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The southern two-thirds of the facility is being used as a fab. Apparently TI spun off the fab operation about 15 years ago? Employees tell me they still do work for TI. I’ve been promised a tour of the inside if I can ever get there early on a weekday.

 

Everyone I talked to there seemed to know about the TI-99/4. Even the young call center girls on smoke break. One said her Mom worked on the computer’s assembly line in Module-A. 

 

The building Module A through E names are still in use. 

 

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Refreshing to be in a town still small enough to not go overboard with security. I spent about thirty minutes looking around and talking with the employees. Friendly people. One guy was from NYC and loved living in Lubbock. I’m betting with Texas Tech nearby and a decent airport it’s not that bad. 

 

A few shots of the tire storage area where the main assembly line once produced nearly 3 million TI-99/4s. 

 

 

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I’ll try to get a few shots from the inside next visit. No doubt, all traces of a personal computer company are long gone. Except for that lone pallet of TI-99/8s I saw behind some tires;)

 

 

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Love watching these pics. Thank you for taking the time & effort to share with all TI Home Computer fans here on Atariage. It is much appreciated!

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The pun with the Wiener is generally not understood by German-speaking people. :-D

 

(Wiener = something/-one from Vienna)

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Nice pix Cap! Keep ‘em coming!

We’ll do a raffle for those 8’s at the next VAST meeting. 

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On 4/12/2019 at 6:11 PM, jonecool said:

That is so cool! Did you happen to take any video of your trip? If you did/have enough footage and want someone to edit for you, I'd be happy to do so. I could send you my edits back for you to post or I could post it to my YT channel, either way. That would be a great piece of history to preserve!

I didn't do much video there but I may return to Lubbock this year. Thanks for asking! I'll send you what I have.

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Not sure if I ever remembered to post this interview with my buddy Brett Clark whom worked on the TI-99/4A line?

 

Here it is: 

 

Q: How did you get a job at age 20 working as a tech on the Lubbock, Texas, TI-99/4A production line?

 

A: “My degree was a 2 year tech degree from a school named RETS which eventually changed its name to NIT. A Detroit area tech school. In December of 1982 TI sent Lubbock recruiters to our school as did IBM, Poughkeepsie.

 

  I first passed the technical IBM interview, and was told to expect phase two of the interview with IBM in January, 1983. IBM accepted 25% of the phase two applicants.

 

  The TI recruiter asked me during his interview, “How quickly can you get to Lubbock, Texas?” I don't remember being asked any technical questions in my TI interview. My IBM interview was all technical. I went with TI because they were first to offer actual sure thing employment.”

 

Note: TI-99/4A production was apparently at full speed so by this time they were scouring the country searching for a significant number of techs to deal with production irregularities.

 

Q: How quickly did you get to Lubbock?

 

A: “Two weeks! They paid to haul my P.O.S. car down there. I told them it’d be cheaper to just give me the money it cost to move the car but they insisted on moving my car. I was twenty so who was I to disagree?”

 

Q: Can you describe the TI-99/4A line?

 

A: “The TI plant in Lubbock was a facility that had a long straight hallway called a spine with huge rooms called modules which were areas they could manufacture in, each one larger than a gym.  They each had a letter A, B, C ...

 

  Module A was where the 99/8 was.  Originally it was where the field returns were repaired, they moved that to another building in Lubbock.

 

  Module B...can’t remember.

 

  Module C was the auto insert area where they put in the caps, resistors, and inductors.

 

  Modules D & E were 99/4A lines.  I worked in Module E.

 

Q: What did you do on the TI-99/4 line?

 

A: “I worked in 2 different spots on the manufacturing line, power-up and final test.  Power up was the initial powering of the board

after hand stuff, flow, soldier and inspect.

 

  All the devices except the DRAM and caps, resistors, and inductors were stuffed by hand. After hand stuff it went through a flow solder machine and then a washer which removed flux.

 

  The near-finished boards then went down a belt where people had a certain section to inspect for backward devices and solder shorts and it was fixed there.”

