Member Biographies

From The Interface, newsletter of
the Fresno Commodore User Group

    

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Introduction

ďMemory Lane,Ē our series of articles honoring former members, is now complete, so we move on to current members. Everyone was sent a list of questions, and we are creating a sort of biography of each person from their answers.

This material appeared in The Interface starting in 2016.

Questions and comments to our web address, info@dickestel.com, are welcome.

--Dick Estel

   

Dick Estel         Louis Mazzei          Greg Dodd          Vincent Mazzei          Lenard Roach          Roberrt Bernardo

  

Dick Estel

The Interface: Please provide brief biographical data: Place of birth, family status, occupation, current place of residence.

Dick Estel : I was born in Merced CA in 1939, but was raised and lived in rural Mariposa County in the Sierra Nevada foothills. After graduation from Mariposa County High School in 1957 I attended Fresno State College, receiving a BA in radio and television broadcasting in 1962.

I worked for a few years at radio and television stations in Fresno, Coalinga, Tulare, Bakersfield and Salinas, mostly writing advertising copy. In 1976 I began a 26 year career at the Fresno County Department of Social Services. I retired as a Program Manager in 2002.

I got married in 1963, and divorced eight years later. I lived in central Fresno for 30 years, and in 2008 I moved to a condo in Clovis, a city of 100,000 northeast of Fresno.

My parents, who never used computers, passed away in 2005 and 2007. I have two daughters, two adult grandsons, and two great grandsons, all of them living nearby. All of them use various computers and devices, even 18-month old Jack, who can find the songs and games he likes on the iPad.

 

TI: Do you recall a time when computers were not a common fixture in most homes? Elaborate to your heartís content.

DE: Since I am nearly 77 years old, the answer to this question is clearly YES. I donít know when I first became aware of the existence of computers in general, but I know I wrote an essay about the value of computer knowledge when I was a senior in high school. This was in reference to using large scale computers for business, not a home product.

 

TI: What is your first memory of being aware of home computers (not necessarily using one; just any knowledge of their existence)?

DE: This is almost lost in the mists of history, but it was probably reading something about Radio Shack selling a home computer.

 

TI: What is your earliest memory of using (or trying to use) a computer Ė your own, a friendís, at work, in a store.

DE: I looked at a computer in Radio Shack and tried to do something on it (maybe play blackjack; Iím not sure). I must not have looked like a likely buyer, since no one in the store offered any help, and I was unable to get anywhere with the machine, so I walked out. The price was also a barrier at that time.

 

TI: When did you get your first computer and what was it? When did you get your first Commodore computer and what was it?

DE: It was several years after my failed attempt at Radio Shack. I had been using computers to a limited extent at work (mainframe access), and knew that I wanted a computer some day. I saw an ad in the newspaper for a Commodore 64, loaded up my 3-year old grandson in the car, and drove the short distance to Sears. We came home with a Commodore 64 ($199) and a Blue Chip Disk Drive (about $150). The drive did not work; I went back and they exchanged it for a 1541 at no additional cost.

I was used to the many different ways in which client information could be viewed via the mainframe at work. My plan, which was in fact just a fantasy, was to catalog my collection of over a thousand 45 RPM vinyl records, several hundred albums, and a growing number of audio cassettes. I wanted to be able to enter a song title and immediately see a list of all versions; or an artist, and see all songs and albums by that person.

I soon realized that this task could be accomplished on a very limited basis with a data base program, but that it would take a lifetime to complete data entry, and information retrieval would be painfully slow. I found that I could create a well-designed list in a word processing program, and have the information I actually NEEDED, if not everything I WANTED.

 

TI: What computers have you owned?

DE: Several C64s and 128s; I owned an Amiga for about five minutes, which I bought to get the included 1084 monitor. I immediately sold the computer to Robert Bernardo. I have owned at least five or six Windows PCs, the first one being an Acer, and the current one a custom-made box from PC Workshop, a computer store that is now out of business. I also have a Dell laptop that I take with me on long trips, but seldom use otherwise.

 

TI: How often do you use a Commodore computer - daily, weekly, monthly, rarely?

DE: If I had answered this question 20 years ago it would have been ďevery day, till late at night.Ē Now the only time I use a Commodore is at FCUG meetings, and I donít do much of that. Back in the day I used GEOS to produce the club newsletter, and also created a series of graphic disks with material scanned with the Commodore Handyscanner. Of course there were many other computer projects. I was never much interested in games; I got PacMan and Frogger, and still enjoy them once in a while, but that was about it.

