "single mother" family.
    - Good way to get away from my mother and her abusive boy "friend"
    High School Town school is small, senior class is 100, everyone recognizes everyone City school is huge, senior class is 1500, need green spiky hair to get recognized. City cop, needed to keep order, was attacked last week - went to city hospital - now cops walk in pairs
    College In the expensive violent city.
    - You likely work to help with expenses
    Near by - you could live at home.
    Bitch that college isn't free
    Recession Didn't notice No work, need welfare.
    - Lots of rules and regulations trying to limit "free loaders".
    Likes booze/drugs too much Bank takes farm, go to city In San Francisco, beg & poop on street, be a prostitute or thug
    Too many rabbits in garden Shoot 'em, good eating Saw a rabbit in a $ zoo, fake (green, talking) rabbits on TV.
    - Is that rabbit on the "endangered species" list?
    Guns For shooting rabbits
    - Nobody in way of bullet
    want protection from thugs
    - but bullets go through walls into neighbor's apartment
    Serial rapist Died in "hunting accident" after first rape After 3rd rape, city $ psychiatrist says that $ "sexual addiction" class didn't help, rapist should probably go to jail for a while.
    - In Crazyfornia, he is let out early to save the state $ money.
    Getting old Live with kids, help with grand kids No room in kid's apartment, social security not enough !!!
    Getting old, no friendly kids County "poor farm", the attendants are local kids you know "Assisted living" - new regulations try to limit known criminals from abusing folks
    Neighbor doesn't like me What's wrong with him?
    He doesn't have enough work to do??
    I must have done something wrong.
    Maybe a gift will help?
    Government Damned nuisance,
    Hitler/Stalin/Mao/Hussein seem horrible
    - You want minimal government
    Owns/controls much, still problems
    Hitler/Stalin/Mao/Hussein are big government
    - You want maximal government
    The mobs of city slickers vote other city slickers I despise into public office.

    %^&&*%^^& !! Here in Crazyfornia, they are spending so much money on "social services" that they have a 20 billion dollars net deficit for this year, have chased most manufacturing out of the state, big unemployment, they are laying off cops, firefighters, school teachers - and letting prisoners out early to save money. Completely NUTZ -
    Probably best you ask the current city slickers how to succeed in their not so brave new world -

  • Died? - I don't think so. I don't remember it if I did.
  • Doing Now? - This Nike oriented web site, and
    I "found" the Computer History Museum in the Ames Research area in Mountain View, CA about when I retired in 1996. Soon I was doing the Wednesday Tours of "Visible Storage", relieving Dag Spicer (curator). I became inactive in 2002 when it moved to its present location on Shoreline Blvd.
    (2004) Dag Spicer (curator) told me of an IBM 1401 restoration about to start. I got quite active and still (2015) do the web site ;-))


    Ed Thelen - October 26, 2003 - tweaked since -

    84 K bytes
    I didn't have any pictures of my military days. (Maybe this web site is over-compensation for not taking any.) In January 2004 "Mac" McCabe sent to me this picture (printed May 1955) that he took after we had completed 13 months of classroom, practical, and range firing of the Nike Ajax guided missiles. We were about to leave Ft. Bliss to set up our Nike sites in the U.S.
    He said "This picture should make your day - young, slender & single. Your SAM-23 Classmate Mac McCabe".
    I wish I could say that I am the friendly, cool, handsome dude on the left - but that is Fredrick Toevs.

    This is the end of the short bio - the following is recollections of various employers I've had - I never had the guts to go into business for myself.

    Comments about General Electric Computer Department

    And I even worked for IBM

    Control Data Corporation 1966-1971
    - -
    Project Work
    - - Letter
    - - Grumman Aircraft telemetry base station contract
    - - Fun & Games

    Project Work
    In Control Data I got into Project Work for customers.
    I LOVED project work.
    The salesman convinces a customer with a problem that the customer should talk with the salesperson's engineering staff. Convinces the customer to pay for a "preliminary study" We from engineering do the preliminary study:
    - go to customer's site and talk with customer's engineers
    - about the problem, and potential solutions
    - bang out a specification and acceptance test conditions
    - we do preliminary design and estimate time & materials
    The preliminary study is over, and we are not out much money.
    - sales/marketing price and bid the specs, timing and acceptance
    Hopefully the order comes in
    - and would you believe, we engineers get to make the system :-))
    - - I usually wrote the acceptance tests and did some development :-))
    - the customer sent a few people to help build the system
    - - these customer people could then support the final system :-))
    - and of course we went to the site
    - - installed the system and supervised the acceptance tests
    - and then got to do it all over again with different project :-))
    I regarded the above as hog heaven - well paid for interesting-work/fun :-))