 

Q: Please list the top problems you encountered with end of line failed 99/4 units.

 

A: “The two most common failures were chip in backwards and solder shorts. Inspect was supposed to catch them and often didn't. I “fixed” up to 100 units in one eight-hour shift. Once inspect was complete,  a person powered it up, if the logo screen did not come up, it went to 2 techs, I was one of them.”

 

Q: So what other things contributed to a failure to boot?

 

A: “Backwards parts, solder shorts, a pin bent under or unsoldered, followed by a short, then bad just a bad component. One tidbit: The TMS9900 processor had a TI fab(s) and an AMI fab.  The AMI didn't have a big TI logo on it. The quality of the AMI was poor.”

 

Q: Where was the 9900 fab?

 

A: “I don't know where TI fab'd the TMS9900.

 

Q: What can you tell me about your working schedule?

 

A: “First shift worked 8 hrs with a 30 minute lunch.  7AM to 3:30PM.  They stop the belts and gave a 6 minute gap for shift change.  I worked 3:36PM to 12:06PM.  3rd shift started at 12:12PM.  They did not take a lunch and  worked <40 hrs.”

 

Q: Did you work on QI beige TI-99/4As?

 

A: “Yes. The beige model was just a cost reduction, no silver bezel. Unfortunately that was the only cost reduction.”

 

Q: Was there a training program to prepare you for dealing with production irregularities?

 

A: “They had you shadow experienced guys, some were nice and helpful, a couple were dicks that belittled you like you were stupid. It was basically, “Here...see if you can fix this.”

 

Q: How did this job help you in your career?

 

A: “I  know being a tech made me a better engineer.”

 

Note: Brett studied at UT-Arlington while working for TI. He eventually earned a degree from UTA (also my alma mater) in Electrical Engineering. He’s had a very long and prosperous career doing things I can’t even pretend to understand: memory chip design, storage solutions, etc. He’s an active tech geek to this day.

 

Q: What was one of your most memorable experiences in Lubbock?

 

A: “It was an overall cool experience as I was able to see manufacturing that isn't done here [in the USA] anymore.”

 

Q: Did you take any photos of the Lubbock production facility? Where did they bury the rest of the 99/8s?

 

A: “I don't have any photos of either.  I only saw the 99/8 line once, no clue where they ended up.”

 

 

...Brett will be back in November so let me know if y’all have any questions for him.

 

Q: What did TI have you work on once the 99/4 line began to wind down?

 

A: “Near the end they had me repairing the power supply boards which was not enjoyable at all. I was lucky because they retained me and transferred me to Sherman, north of Dallas, after the 99/4 ended.”

 

Note: Brett has always been one of the hardest working guys around so there’s no doubt his retention at TI had little to do with luck.

 

Q: Did you do any TI-99/4A work after being transferred to Sherman?

 

A: “Yes! I installed many internal 32K mods for my friends. I put them in behind the GROM port.”

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15 minutes ago, Airshack said:

Not sure if I ever remembered to post this interview with my buddy Brett Clark whom worked on the TI-99/4A line?

 

Here it is: 

 

Q: How did you get a job at age 20 working as a tech on the Lubbock, Texas, TI-99/4A production line?

 

A: “My degree was a 2 year tech degree from a school named RETS which eventually changed its name to NIT. A Detroit area tech school. In December of 1982 TI sent Lubbock recruiters to our school as did IBM, Poughkeepsie.

 

  I first passed the technical IBM interview, and was told to expect phase two of the interview with IBM in January, 1983. IBM accepted 25% of the phase two applicants.

 

  The TI recruiter asked me during his interview, “How quickly can you get to Lubbock, Texas?” I don't remember being asked any technical questions in my TI interview. My IBM interview was all technical. I went with TI because they were first to offer actual sure thing employment.”

 

Note: TI-99/4A production was apparently at full speed so by this time they were scouring the country searching for a significant number of techs to deal with production irregularities.