 

TI: Did you ever use a Commodore of any kind at work or for work purposes?

DE: Iím not 100% sure but I think I may have used it at home to write some memos and other simple word processing items for work. I remember taking my SX64 to work one day, so I did something work-related but canít remember what.


TI
: Do you use a computer at work, and if so what type. How do you use it or what do you use it for? (If retired, answer based on your final year or two of work).

DE: My first connection with computer use at work consisted of input documents that we filled in by hand. They then went to data entry clerks who entered the information via terminals into the mainframe. By the time I retired, every employee had a desktop computer which was used daily. The line staff was still entering the same type of data we had done by hand, but using the PC to enter it.

In my own specialized position, I mostly used word processing programs, but also did a significant amount of research via the Internet.

 

TI: What computer-type devices that are not specifically a laptop or desktop do you use (iPad or other tablet, smart phone, other). Have you used any in the past that you no longer have or use?

DE: I have an iPad and an Android smart phone which I use every day. When I travel, I use the iPad to access my email. I use the phone mainly for text messaging and phone calls; the screen is too small for satisfactory internet use.

 

TI: If you have a spouse or children, what is their computer use?

            Have their own computer or device

            Use your equipment

            Do not use it

Which person in your family uses a computer at home the most?

DE: When my grandsons were young they used my computers for games and later for various Internet activities. I live alone so there is no one in the house routinely using the computers other than myself.

 

TI: What Commodore magazines did you subscribe to or read, and which did you find most helpful?

DE: I subscribed to Run and Compute! Gazette, and to several short-lived publications produced by small-scale, semi-professional writer/publishers. These included Diehard, Commodore World, Commodore MaiLink, a couple of GEOS specific magazines, and a couple of others I canít remember the names of. I also read Compute and .Info from time to time. I thought that Run was the most useful to me.

 

TI: What are your predictions or expectations for the future of Commodore brand computers?

DE: I am still amazed that Commodore has held on so long, especially considering that its final demise was being predicted in the mid-90s. I think a small group will continue to use them and develop for them as long as a machine still boots up.

 

TI: When did you join FCUG ?

DE: In 1988. After a year of struggling with various programs, a friend at work mentioned that there was a Commodore club in Fresno. I went to a meeting, joined the same day, and Iím still here.

 

TI: Any final thoughts?

DE: I will always be grateful that I got involved with computers, and to the guidance and social interaction I experience with FCUG. Computers have opened up a whole new world, in gathering information on the Internet, and in communicating via email with people to whom I would rarely or never write a letter.

    
Louis Mazzei

The Interface: Please provide brief biographical data: Place of birth, family status, occupation, current place of residence.

Louis Mazzei : I was born on 03/15/1973 at 3:28 p.m. in Santa Cruz , California (at the now defunct S.C. County General Hospital ) and am currently 43 years of age. I am married, have a teenage son and an adult daughter who has provided me with my first grandson. I currently reside in Farmersville , CA and in the triple-digit heat of the San Joaquin Valley summers, I sometimes miss the easy, breezy warmth of coastal living. I work in the printing and publishing industry and currently serve as a yearbook consultant, troubleshooter and provide production support.

 

TI: What is your first memory of being aware of home computers (not necessarily using one; just any knowledge of their existence)?

LM: I first became aware of home computers when I went to a friend's house and saw an Apple ][ Plus for the first time.

 

TI: Do you recall a time when computers were not a common fixture in most homes? Elaborate to your heartís content.  

LM: Certainly! I didn't see that Apple ][ Plus until I was 9 or 10 years old. Before that, we had just graduated from Pong to an Atari 2600 and thought that only scientists and big business needed computers.

 

TI: What is your earliest memory of using (or trying to use) a computer Ė your own, a friendís, at work, in a store.

LM: When I saw the Apple ][ Plus mentioned above, I played Choplifter for the first time and was in awe.

 

TI: When did you get your first computer and what was it? When did you get your first Commodore computer and what was it?

LM: My first home computer was the ECS add-on for my Intellivision; 2K RAM , 20 column display and the UGLIEST system text you can imagine. My second home computer was a very well-worn C-64 with a datasette. I used a 9" black and white TV for a monitor and later added a 1650 modem. That was my BBS machine and even though loading games from cassette was terrible, it's probably the machine I miss the most.

 

TI: What computers have you owned?