    Performed as above, we avoided the not so funny situations in the following cartoon -

    A customer wants some hardware/software that in not in available in the catalog (or maybe anywhere). Control Data Special Systems had developed a rather unique capability (to this day). We could offer not just "Real Time" - like a cash register - respond in a relatively timely manner so the customer or some process is not upset -

    But "Time Critical" Response with a guaranteed response time - usually :
    - 1) Read/input real world data instruments
    - 2) Perform customer specified number of milliseconds of computing
    - 3) Output values to various controls
    - 4) wait until the next process cycle time and go to 1) above
    and the above to multiple processes

    Clearly the parameters of the above need to be
    - 1) clearly specified,
    - 2) software scheduling scheme implemented to prevent over scheduling,
    - 3) software to actually start the steps properly
    - 4) software to detect exceptions to the above and stop the offending process.

    We were aided by
    - 1) of course a real time clock
    - 2) no system interrupts, everything polled
    - 3) 10 or 20 "Peripheral Processors" to do the I/O and scheduling
    - 4) memory access time was highly predictable, no cache levels

    By the time I had joined Special Systems Division, all of the above was in place and working well - with hybrid computing customers -

    After one month of classes about the hardware and the above software, 14 of us (including the project leader) went to Bethpage Long Island, N.Y. to talk with Grumman Aircraft which was getting prepared (in a year) to flight test a naval fighter which was to become the "Tom Cat".

    ----- Original Message ----- 
    From: "David Hemmendinger" 
    > I'm interested in the early history of 
    > interrupt-handling > -- not so much the hardware 
    > as the development of techniques for dealing with 
    > real-time problems.  
    Ah - "Real Time".   Indeed - that overworked, vague term.
    I spent 5 years at Control Data - Special System Division -
         with the CDC-6x00 series.
    As you know, the PPs did not do interrupts - BUT -
    we could offer guaranteed performance, 
      * PPs and CPU have deterministic, repeatable performance *
      not just a best effort by an interrupt system
          with many things to do.
    We pushed the term "Time Critical" to highlight 
         our capabilities,
      and in fact could guarantee time performance 
         on such items as:
       - multiple telemetry streams 
          (from say aircraft prototypes in test flights)
            - helped sell, implement, install, acceptance test
                a system to Volkswagen (multiple test stands)
            - helped sell and implement a system to 
                Grumman Aircraft for the then E-15
            - hybrid systems to Naval Underwater Weapons Lab and
                naval aircraft range at China Lake
       - function generation in hybrid computation
            input from analog, computation, response to analog
       and background  software development and debug
       and a base-load of normal batch operations. 
    For timing purposes we grouped time critical events into
      - Input groups such as ADC, contact closure, etc
      - Computation such as 
      - Output groups such as DAC, contact closure, etc
      - data streaming into pre-allocated circular disk buffers
          (I understand 
    and provided software aids for users to measure the above
    and means of queuing  jobs requiring various resources.
    We in CDC Special Systems made these capabilities 
      - exceeding anyone else's, :-))
      - into a dying market     :-((
    I have tried to contact former bosses/co-workers
    such as John Sansom (inventor of a digital language
    emulating an analog computer that CDC offered as MIMIC) 
    with out success.  Dave Cahlander and Greg Mansfield
    (Kronos/NOS fame) were active in prior art in 1991.
    [Ring buffer patent indeed - patents feed lawyers
        not inventors!! 
       In the 1960s G.E.'s 625 operating system GECOS 
        and CDC's SCOPE used ring buffers for spooling 
        - "inventing" a ring buffer would be an early 
          assignment for any computer software student
        - any computer software student can explain them
          to any attorney in 15 seconds]
        - not much more difficult than 
            "here is a shovel (software language),
             dig a hole (make a circular buffer)" 
           Any student that can't solve that problem
            in a few minutes - shouldn't be in the class.
           How about a patent for how to blow your nose ??