 

Q: How quickly did you get to Lubbock?

 

A: “Two weeks! They paid to haul my P.O.S. car down there. I told them it’d be cheaper to just give me the money it cost to move the car but they insisted on moving my car. I was twenty so who was I to disagree?”

 

Q: Can you describe the TI-99/4A line?

 

A: “The TI plant in Lubbock was a facility that had a long straight hallway called a spine with huge rooms called modules which were areas they could manufacture in, each one larger than a gym.  They each had a letter A, B, C ...

 

  Module A was where the 99/8 was.  Originally it was where the field returns were repaired, they moved that to another building in Lubbock.

 

  Module B...can’t remember.

 

  Module C was the auto insert area where they put in the caps, resistors, and inductors.

 

  Modules D & E were 99/4A lines.  I worked in Module E.

 

Q: What did you do on the TI-99/4 line?

 

A: “I worked in 2 different spots on the manufacturing line, power-up and final test.  Power up was the initial powering of the board

after hand stuff, flow, soldier and inspect.

 

  All the devices except the DRAM and caps, resistors, and inductors were stuffed by hand. After hand stuff it went through a flow solder machine and then a washer which removed flux.

 

  The near-finished boards then went down a belt where people had a certain section to inspect for backward devices and solder shorts and it was fixed there.”

 

Q: Please list the top problems you encountered with end of line failed 99/4 units.

 

A: “The two most common failures were chip in backwards and solder shorts. Inspect was supposed to catch them and often didn't. I “fixed” up to 100 units in one eight-hour shift. Once inspect was complete,  a person powered it up, if the logo screen did not come up, it went to 2 techs, I was one of them.”

 

Q: So what other things contributed to a failure to boot?

 

A: “Backwards parts, solder shorts, a pin bent under or unsoldered, followed by a short, then bad just a bad component. One tidbit: The TMS9900 processor had a TI fab(s) and an AMI fab.  The AMI didn't have a big TI logo on it. The quality of the AMI was poor.”

 

Q: Where was the 9900 fab?

 

A: “I don't know where TI fab'd the TMS9900.

 

Q: What can you tell me about your working schedule?

 

A: “First shift worked 8 hrs with a 30 minute lunch.  7AM to 3:30PM.  They stop the belts and gave a 6 minute gap for shift change.  I worked 3:36PM to 12:06PM.  3rd shift started at 12:12PM.  They did not take a lunch and  worked <40 hrs.”

 

Q: Did you work on QI beige TI-99/4As?

 

A: “Yes. The beige model was just a cost reduction, no silver bezel. Unfortunately that was the only cost reduction.”

 

Q: Was there a training program to prepare you for dealing with production irregularities?

 

A: “They had you shadow experienced guys, some were nice and helpful, a couple were dicks that belittled you like you were stupid. It was basically, “Here...see if you can fix this.”

 

Q: How did this job help you in your career?

 

A: “I  know being a tech made me a better engineer.”

 

Note: Brett studied at UT-Arlington while working for TI. He eventually earned a degree from UTA (also my alma mater) in Electrical Engineering. He’s had a very long and prosperous career doing things I can’t even pretend to understand: memory chip design, storage solutions, etc. He’s an active tech geek to this day.

 

Q: What was one of your most memorable experiences in Lubbock?

 

A: “It was an overall cool experience as I was able to see manufacturing that isn't done here [in the USA] anymore.”

 

Q: Did you take any photos of the Lubbock production facility? Where did they bury the rest of the 99/8s?

 

A: “I don't have any photos of either.  I only saw the 99/8 line once, no clue where they ended up.”

 

 

...Brett will be back in November so let me know if y’all have any questions for him.

 

Q: What did TI have you work on once the 99/4 line began to wind down?

 

A: “Near the end they had me repairing the power supply boards which was not enjoyable at all. I was lucky because they retained me and transferred me to Sherman, north of Dallas, after the 99/4 ended.”

