25 May 2009

1981: adventures in computer science

Many years ago (in 1981), I was one of a small group of people in New Zealand who were part of the first wave of computer entrepreneurship, and defying logic and common sense, felt that we could compete by designing and building our own personal computer.

I'd met the late Stewart Holmes at Auckland University, where he was studying for his PhD in digital microelectronics. I was working part time at the then Auckland Technical Institute, with a focus on digital circuits and electrotechnology, although my speciality was software. Together with the Irishman Ernest Halliday, we three formed a company, which I named "Technosys" (combining "Technology" with "Gnosis", or deep esoteric knowledge.) I also designed the logo, but the core idea of making a personal computer (and therefore the credit for the pioneering vision) came from Stewart.

Ernie Halliday was a fascinating fellow, full of stories from his years serving with the British SAS regiment in Northern Ireland and Borneo. Who knows, some of them might have even been true. I have no idea whether he is still alive, but after the injuries he reported (botched HALO drops), I suspect he might not be. Whatever his fate, he was a great salesman, and had the vision to put the company together, and find a market when few business people even knew the potential of computers.

When time permits, I will dredge through my recollections, and perhaps contribute them to the archive. I am grateful to Philip Lord, who has put together a Web site which features the Aamber Pegasus, including photos, some old documents, and even software downloads. Great work guys!