LM: I don't think you REALLY want me to list them all... ;)  I'll just list companies, because it'd take too long to list the models, but I'll say Commodore (including Amigas), Apple (including Macs and Newtons), Atari, Sun Microsystems, various PC's, Tandy, Raspberry Pi, the aforementioned Intellivision ECS, Texas Instruments, Coleco ADAM and I'm sure there are others I have am forgetting.

 

TI: How often do you use a Commodore computer - daily, weekly, monthly, rarely?

LM: Rarely, but I'm working on that... ;)

 

TI: Did you ever use a Commodore of any kind at work or for work purposes?

LM: No. By the time I started working around computers, the industry had been assimilated by the Borg (Microsoft), with the occasional Mac for supplement.

 

TI: Do you use a computer at work, and if so what type? How do you use it or what do you use it for? (If retired, answer based on your final year or two of work).

LM: I use both Macs and Windows PC's daily at my job. I work as support in the printing and publishing industry and computers are now the biggest part of it, not only for printing purposes, but for processing data as well.

 

TI: What computer-type devices that are not specifically a laptop or desktop do you use (iPad or other tablet, smart phone, other)? Have you used any in the past that you no longer have or use?

LM: I have both an iPhone and an iPad that I use daily, to the point where I actually don't have a modern computer on my desk at home. I'm currently building a Windows PC just to play Star Trek Online [drool].

 

TI: If you have a spouse or children, what is their computer use?

            Have their own computer or device

            Use your equipment

            Do not use it

LM: My wife, daughter and son all have laptops that I don't really touch, and my son has a modern gaming PC for simulators, a TI-99/4a, a brown (breadbin) C-64, an SX-64 and a really nice, vintage VIC-20 system. The VIC-20 is his favorite classic computer, but his PC sees the most use.

 

TI: Which person in your family uses a computer at home the most?

LM: My son, for sure. He loves simulators and open source game development. He's on a computer constantly when he's home.


TI: 11. What Commodore magazines did you subscribe to or read, and which did you find most helpful?

LM: I used to buy Ahoy!, A+, MacUser, RUN and Amiga World regularly, with the occasional Compute's Gazette. I miss them all, but I seem to remember enjoying Ahoy! and Amiga World the most (not sure why).

 

TI: What are your predictions or expectations for the future of Commodore brand computers?

LM: Care and support from the Commodore community worldwide! Keeping the classic platforms alive using modern innovation and sharing our knowledge base is of utmost importance.

 

TI: 14. When did you join FCUG ?

LM: Gosh, I must have joined in either March or April of 2011. I went to my first CommVEx that year and am hoping for many more!

 

TI: Any final thoughts?

LM: The ancient Egyptians believed that to speak of the dead was to make them live again in our hearts. Keeping that in mind, don't stop enjoying/supporting your computers just because they are considered old by today's standards, whatever you do. Classic computers may not be produced any longer, but they are certainly alive and well because of people like us.

 
Greg Dodd

The Interface: Please provide brief biographical data: Place of birth, family status, occupation, current place of residence.

Greg: I was born and raised in Long Beach , California . I am married to Krysta with two sons, Gregory, who used to be a member, and Kristopher. I reside in Patterson , CA where I have lived for the past 11 years. As of September 26, 2016 I became unemployed. I have recently been reminded however, that when God closes one door, he opens a better one. I hope to have ďnew businessĒ information for our next meeting.

TI: What is your first memory of being aware of home computers (not necessarily using one; just any knowledge of their existence)?

Greg: I recall seeing them in movies and in the news. Later, I remember seeing the Atari 400 and 800 computers in the Sears Catalogs at Christmas Time. Side note: I have very fond memories of getting my hands on the Sears Christmas Catalog every year. I have found images of the electronics sections of these catalogs online and have compiled a booklet with these wonderful images. They bring back fond memories of the 70ís and early 80ís.  

 

TI: Do you recall a time when computers were not a common fixture in most homes? Elaborate to your heartís content.

Greg: Definitely! Growing up in the 70ís, I remember hearing how only companies and extremely wealthy individuals owned computers.

 

TI: What is your earliest memory of using (or trying to use) a computer Ė your own, a friendís, at work, in a store.

Greg: I recall using the Radio Shack (Tandy) TRS-80 computers in school. Later, I recall using the Apple ][C computers in junior high. I even remember using an IBM 5150 in a CAD (computer-aided drafting) class, during the brief period my family spent in Albuquerque , NM .  

 

TI: When did you get your first computer and what was it? When did you get your first Commodore computer and what was it?

Greg: Around 1983, I got my first computer...a Commodore 64!

TI: What computers have you owned?