 

Note: Brett has always been one of the hardest working guys around so there’s no doubt his retention at TI had little to do with luck.

 

Q: Did you do any TI-99/4A work after being transferred to Sherman?

 

A: “Yes! I installed many internal 32K mods for my friends. I put them in behind the GROM port.”

That's interesting he ended up in Sherman.  :)  That's where my dad worked!

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Posted (edited)

Brett's experience mirrors mine in many ways.

 

I was in the middle of a three-month cross-country motorcycle trip that summer, having just gotten out of the Navy.  I was planning to return to Seattle at the end of the summer to start college.  My best friend lived in Lubbock and asked me to be the Best Man at his wedding, so I worked it into my trip.  While riding around Loop 289 with a girl he set me up with, I saw the plant and asked her what it was, "TI!" she yelled over the wind hitting our helmets.  On a whim, I rode over the next day and filled out an employment application.

 

To my utter surprise, I received a phone call the next morning urgently asking me to come in for an interview.  I said I was on a motorcycle trip and didn't have any nice clothes, and was told not to worry about it.  When I arrived, I met with an engineer sporting a cowboy hat and giant belt buckle.  He smiled and said, "I read your resume and saw you were on submarines.  Me too! You're hired!!"  I replied, "Don't you think we should go inside and show me around first?"  What I didn't know then was TI had a very difficult time attracting anyone to Lubbock.  In the TI universe, it was considered Siberia.

 

I ended up accepting the job and spent nine of the longest months of my life in Lubbock.  I've never lived anywhere that the locals seemed to hate so much.  One of the best-selling t-shirts had a picture of a automobile's rearview mirror with Lubbock's downtown skyline on it with the caption, "Happiness is Lubbock in Your Rearview mirror" a line from a Mac Davis song.  Another popular poster was a hippie peeing on the base of the Lubbock city limits sign.  It was by far the most boring place I've ever lived.  (I spent the previous two years in the SF Bay area.)  

 

Working the entire time I lived there on the graveyard shift, the operation was total chaos.  I had at least six supervisors in nine months.  I spent my first three months at the North Site (shown above) three months at a renovated Levi Strauss building where a single assembly line was set up to keep up with demand, three nights at the Warranty Repair building, and the last three months back at the North Site working in incoming QC, which was a lot nicer than being a repair tech on the assembly lines, watching power-crazy supervisors screaming at the women (with lots of subsequent tears) for minor offenses like leaving staples in travelers (the paper sheets that traveled with the computers to document their progress during assembly, test and repair.)  

 

There was no formal training, we were assigned to sit with someone for a few days and that was it.  On my first night, I asked where the schematics were.  Not one tech knew - that was my first indication of how inefficient the manufacturing operation was.  I ended up getting a set of drawings, taught myself how it worked and my repair numbers immediately jumped.  We were supposed to fix 18 boards a night.  --Most techs were doing four or five.  A couple of weeks went by and we added forty techs one night - TI hired the entire graduating class from a technical trade school in Kentucky.  We heard a rumor that someone on 1st shift had fixed 100 boards.  That became my goal. The graveyard shift was thirty minutes shorter than the other two shifts I think.  Before long, I was doing a hundred boards a shift, and the techs all started competing, which was kind of fun.  The supervisor-of-the-week asked me to join him in opening a new assembly line across town as his Lead Tech, and offered me a ten cent raise.  I took the offer immediately.

 

Soon after, I convinced him let me use a conference room for two nights to teach the new techs how the machine worked, which made a big difference. After one session, a tech asked me, "How long have you been here?"  When I told him, "Four months" his jaw hit the floor; he thought I had been there for years.  I assured him he would be just as knowledgeable after repairing a few thousand of them.

 

For reference, the standard wage for a tech at TI in 1982 was $8.09 an hour.  We got extra pay for working "graves", which lofted it up to $8.33 and hour.  Standard line workers made around $4.50 an hour, so we were considered "well-paid".

