Handmade Cables

Tonight I find myself putting together good old DB-9 connectors, and I realized that it’s been a long time since I have had need (or even seen) these connectors. They were once pretty ubiquitous, first on my Atari 2600 joysticks, and then as RS-232 cable connections. These cables are actually for connecting stepper motors to the driver board.

As I sit here soldering, shrink-wrapping, and enclosing the connectors, I realized that this task was part of my first paying job in computing. I was a employed as a trainee technician at ComputerPro of Kensington, MD when I was 13 or 14 years old. They mostly sold Kaypro and Leading Edge PC-compatible machines. I remember the first 286 systems arriving while I worked there — that must have been around 1985. That job was my first exposure to CP/M and DOS, the first time I saw a hard drive, and the first time I tried “business software” (Wordstar 2000 & Wordperfect 4.1).

Thinking back, those days were pretty exciting in the personal computer field. Hardware was expensive and the software was pretty rudimentary. Most PC users were still just hobbyists or gadget freaks,; there wasn’t really all that much you could use a computer for back then. But, it was the beginning of something big, and eventually it led to the whole world changing. Tonight, I working on a small desktop CNC mill. Most people who own one today are just hobbyists or DIY freaks; there isn’t really all that much you can use it for at the moment. But, I wonder if this isn’t the beginning of something else big?