Greg: (Get ready for a long answer) I had my C64, a C128, an Atari 520STfm, an IBM XT clone, a Mac Performa (I think it was a 66mhz) and I may have had an Aqaurius with my Intellivision II, but I canít recall for sure. Unfortunately, all of these (along with ALL of my video game systems, games, etc.) were stolen after I moved out in 1998!

TI: How often do you use a Commodore computer - daily, weekly, monthly, rarely?

Greg: Now, rarely (usually at the FCUG Meetings). I would love to have time to mess around with them and I actually may, someday soon (when I am able to set up my ď Computer Museum Ē).

TI: Did you ever use a Commodore of any kind at work or for work purposes?

Greg: Nope

TI: Do you use a computer at work, and if so what type. How do you use it or what do you use it for? (If retired/not working answer based on your final year or two of work).

Greg: On a daily basis, I used a Windows 7 Dell laptop. In the past I had also been able to use iMac (i5 processors) 27Ē computers for iBook documents and photo (Photoshop 6) and video (Premiere Pro 6) editing.

TI: What computer-type devices that are not specifically a laptop or desktop do you use (iPad or other tablet, smart phone, other). Have you used any in the past that you no longer have or use?

Greg: iPad, horrible LG G4 phone (soon to be replaced by an iPhone 7+) and Microsoft Surface. In the past, I had a Blackberry phone and somewhere I think we still have a Palm device. I recall using that for contraction timing, when my wife was pregnant with Gregory!

TI: If you have a spouse or children, what is their computer use? Do they have their own computer or device?

Greg: Yes, Gregory, Iphone 7+, Ipad Pro 15, Windows Laptop. Kris, Iphone 5. Both use their devices daily

TI: Which person in your family uses a computer at home the most?

Greg: Probably my mom, sheís on it quite frequently. When I was working in the bay area, I was constantly on my laptop throughout the day. Now I use mine occasionally, mainly for video editing. TI: What Commodore magazines did you subscribe to or read, and which did you find most helpful?

 

TI: What Commodore magazines did you subscribe to or read, and which did you find most helpful?

Greg: I forget the name of it, but I do recall reading a Commodore magazine back in the early 80ís.

TI: What are your predictions or expectations for the future of Commodore brand computers?

Greg: Unfortunately, the future for most of the classic companies from the 80ís is quite bleak. Many namesakes (Commodore included) are now owned by LLC companies that license the name to whoever pays them for it.

TI: When did you join FCUG ?

Greg: About 3 years ago I met Rob ert Bernardo at the Maker Faire my son and I attended a few years ago. Rob ert told me about the club, and a few months later we ended up driving out to Fresno to check it out. The rest is history...

TI: Any final thoughts?

Greg: I am constantly adding to my collection of vintage computers, retro and modern gaming systems and of course arcade games and pinball machines. I am always looking for space around the house to have my collections out on display. Sadly, I donít have nearly enough space, and a large percentage of my computers are now in storage. Some day, I still plan to set up a personal ďmuseumĒ housing all of my computers, as well as my ďretroĒ game systems and accessories. :)

I also have 2 Youtube Channels:

ďMyĒ primary channel: Arcade Dude 44

The new channel that Gregory, my friend and myself are putting together: Network of Gaming

   
Vincent Mazzei

The Interface: Please provide brief biographical data: Place of birth, family status, occupation, current place of residence.

VM: I was born 01/10/02 in Visalia , CA , but I live in Farmersville. Iím 15 and a student at Farmersville High School .

TI: What is your first memory of being aware of home computers (not necessarily using one; just any knowledge of their existence)?

VM: I've been around computers ever since I was born.

TI: Do you recall a time when computers were not a common fixture in most homes? Elaborate to your heartís content.

VM: No. We've always had computers in the house.

TI: What is your earliest memory of using (or trying to use) a computer Ė your own, a friendís, at work, in a store.

VM: Trying to play Microsoft Train Simulator when I was like three years old and was successful.

TI: When did you get your first computer and what was it? When did you get your first Commodore computer and what was it?

VM: My first computer was my VIC-20 that I got in 2011.

TI: What computers have you owned?

VM: Commodore VIC-20, C-64, SX-64, Alienware Alpha, TI-99/4a, a couple of iMacs, netbooks and my current PC.

TI: How often do you use a Commodore computer - daily, weekly, monthly, rarely?

VM: Not every day, but sometimes I make my TI have fits in BASIC.

TI: Did you ever use a Commodore of any kind at school or for school purposes?

VM: No.

