Ever since 9th grades when I sat down in front of a IBM PDP–8E computer that was in the math department, I was writing programs to solve the most complex formulas that my math teacher could throw at me. I would even help some of the math teachers work on their own equations. I even added the correct gravitational factor for the popular Lunar Lander game (called LEM back then)!
In the last two year of high school I attended a two-year program at our county’s trade school, Rockland County’s Board of Cooperative Educational Services, or B.O.C.E.S., who had to upgrade their curriculum just for me. So I wound up taking classes that were guided by a local college. I learned not only BASIC, but Assembler and even more advanced machine code, as all the mainframe computers of the day displayed the current instructions in lights that were in machine code. I even learned to wire programming boards (now called breadboxes) as part of my introduction to electronics and hardware engineering.
I graduated high school with both a diploma and a an equivalent to a 2-year degree in computer science. While in school I worked for a local manufacturing company part-time designing and coding sales and production reports in RPG-II. I also was a member of our school’s Future Business Leaders Of America, and came in 3rd place nation-wide in their programming competition to design and code a human resource system. Mine was the only one that worked properly. My second year I went to the convention again, but this time only as a delegate to vote on FBLA issues and offices. I graduated with a high of 98 percent over the two-year program, and was one of the few who earned their gold diploma.
My first real full time job was at a research institute for the N.Y. State Department of Mental Hygine, Rockland Research Institute. I was accepted by the Navy to go th the Naval Academy, but my father feared I would wind up in submarines where technology was advancing in leaps and bounds, so he somehow got me an interview with Rockland Research Institute, and I became a state employee.
There I was a computer operator, systems programmer and later I was an analysts and helped the researchers, doctors and scientists with their studies, setting up systems to manage their data and reporting on it.
Here using PL/1 and SAS I wrote a macro language that was later to become the basis for my Data Dictionary Engine. The macro language was so easy to use the researchers could run reports, change the data or the test conditions in the code to see what the outcome would be. The input to this DDE could be either a program or a script that dictated processing.
The addition of the script was based on “pattern matching” and “substitution” methodologies that were introduced by Joseph Weizenbaum, who used the technique in his program ELIZA, written between 1964 to 1966 at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
This program was ceated to demonstrate the superficiality of communication between man and machine. However, the program had a huge impact on games, automated call centers, even the automated phone system used to direct your call to the right people.
Even today, Eliza’s impact can still be seen in computer games and Artificial Intelligent systems.
It got me membership in both the IEEE and the IEEE Computer Society where I had a couple more papers published.
But despite my father’s best efforts to keep me out of the military, I wound up joining in 1980 anyway, I spent almost three years as a military policeman. I was assigned to a combat detachment company (1 Det. 42nd Military Police Company). We were stationed at Camp Smith and was backup to the MP’s at West Point, and trained for a disaster or an attack on the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant. I was an SRT.
After I was honorably discharged, I worked three more years at what was renamed to the Nathan S. Kline Institute. Dr. Kline was one of the pioneers of drug therapy for mental health patients, and sometimes I would work directly for him.
I was eventually called up on the county’s waiting list for police officers, where I worked for Spring Valley PD until I was injured on the job in a motor vehicle accident.
When I was healthy again, I then struck out on my own, formed my own company (Constelnet Systems) and I became a consultant and worked for a variety of companies, including Bankers Trust, who after five years developing and automating their conversion system for new clients, I was hired as a project leader to lead a team of five to seven programmers solely responsible for converting client data into the bank’s format. This experience also helped me to perfect my Data Dictionary Engine.
It was in 1986 I led a team that helped to integrate a new client’s data into Banker’s Trust’s defined benefits system, and one client, General Motors, wanted to have terminals in their lunchroom so their employees can manage their retirement investments, and even request loans against their 401K’s.
I designed the specifications and the required software needs so that their networked monitors were able to talk to our mainframe system. I designed new protocols, wrote software that did not exist (no off the shelf solutions) and guided the client’s staff in networking multiple terminals to a PC/LAN server. I also designed for my team how our software was to interface with this new technology, and redesigned the 401K loan processing to process loans real-time and still make sure the data also processed during the nightly batch. The PC code was written in Visual BASIC and on the mainframe COBOL/CICS.
I did the same thing for Bell South, but I had to travel and worked for nearly 6 months in Nashville, Tennessee, where we had a satellite office. Here the migration of the Bell South system required my ability to program in Assembler, where I developed several utilities that I brought with me, and were reused at Verizon in the late 1990’s early 2000’s.
During this time from 1976 to present I have also been a freelance photographer, mixing it in with my computer consulting, sometimes working each full-time. In 2003 when my contract and employment ended with Verizon, I took the position of photo editor at the Venice Gondolier, and in 2005 became a reporter and photographer for the North Port Sun and Charlotte Sun, where as a photographer I was part of the Charlotte Sun’s 2005 Pulitzer Prize Finalist Award in Breaking News for our coverage of Hurricane Charley. My photographs of Hurricaine Charley ran in newspapers from Naples to Tampa, and east, and have appeared on TV and in two books.
Currently disabled, I run two blogs, the Daily Defense News and the Cosmology and Space Research news websites. The Daily Defense News site runs automatically, where close to 40 government departments submit their news and via email the site processes it and posts the news. The Cosmology site is run manually right now, and needs to also be automated so it too can report from public, private and government space agencies.
As a photographer, I freelanced for Getty Images, and I have agreed to allow them to represent my stock photography collection. Since 2013 I was accepted by the National Geographic as a photographer for the Your Shot program and am eligible to shoot open assignments they offer, and any assignments given to me directly.
My disability also severely impacted my computer science consulting. Today, I am planning to write computer science and programming-related articles here on georgemcginn.wordpress.com and I am exploring languages to develop iOS Apps to give away or sell on iTunes. I will also be writing about a programming language that allows me to develop and test my code on my iOS device, and load it into XCode for final testing and publishing to iTunes.
All I can say is I will provide content to my blogs when I am able to, and as long as my disability or its treatment doesn’t impede me from doing so. (the Daily Defense News site is automated, in that all my sources submit via email their stories, and WordPress processes them and publishes them, so this site only requires me to monitor it (unless I have something important to write and publish).
Your patience is appreciated, and any one who would like to contribute to any of my blogs can contact me here or at the contact page of the blog you wish to contribute to.
Page last updated on October 21 at 2:10pm
Copyright ©2016 by George McGinn. All rights reserved.