Dorkbot:36 Retro-Dork


March 7, 2007 - 7:30pm


911 Media Arts
402 9th Ave N
Seattle, WA, 98109


Girl Genius excerpt Retro-Dork


Donald C Martin Ph.D. will present COMPUTER HISTORY: A Personal Look at a Few Early Computers. Massive computing machines with sonic mercury delay line memory, vacuum tubes, punched paper tape, hundreds of words of memory, analog/digital hybrids, and on up to Large Scale Integration. Computing was not for the squeamish.

Phil Foglio, artist and co-creator of Girl Genius, will present the gaslamp fantasy Girl Genius.



Phil Foglio

Agatha Heterodyne, Girl Genius As well as co-creating Girl Genius, Phil Foglio has created SF and fantasy comics for Other works (not so retro) include Buck Godot and the 1980s What's New with Phil and Dixie.

Girl Genius is an ongoing gaslamp fantasy story by Phil and Kaja Foglio. A Mimmoth, from Girl Genius It started out in 2000 as a periodical comic book, which is collected into three (and counting) larger volumes. Girl Genius follows the career of Agatha Heterodyne — a hapless student at Transylvania Polygnostic University who discovers that she has more going for her than she thought.

Castle Wulfenbach, from Girl Genius Influences include Jules Verne and H. Rider Haggard. The genre is also called steampunk. Expect big, clanking Victorian-style tech, old-fashioned clothes, Frankenstein monsters and airships. Lots and lots of airships. Is it magic? Is it science? A little of both, I suppose—it's Mad Science.

Girl Genius has won the Web Cartoonists' Choice Award for Best Science Fiction 2007 and was on the SF Site's Editor's Choice list for 2007.

Donald C Martin, PhD

As a teenager, I attempted to build a small computer from salvaged pinball machine relays. This was one of my more instructive failures and the best five dollars that I ever spent. A pinball machine is probably a good metaphor for my career.

Don Martin, computing unsqueamishly My academic career had a fine sense of indecision. My initial majors were electrical, mechanical and industrial engineering. I then switched to physics and then to psychology. When financial problems forced me to drop out of college, I took a low level job with RCA Service Co. at Cape Canaveral in Missile Range Data reduction. This was my first exposure to a computer. I studied mathematics and was promoted to mathematician at RCA but I had not completed any degree. I went back to Florida State University. By the time I was forced to graduate I happened to be majoring in mathematics with a minor in physics. (note 1)

A chance question caused me to start graduate studies in statistics although I had never had a statistics course. I was soon working in the Academic Computing Center. My initial academic appointments were in Biomathematics and Engineering Research (note 2) at North Carolina State University. I promptly became entangled with more computers. Burnout from 60-hour weeks of research and teaching became a problem. We started breeding and showing (conformation and obedience) Old English Sheepdogs. We then moved to the University of Washington where my appointment was in Biostatistics with an Adjoint appointment in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (note 3).

One way or another, I kept getting involved with computers. At one time I was Director of Computing Activities for the UW Health Sciences. I also developed a successful specialized programming language. I have approximately 100 scientific publications. Unlike most statisticians, I have a great deal of experience in actually doing experiments. At one time I was teaching dog-training using operant conditioning. Perhaps a step up from the business statistics class I had taught at FSU. I retired from UW in 1996 and moved to part time in Health Services Research at the Veterans Administration Hospital. Much to my surprise I then became a surrealist photographer (note 4) and Dorkbotter. I had never previously heard of ether calling.

  1. Remember: I dropped out of Physics.
  2. Remember: I dropped out of Engineering.
  3. Remember: I dropped out of Psychology.
  4. Sorry but I never tried majoring in photography or art.


Open Dork / Show and Tell

YOU!!! Yes, if you have a technological relic - any sort of relic, in any state of [d|r]ustiness, a project - any project, at any stage of completeness, an idea - any idea, at any stage of bakedness, an artwork - any kind of artwork at any stage of doneness, please do bring it along to the dorkbot meeting and claim your 10 minutes of fame after the presenters.