 

There were multiple areas that boards dropped out of: Power-up Testing (PUT) --where the boards are connected to a power source and if they didn't power up with the TI Logo screen, they "Fell out" and we could walk over and pick up a plastic tub with about twenty boards in it to take back to our benches.  Power-up testing was considered easy pickings because the majority of the problems were manufacturing-related and usually troubleshot with keen eyes, like chips inserted backwards, unclipped component leads, shorted leads, solder shorts from the wave soldering machine or a little harder to find: chips with a pin bent under the body not making contact with the pad.

 

After PUT, bare boards made their way to a diagnostic tester where every port was connected and tested.  Failures from there were a little harder to work on, but were a combination of manufacturing defects that didn't cause the board to lock up (joysticks, cassette circuits, I/O buffers, etc) or thermal problems that occurred soon after power-up.

 

Then there were the harder problems that I liked most of all: Burn-in Test rejects.  There were tens of thousands if computers on shelves in the Burn-In area.  Each computer was loaded up with a diagnostic command module that looped endlessly for 48 or 72 hours, and were checked via a rotary switch from the video output connected to a monitor.  These failures were 99% real-world hardware faults, so they were challenging to work on, but took longer because you had to disassemble/reassemble the cases.  We used pneumatic screwdrivers hanging above our benches to speed the process up.

 

I made some good friends there.  The techs partied hard, and all were from somewhere else, struggling to accept life with the grim reality of Lubbock, which was isolated, hot, dry, flat, and exceedingly dull.  Even the layout of the city was boring - numbers on one axis and letters for the other.  75% of the workforce were women, so I considered this a target-rich environment compared to submarine duty.  We'd leave work at seven, and eat breakfast and end up completely hammered by 9 AM!  The locals would watch us, utterly horrified - you have to remember Lubbock sits squarely in the Bible Belt.  Unless you were going to college during the day, there wasn't much to do in Lubbock except visit Prairie Dog Town, drink, and wish you were somewhere, ANYWHERE else.  Lubbock was a dry town then, so you had to drive outside the city limits to buy bottled hard liquor (beer was available in town) so all of the revenue went to the country - not the city.  Weird. . .  I remember waiting at a stop light one Sunday morning on my motorcycle when a woman pulled up next to me, rolled her window down and yelled "You should be in church!!!"  I gave her a one-finger salute and sped off when the light changed.

 

One night, (around Feb '83) we had an all-hands meeting and a sales rep displayed a linear sales chart that ascended off the right side of the slide.  He said there was no way we could keep up with demand.  What he didn't elaborate on was the fact that every two or three months, we dropped the price by $50 to compete with the Vic-20 (rather than the C-64 which was a closer match technically).  Anyway, it didn't matter how many we sold if it was at a loss. He actually said, "We may lose money on the console, but we'll make it up in volume!"  I mean, on what planet does that math add up?  TI kept the GROM technology proprietary with the idea that they could make their profits selling the software which cost very little. Cartridges were going for an average of $40.  If they had made the technology open source, more (and better) software might have been written, keeping the machine alive longer. 

 

We were paid so little that I couldn't afford a computer at that time.  I watched the price drop from around $350 when I started in Aug '82 to about $150 when I left in May of '83.  At one point we were handed employee satisfaction forms to fill out anonymously and I spent two hours detailing how inept the 99/4A operation was.  I ended with, "I'm so disgusted, I'll be taking the first job I'm offered to leave this company."

 

Just a few examples that come to mind:

 

1) The 3' x 3' camel-hair carpeting squares in the manufacturing modules were static generators.  These had to be removed, which totally disrupted operations.  ESD compliance was a huge issue.  They gave us 1'x1' squares of aluminum foil to hand-carry boards around! 

2) J. Fred. Bucy was the CEO and a Texas Tech (the local college) alumni.  He came out to inspect the plant and the graveyard shift shut down one night to straighten the place up.  The next night we were chastised for low production numbers!

3) I had one really good supervisor - he was a pilot who had just left the Air Force.  He might have lasted a month before he quit in disgust.

