John Edward Birdwell
Talented TI Software Author
John Edward Birdwell was a talented programmer who contributed a great deal to the TI community before his untimely death on December 28th 1990. John was ahead of his time. His programs like DSKU took away barriers for less experienced users, and surely those unfinished programs of his that we missed through his passing away, would have certainly brought the TI and Geneve hobby to a higher level. Had he lived a while longer, his extremely valuable addition to the Myarc line-up of software would have enhanced the storage capabilities of the original MFM hard drive group.
- Disk Utilities: Beginning 1985 John Birdwell started programming his own disk manager. In September 1987 John Birdwell released Disk Utilities v 3.2.1, which included a version of the program designed especially for use on the Super Cart. The final version of Disk Utilities, v 4.2 was available in August 1988. Disk Utilities was perhaps his best known program: a disk manager and sector editor that has been in constant use by the community since its release. While by no means the only tool of its type, it is generally acknowledged as one of the very best.
- Myarc Disk Manager 5: In 1988 the Myarc HFDC (Hard and Floppy Disk Controller) was introduced, together with MDM5 as written by John Birdwell. The software provided disk management functionality for both floppy and hard disk devices when used with a TI or Geneve computer. Version 1.30 of the Myarc Disk Manager was released in January 1991, reportedly recovered from the hard drive of John Birdwell;
- Myarc tape streamer software: In September 1989: Myarc's Lou Phillips reported that John Birdwell has begun work on the tape streamer backup software for use with the HFDC card. This software was never finished before John died;
- Disk One: In October 1990 JP Software announced the "early 1991" release of Disk One, a complete rewrite by John Birdwell of his Disk Utilities program. In addition to supporting all of DSKU's powerful floppy disk sector editing, file editing, and management features, Disk One would also provide complete support for the Myarc HFDC hard disk on the TI-99/4A and Geneve in both 40 and 80 column mode. This software was also never finished before John died;
- 80 column Sector Editor: John Birdwell wrote an 80 column sector editor that worked with the HFDC on both the TI and Geneve. Source code for DSKU, Disk One, the 80-column sector editor, and some other items were found on the hard drive of John and are all now available in the TI community;
- MDOS: John Birdwell was involved in the programming of MDOS for the Geneve. He was a member of the team that included Paul Charlton, J. Peter Hoddie, Lou Phillips, Chris Faherty and Mike Riccio. John Birdwell worked on the MDOS boot loader, LOAD/SYS.
John was a valued member of the Chicago TI User Group, and contributed to the early success of what came to be the largest TI User Group in the world. His seminars educated many users at the meetings and the Chicago Faires. In July 1988, John began an assembly language programming series for MICROpendium. He decided to teach the language through a series of articles which, when published and assembled by the reader, resulted in a working word processor program. The series ended in January 1989.
A more accurate indication of the importance of John’s career may be seen by the fact that the Chicago TI User Group annually presents the individual deemed to have done outstanding service to the entire TI community an award named for John Birdwell. This award has come to symbolize one of the highest forms of recognition in the TI community. Barry A. Traver received the first John Birdwell Memorial Award at the November 1991 Chicago World Faire.
John Edward Birdwell was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, on January 17, 1949. Later his parents moved to Chicago, Illinois where John graduated from Fenger High School, John attended the College of DuPage in Wheaton, Illinois, where he later made his home. John served in the United States Air Force and was trained there to use computers. He was stationed at Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. In May of 1971 he married his wife Kathy, in Chicago and they had two daughters, Kelly and Kristin.
Inducted to the TI99ers Hall of Fame on September 19, 2007