[Welcome to RetroTech, a joint blog series with Skimbox, where we journey back in time to an era of floppy disks, the Atari 800, and that unmistakable clicking sound of dial-up. We’re digging up the good ol’ days with interviews from tech’s most staunch patrons and giving you a glimpse of their technological firsts.]
From Proust and his madeleines to Buzzfeed and early Britney, if there’s one thing that unites us, it’s our shared affection for nostalgia. And tech nostalgia is, at least in our opinion, a particularly rich strain, because it combines memories with cluck-tongued humor. So we decided to mine it with RetroTech, an interview series about personal technological firsts.
To kick of the series, we turned to Yuri Broze. Yuri is a number of things, including: maestro of the right and left brains, unicyclist, pianist, and world-class whistler. He may not be the only data scientist with a PhD in Music Psychology, but he is the only one we know.
First screen name: dkcrulz. Short for “Donkey Kong Country Rules.” Yuri picked it up at age 11, in 1994, right after Donkey Kong Country came out.
First email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
First computer: An IBM Compatible running MS DOS. “I would write poetry on it and have every other line come back ‘bad command or file name.’”
First video/computer game: Lemonade Stand for Apple 2. (Ed — this looks like the least fun computer game ever, and I say that as a person who wrote an execrable version of Pong.)
First cellphone: A Motorola Microtac (“grey all the way”) Yuri inherited from his mom.
Eureka “I want to work with computers” moment: Occurred during Yuri’s doctoral program in Music Psychology (“it wasn’t pushing my buttons”). Incredibly/encouragingly, Yuri only began to program seriously 3 years ago, thanks to his “sensei,” David Huron.
First programming language: Logo, specifically its graphic reptile arm, Logowriter. Yuri learned to make the turtle move in first grade.
First wired job: In high school, Yuri worked in a biochemistry lab at Wash U.