I was born in Devon, England in 1941 during the second world war. Shortly before the end of the war, my mother returned to Reading in Berkshire, about 40 miles west of London. I went to Reading School (http://www NULL.reading-school NULL.co NULL.uk/) until I was sixteen. Unfortunately I was not allowed to progress past the GCE ‘O’ level stage.
At the age of 20, I joined the Army Intelligence Corps, where I was fortunate to learn Chinese Mandarin and Indonesian. It was while I was working in Singapore that I met the lady who was to become my wife.
When she returned to Melbourne in 1966, I followed soon after and we were married in 1967. We had three sons. I guess that because I had followed Patricia to Melbourne to get married, as opposed to making a decision to emigrate to another country, I gradually developed a sort of identity crisis. In 1976, I went back to England on my own for a brief visit. While I had been studying Chinese Mandarin in 1960/1961, I befriended a family in Chichester, Sussex and became a sort of de facto son and brother to them. During my brief visit back there in 1976, they nicknamed me ‘the wombat’. They called me a few other things as well, but the less said the better!
In 1978, I took Patricia and the three boys to England on an 18 month working holiday. We stored all our furniture here in Melbourne and boarded out the cat, dog and goldfish, as well as the billiard table, piano, washing machine and refrigerator. My friendly family in Chichester took my Australian family to heart and we became ‘the wombats’ and that has stuck with us ever since. So when I started to use email and the internet, it made sense to grow into the ‘world wide wombat’ which eventually became the “Surfcoast wombat”.
Before I left Singapore, I was offered a job in Melbourne with the Defence Signals Division (DSD) – equivalent to GCHQ Cheltenham in England or NSA in America. So when I arrived in Melbourne in November 1966 to start a new life, I joined DSD but because of a confusion with pay scales, I left seeking better remuneration. I worked for a while with Avery Scales as a sales representative. Eventually once the pay scales were sorted out, I returned to DSD which is where I was introduced to computer programming in Fortran and Compass. I transferred from there to the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) which took me and my family to Canberra for three years. I returned to Melbourne and joined the Stock Exchange of Melbourne in a middle management role responsible for the computer operations group.
My next job was after I took my family to England (see above). I worked for a British company called Quest Automation who designed and built the Micropad, the world’s first handprint data entry terminal. I joined the development group to provide the end user marketing input. In addition, I was responsible for pre-launch marketing to specially selected companies under confidentiality agreements. I have the distinction of having sold the first ever Micropad units.On our return to Melbourne, I established two Quest Automation subsidiaries in Australia marketing the Micropad and the Quest range of CAD/CAM equipment.
I then had a spell working for Prime Computers in CAD/CAM marketing. My next task was to set up a high technology company for the Victorian government sponsored by Prime Computers. This became known as the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Centre. I then joined Digital Equipment Corporation as a Program Manager and eventually moved to one of my customers, Telstra, where I remained until IBM Global Services Australia took over Telstra’s computing group.
I took early retirement from IBM Global Services Australia in July 2000. My role as a Carer started several years before that and for a while I combined the role with a full time job. Eventually it became too difficult. IBM Global Services Australia were extremely understanding about my situation and gave me significant time off on full pay while I struggled to adapt to the changes in my life. They also allowed me to work from home, which I did until it was clear that my wife’s needs were more important and my carer role had become too demanding, at which time I took early retirement in June 2000. After Patricia passed away from MSA (Multiple System Atrophy), I didn’t particularly feel like returning to the corporate IT world, and even if I had, I was probably unemployable having been away from the IT environment for so long.
Anglesea, near Melbourne, Australia