4) I remember getting yelled at by a clueless supervisor for wearing my ESD strap around my ankle to keep my hands free of the spiraled cord that got in the way.  Apparently he didn't know that my ankle was connected to the rest of my body at the same electrical potential. . . 

5) We were constantly exhorted to crank up production (and repairs) ahead of the Christmas holiday season.  In the beginning of December, a group of Texas Tech (remember J. Fred?) Electrical Engineering students (cheap labor) were brought in to "help" the techs with repairs to increase out numbers.  There were two assigned to sit on either side of us.  We spent more time explaining and less time fixing boards and as a result, our repair numbers dropped to record lows.  We were yelled at for that too . . .    

 

Finally, on a Day of Days in early May of '83, Fate smiled and my phone rang.  An HR person from the government asked me if I wanted a job repairing submarine weapons systems at the Trident Submarine Base in Bangor WA.  (I had put in my paperwork before I left for my motorcycle trip a year before.)  I accepted before she finished her sentence!  Not only would I be leaving Lubbock, but I would be making more money doing something much less mundane.  For comparison purposes, the starting wage for a WG-11 Electronic Mechanic then was 10.56 and hour, so it was quite a bump from TI - plus, no graveyard shift!!! 

 

That night, I floated into work and asked my supervisor in Incoming QC how to give my two-week's notice.  I'll never forget the puzzled look she gave me.  "Why would you want to not work here?  I've been in this job twenty years and no one has ever quit.  I'll have to call HR tomorrow and find out what the process is."  I told every one of my tech buddies slaving away in the production areas to start looking for a job, because there was no way TI could continue to sustain the kinds of losses we were having.  Some nodded, other laughed at me.  (All were laid off six months later.) 

 

Two weeks later, I watered the city limits sign with an ear-to-ear smile on my way out of town.  The view of Lubbock receding in my rearview mirror only made that smile bigger. 

 

The positive thing I took away from that nightmare experience was I learned more electronics in six months than I did in six years in the Navy.  My employment with the government for the following 15 years was extremely enjoyable and rewarding.

 

CC 

Edited by CC Clarke
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Oh man, that is quite the tale. That is around the time my dad got an offer in Lubbock to work as an electronics engineer with TI. He hauled the whole family down for a week to look at houses and visit the town. I remember it as an arid wasteland, and Prairie Dog Town. After we flew back up to Buffalo my parents never mentioned Lubbock again, and a couple months later we moved to Canada.

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Posted (edited)

Your father was a wise man!

 

I on the other hand, had to gain wisdom the old fashioned way - through my mistakes.  That period in Lubbock was the bleakest in my life.  There was nothing to look forward to career-wise there or with TI in general.   There were a lot of really depressed people who relocated only to quickly regret the decision.  I felt very bad for those I left behind when the axe fell in October of '83.

 

The picture above of the part of the building with Fab Texas Entrance is located at the end of the North Site.  You entered those doors to go right -to the employment office, or left - to the manufacturing areas.  We placed our picture badges in a lit-up alcove with a camera facing down and a guard buzzed you in.  The Spine, (the long hallway which connected all of the modules and looked like it went to infinity) was dark and spooky after module C on our shift.  (If you read my previous post about getting "David from Brazil" fired, that was the quiet area I directed him to "await his prize."  At the far end were the executive offices and they traveled back and forth in golf carts during the day shift.   TI had an innovative feature; they used robots to drive down the spine and deposit mail in slots for each module.  They used some form of camera vision and on occasion, some of the employees would pass by and smear peanut butter on the lenses, causing the machines to crash into things.

