Steve Roberts in 1981 clowning around with computer

From a binder of ancient negatives and matching contact sheets: The photo above is a goofy selfie from May, 1981, in my house in Columbus (old-fashioned EXIF date stamp in the form of a wall calendar from Radio Beijing). I was active on The Source as “wordy,” used DIALOG heavily for consulting, and was working on my engineering textbook (manuscript behind me on the desk). Camera was an Olympus OM-10 with a homemade remote built into an aluminum film can, and I processed the negatives in my darkroom down the hall.

This one is from my trip to the National Computer Conference, which I covered for Byte Magazine:

The author at NCC ’81 in Chicago

And speaking of Byte, when I visited them in March, I spent an evening with the prolific Steve Ciarcia at his famed Circuit Cellar:

A visit with Steve Ciarcia at the Circuit Cellar – 1981 self-timer shot by Steven K. Roberts

I don’t know the story behind these next two photos – they are slides that emerged from an old box, with enough date info to place in this timeline. I was rarely dressed formally, so doesn’t look like dinner out with my girlfriend… a mystery!

While we’re in 1981… this is a soft-focus flashback to what probably was a date night, complete with cheesy pose holding a twig, gauze disco shirt, and stretch-polyester bells with sharp creases. Excruciating, but I’d risk all that to pilot that young body again! This was a couple of years before taking off on the recumbent bicycle; I was wrapping up the engineering textbook and was a freelance writer on the conference circuit — a geek dilettante chasing artificial intelligence, online services, robotics, control system design, and women:

I was building my first mobile lab/office, using a 27-foot Travco motorhome named Sparky as a substrate… this was on the maiden voyage to Florida: