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Timothy Warner: From Atari User to IT Pro

Hey everyone. Rachel, my training manager at CBT Nuggets, asked me to put together a post explaining a bit of how I came into the information technology (IT) field, and I thought that this was a superb idea. After all, I’m my own favorite subject! (Just kidding…I think.)

Truly, I’ve been a computer nerd almost as far back as I can remember. The first video game system I remember playing was the old Atari Stunt Cycle game, which our family played on a little black and white television.

In terms of console videogaming, I’ve owned most of the major players back then and into ensuing years:

Those were the days…

Atari 2600

Sega Master System

Super Nintendo System

Sega Dreamcast

Sony Playstation 1

Sony Playstation 2


Xbox 360

Nintendo Wii

Timex Sinclair T-1000

I was 11 years old when I received my first two personal computers: the tiny little Timex Sinclair T-1000, and the still-venerable Commodore 64. Did you know that the C64 is still available, now with updated hardware?!

In junior high school I got into more advanced BASIC programming on the clunky but still cool-looking Radio Shack TRS-80 Model III.

Radio Shack TRS-80 Model III

This computer had no hard drive (neither did the Timex Sinclair or the C64, forthat matter); thus, you had to boot the computer from an OS diskette mounted in drive A, and you loaded BASIC and saved your work on a second diskette mounted in drive B. Good times!

My proudest achievement as a BASIC programmer was when I created a full-scale text adventure in the style of the old Infocom games. That was cool!

Our high school was one of the first Mac shops, and I learned quite a bit more about computing: word processing, basic desktop publishing, etc, on the original Macintosh computers.

The graphics on those things were amazing, and GUI navigation was a big plus for me at the time.

An early Mac. Look at those graphics!

You would think that by the time I got to college that it would be a no-brainer for me to major in computer science, but that isn’t what happened. Instead I majored in Biology at Cornell University and hoped to become a family physician.

While I studied biology, chemistry, physics, and math, I spent a great deal of time futzing around with Macs and the Internet. This was in the 90s, and Cornell was a great place to be online in the early days. I used Internet Explorer 1.0 on Windows boxes and Netscape Navigator 1.0 on Macs.

After leaving Cornell with a BS in biology and a MS in education (and oh yeah, after not getting into med school—you win some and you lose some, I suppose), I took a job as a repair technician in a local “mom and pop” PC repair place in Syracuse, NY. To be honest, I wasn’t sure where I was headed, career-wise.

One day a guy came in to drop off his PC for service and he and I got to talking. It turned out that Jim worked for ExecuTrain as a computer applications instructor. “Gee, Tim, with your background in education and your aptitude for computers, you would be a naturally great instructor. Why don’t you drop off a resume?” I did, and thus began my entry into the worlds of IT and education.

I’ve since discovered that I really have no aptitude for the hard sciences—it makes sense why I was not admitted to medical school. By contrast, I have natural interest and aptitude for computer-related stuff. My professional passion in the blending of IT and education; this is where I am most at home.

Over the past 15 years that I’ve been in the IT field, I have had a number of really diverse and fascinating job roles:

  • Technical trainer
  • Computer software developer
  • Systems administrator
  • Webmaster
  • Database administrator
  • Technology Director
  • Instructional Designer

Because my fascination with IT is so broad and deep, I’ve never really “specialized” in any single technology or technology stack. I am equally comfortable working in Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux. I enjoy programming in .NET, Java, or iOS. I enjoy SQL Server as much as I enjoy Oracle, and I enjoy MySQL just as much as the previous two RDBMS platforms.

I hope that my love of diverse technology comes across in my CBT Nuggets training courses, chiefly because I want to “fire you up” about what we are learning and help you to accomplish your professional goals. I thank each and every one of my students, because without you I would not have any focus for my professional passions. Thanks!




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