TI: Do you use a computer at work/school, and if so what type? How do you use it or what do you use it for? (If retired, answer based on your final year or two of work).

VM: At school I use awful Dells that crash every two minutes.

TI: What computer-type devices that are not specifically a laptop or desktop do you use (iPad or other tablet, smart phone, other)? Have you used any in the past that you no longer have or use?

VM: I have an iPhone and I used to have an iPad, but it broke.

TI: Which person in your family uses a computer at home the most?

VM: Me.

TI: What Commodore magazines did you subscribe to or read, and which did you find most helpful?

VM: None. (Editorís note: Vincent is too young for the heyday of Commodore magazines.)

TI: What are your predictions or expectations for the future of Commodore brand computers?

VM: I hope that the Commodore brand gets revived into a modern computer line while keeping the classic, retro feel.

TI: 14. When did you join FCUG ?

VM: 2011, after gaining possession of my VIC-20.

TI: Any final thoughts?

VM: Negative.

 
Lenard Roach

The Interface: Please provide brief biographical data: Place of birth, family status, education, occupation, current place of residence.

Lenard: I was born on April 5th, 1963 in the then little town of Olathe , Kansas at the Olathe Medical Center that sat at the corner of Buchanan and Santa Fe streets. I was born to Roger Robert and Rose Marie Roach. I was supposed to be the girl of the family, but surprised everyone when I arrived a boy. I am the youngest, but tallest of three brothers. The others are both tough guys and mother scum buckets in their own rights. Even with all of us being over 50 years of age, I wouldnít want to mess with my brothers in a lighted alleyway with the sun out. Redneck justice runs a weird lot. I currently work as a clerk (a.m.), courier (afternoons), delivery driver (p.m.), and a custodian (nights.) I hang my various hats in a little house in midtown Kansas City , Kansas in a small subdivision called Coronado Hills just off 62nd Street . This used to be military housing during the Cold War but was abandoned in about 1972 and sold off to developers who made it into someplace for regular folk to live.

I am currently 53 years old. I is a high school graduate, the last graduating class of Olathe High in 1981. GO EAGLES! I would like to become a full time author so I can go to work in my underwear and work when I want and quit when I want and get a check in the mail every day.

 

TI: What is your first memory of being aware of home computers (not necessarily using one; just any knowledge of their existence)?

LR: I was working at the Venture Department store as the custodian in Overland Park , Kansas and saw that the electronics department had, right next to the Atari 2600s an Atari 5000. I wanted to figure out why a gaming system had a typewriter attached to it. I messed with it, but wasnít interested.

 

TI: Do you recall a time when computers were not a common fixture in most homes? Elaborate to your heartís content.

LR: Oh yeah! I thought that the 13Ē black and white TV was cutting edge, and the addition of a UHF band was way out of this world. Also, window air conditioners took up the entire window and, in many instances, busted window frames from being so heavy. A computer? That was NASA stuff and was always going to be in the hands of the government.

 

TI: What is your earliest memory of using (or trying to use) a computer Ė your own, a friendís, at work, in a store.

LR: Back in 1981, a classmate who was the only student in the computer class because he was so advanced, saw me walking by and asked me to sit down and try it. I donít know what computer it was, but I played the game he had loaded (I think it was a space shoot Ďem up) and died in three seconds or less. I decided then that computers werenít for me; they would never replace the typewriter.

 

TI: When did you get your first computer and what was it? When did you get your first Commodore computer and what was it?

LR: My first actual computer was the Commodore 64. I got it as a hand-me-down for Christmas from my future ex-wifeís best friend. I pounded that thing to death and sent it to the Commodore shop of College and Metcalf in Overland Park , Kansas dozens of times for them to fix it.

 

TI: What computers have you owned?

LR: I had a very short stint with a TI99-4/A. Darn thing didnít boot, so I pitched it. We currently at the RC4 BCS have a Commodore 128 and all three major disk drives, two laptops that are functional and two that are FUBAR, one Mac Mini that I use for a TV in the kitchen, and the man/boys have various gaming systems and two game ready PCs

 

TI: How often do you use a Commodore computer - daily, weekly, monthly, rarely?

LR: Weekly. I use the Commodore 128 in 64 mode to keep track of my checkbook and to pay bills. Iím in current need of a printer for it, preferably an MPS 802, so I can use all the software I wrote for the Commodore to pay my bills.

 

TI: Did you ever use a Commodore of any kind at work or for work purposes?

LR: Negative. When I got into computers people were already trashing the Commodore for the faster and more memory IBM and IBM clones.

