At Orange View Junior High School in April 1969, John Wsol, an 8th grader, was awarded 1st place for his Science Fair Project, a Binary Digital Computer, built from old pinball machine parts.   (Calculation 3059 – 766 = 2293 or 100011110101 in binary)

John was asked to exhibit his project at the California Science Fair.  As one of the 10 Finalists, he was interviewed by the panel of judges.  One of the judges, who worked for Computer Sciences Corporation, realized that John had invented a new subtract algorithm and designed and built the circuitry to accomplished subtraction as a 1-step operation (published material at the time spoke of “complimenting” the number to be subtracted and then adding it to the other.) 

Here, at the Awards Banquet for the California State Science Fair, held at UCLA’s Exposition Park in July 1969  John is called up to receive First Place (Junior Division Physical Sciences) for his Binary Digital Computer Project.  (Later he was invited to Computer Science Corporation for a 1 day tour of their facilities.  He saw: RCA Spectra 70, GE 420’s, HUGE Drum Memories (3x5x7 feet), IBM Selectric Computer terminals, and other “State-of-the-Art” computer equipment.

Later that year, the Judge and the Dean of Computer Science at University of California of Irvine, helped to arrange for John to receive a Grant from the National Science Foundation, to fund computer time on UCI’s Xerox Sigma-7.    John was working on an idea for programming language with an extensible vocabulary of not just operators, but also abstract data-types.  This was even before Swiss Professor Nicholas Wirth had announced the Pascal language and about 2 years before Ken Thompson & Kevin Parrish of Bell Labs started creating the UNIX operating system and later the c programming language.

May 1972, Digital Equipment Corporation loaned him a PDP-8e, but for only 2 weeks. During this time, despite distractions from his sister and pet Chinchilla, he taught himself how to program it from scratch, directly in its binary language.  He programmed it to do input/output from the attached Teletype, convert octal/decimal input into binary, key-in instruction sequences, list out and edit program logic, and, for fun, punch characters typed at the keyboard into their “shapes” in the punched paper tape.