All you ever wanted to know about Thomas Wagner


Back in the 70's Intel introduced the "computer on a chip" to the electronic world. The company I worked for sent a couple of us to a seminar. We sat through the morning till lunch, over lunch we discussed what we were shown. The verdict appeared that it would never catch on, so we skipped the rest and went for a beer. Little did we know then...

But, the bug did turn around and bite me. I found myself in the world of big "Mainframe" computers and one of my associates mentioned that his brother had started a computer store in Seattle and that I could actually build one of them myself. So off I went with my checkbook in hand and bought an Imsai 8008 kit.

4K dynamic memory and a card that let me hook up a tape recorder and an old teletype machine. Went home and stopped at the custom's station at the border and declared I had bought a computer. Poor agent, he started to have a bad day when I told him it was in the car. He expected me to be driving a semi. I told him it was a "micro computer" kit. Pawing through the big customs book he could not find a category for it so he did not know what to charge me. He came to the conclusion that because it had a fan it was a "calculator machine" and told me it would be 20% duty. I told him no way. I told him it was all in pieces and as a ham radio operator I was going to put it together. His exact quote was "oh, it's hobby equipment, there is no duty on it". For years I brought stuff from the states as hobby equipment and never paid a cent in duty. My kids bragged about dad having a computer at home, my wife burned supper when she found out it would play Slots. I predicted soon everyone would have one, no one believed me...

From then on I spent the rest of my career in computers.

In the 80's I found my self with an Infra Red inspection company. Right about that time the forest industry in BC took a nose dive and we found ourselves with a bunch of video analysis machines used for analysis of air photographs of trees. If you watch television you see all those crime investigation programs where they do image analysis of fingerprints and the like. Well,we were there first. Just by accident we found out our machines would analyse fingerprints. Fellow with the Ontario Police asked if we could use our equipment to analyse fingerprints. Turned out it worked. We upgraded the machines to use an Apple computer. It turned out to be the first machine to do Image Processing in Forensics. Got me and the company a commendation from Sherman T. Block the Sheriff of Los Angeles and a permanent exclusion from jury duty. But with a territory called "North America" the pace got to me. I dropped out, got a better motorcycle and a sports car. Left the mainland for a job with Malaspina College in Nanaimo.

Retired from there (very early retirement) and have pretty well done as I wanted from then to now. Did, and still do, a lot of research on history of Vancouver Island. Specifically of logging, trains and old tales. Keep busy restoring clocks and old radios with a bit of Ham Radio tossed it for variety. Always was interested in Radio Controlled models, so am now concentrating on RC boats (they don't crash as much).

For now, that's about it...

April 18, 2012 3:59 PM