 

TI: Do you use a computer at work, and if so what type? How do you use it or what do you use it for? (If retired, answer based on your final year or two of work).

LR: Wow! Everything is computerized now. You canít even walk into the break room without running into a computer. I have a Windows 7 Professional that I use as a register at the convenience store and another Windows 7 Professional for the office in back.

 

TI: What computer-type devices that are not specifically a laptop or desktop do you use (iPad or other tablet, smart phone, other)? Have you used any in the past that you no longer have or use?

LR: My ďlittle buddyĒ has been my iPhone 4 which is only good for music, internet (when wifi is available) and iNotes. The old phone is small enough to fit perfectly in my hand and I use it mostly for making writing easier when I make a stop in my job as a delivery driver. I write while the vehicle is being unloaded/loaded. I also break the law and sometimes write while driving, so if any officer is reading this, look out for a fat guy in a delivery van doing what seems be to texting and driving. (NOTE FROM DICK: A look at the map shows various US and state routes that can be used to bypass KC and the mad deliveryman.)

 

TI: If you have a spouse or children, what is their computer use?

            Have their own computer or device

            Use your equipment

            Do not use it

Which person in your family uses a computer at home the most?

LR: Oh my Lord! My house is a computer paradise! Iíve got computers in every room in the house, with cell phones being used in the bathroom. Xbox, Playstation, PC, Mac, you canít take five steps in my little hovel without stubbing your toe on a tower or game console. If I sold all this, I could pay my debts and come to CommVEx 2017 on the kidsí dime! Funny part of it is, they do not touch my Commodore or my laptop. These have been declared sacred and untouchable under curse of death, somehow...

I think itís a three way tie for computer use, but I dominate the productivity part of the equation while the boys in my home game themselves sick, but itís the reverse for cell phones. The boys use their phones for productivity and Dad uses his phones for music and internet.

 

TI: What Commodore magazines did you subscribe to or read, and which did you find most helpful?

LR: All of the magazines I read (Gazette and RUN ) were extremely helpful, but RUN took a personal interest in me back in 1992 and gave me $150 for a 26 block program called ďCheck It OutĒ so RUN is my favorite magazine out of them all. Gazette was more for the advanced programmer while RUN catered to the newbie and wanna beís, which was who I was at that time.

 

TI: What are your predictions or expectations for the future of Commodore brand computers?

LR: I think that Commodore has a market available for it now as things are starting to spin back to where retro is cool again. If Commodore would play on its retro style I think it can have a bigger chunk of the pie that just being a retro userís plaything. This would take strategy, but I think it can be done.

 

TI: When did you join FCUG ?

LR: Youíll have to check with Dick on that data. I donít remember. I know it was not too long after my first visit to CommVEx when Gabe was 13 and heís 23 now, so Iíd say, based on that math, itís been 10 years ago, but again, Iím guessing. Please check with the official records keeper of the club. (ANOTHER NOTE: Regrettably, the official records keeper does not have records of who joined when, so let it stand as ďten years ago.Ē)

 

TI: Any final thoughts?

LR: Yes, please do not give up on your dreams whether they involve the Commodore or not. Iím starting to live my dream after 50 and you can start anytime. Donít let anyone say to you that it canít be done for they are just trying to shut you down because they already have been shut down. Misery loves company so donít be miserable. Starve misery to death. Be active. Seek completion in your life. Surround yourself with successful people and always keep asking questions. Stomp out stupid in your life and help prevent it from setting in on those you love and care about because Ė you canít fix stupid once it has set in. Play more; think harder. And finally, whenever you can, kick the devil in the nuts; God knows heís kicked you there twice as many times. Thatís my sermon and Iím sticking to it.

 
Robert Bernardo

The Interface: Please provide brief biographical data: Place of birth, family status, occupation, current place of residence.

Robert: I was born in Stockton, California. I'm single, and I'm a retired English teacher, having served 37 years in the same middle school. I live in Visalia, California. I'm 62 with a Bachelor of Arts in English, emphasis in Linguistics, from the University of California, Davis. I have a lifetime Single Subject teaching credential in English.

TI: What is your first memory of being aware of home computers (not necessarily using one; just any knowledge of their existence).

RB: Oh, that's an easy one...My first memory of computers in general was when I was a little kid watching 1950's and 60's science fiction movies and television shows.


My first awareness of home computers came from the magazines, Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. My father had subscriptions to the magazines, and in the latter half of the 1970's, PS and PM had articles and advertisements about Commodore PET's, Apples, Tandy's, Heathkit's, and more.

