Brief Bio

I'm a software engineer living in Oakland, California.

On the last day of 1962, I was born in Ypsilanti, Michigan. About two years later my family moved to Centerville, Ohio, where we lived until I was ten years old. We then moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan. I think of Grand Rapids as my hometown.

I attended Creston High School, and then went on to the University of Michigan for one year. In 1983, I drove my Chevy Vega across the country and landed in the San Francisco Bay Area. I've lived here ever since, apart from an experimental year living on the island of Maui.


The microcomputer revolution was just coming up to speed when I was in junior high. I attended an extracurricular science program that included an introduction to computers. I don't remember what kind of machine it was, but in retrospect, it was probably an S-100 bus CP/M machine. I had a great time writing a few very rudimentary programs in BASIC.

At U of M my favorite course was an introduction to programming in Algol, a forerunner of Pascal. The department had just started to install CRT terminals for the mainframe system, but undergraduates like me had to wait in line to use a punch card machine. (You could stand in the express line if you only had a few cards to change.) I can't imagine doing that now, but at the time, I thought it was great fun!

After leaving college, I bought a Sinclair ZX81 computer with a 16K memory upgrade for $150. The computer had a built-in BASIC interpreter, but I learned more from the book Mastering Machine Code on Your ZX 81 by Toni Baker. That book gave me my first real understanding of how a computer works.

Once established in California, I got a job working as a clerk, and later manager, at a video rental store. (Yes, I've seen Kevin Smith's movie Clerks; and yes, the place was exactly like that.) I spent all my spare time fiddling with store's new computer, a Zeus machine running CP/M. I wrote a few programs in Intel 8080 Assembly language, and knew that's what I wanted to do.

My first job in the computer industry was as a technical support specialist at NewStar, a small company whose flagship product NewWord was an improvement on the industry-standard word processor WordStar. Shortly after I started working there, in 1986, WordStar's publisher MicroPro acquired Newstar. I've been working in the software industry ever since (but I still configure my program editors to work like Wordstar).

Animated Engines

In 2000, when the Internet was first exploding, I quickly registered the domain name, simply to reserve it.

I wasn't sure what to do with the site, so for lack of any other ideas, I created some fun illustrations which explained the inner workings of various engines. (I've long been fascinated with the history of technology, especially the early industrial revolution.) These illustrations became much more popular than I had ever imagined, and have now been moved to their own website:


I have a long and ever-shifting list of hobbies, but I frequently return to collecting vintage technical books, model airplane building and flying, and occasionally model machining. I hold a private pilot's license, but I don't get the chance to fly often enough. I'm also an avid pool player.

—Matt Keveney