    Grumman Aircraft telemetry base station contract
      My first project with Control Data was a Grumman Aircraft project
       for telemetry and on-line processing for a new Navy fighter
       being designed.  I think the eventual result was the "TomCat" fighter.
       My role was to help:
          - propose a design for the Grumman/Navy requirements
               A given was to use a CDC 6500, basically two CDC 6400
                   sharing 10 peripheral processors and that glorious 
                   CDC 6600 memory.
               We also had a slower Mass Storage core memory available
                   as a swap "drum"  ;-))
          - bid the design, with trips to Bethpage, Long Island, NY
               (we had like 15 people on those two trips)
          - and implement the project
                a requirement was three streams of data -
                  like three aircraft in the air at a time
                We used three CDC 1700's as decommutators
                   and "data linearization" to "engineering units"
                We could cross-assemble and down-load the
                   1700's to fit particular requirements :-))
                Included was a Laser Ranging Theodolite for each data stream.
                   so you could get the X,Y,Z coordinates, speed and accelerations.
                Really interesting stuff - like IRIG standards -
                    and the increasing use of digital transmission over
                       analog such as FM-FM, PAM, PDM, ...
        I didn't help install it 'cause by that time I was
            designing, bidding,working on, installing the Volkswagen project :-))

    Fun & Games
    Long ago and in Sunnyvale, California, 
       was Control Data Special Systems Division.
    Some how I got a tape from NorthWestern University
       of a CHESS program that was the
       world beater for a year or two.
    It ran on a CDC 6x00 machine
       - the brains was in FORTRAN on the main machine
       - the nice display ran on a PP and used
           one of the two console CRTs
           with keyboard input.
    I had a friend, David Sweet,
       lost contact and there are too many of that name.
    David was
       - an absolute whiz at chess and bridge
            - if you wanted to do well in a bridge tournament
                 and weren't very good -
                 you could hire David as a partner to help -
            - he talked of a rather high chess ranking
                  ? top 500 in world ?
       -  his interpersonal skills seemed between
                Dilbert and a billy goat - stories of screw-ups -
       - hired as consultant by INTEL for their floating point
             co-processor architecture (around ? 1975 ?)
          (David Hough says  "John Palmer was the main
              INTEL guy around 1976-1980 for floating point.")
    Anyway - I had this NorthWestern University CHESS tape
       - and invited David to give it a go -
    So one Saturday, I got a machine  loaded, and David says
       - I hope I can get through the machine's book openings
       - If I can, I can destroy it in the end game !!
    So David started against the machine (and program)
       - they were going at it
       - suddenly David needed a "take-back" before
             the machine responded -
       - Dave got into the end game, and indeed
              munched the machine (and program)
    He beat the machine once more, to demo it wasn't a fluke,
        then got bored and left -

    Control Data was interesting and fun - but it transferred our sales force (which had a hard enough time understanding what advantage they had) back to Minneapolis - and I figured CDC were doomed to failure. So I left to join the "up and coming" Measurex that knew how to replicate software and make money!

    Yes - Measurex in Cupertino, Ca - was there 17 years - first 16 years were *GREAT*.

    Many ex-Measurex people use this e-mail list service.

    Big Toys for Big Boys

    Rita and Bill's son Kendall grew up in L.A. but insisted that he go to college in Colorado (great skiing). Ken is your basic college drop-out over achiever. Ken had started with little more than bare hands, boundless enthusiasm, winning personality, hard work, nerve, luck with friends, some of his father's advice, and built a contracting and property management business in the Crested Butte ski area in about 10 years. (And had wooed and wed a wonderful lady - and fathered an adorable baby. (now two) )

    This is my cousin Rita's first grandchild - and we just had to see the little guy. There was another big attraction. Ken, the new daddy, advertised that if I visited, I could play with his big earth moving toys :-))

    Pictures by Betty Thelen and Rita Collins.
    The game plan is to add some soil to cover lots of rocks in the back yard of Kendell Collins' back yard. Here I am, driving a front loader. I have just picked up another scoop of soil and am bringing it into the back yard. Charlie has told me repeatedly to keep the load low! I can't see it well and bang a lot :-((
    The house has been a work in progress for years - very serviceable but never finished - something always needs doing. In the evening we all sat on the front porch, watching the evening, drinking beer.
    This is my boss, Charlie, with a pony tail, who works for cousin Kendall. He is operating the track-hoe to flatten the soil that I bring over the remaining rocks and tamp it down to prepare for grass seed. Charlie has worked with and for Ken for over 8 years. Charlie is very skilled, works fast, very opinionated, a good beer drinking companion, and not overly polite.
    Towards the end of each summer season Charlie and Ken have a big fight, and Charlie goes some where for the winter. Each spring Charlie is back working for Ken - who is damn glad to have him. - That's the story -
    I have just dropped the load off to the right where Charlie pointed. I am backing up quick like a bunny while Charlie is goosing the engine to swing the track-hoe back to the soil and start flattening and stamping it.
    In another 15 feet I will do a 180 and head back down the hill 150 yards for another load. My goal was to keep Charlie supplied with soil and try to look competent. We did this for about 6 hours.
    This is my good side :-))
    This is a worm's eye view of Charlie pointing (with the bucket) to where I should drop my load. I think I would rather be a people than a worm.