 

TI: Do you recall a time when computers were not a common fixture in most homes? Elaborate to your heartís content.

RB: In the 1950's to early 1970's, I grew up with tube-type televisions and radios. I was so proud when as a teenager I was able to fix (or somewhat fix) my parents' and grandparents' TVs by removing tubes, bringing the tubes to Radio Shack for testing on their tube tester (the VU. meter saying Good, Bad, or ?), and then installing new, replacement tubes in those TVs. 


As gifts, in the 1960's my parents gave me a 10-transistor pocket radio (the more transistors, the better, I always thought), a portable tape deck with 3-inch reels and T-bar control, and later on, a portable cassette recorder. It was quite an event when my aunt brought over her General Electric portable stereo phonograph, and we would play her LP's. It was quite an event when we went from black-and-white television to color television Ė color being so new to us that when the first Star Trek episode, the Man Trap, showed up on TV, I fiddled around with the color controls, trying to make the alien planet's sky blue (little knowing that the sky was supposed to be orange-red). In the early 1970's, it was quite an event when my father bought a solid-state stereo receiver with turntable and speakers from Radio Shack (which he still has).


In the 1970's, we kids were entranced with Pong (so entranced that a permanent image was burned on the TVís CRT) and just as entranced with the later Colecovision (because Colecovision was superior to the Atari 2600).

 

TI: What is your earliest memory of using (or trying to use) a computer Ė your own, a friendís, at work, in a store.

RB: In the late 1960's I bought a plastic board from the Edmund Scientific catalog. That board was Mr. Nim. It had marbles going through pathways and moving through mechanical gates, representing the flip-flops of a computer. It was supposed to show how a computer dealt with binary language. After a few minutes of playing with it, I became bored. After all these years, I finally gave it, minus its long-lost box, to Roger Van Pelt of our club.


Before I left for the university in 1973, my mother bought me a Smith Corona portable typewriter from J.C. Penney's for the price of $129. That was the height of technology...that and typing correction tape. It was far smaller than the full-size Underwood typewriter my parents had. I still have that typewriter.


In 1976 or 1977, I remember an acquaintance inviting me to get onto the terminal to the mainframe computer at the university. He had some time on the terminal and said that I could play Star Trek on it. Unfortunately, I had something else going on that afternoon/night and had to bow out. I was never invited again.


In 1978-1979 I was a teacher's aide at San Joaquin Delta Junior College in Stockton. A friend worked in the printing department at the college and invited me into the shop. It was full of printing presses and something very new to me, a Compugraphic typesetting machine. In essence, it was an electronic word processor. My friend told me to type on the keyboard as I regularly did; however, he instructed me that I could go back and delete, insert, and correct before any final print-out. What a new way of thinking! It was totally foreign to me that I could delete, insert, and correct before printing.


In 1982 we teachers were invited to a voluntary workshop on how to use personal computers. I went to it and sat with other teachers in a room of Tandy TRS-80 Model 3 computers with dual disk drives. We were then taught our first steps in the use of a computer Ė how to load the disk, how the screen shows us what we are doing with our key presses, how to run a program, and how to save to the disk. It was all very basic stuff, but very new to us uninitiated in computers.

 

TI: When did you get your first computer and what was it?

RB: It was a Commodore 64 bought from Federated Electronics in Stockton on August 4, 1983. The price had dropped to $199.95, and I had to buy it, even though my paycheck was about $500 net per month. I brought it to the parents' home, eagerly opened the box, read through the instructions, and hooked it into the antenna connection of my parents' television. Wow, I actually had a computer being displayed on the TV screen! Next I had to make the C64 do something. I typed in the BASIC listings from the Commodore 64 user's guide and watched what they did on the screen. Nice! But I wanted more. There were no other listings, and the programs I keyed in would disappear as soon as I turned off the computer; I had no program storage device. A Commodore 1541 disk drive was too expensive, but a cassette drive was within my price range. One month later with the arrival of my paycheck, I bought an aftermarket cassette drive for $30, not the Commodore 1530 Datasette for $35.


I used that C64 and cassette drive combination with a black-and-white portable TV for the next two years. It wasn't until 1985 that I got a SX-64 (a disk drive!) and a color portable TV. In between 1983 and 1984 I bought my first printer Ė a Royal daisywheel typewriter which had a Centronics port Ė perfect for connecting with parallel cable to the user port of the C64. By running a driver program before running Totl. Text 2.6 (my first real word processor), I was able to get letter-quality text with different font styles and font sizes by changing daisywheels. It wasn't until years later that I got my first dot-matrix printer, a C. Itoh 8510 printer.

