Computer Programming

My interest in computer programming dates way back to the 1960s when I was in high school and the first few years of college. My school major at that time was mathematics and physics and I had a strong interest in computers too. Unfortunately it was difficult to get time on computers in those days, especially when I was in high school. Most schools that had computers, such as the IBM 1620, were paying upwards of $20,000 per month just to lease them! Hence, time on the computer was shared with the school administration and individual projects were run in "batch" mode.  In my computer programming class in college I was able to learn to program the Royal Precision Vacuum Tube Computer, model  LGP-30. This was a "small" 800 pound computer about the size of a desk which was dedicated to the unlimited use of programming students. It was great!. In 1963 they cost around $40,000 new. This computer had 113 vacuum tubes, and a flexowriter punched a paper tape input/output system! We programmed it with a small number of machine language instructions using real binary code. As I recall it had a magnetic drum memory of a whopping 8K of "RAM" memory storage (actually 2,048 x 32-bit words of memory). Even so we were able to calculate rocket trajectories in that tiny amount of memory space. Later in college I also had some experience programming (batch mode using punched cards) on the IBM 1620 and the IBM 360 using Fortran.

I did not have opportunity to do computer programming again until 1984 when I bought my first personal computer, a Kaypro 2X. It was a "dream machine" with 64K of RAM memory and dual floppy disk drives. I bought a CP/M version of the Turbo Pascal programming language and enjoyed the freedom of programming in a real interactive environment. By this time we were on our first furlough from the field in Papua New Guinea and I was studying Missiology at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. The computer came with the WordStar  word processor which freed me from the manual typewriter and helped complete my study program. The computer also revolutionized our ability to do Bible translation work, which is an almost endless process of revision, revision, revision!

With my computer programming background I was able to write several programs in the mid and late 1980s that I still use today. These include a personal mail list program, a dictionary management program, and an interactive concordance program for our language and translation work in Papua New Guinea. As computers improved (and I moved from the CP/M to MS-DOS based IBM computers) I was able to maintain and recompile those programs to run on the newer computers..

I find computer programming mentally stimulating and so it is an excellent way for me to keep my mind sharp. Although computer programming started as a hobby, it also proved useful in our Bible translation and linguistic work where I developed a number of programs for our linguistic work in Papua New Guinea.

I have become proficient in the C++ and C# programming languages and am developing my knowledge of JavaScript. I am currently using those skills to assist the development of a translation software program called Adapt It and Adapt It Mobile,  which are designed to assist translators in "adapting" Bible translations into new languages that are related to a language that has existing Scripture..

I currently am working as the lead programmer for the open-source Adapt It software project. See http://www.adapt-it.org.

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