Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, Michigan
(1964 - 1966)

Logo for Kalamazoo's Western Michigan University
Created Programs for Faculty as Machine Room Supervisor at WMU


My Experience Programming at W.M.U.

        To complete my Mathematics major degree requirements,
I took a Computer Programming Math class at Western Michigan
University in Kalamazoo. The class was taught by Professor Jack
Meagher, who was also the director of the Mathematics
Department's Computer Laboratory. We learned about machine
language, assembler language, and Fortran, completing
programming exercises in the Computer Laboratory. I found the
class very fun and interesting. I chatted with a classmate who was
already working with computers. He expanded my interest in
programming with his stories of "Garbage In, Garbage Out", the
first computer "bug" (an actual moth caught inside a computer),
and other Computer lore. He was working at a nearby NORAD
installation, and offered to give me a tour. I was fascinated to watch
the darkened room full of computer screens where folks were
monitoring airplane flights picked up by the NORAD RADAR sites.
He added a bogus plane as he normally did as part of his system
testing job. The lobby contained many interesting displays of large
computer parts.

        When Professor Jack Meagher saw my success at programming
in his class and laboratory, he offered me a Graduate Assistant
position to work in his Computer Laboratory and help students with
their programming assignments. I accepted and combined that work
while earning my Masters degree in Mathematics. I occassionally
taught the class lecture for Jack. After I finished my graduate
classes, Jack hired me as Machine Room Supervisor to continue my
duties there. My new responsibilities required creating statistical
analysis programs for faculty members to analyse their research
        While working at the Computer Laboratory, I found I was
having trouble remembering numerical phone numbers. I felt that
equivalent alphabetic codes would be easier to remember, so I
created a complicated FORTRAN program that, given a phone
number, would list all letter combinations that would ring that
phone when entered into a telephone keypad. A computer science
professor at another university published a FORTRAN
programming textbook that included a copy of my program as an
example of great programming, but he failed to give me credit for
writing it.

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