More About Michael Parson


I first got into computers back around 1984 or 1985, I don't remember exactly when. . . My grandfather had seen that computers were going to be the Next Big Thing, so he gave my father a few grand and told him to go and buy me a computer. Dad brought home a Commodore-64, the system that a friend of mine who lived across the street from us had.

Computers and I were a match from the start. I took off teaching myself programming, computer graphics, and computer generated music. I had a lot of fun, but a lot of it was very frustrating as well. Programming required long hours and the returns were limited. I never got the hang of drawing with a joystick (or mouse, for that matter), of the hundreds of images I did produce, I was only proud of a few. While the sound chip on the C-64 was one of the more advanced of its time, I still found that 3 voices was a bit limited for music sequencing.

When it came around time to go off to college, I thought I wanted to do something with computers, but I never found anything that interested me. Computer Science courses were generally focused on programming, and I'd already decided that I didn't want to do any of that. Besides, I hate discrete math and matrix theory. ;)

So off I headed to college to study business, lugging along my trusty Commodore SX-64 (ok, a bit out dated for the early 90s, but it still served my needs of word processing and the occasional game).

While at school, someone introduced me to the Internet. I'd been told that I needed to get online by a friend from high school (who went to a different university than myself) so that we could exchange email, but I never got up the motivation to find out what was involved to make this happen. A dorm mate of mine was online all the time, downloading pictures of various supermodels and inviting the rest of the floor over for a picture show. This was the motivation that I needed to get online. ;)

This was the begining of my downfall into system administration.

While I was off in the dorm rooms learning how to download pictures of super models, my buddy from high school was off learning about trojan horses and how to build and install them. Well, he got caught. Since he'd not done anything other than play with the trojan program, the university never did anything more than reject his access to the UNIX systems. He was banished to only use the VMS boxes.

Frustrated with the ease of how they busted him, he ventured out to learn more about UNIX. He came across 386BSD and then Linux. Over the summer break after our freshman year, he showed what he'd learned to me.

We set up a couple of Linux boxes at the college I worked at (after I left Texas A&M for other reasons). I was hooked. The power that running a UNIX variant gave you was incredible. It sickend me to think of the wasted computer resources you wound up with when running a single user OS the likes of Microsoft provided.

Since those early days of Linux, I've moved on to master such beasts as (in no particular order) Sun's SunOS and Solaris, NetBSD, FreeBSD, BSD/OS, and even twiddled a bit with HP/UX and Digital UNIX. While I'm not an advocate of any of the above, I do run Linux on my home system and NetBSD for's colocated system.

This page is maintained by Michael Parson. Please email with comments and corrections.
page last modified on Thursday, 25-Nov-2004 23:35:58 CST