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.: In The Spotlight: MaryLou J. White :.

MaryLou White
Founder PIRC Network,
PIRC Bulletin Board, PIRC Beginners Workshop and
Honourary Member of PhotoImpact International

Way back in the 60's, I discovered computers. They were fascinating things in huge rooms with raised floors and all kinds of machines surrounding them. Each of those machines had their own sound and when everything was in motion, it was like a small orchestra playing. That's when I decided my college major had to be in the computer field and I became a programmer.

There were advancements over the years and at Atari, (My favorite place to work), I was a senior programmer analyst. In the early 80's, I wanted a PC - an 8086 - and decided to be brave and build my own. I bought a book that told about the various parts and what was needed and a week later, I anxiously turned on the switch and was so excited when up came the C: prompt! Well, that meant having to learn DOS! I LOVED DOS! It was yet another programming language to add to my growing list. Over the years, I learned to use many programs such as WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3, Quatro Pro, and was even a beta tester for some major companies.

1985 - Above are two of my computer systems taken in 1985.
You can see I have two systems, each one has 3 floppy drives
(they didn't have hard drives yet) and there are two printers.

I became interested in graphics way back before printers were capable of printing graphics. An image had to be created using only the letters on the keyboard such as X and O. I'm sure you've seen some of those old pictures, they were pretty awesome back then! The printer makers finally came out with a chip that would let you upgrade your printer to print graphics and a few companies started making programs that did a whopping 16 color printouts!

Everything was square and blocky looking but it was still pretty incredible. When I started my own Bulletin Board in 1984, it was called Wishing Well and it had four telephone lines. People logged in from all over the United States.

1987 - MaryLou's Atari 800, and 800XL, an Atari 400,
an Apple, and her 8086

My board (called a BBS back then), was run on a separate computer from my family room and offered chat, messages, games, forums, uploads and downloads. It was pretty exciting to see people logging in and doing the available activities.

Graphics were a large part of the board but back then and the only thing available was ANSI graphics. It was a challenge to make things exciting with only 16 colors to play with, but we did! Wishing Well was on-line until 1994 (10 years) when I decided the internet was the way of the future so, I bid everyone farewell and took it off-line. I really missed it for a while, the sounds of people logging in or the "boing" from a game when someone earned a point but as the internet grew, my interests grew with it.

1986 This is me on the cover of a Ziff-Davis computer magazine. Was taken in 1986 when they
were just starting to do things with computer graphics.

This was so amazing! They took the picture and about 5
minutes later, it came out of the computer. The
graphics are very blocky but we were in total awe!
This was new technology!

The first thing that piqued my interest were web pages. How on earth do they do that? There were very few tutorials and no books but it intrigued me and I wanted to know how it was done. I got a web site at Geocities which was then called Geo Pages and it had a very limited editor but I learned how to view the source of a page and realized it was just simple coding! With my programming background, it was very easy to see the patterns and how things went together. Within a few weeks, I got my own domain and started coding my web pages. They didn't have things like Dreamweaver and FrontPage back then. It was use Notepad or do without.

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Vintage Wishing Well Site Award


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