 

In Incoming QC where I worked for the final three months, there were three of us upstairs in a cypher-locked room.  One gal would control the robotic fork lifts that ran up and down the racks of products from outside vendors (components, keyboards, power supplies, etc.) and a pallet would be delivered for me to test a %.  If they passed, the entire lot would be sent to whatever module needed them.  While I was being trained by one of the swing shift techs shortly after arriving, the procedure we performed specified that the power supplies (black transformer blocks that connected to the console) had to be drop-tested from a height of 36 inches on all six sides with no visible damage like chips or cracks in the case. I read the procedure while he watched and proceeded to drop a transformer onto a piece a concrete flooring set aside as the designated testing area.  After dropping it and picking it up a few times, he shook his head and said, "No, no, no.  You're doing it all wrong.  You've got 100 of these to test and you'll never finish this shift if you keep doing it like that."  I looked at him blankly, re-read the procedure again and asked, "What am I missing here?"  He walked over to the opened case of power supplies, grabbed ten by their cords and swung them over his head and then against the concrete six times. Wham! Wham! Wham!  Pieces flew in all directions.  "Looks like a failure to me" he stated with a straight face.  "Pack them up and reject the entire lot."  The lot consisted of ten thousand power supplies. . .

 

This is just a taste of the utter stupidity I witnessed on a daily basis while employed there.

 

Out in town, it wasn't much different. . . When I had finally witnessed enough of them to begin counting (I think I got to 78 before I left) I either saw the car crashes happen or came upon the still-smoking aftermath - usually at intersections.  Standard rules of the road were either ignored or completely beyond the comprehension of the local drivers.  I've never seen such carnage.  The drivers here in CT are worse, they just know it and drive much more defensively.   Sorry Florida, you folks come close but are #2 on my list of worst states to risk your life while behind the wheel.

Edited by CC Clarke
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I lived in Clovis, right at the border, for a while.  Lubbock and Amarillo were escapes.  I suppose I would not have such fond memories of them had I lived there.  Clovis, for instance, is a soul-sucking hole in the universe.  Seriously, the last time I visited, within about eight hours of my arrival I had this sudden overwhelming feeling of gloom and depression.  I had to leave and stay elsewhere.

 

2 hours ago, CC Clarke said:

Sorry Florida, you folks come close but are #2 on my list of worst states to risk your life while behind the wheel.

This is true for any place in Florida which has imported drivers.  I do not necessarily mean immigrant imports, just people from other parts of the country where they drive differently.  Miami, for instance, or my current living arrangement where we have a bunch of college students.  Most any place else where the drivers are mostly locals, driving is at least uniform enough that you can survive.

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What follows is a sort of love letter to Lubbock, TX.


I can't identify with or refute your experience with Lubbock, though it was probably very different for the engineers at TI, which included my father. But I would like to say that Lubbock was a great place to be a kid in the 80s.


The straight grid of streets made it easy to attempt long distance trips on a bike. The streets were not grids in the neighborhoods. 


The public schools I went to were excellent (However, I was in honors programs from 3rd grade). Every teacher made an impression that I think about often. One thing stands out above the rigorous math and science: I don't think you could get a finer civics education than we had at my junior high. On one school trip, we went to New Mexico to see the Space Shuttle.


Community theatre, music, and the arts were thriving at the downtown expo center. My family went to several shows per year, standard repertoire that I still rely on knowing. There were recitals at Texas Tech on the big pipe organ, and we heard carillon concerts on the lawn. 


I remember a lecture by Grace Hopper at Tech, where she spoke and answered questions about the early history of computing for four hours. Stephen Jay Gould came to Lubbock for the fossils, and later praised its people for "keeping Lubbock an intellectual center in a region with nothing for six hours in every direction."


It was the boom years for video games. Finding the latest ones was a quest to be made on foot and bike. Tech had the biggest arcade around in The Well. Families might have one Atari or one type of computer. You got to experience them all. Also, dumpster diving at TI was a hoot. Everything about TI brought the thrill of arcane knowledge. In the bust years, searching for $1 video games was also a quest. 


Radio Shack had real kits, and you could attend several computer club meetings each month.


