Who is this lunatic?

Who is this lunatic?

Dec 24, 2022

I am a PERQ fanatic. Everyone has to have some purpose in life, and for reasons I may delve into in future posts this is mine: to care about preserving the legacy of an obscure computer from the early 1980s, even if I eventually wind up being literally the last man on Earth to do so. That's my particular kink, I guess, and as these things go it's relatively harmless.

"Sure, that's fine, you do you, man. But, um, what's a PERQ?" The Wikipedia page or the PERQemu Github repository may give you the gist, the technical specs, and an overview of the machine and its place in the evolutionary tree of "engineering workstations" or graphics-oriented computers that followed the pioneering work at Xerox PARC. For me it was much more personal: PERQ was my "first love" in computing, with all of the bittersweet implications that phrase evokes. It started me down a career path in programming and systems administration that (inevitably, in the VH1 version of my life story) led me to burnout, rediscovery, and rejuvenation -- ending up here. I'll probably lay out some context for all that in future posts.

For now, what else can I say in the way of introduction? I spent my formative years in Pittsburgh, PA where as an impressionable youth I met the PERQ. In late '83 I moved to Portland, OR and could only watch from afar as Three Rivers Computer eventually went bankrupt and the PERQ quickly faded from view. But by an amazing coincidence it was here in the early '90s that I acquired my first PERQ-1A, the cornerstone of a collection of "vintage" computers that peaked at over 80 systems.

So I've had money, and I've been broke; I have lived and loved and made mistakes and had my share of joys and regrets. The Covid-19 pandemic gave me the opportunity to retreat into my basement lair/datacenter to hack on PERQ projects in my sweatpants, drink dangerous amounts of coffee and totally nerd out without guilt. It just seemed natural to (finally) dip a toe into the loose realm of "social media" here on buymeacoffee.com, since coffee is the fuel that powers everything (don't let astrophysicists tell you otherwise).

There's a ton of fascinating computing history to explore, and while "I've got a face for radio" and may never have the gumption to wade into YouTube to promote PERQ stuff far and wide, maybe here I can at least spark some curiosity about this obscure passion of mine. So if you stumbled across the emulator and want to contribute to its ongoing development, thanks for your time and interest!

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