^z 24th June 2023 at 5:04pm

While cleaning out a long-unopened desk drawer, my wife (Paulette Dickerson) discovered a ledger from the early 1980s which offers additional data on ^z's hobby computing writings. To supplement the bibliographic saga begun in ^zhurnal PetBibli1 (23 May 2000):

  • People's Computers magazine was published by PCC, the "People's Computer Company" of Menlo Park CA — a rather anarchistic outfit with great spirit. PCC tended to compensate contributors via free subscriptions or copies of books. See for some notes on the PCC phenomenon, plus entertaining commentary by various PCC alumni.
    • "Snooping with your PET" was accepted in May 1978 and appeared in Vol. 7, No. 2 (Sep-Oct 1978) pps. 16-19. It discussed some internal details of the Commodore PET's BASIC interpreter, the USR(X) function, and 6502 microprocessor opcodes. This was one of the first articles ^z wrote. It drew rejection slips from Byte and Kilobaud before PCC gave it a home.
    • "Textrapolation!" was spurned by Personal Computing magazine before PCC accepted it in November 1978. The article described methods of predicting the words in a text stream based on extrapolating from past patterns. As far as ^z knows it was never published; perhaps it remained in the queue when People's Computers ceased publication. ^z did receive Volume 1 of the collected Dr. Dobb's Journal of Computer Calisthenics and Orthodontia in payment; the title reveals something about PCC's style.
  • Calculators/Computers magazine accepted "Random Numbers for Pocket Calculators", a discussion of pseudorandom number generators and their flaws. In September 1978 C/C promised to pay $10, but apparently went out of business before using the article. ^z never received a cent.
  • Creative Computing printed at least three pieces:
    • "PET Bookshelf" included reviews and ratings of books & newsletters of interest to PET owners. CC accepted this short column after Kilobaud returned it. The magazine paid a big $12 in mid-1978, and published the article late that year — but with no byline or credit to ^z.
    • "Blackbox for the PET" was an adaptation of a Parker Brothers game of deduction. It appeared in the February 1980 issue of CC, pps. 112-117.
    • "Big Numbers and Small Computers" was submitted to Byte and tentatively accepted by that journal in December 1979, but in October 1980 it came back with a rejection slip. ^z offered it to CC which accepted it for $150. The issue in which this article appeared has been lost somewhere in ^z's house; the precise date of publication thus remains unknown.
  • Personal Computing typically offered $100 per article, a good rate for short pieces but less attractive than Bytes $50/page as typeset. PC published:
    • "An Assembler for the PET" in June 1978; it appeared in Vol. 2, No. 12 (December 1978) pps. 42-45.
    • "Line Renumbering on the PET", including BASIC and 6502 machine-language programs to do this now-almost-forgotten task. This article came out in Vol. 3, No. 3 (March 1979), pps. 24-29.
    • "G is for Graphics" an alphabet picturebook program published in Vol. 3, No. 6 (June 1979), pps. 38-41.
  • Byte was the 600-pound gorilla of the hobby computing world. In addition to the publications mentioned in ^zhurnal PetBibli1 (23 May 2000):
    • "Continued Fractions, or Pieces of Pi" was used in the Byte book Numbers in Theory and Practice', edited by Blaise Liffick.
    • "Simulating Physics Systems, Part III: Spiral Galaxies" was a Gerola & Seiden type simulation of patterns in star formation, with new stars born near where old ones go supernova in a galaxy rotating with shear. It was accepted by Byte in early 1979 — but in July 1981 the manuscript was returned, marked up by an editor before a decision to kill the piece was made. ^z got to keep the $200 advance payment.
    • "Alphametics & Cryptarithms" offered programs in both BASIC and 6502 machine-language to solve letter-number puzzles (e.g., "SEND + MORE = MONEY", with each letter representing a single decimal digit; another example is "ONES + ZEROES = BINARY"). Byte took this in early 1980, but the date of publication is unrecorded.

Clearly, during his final year or two of graduate school at Caltech ^z could have spent a bit more time working on his thesis and a bit less time standing in line at the Post Office submitting manuscripts....

Saturday, July 14, 2001 at 05:49:42 (EDT) = 2001-07-14

TopicProgramming - TopicPersonalHistory

(correlates: HumanGenomania, SpinCycle, FirmwareBugs, ...)