    Later in the day, Ken and Charlie let me dig a deep hole with this thing. The hole was OK, and I didn't do any permanent damage to anybody - but sure scared me and cousin Ken!!! I was later informed that the machine is hands-off-safe - in general, if something bad is happening - just take your hands off the controls!!

    In 2013, someone sent me this video of a little kid running a big front loader. :-|

    Education via the Khan Academy

    I think the the Khan Academy is wonderful.
      Maybe the best use of computers and the Internet yet !!

    The founder and instructor of the Khan Academy presented his background, ideas and dreams to a Stanford EE380 Colloquium.
       When the government seems too daft and people seem like baboons, I watch it again.

    Here is how to watch the Stanford presentation.
    Go to 
    On left slider, slide down to, and click on 
         "Past Colloquia"
    In the center options
         "Academic Quarter"
    Click on 
          "Colloquium Program for 2010-2011"
    This brings up
          "Academic Year 2010-2011"
    Find - about half way down
           Jan 26, 2011
           Salman Khan - The Khan Academy
    Click on the right hand icon
         - might be a studio TV camera
    Your browser probably pops-up an option box 
         for which player to use,
            on my Microsoft box,
           "Windows Media Player" 
           works just fine :-))
          Click on what ever - then the "OK" button
      - and the movie box pops up :-))
      - make sure your audio works 
    The above looks like a pain,
       but moves right along :-))
    I think the presentation is WONDERFUL !!!!
       and the Q&A with the live audience is OUTSTANDING !!!!


    1. Pull your droopy pants up. You look like an idiot.

    2. Turn your cap around straight your head isn't crooked.

    3. Let's get this straight; it's called a 'dirt road.' I drive a pickup truck because I want to. No matter how slow you drive, you're going to get dust on your Lexus. Drive it or get out of the way.

    4. They are cattle. They're live steaks. That's why they smell funny to you. But they smell like money to us. Get over it. Don't like it? I-94 goes east and west, use it.

    5. So you have a $60,000 car, we're impressed. We have $250,000 corn pickers that are driven only 3 weeks a year.

    6. So every person in rural Minnesota waves. It's called being friendly. Try to understand the concept.

    7. If that cell phone rings while an 8-point buck and 3 does are coming in, we WILL shoot it out of your hand. You better hope you don't have it up to your ear at the time.

    8. Yeah, we eat taters & gravy, beans & biscuits, and homemade pie. You really want sushi & caviar? It's available at Bob's bait shop.

    9. The 'Opener' refers to the first day of deer season. It's a religious holiday held the third Saturday in November.

    10. We open doors for women. That is applied to all women, regardless of age.

    11. No, there's no 'vegetarian special' on the menu. Order steak or chicken. Or, you can order the Chef's Salad and pick off the 2 pounds of ham & turkey.

    12. When we fill out a table, there are three main dishes: meats, vegetables, and breads. We use three spices - salt, pepper, and ketchup. Oh, yeah ... We don’t care what you folks in New York call that stuff you eat.... IT AIN'T REAL CHILI!!

    13. You bring 'coke' into my house, it better be brown, wet and served over ice.

    14. You bring ' Mary Jane' into my house, she better be cute, know how to shoot, drive a truck, and have long brown hair.

    15. University of Minnesota and high school football are as important here as New England Pats' and the Steelers, and much more fun to watch.

    16. Yeah, we have golf courses. But don't hit the water hazards ... it spooks the fish.

    17. Colleges? We have them all over. We have State Universities, Community Colleges and Vo-techs. They come out of there with an education plus a love for God and Country, and they still wave to everybody when they come home for the holidays.

    18. Turn down that blasted car stereo! That humpty-thump crap isn’t music anyway. We don't want to hear it any more than we want to see your boxers. (Refer back to #1.)

