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Dr. Obiwan's Personal Computing History
(Orville Boyd Jenkins)

Edith and I got our first computer in 1984, a CP/M Kaypro, running the CP/M 2.2 operating system. It had a whole 64 Kilobytes of RAM, and a 4 Megahertz Z80 processor, which I upgraded to 6 MHz! It had only 2 floppy disk drives.

This was the first computer our oldest son Gareth used. The whole Kaypro package with a full suite of software cost only $2000, including a daisy wheel printer. I have stayed in that price range or lower on all my computers at each time of upgrading, getting the next generation each time, and upgrading components along the way.  I built two myself in 1998.

The computer was bought (along with an identical personal one) for use in my work in Africa, teaching and organizing language programs and cultural materials. I set up text for books and papers and curricula, etc., on that old Kaypro, and a later Kaypro MS-DOS machine, on up the line through 286 and 486 machines till now I am upgrading current systems and managing web sites. I got my first introduction to UNIX using a UNIX shell for the CP/M Kaypro.

By 1989 both our sons Gareth and Kevin each had their own computer, as well as Edith and myself. Gareth and Kevin are both in computing careers. Over the years, I repaired hardware and software (installations and patches, not actual programming), put machines together, helped others fix or upgrade their machines, etc.

I had begun learning about computers before buying the Kaypro, and later studied the complete history of computing and helped people with some OLD, OLD ones in my time.

Computer Club and Activities
In 1986, I organized a computer club in Nairobi, Kenya, where we working, and led the club for much of the following years to 1997. Originally this was a club for Kaypros, but we later expanded to support various systems.

The club conducted monthly meetings, provided training courses on computing and word processing, led tutorials and provided technical assistance for users, coordinating a team of volunteer technical assistance personnel. Edith and I conducted courses on WordStar, the leading word processor for many years, and one of the first desktop publishing programs for Windows, including one course for Daystar University in Nairobi.

I did a lot of patching and optimizing of software, but never really became a programmer. I discovered HTML in 1996, and now write web pages.

I have not been involved in a computer club since 1998, but still optimize programs, assist users informally and reorganize electronic innards. I work on Windows systems but am getting into Linux as well. I participate in a Linux club at a distance, through an email discussion list. I've even done some system software repairs on Macintosh.

I was also a Contributing Editor for the commercial publication, East Africa Computer Magazine, for several years in Nairobi. I was heavily involved in desktop publishing, with Ventura Publisher (several DOS and Windows versions) and WordStar (In CP/M systems, then every version for DOS through Windows).

I published a computer newsletter for the club for several years. I also published newsletters and journals on language learning, cross-cultural communication and Christian ministry. I served as a resource person for various aspects of computing for numerous international agencies in Kenya.

When we lived in Kenya we did not have email until late 1994, and it was not common till late 1996. I was Assistant Sysop of a community bulletin board hub system in Nairobi, which was used before email was common. This hub implemented one of the early email systems in Kenya.

I have participated in dozens of bulletin board groups and email discussion lists since 1995. Edith and I lived in Nicosia, Cyprus, where I was a cultural researcher in a communication and information company. During this time, I worked with apprentice producers on film and photo projects, inlcuding multi-platform visual presentations included in some web sites.

My early start in electronics was a good advantage when personal computers came out. I grew up in the radio and electronics business with my father. My father was an engineer and owned a radio station where I learned both the broadcasting and technical sides of the business as well as the business operations aspects. During high school, after Dad had sold his station, I also worked with him in an electronics repair business. We later worked at the same radio station while I was in college.

Thus I knew basic electronics and was in amateur radio in high school. I later took a refresher course with my son Gareth and we both got a Technician class license. There were limitations, however, for foreigners in Kenya to be licensed, so we never operated a station there.

Now the Internet has taken up the functions for which amateur radio was attractive for us. It the focus for communication, business, publishing and research.  I am now publishing on the Web and using web format presentations in teaching.

It was while living in Cyprus that I started personal and professional web sites, including this one. I am now located in the USA, still focusing on world cultural research, and preparing teaching materials using Power Point and HTML. So much to do, so little time!

Thanks for your interest. Cheers!



This article last updated 14 November 2007.

*** Summary Introduction        More OBJ Info ***
OBJ's Short Biographical Resume     
So Many Opportunities in One Lifetime    So Many Languages, So Little Time
OBJ Educational Background
OBJ Residences and Occupations

Check out my interests in the following web sites I manage.
The Virtual Research Centre

Here are two other great places:
The Star Trek Continuum    Star Wars

Email: orville@jenkins.nu   saxophone@bigfoot.com
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