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Memories of Mac

June 23 2008 at 8:20 PM
from IP address

I made my first post on the QBasic forum sometime on or before September 2001 and gradually became acquainted with Mac. I never had the privilege of meeting him in person, but soon began to think of him as a virtual friend. By December 2002, I had earned his trust well enough for him to give me his address so that I could mail him two floppy disks formatted with DOS 6.22. I never asked for payment, but he sent me a $5 bill by return mail.

Recently, I searched my Yahoo email archives and extracted all the messages I'd received from Mac that hadn't been deleted, and moved them all to a separate folder. I would now like to share some of those messages with you in this tribute.

On October 2003 (or thereabouts) I emailed Mac a brief bio of myself, and in turn, he sent me his biography. Here is an excerpt of what he wrote:

"I am probably the senior guy on the Forum (also a grandparent). I was born and raised in Texas and graduated summa cum laude in Mathematics and Electrical Engineering in 1958 after serving 3 years in the US Army in Germany.

"On graduation, I joined IBM as a programmer (lucky me) and worked on super mainframes. One was literally three floors big, the top floor was the air-conditioning. Computers were build with ordinary electronic tubes (About an inch high and with little prongs that stuck into holes.) These burned out from time to time, so I was hired to find a way to predict when the tubes would fail so they could be replaced. But I wound up instead in systems programming and developed assemblers and other software.

"Unfortunately, from a financial point of view, I was happily buried in mainframe computers and ignored early developments in mini-computers, later to become the only computer the public knows about. So guys like Bill Gates, who had no knowledge of mainframes came along and re-invented the wheel and got rich.

"But I got a VIC-20 when it first came out, and was impressed with its power. So when mainframes lost out, I got into the little computer world and now work on WindowsNT with Oracle.

"My connection with QBasic is this: After leaving mainframes, I worked with Unix. It has a very powerful command language that makes DOS look pitiful and stupid. In Unix, I could code whole mini-applications on one (long) line. Sorts piped into greps into edits. Super!

"But our customers prefer Windows, so I am stuck with DOS. However, I use QBasic to extend DOS capabilities. The simple command QBASIC /RUN XXX puts me into XXX.BAS where, with a little effort, I can do anything Unix could do. Great!

"So I am retirement age, collecting Social Security, but after 44 years of programming, I can't give it up and I still work and furthermore write hobby programs at home.

"My main language now is VB, but I use QBasic a lot and they are similar at core.


On March of 2004, Mac added me to the R group, explaining how it works and cautioning me not to change the title after five minutes. He also told me about his userid:

"My userid is "iorr5t"!!! They didn't have any "Mac" available, so I got mad. I now have another username, "Mac36", which I use when I don't want to do forum owner stuff."

The following month, after witnessing a series of instructional posts between myself and a new student user, he created a forum just for me at:

I named it "Solitaire's School" and continued my correspondence with my lone long-distance (British) student at that site.

On December 2004, Mac emailed a season's greeting message, which reflected his philosophy. The message was repeated in a similar email two years later. I suppose he sent this same message out to several forum regulars, and probably also friends and family. Here it is:

"QBasic Mac sends seasonal greetings

"Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for

"1) an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion or secular practices of your choice, practiced with due respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, including their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all; and

"2) a fiscally successful,personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2005, but not without impuning the validity of the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great, (not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country or is the only "AMERICA" in the western hemisphere), and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform, or sexual preference of the wishee."

On July 2005, Mac sent me his VB version of a SUDOKU puzzle solver. I made some suggestions for improvement and he revised his program. He created a new forum for the SUDOKU project, at:

The code is posted here:

He acknowledged that I appeared to be the sole user of his program. Indeed, I still have it on my laptop computer, and will be reminded of the gentleman who created it every time I use it.

About two or three years ago, just before Mac went on vacation to Denmark, he was concerned about the forum being spammed or flooded in his absence. He decided to give me partial admin rights to edit or delete forum posts while he was gone. I expected it would be temporary, but after Mac returned from vacation, he still allowed me to retain those rights to this day.

Mac's memory will always remain in my heart and mind. He was such a great guy and contributed much to this world while he was alive. His presence on the forum helped enrich everyone who posted here. His work will live on and the legacy he left behind will continue to inspire those who seek his wisdom here in the forum pages for as long as it exists, and beyond, as those who sought his wisdom will carry it on to inspire future generations.

Mac's life was a life well lived, and we should rejoice for having been a small part of it.

Mac, if you are still able to read this somewhere in cyberspace, we love ya!

This message has been edited by Solitaire1 from IP address on Jul 5, 2008 4:48 PM
This message has been edited by Solitaire1 from IP address on Jun 23, 2008 8:40 PM
This message has been edited by Solitaire1 from IP address on Jun 23, 2008 8:28 PM

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