June 18, 2005 at 10:52 pm #25469
Is there any insight to the lives of Ken and Roberta Williams before Sierra? Was Ken old enough to go to Nam? How did he get involved with the computer world? How did he meet Roberta? Was it love at first byte? 🙂 How did Roberta get into computers?
June 19, 2005 at 1:48 am #25470
“… (by mxCoder) Is there any insight to the lives of Ken and Roberta Williams before Sierra? Was Ken old enough to go to Nam? How did he get involved with the computer world? How did he meet Roberta? Was it love at first byte? 🙂 How did Roberta get into computers?
Hey! Finally a question I know the answer to!!!
Was Ken old enough to go to Nam?
– I was almost drafted, but never served. I was given a very low number – 10. Those were the days were you were assigned a number, and if your number was low enough, you were drafted. I had assumed I would be going when they canceled the draft!
How did he get involved with the computer world?
– I was in high school, and on a field trip to UCLA when I saw my first main frame computer. There were no PCs in those days. I saw a computer game on it, a text game – called “Star Wars”, and was hooked immediately. Everything I did after that was focused on breaking into the computer business.
– I dropped out of college to attend a trade school. Roberta and I were married 4 days after I turned 18. I needed a job fast! I attended Control Data Institute in Los Angeles, and was a hero there. I had a natural talent for computers. My first jobs were as a computer operator on building-sized mainframes, but within a year I was programming.
How did he meet Roberta?
– I was 16 at the time. She was dating a friend of mine. We double-dated one night. Somehow I got her phone number and called her months later, long after her and my friend had parted company. I talked her into going out, and started talking marriage about an hour into our first date…
Was it love at first byte?
– Close! It was LUST at first byte…
How did Roberta get into computers?
– Roberta worked for a while as a computer operator for the county of Los Angeles. Then she worked as a software developer for Lawry Foods, programming in Cobol. She really didn’t like either job, but we were starving in those days, and needed her to work. I helped her pass the proficiency exams, and even wrote some of her code for her. She’s smart, so she figured it out, but it was never her “thing.” She is a creative person, and wasn’t really doing what she does best until Sierra (which was really her idea!)
PS We’ve now been married 33 years! .. and, they say it doesn’t work to get married young…
June 20, 2005 at 11:24 am #25471
For more about Ken & Roberta and Sierra’s early days, read the book Hackers by Steven Levy.
June 20, 2005 at 12:44 pm #25472
Thanks!!! Its funny to hear Ken and Roberta being in a book called “Hackers”. Ofcourse, at that time the word did not have the same meaning. I did see a movie by the same name. I will check out the book.
June 20, 2005 at 1:32 pm #25473
Here’s a thought on the book, that hopefully people will keep in mind as they read it…
The book chronicles Sierra’s early days. I’m actually the villain in the book. Steve Levy, the author, was a writer at Rolling Stone, and had the belief that software was art, and that art should be free. He saw me as an evil person trying to make money off an industry that shouldn’t be commercialized. At the time, the computer game industry wasn’t taken seriously. No “real” programmer would work on computer games. Sierra was comprised of “kids” most in their late teens (17 to 25). A lot of money was made, and a lot of partying went on. All (or, at least most) of it is in the book.
When the book first appeared, I was horribly embarassed when my dad got a copy. I gave him this one comment – “I was 20 years old during the time that is chronicled in the book. I was a kid at the time. The person in the book feels more like a “character” to me now, than a younger version of myself. It’s too bad that my teen years were so well documented. I suspect that many others subjected to the same scrutiny, at the same time in their life, might also have much to be embarrassed about.” That seemed to calm him down….
It was funny when I meet people that read the book. Generally, instead of people taking offense, they seemed to want to go out of their way to work for Sierra! Everyone expected the “fun” place from the book, and were horribly disappointed when they discovered that creating games was really hard work and long hours.
It is a fun read, and I do endorse the book. I just hope you don’t expect I’m really like that (although there was a guy who looked somewhat like a younger version of myself who may have been like that a long, long time ago…)
July 11, 2005 at 8:05 am #25474
I read Levy’s book. He could be a great writer for a tabloid. He tries to paint a picture of everything in the book with a psycological insight. For a vilian in his book you (Ken) did very well to get so much coverage. The drugs and the photo shoots were a bit much. Along with the quest to get John hitched sort of. If he saw what you say on this web page, what you wrote in your ads with the games, and the .avi videos he would not think of you as an arogant bos who only thinks of obtaining more money.
July 11, 2005 at 12:27 pm #25475
Now you’ve stumped me. What photo shoots? The Softporn cover?
July 11, 2005 at 12:59 pm #25476
Yep, I currently work for the State and if a manager even hinted to other employees in this day and age to do a photo shoot they would get in alot of trouble. I’m turning red just talking about it. It did seem to be good for sales. I just cant go on… 🙂
July 11, 2005 at 1:08 pm #25477
Grin! I miss the “good old days….”
July 11, 2005 at 3:18 pm #25478
This message has expired please delete. : ) out of embarrassment
July 11, 2005 at 5:15 pm #25479
The photo shoot was a bit much? Even for those days? It was great of Sierra to publish Softporn Adventure and it was a great cover too. But I agree about Levy. A serious reader will notice though that Levy interprets and judges everything from what he calls “Hackers Ethics”. So Ken was sometimes more or less pictured as a “bad guy”, because he wanted to earn money too (LOL!). I never understood why 1/3 of the book (!) was about the early days of Sierra, for he fails to make it clear that Ken was really a hacker in the sense he uses the term. But the factual descriptions – if true – were great to read.