My first job used a VT100. I was given a brochure describing the VI editor and began writing specs using VI. A few years later we upgraded our VT100s to X-Terminals for graphics capability and began using Framemaker. My network name I chose for my X-Terminal was viking. But did it stand for the norsemen, or for VI-king? :)
Bullying and elitism like this is one of the reasons why people with more diverse backgrounds don't go into STEM. What is even the point of the article in the first place, besides reminiscing about putting people down?
Hi, WPI CS major here. I'm quite happy to be reminded of good college times by the use of the word gweep, with my only negative experiences tied to "being a gweep" including extensive bullying from fraternity types. It all made me quite proud to be a GDI as the frat boys like to call us non-frat people, and even prouder to be a "wedgerat", as the bullies (people like the author) liked to call people who congregated in the common area between dorms that was one of the only common spaces before a campus center was built.
Here's hoping that technical industries will eventually progress beyond childish name calling and move forward into more inclusive and less elitist pastimes.
Ah, The World. Better known to early Internet denizens as world.std.com - the first commercial ISP, run by Software Tool & Die. I too was an early user, with an account within their first couple of years of operation. I had a world.std.com address for quite a while.
I'm also a latter-day WPI Gweep and GweepCo member (hi Solipsistnation). I did the five year plan 89-94, since I couldn't make up my mind. I was an Aerospace major, then jumped to the Technical Writing program when that was first created. And I ended up accidentally tacking on a double major in History of all things (Yeah, from WPI - who knew they had a History program? I didn't until I fulfilled it with electives). I also did half of the CS program (my TW degree's 'tech' aspect was CS). With that mishmash my career has included network engineer, security, software development, web development, beta management, IT Director, and various and sundry other areas.
It was actually the unconventional curriculum that attracted me to WPI in the first place. And in my 20 years since I left I've found that engineers from other schools tended to be more narrow than those from WPI, because of WPIs humanities and project requirements. The old "WPI Plan", with the single exam, was dead by the time I arrived. Replaced by the new "WPI Plan" with somewhat more conventional grading (though you still couldn't 'fail' a class - it was A,B,C,I (Incomplete) or NR (Not Recorded)) and projects.
WPI still has the Humanities Sufficiency, the Interim Qualifying Project (IQP - Junior year) and Major Qualifying Project (MQP - Senior year), and I believe the focus on project work and the requirement to take classes outside of your major track makes a real difference. Having exposure to areas outside of the narrow focus of a tech major has defnitely been beneficial in my career. You can have all the good ideas in the world, but it doesn't do much for you if you can communicate them to non-technical people as well (read: management).
I arrived at WPI at a time of transition. The old WACCC in the basement of the library was still in use, though generally just called the CCC (Campus Computing Center). 'Worcester Area' no longer applying as other schools had their own computing centers by then. During my time there the new CS building (Fuller Labs) was constructed and we moved into the gleaming new CCC.
VT100s were still around, though replaced by VT220s. Then a growing number of DECStations and PCs. They finally wired the dorms after I left and I think all the public terminals were removed shortly afterwards. Who wants to trek down to a public space to use a VT220 when you have a PC in your room?
As for the gender mix, WPI was 7:1 when I entered. I hear they're up to 3:1 now. WPI has changed a lot - they *finally* got a campus center a few years ago. The huge new athletic complex opened last year. They have an entire new campus complex down the street at the new Gateway Park, including a brand new dorm. I still live in the area, and there have been quite a lot of changes in the past few years.
I graduated 10 years before you arrived. Visted the campus last year to see the robotics program. Impressive. I was amazed at how many women were there. It was about 10% in my time.
When I first started suing the internet, it was with a dialup connection and a Unix prompt on The World http://theworld.com/. I remember using that IM and usenet. The World is still in business, but I have no idea how they survived.
I have a friend who subscribes (and who also went to WPI), and she pointed me at it. I mostly think it's funny that anyone who isn't us still uses the term at all. I started at WPI in 1990 (making me a total newbie, I know) and by then use of "gweep" had changed from the Jargon File definition to "GweepCo," a loosely-organized group of friends who thought it was a funny thing to call themselves, and who weren't all CS majors. That was the high point of using WPI's computer system to stay in touch socially-- we had a precursor to today's instant messaging systems that ran on the unix systems at WPI, and we were heavy users of mailing lists and usenet and IRC for social purposes. "Gweep" stopped meaning "programming nerd who should get out more" and started meaning "Person whose social life is pretty much organized using the unix systems."
For the record, I do agree with the point of the article-- I've known some very narrowly-focused coders who certainly could have gotten out and done more interesting stuff.
And WPI did admit women. I'm married to one of them. 8)
We retook the term "gweep" from people who used it as an insult over 20 years ago. These days gweep.net includes musicians, theatre techs, embedded programmers and hardware designers, graphics designers, sysadmins, and surprisingly few straight-up programmers doing narrowly-focused coding.
Martin, I was wondering if you remembered WHY they were called GWEEPs? While I attended the same school (WPI) I started out a CS major then quickly changed to EE as I wanted to build not program computers. The noise that those terminals made sounded like "gweep", sort of a high pitched spikey sound and that is where the term arose from.. Just thought I would mention it...
Now I program much more than I will ever get to build computers as they have become fully integrated onto chips. Back in my earlier jobs I designed an array processor with TTL LSI and MSI components!! 15 by 15 inch boards and lots of them!
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