We had FM99 and Tech's student KUTX. Every time a rock band came through, you knew it from the T-shirts kids wore the next day: Adam Ant, Duran Duran, Quiet Riot, Def Leppard, Motley Crue. Locally, we had Krokus and the Maines Brothers (most appreciated because they had Star Wars on laserdisc. Also they played music.)


Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, E.T. and Lord of the Rings provided the common myths. It didn't hurt that Lubbock looks exactly like Tatooine! D&D was growing fast, though the churches railed against it. 


Yes, churches were everywhere. Then again, Jim Dramis was my Sunday School teacher for a while: the game programmer, of Munch Man and Parsec fame. I kept my guilty secret of pirated games to myself. In addition to alcohol, toys were not sold on Sunday. Blue laws. Our preacher was a theatre major, who randomly appeared in character for sermons (I learned all the prophets, major and minor, this way.) Our family studied Greek through the church. Almost a rarity these days, I went from translating the Bible, onward to Homer (actually, more Dionysius of Halicarnassus), opening up a world of classical knowledge.


Scouting was huge. I participated most years. We camped a lot. Sure, that involved trips to New Mexico, not just the plains area. 


I spent my summers in a place most consider infinitely more boring: Wayside TX, outside Canyon, TX, outside Amarillo--which was considered the big city. But Palo Duro Canyon is a breathtaking place. I kept going back because its beauty cast a spell on me.


I grew to love the outside there. Launching rockets in cotton fields. Exploring the playa lakes (clay mud pits for runoff), tunnels under the highways, breaking into tornado shelters, finding the best alleys to ride through (every house had an alley), dumpster diving, running around with all the other kids in the excellent weather (hot summer and occasionally a good snowfall). Helping my brother's team make rafts for the Clearwater Canyon river race. (Still have the belt buckle.)


Lubbock was surrounded by old things: quaint museums of history, the amazing Ranching Heritage Center (think pioneer village). The big Texas Tech museum. And in those places, you not only went to fairs and festivals, but took art classes in the summer, and astronomy at the Spitz Planetarium. 


I was at Lubbock's Garden Arts Center frequently. It was the hub for music recitals, weddings, computer fairs, formal dinners, etc (I had no interest in gardening then, other than to explore the labyrinths.) 


We had bulletin boards and modems. Lubbock produced Cult of the Dead Cow, the famous hacking group, out of my junior high (I went to them for warez. They consider me a member somehow.)


Lubbock was where I had my first unforgettable crush. The friends I made in grade school, and kept through college, were the truest friends I've ever had. 

 
And, oh yeah, I only saw Prairie Dog Town during the first month in Lubbock. Then I forgot about it.


My family gave up Cupertino, CA for Lubbock, TX, after TI's incentives. Would I have had a better life growing up back there? Who can say?

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4 hours ago, OLD CS1 said:

I lived in Clovis, right at the border, for a while.  Lubbock and Amarillo were escapes.  I suppose I would not have such fond memories of them had I lived there.  Clovis, for instance, is a soul-sucking hole in the universe.  Seriously, the last time I visited, within about eight hours of my arrival I had this sudden overwhelming feeling of gloom and depression.  I had to leave and stay elsewhere.

 

I spent a couple of years trapped in Clovis back in the late seventies. That is a place I wouldn't wish on my worst enemies. I went from there to West Berlin--it was a really good change. While in Clovis, I would go out to Phoenix on three day weekends to play D&D with friends there. Visits to go camping in the Chiricahua mountains on the Arizona/new Mexico border were fun, as were the occasional road trips to Albuquerque. Amarillo and Lubbock were good to visit for concerts, but not too much more.

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Posted (edited)

I have never been to the USA but I have documentation on the city of Lubbock, including a city newspaper related to ti99

 

20200516_180722.thumb.jpg.ea0be8fffda4ed372f7c745205ff2ec4.jpg   20200516_180752.thumb.jpg.158aad608675324ec2b920d7910514bd.jpg  20200516_181004.thumb.jpg.d702426ae3c2e1e30e1d90f2da44d7ea.jpg

 

 

 

Edited by humeur
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