Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date
RE: Project DELTA
Hello again! I'm now corresponding with so many former Delta folks that I'm
have trouble keeping up. I'm really glad I undertook this little project. It
seems like everyone is doing really well with their lives and they are so
willing to share their fond (and sometimes embarrassing) memories.
I am in touch with Marshall. I'm not sure if he still has the "Story of Delta,"
but says he does have some files in the attic. He still lives in the same house
where some early Delta meetings were reportedly held. I'm also still living in
the Philadelphia area, so hopefully, we'll be able to get together and see
what's in those files. Regarding the early days, Marshall writes: "Clark &
Ed had access to a terminal in upstate NY [where they had moved from] and were
very disappointed with the Brandywine facilities (batch processing of punch
cards at UD). Clark had become such a pain at Brandywine that he was
immediately selected as contact student when Teresa asked for one -- and he
volunteered our house for the first meeting. That's how Ed got involved so
early -- he was still in Jr H -- but they couldn't very well kick him out of
his own home!"
Clark also sent me a detailed e-mail about his experiences at Delta and since
then. I wish I had been involved in Delta earlier; it sounds like it was a
tight knit group of great people! About you, he wrote: "None of my success
would have happened if Teresa Green hadn't pushed hard to 1) get computers in
the Delaware high schools (via timesharing on a central computer), and 2) said
that they would be run by the students (a radical view both then and now)."
I was left wondering after reading his message (and yours) if Delta wasn't
perhaps a little different under your tenure than it was later. As I said
before, my memories of Delta were very positive; it did after all save me from
a life as a ditch digger. But I also recall Delta as being a place where
various incidents of mischief seemed to be frequently occurring. The
infractions usually had to do with somebody "breaching security" and sometimes
then doing something foolish once they were "privileged." I wonder if this was
not so much the case in the early days, or if it was, how you delt with it.
I'm curious about this not because I want to embarrass those students
(including myself on a couple of occasions) who perpetrated these acts, but
because I feel that this side of Delta represents a level of folklore that I
would like to capture for the history of Delta that I hope to compile. However,
if you feel that is not appropriate, please say so! Rest assured that I
certainly intend to balance the mischievous side of Delta with the enormously
Enough on that, then. You had asked what school I called home. I was originally
at Mount Pleasant, but after my folks moved to Kennett Square, I went to the
Sanford School in Hockessin. The reason for this change was not only the move,
but also their hope that I would achieve better results academically at a
The first Delta terminal I recall was in Sanford's library A/V room. It was an
ASR/33 teletype with paper tape punch/reader. It was crowded in a corner next
to the piled up film strip machines, Bell and Howell movie projectors, and
Wolensak tape recorders. The poorly ventilated room had a funny odor, which was
a combination the well lubricated teletype and the solvents from the mimeograph
machine. I used this terminal only once or twice with other students who were
running game programs.
It was not until 11th grade that Sanford offered a BASIC programming class
(instructed by a Sanford senior, David Wood). At that point, the teletype had
been replaced by an LA36 DECwriter, now in the math department (300 baud...
wow, that was fast). That summer, I attended a series of programming seminars
given by Ed Boas and Ed Jones in Dupont Hall. It was at that point that I
really started to understand how everything worked.
It wasn't long before I broke security by taking advantage of a flaw I
discovered in the line printer spooler. The sanctions for my infraction: I was
given my own privileged account and asked to start adding features to the RSTS
V6C DIRECT.BAS program. What an experience Delta was!
Hope to here from you again soon... regards for now!