Memoirs, Or Shadows Of What Has Been
By Peter Landry
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Chapter Twenty-Six, Small Computers & The Death of Nancy, 1975

The year 1975 was a monumental one for small computers, priced for the regular consumer. In January, the Altair 8800 was released, sparking the microcomputer revolution. It was sold as a kit for $395, or $650 assembled. Its CPU was the Intel 8080, 2.0 MHz; RAM, 256 bytes, 64K max. It's hard to tell from the photo what kind of a display it had. The controls seem to be a bunch of switches at the front. It needed to be attached to a tape cassette to store data. Its operating system: CP/M, BASIC. altair-8800-front.jpg

"The MITS Altair 8800 was a microcomputer design from 1975 based on the Intel 8080 CPU and sold by mail order through advertisements in Popular Electronics, Radio-Electronics and other hobbyist magazines. The designers hoped to sell only a few hundred build-it-yourself kits to hobbyists, and were surprised when they sold thousands in the first month. The Altair also appealed to individuals and businesses who just wanted a computer and purchased the assembled version. Today the Altair is widely recognized as the spark that led to the microcomputer revolution of the next few years: The computer bus designed for the Altair was to become a de facto standard in the form of the S-100 bus, and the first programming language for the machine was Microsoft's founding product, Altair BASIC." (Wikipedia)
On April 1st, Apple Computer Company was formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Three days later, on April 4th, Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

On September 18th, 1975, fugitive Patricia Hearst was captured in San Francisco. The following year, on March 20th, she was found guilty of armed robbery of a San Francisco bank. On September 24, 1976, Hearst was sentenced to 7 years in prison. An executive clemency order from U.S. President Jimmy Carter set her free after only 22 months.

In August of 1975, raising the money by a re-mortgage of our existing home on Lake Thomas Crescent, we bought a lot on Wilson Drive just on the border of Fall River and Waverley. It was our intention to build a new home, but we did not get an immediate start.

Nancy.jpg

50NancyPortrait.jpg

On August 7th, 1975, my sister, Nancy died. I grew up with Nancy, one of three sisters of mine. She was the next one up the line from me. She married Sidney Hubley and they had four children, the youngest of which at Nancy's death was but three years of age; Sid had his hands full there for awhile. She had suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for most all of her life, and, it took her life. She was born December 24th, 1937, so, she was but thirty-eight years of age at her death. In spite of her life long health problems she had an extraordinarily placid manner and usually faced all situations with a smile on her face; I never heard Nancy complain of anything. She was full of heart; in the end it gave out.

[Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It is a degenerative joint disease or wear-and-tear arthritis and caused, we read, by the breakdown of joint cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, inflammatory disease and is classified as an autoimmune disease where immune cells attack the body's own healthy tissues. The linings of the joints (synovium) are most commonly attacked, but organs throughout the body can be affected as well. In Nancy's case it was both her heart and her lungs that gave out.]

As for Movies of 1975: There is only two that come to mind. There was Jaws, directed by Steven Spielberg. The movie is about a gigantic great white shark which menaced a small island community off the coast of Massachusetts. The police chief, a marine scientist and grizzled fisherman set out to get it and stop the deaths along the neighboring beaches. It starred Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss. Then there was One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. It won all five major Academy Awards (Best Picture, Actor in Lead Role, Actress in Lead Role, Director, and Screenplay) a feat in the movie industry which is rarely accomplished. Among the cast: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher and Danny DeVito.

Songs of 1975: Love Will Keep Us Together, The Captain and Tennille; Rhinestone Cowboy, Glen Campbell; Philadelphia Freedom, Elton John; The Hustle, Van McCoy and The Soul City Symphony; and, The Rockford Files Theme, Mike Post.


[Pictures, 1975]

NEXT: [Chapter Twenty-Seven, SCUBA, New Practice & England, 1976]

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2012 (2015)

Peter Landry