 

TI: What computers have you owned?

RB: I started with the C64. Then in 1985, it was the SX-64, followed by the C128 in that same year. In 1986 I went to the C128DCR. In 1995 I received my first Amiga 500 from Dick Estel. After that, everything escalated to where I have now many different Commodores and Amigas. In fact, I am receiving items (as gifts or as discards) that are not CBM Ė an Apple IIGS, Tandy 100 and its NEC near-twin, Atari 800XL, and Texas Instruments TI-99/4A.

 

TI: How often do you use a Commodore computer?

RB: That varies every month.

 

TI: Did you ever use a Commodore of any kind at work or for work purposes?

RB: I brought my C64 to the classroom in 1984. When the students finished their work early, they used educational programs on the Commodore, like Hangman and Sea Route to India from Compute!'s Gazette magazine and the Cave of the Word Wizard spelling program from Timeworks. When I bought the C128 (and then the C128DCR), I did my grades, record-keeping, and word processing on that system. For the grades, I used the expensive but powerful Vizastar. For record-keeping, I used the simple and quick Dfile 128. For word processing, I used Speedscript 128 and later the Write Stuff 128.

 

TI: Do you use a computer at work, and if so what type? How do you use it or what do you use it for? (If retired, answer based on your final year or two of work).

RB: For many years I used Commodore at school. At one time I had as many as three C64 systems in the classroom. Then in 1998 the school put a Windows PC in the classroom. I kept the Commodores in the classroom, but the writing was on the wall. By 2003 or so, the school put 15 PC's in my room, forcing out any Commodores. Also around that time, I had to start putting final grades onto the PC in my classroom, though I still calculated the everyday grades on my C128DCR. Finally, all grade calculation and final grades had to be done on the school system, making any grade calculation on the Commodore superfluous. Documents had to be exchanged with administrators and other teachers with the use of Microsoft Word. Keeping a personal database was no longer necessary now that all record-keeping was kept on-line in the school system.

 

TI: What computer-type devices that are not specifically a laptop or desktop do you use (iPad or other tablet, smart phone, other). Have you used any in the past that you no longer have or use?

RB: Eventually, the bank of PC desktops in my class was replaced by students having a few classroom laptop computers. Eventually, the few laptops were replaced by every student having the use of a laptop in the room. And eventually, the laptops were replaced by every student using an iPad or Chromebook.

The desktop PC on my teacher's desk was eventually replaced by a Windows XP laptop which was replaced by a MacBook Pro and iPad which were replaced by a newer MacBook Pro and iPad. In my school district, it seemed that change kept coming faster and faster as new technology kept coming faster and faster.

 

TI: What computer magazine or magazines did you subscribe to or read regularly, and which one give you the most help or was your favorite?

RB: Back in the 1980's I eagerly bought Commodore magazines in order to improve my understanding of my systems and their capabilities. Some of the magazines were Commander, Compute!, Compute!'s Gazette, Run, Info 64, Commodore magazine, and Loadstar disk magazine. In the early 1990's, even before I had an Amiga, I started buying Amiga magazines with cover disks, like CU Amiga. Nowadays, there are the on-line magazines, like Commodore Free and Reset.

 

TI: What are your predictions or expectations for the future of Commodore brand computers?

RB: I expect homebrew Commodore software and hardware projects to continue. As for Amiga, there will be homebrew software and hardware for classic Amiga systems. However for Amiga, there are companies spending millions of dollars on ďofficialĒ development; A-EON built the AmigaOne X1000 desktop, is building the new AmigaOne X5000 desktop, and will build the A1222 board and the A.L.I.C.E. laptop; Hyperion continues development on AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition with the goal of OS 4.2.

 

TI: When did you join FCUG?

RB: That was in January, 1995. I remember being warmly welcomed by everybody.

 

TI: Any final words or thoughts?

RB: For several years I've been the moderator at two forums at http://www.commodore.ca/forum and http://forum.retro-link.com and the owner of two inherited mailing lists Ė  homestead@robertbernardo.com and commodor@robertbernardo.com (formerly, homestead@vcsweb.com and commodor@vcsweb.com which used to be commodor@listserv.buffalo.edu). I also co-own the blog at http://blog.retro-link.com . If my haters out there in the world expect me to retire anytime soon from my Commodore/Amiga activities, I intend to still be active for another 28 years! So don't be haters; be lovers! :)

   
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Updated November 30, 2017