Since April, Uncle Bob has been prodding me to venture north, to York University to meet a true blue APL scholar, Zbigniew Stachniak. So, on Tuesday, I finally did.
It turns out York has a lot of reasons to be interested in APL. They wrote one, for starters.
Stachniak’s research includes a careful analysis of the successes and ultimate failure of MCM, a Canadian company who came out with the first personal computer in the 1970’s which happened to run APL. As Stachniak demonstrates, being first, especially when it comes to innovation in technology, is hard and MCM went bankrupt in the 1980’s.
York houses a Computer History Museum which is shepherded by Stachniak and Scott M. Campbell from the University of Waterloo, whom I’ve put on my radar to track down.
Stachniak is now turning his gaze towards I.P.Sharp and is particularly interested in the “APL community’s” views and attitudes towards micro computing in the 1970’s.
The more I learn about us, the less comfortable I am in generalizing about views, but that’s a puzzle for another day.
In any case, he has a boatload of photos inherited from the folks at Soliton, so I had the pleasure of seeing many of the old guard in their youth, which is, quite frankly how I remember everyone anyway.
Oh, and he’s a little reluctant to show me some of the photos. Just when I was beginning to fear there would be no competing with the sex, drugs and rock and roll featured in The Social Network!
But seriously, Stachniak was able to interview Ken twice before he died and for this, he deserves a medal.
Thank goodness someone was thinking.