Remarkable developments in your starting career!

The passion for technology often starts at an early age. The first acquaintance can be very diverse. Our colleague Henk Kalk tells about his experience. In any case, a story with remarkable developments.

This story is about a 15 year old young boy who took pictures of solar eclipses with his telescope and developed and printed these pictures on paper.

At one point a representative of “ The Winschoter Courant” saw my activities. He arranged for a journalist with a photographer to come to our house and they made a nice article for it in the newspaper on page 2. The representative said that I should visit the newspaper, because they probably had a job for me in the photo layout department.

I was looking for a job around the age of 16 and had already applied at the supermarket as a cashier, but I thought it would be a good idea to go to the newspaper.

How a young astronomy amateur got a job in the newspaper world?

This story is about a 15 year old young boy who took pictures of solar eclipses with his telescope and developed and printed these pictures on paper.

At one point a representative of “ The Winschoter Courant” saw my activities. He arranged for a journalist with a photographer to come to our house and they made a nice article for it in the newspaper on page 2. The representative said that I should visit the newspaper, because they probably had a job for me in the photo layout department.

I was looking for a job around the age of 16 and had already applied at the supermarket as a cashier, but I thought it would be a good idea to go to the newspaper.

I came to talk to the head of the layout department and he told me they certainly had work for me. I was completely happy of course. I was taken to the typesetting: a large room where a lot of ladies were typing together on typewriters. They also asked me to sit down and type a piece of text to see how my typing skills went. That went very well, I had just graduated from the trade school and was immediately hired as a temporary worker for busy times.

Every Friday evening I worked at the printing house and earned 6 guilders an hour. I also occasionally did the night shifts. During the holidays I had about 6 weeks of work, and I could save for a new telescope (After all, that was the reason I started the job).

When I first got my salary (in a paper envelope) I dared to open it only in the restroom to see how much was in it. That’s how you were brought up as a youngster at that time. In any case, the job gave me the opportunity to do some nice things in life besides my studies, such as a new telescope and possibly buy a car afterwards.

I often worked at the printing house. Because I was young, cost little money but could type very quickly, I was a welcome colleague. My velocity of typing was around 610 strokes per minute, and a typewriter frequently broke when I started working on it. I was therefore not loved by the maintenance technicians. With the “thin Tuesday newspaper”, (this was always the thinnest newspaper of the week), I sometimes had processed most of the text on my own. I was allowed to go home earlier, if the newspaper was “closed”. In other words, if all the text was through, corrected and processed by the photo printing machine, and forwarded to the layout department.

The first experiences with programming codes!

After I mastered typing the text, and using typesetting codes, I was often allowed to correct text in the night shift after 3 a.m.

The sheets of paper went into an OCR (optical character recognition) reader, and then an ASCII encoded paper tape came out. A paper tape was a roll of tape on which a hole pattern was encoded in ASCII text, which in turn served as input on the photo setting machine.

Coding of text was done as follows: a big bold letter head was coded as = u72. So the = sign was a programming code. When forgetting to go back to lowercase = u05 it often happened that an article was printed in headline 72, so that hundreds of meters of paper came out of the photo-printing machine.

The nice thing was that some typists could read the ASCII codes from the paper tapes and debug them.

Around 1976 the first computers arrived. I remember seeing the first Exidy Sorcerer computer at the print shop and typing in my first basic program.

10 print “henk”
20 goto 10.

Wow. I was immediately sold. This was cool. This was my future, I was sure of that. My choice of school was now clear. It became a technical education. In the end, I entered engineering after graduating from my bachelor degree and said goodbye to the newspaper world. My hearth is in technical innovation, so converting ideas into technical solutions. Especially if it makes our lives better and easier. My motto: Keep It Simple.

PS:
By the way, I went to the newspaper reunion last year, and the nice thing was that they recognized me as the guy who could type so quickly.

See newspaper article from Thursday, May 15, 1975.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.