Here is a bio, or “vita,” as it’s sometimes called. But if it’s all right to call it a vita, should “bio” be called “bia?”
Bob Schwabach — compressed.
Born and bred in Chicago, Illinois, a city of bad public schools and great museums and libraries, which is where education is actually to be gained.
–Undergraduate studies, University of Chicago; graduate studies at State U. of New York in Cooperstown and the U. of Delaware. The graduate studies were in the history of science and technology and were arranged by the Smithsonian, which wanted me to be a curator at the Museum of History and Technology. So the studies centered on art and technology, which are closely related.
Around the third year of this it got so boring that I decided to enter the real world — whatever that is, and went down to the nearest newspaper, the Wilmington, Del., News-Journal, and told the city editor I wanted to be a reporter. On a whim, he didn’t throw me out.
I spent three years there, won some prizes, hosted a radio talk show, and then moved on to a dozen more years with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Chicago Tribune. I was a feature writer in Philadelphia and a food and restaurant writer in Chicago. I know the food stuff sounds strange, but my first day at the Tribune the managing editor came over to me and said he needed a food writer and did I know anything about food. I said: “Well, I eat,” and he said: “That’s good enough for me.” The rest is history and remains with me to this day around my waist. This is the way newspapers really work.
One day back in Philadelphia I tried to figure out whether to get a Commodore, an Atari or an Apple for a Christmas present, and it was so confusing that I wrote an article about it. This became known as Bob’s confused computer article and it went all over the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain and news service, which was desperate for more confusion. That was 15 years ago and I’m still trying to figure it out.
— We’ve skipped over some stuff. For two and a half years I was the “director of technical communications” for Argonne National Laboratory, a huge place built outside of Chicago on the estate of a skinless hot dog king. This was the country’s first national lab and is still one of our largest. It’s where the atom bomb was developed. Though halfway through the project it was moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico, after one of the scientists remarked: “You know, if we have an accident, we’re right outside Chicago.” What I did was answer questions like “Whaddaya got?” And I would say: “We got bio-degradable plastics, synthetic chlorophyll, super conductors, maglev trains, nuclear reactors that never need to be cleaned or refueled; we got diamond coatings, silent submarine engines and x-ray movies of chemical reactions. Whaddaya want?” When I was younger I excavated a Carthaginian city in Morocco, rode a camel caravan across the Sahara to Timbuktu and dove for sunken Roman warships in the harbor of Tangiers. I designed telephone switching systems for AT&T, studied architecture with Mies Van Der Rohe and worked in a metallurgy lab on titanium alloys. More recently, I’ve written two books on using the computer to analyze the stock market: “The Dow Jones Guide to Investment Software” and the “Business Week Guide to Global Investing.” But I digress …
For Bob's non-tech columns, click here.
For info on Bob’s search for the lost Atlantis, visit oncomp.com/atlantis/