    19. Four inches of snow isn't a blizzard - it's a flurry. Drive in it like you got some sense, and DON'T take all our bread, milk, and bleach off the grocery shelves. This ain't Alaska! Worst case you may have to live a whole day without croissants. Anyway the pickups with snowplows will have you out the next day.

    20. By the way ... if you want to talk to God in Minnesota, it's a local call. :)

    Grossly stolen from
        Product Design & Development News

    You Know You're an Engineer When...

    Fri, 02/19/2016 - 2:53pm 8 Comments by Lee Goldberg, Editor-in-Chief, @TheLeeGoldberg

    Sandia's brightest trade their sliderules for pens to complete the iconic sentence "You might be an engineer if..."

    February 21 marks the beginning of National Engineering Week but the employees at Sandia Labs have already gotten into the spirit with a unique contest to complete the sentence, “You know you’re an engineer when…" In a rousing display of Geek Pride, staff members throughout the Sandia Labs complex flooded the Center with dozens of entries.

    Here is a small sampling of the entries which will be competing for a prize on Feb 23 at the Lab's Engineering Week Festivities:

    • you wear two pedometers; the second is redundant should the first one fail
    • you build a workshop and when it’s finished you invite all your friends (also engineers) and have squares laid out so they can check your work — which they do without you saying a word
    • you rearrange the egg carton to optimize the mass properties
    • you schedule and develop a project plan for your midlife crisis
    • thawing frozen chicken becomes a heat transfer problem
    • you communicate with a pair of graphs rather than paragraphs
    • you judge the success of a BBQ not by the quality of the food, but by how fast your charcoal was ready to cook on
    • a beautiful woman asks for a KISS and you explain the concept of “Keep It Simple Stupid” to her
    • you see the glass as neither half full nor half empty, but rather twice as large as it needs to be
    • you’re having a party and the neighbors don’t realize it
    • your dog goes out more than you do
    • your toilet paper has partial differential equations printed on it
    • you log the time it takes to get to your building’s parking lot by weekday and the time you arrived at the Southern and Eubank intersection street light (the point where no backup has occurred yet due to the security gate authorization), then plot the data to determine the latest possible arrival at the intersection to get to the parking lot by 7:45 a.m. at the latest. However, you remove any outliers during weeks related to holiday weekends due to vacations and of course, school holidays when parents might have to take the day off. You determine the latest time to arrive at Southern and Eubank on average for Monday through Thursday is 7:15 a.m., but Fridays are as late as 7:40
    • faced with a lack of problems to solve, you invent some
    • you recognize your co-workers by their shoes more than their faces
    • you’re speling is impacible
    • you can question anything … even when you don’t really care
    • you can’t answer this
    • even your wife knows all the words to the Engineer’s Cheer (true story): E to the x, dy, dx/E to the x, dx/Cosine, secant, tangent, sine/3.14159/Square root, cube root, BTU/slap stick, slide rule, Hail Purdue
    • you leave your roommate a phone message in FORTRAN
    • you can recite pi to 31 digits but you always forget your anniversary
    • you spend time in public restrooms critically examining the material and fixture selections
    • your spouse/significant other won’t allow you to dress yourself
    • you have used a slide rule to do your taxes
    • our catch phrase is, “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature”
    • Edison, Faraday, Tesla, Fourier and Laplace start to sound like good names for your dog
    • you are as fascinated with how the matching algorithm works as much as the dates it matches you with
    • you’re next in line for the guillotine, which is not working properly, so you offer to fix it
    • you can’t decide between duct tape and WD-40
    • you understand the most dangerous weapon invented is your pencil
    • looking at your co-workers’ shoes when talking to them, instead of your own, is considered confrontational
    • your kids say, “Dad, I don’t want to know the theory, all I want is the answer”
    • you calculate the area of medium and large pizzas to see which is a better deal
    • you’re lying in the hospital bed asking the nurse how the light on your finger is measuring oxygen level (and then hold your breath to test it)
    • you personally know every character in the “Dilbert” comic strip
    • right after a sloppy sneeze, you produce an estimate of its viscosity
    • you are called an extrovert for staring at other people’s shoes
    • you look forward to assembling IKEA furniture
    • you have a clock in your office with equations instead of numbers to mark the hours
    • your spouse can give six answers to this question off the top of her head
    • a friend has joint replacement surgery and you ask what materials were used

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    Updated through May, 2018