I was born in 1945 in Buffalo, New York where my father spent World War II designing fighter planes for Curtis-Wright Aviation. After the war we moved to Clarion, Pennsylvania, my father’s home town, where my siblings started to arrive. Eventually there were six of us.
Clarion was then a town of 6,000 people located among great forests and small farms in northwestern Pennsylvania. I went to kindergarten at Clarion State Teachers College, grade school at Immaculate Conception School and high school at C-L High School. ‘C-L’ is short for Clarion-Limestone, but we kids claimed, with some justification, that it actually stood for Cattle & Livestock.
I was an avid Boy Scout for much of my youth and eventually, after accumulating 48 merit badges, earned the rank of Eagle Scout. All of those merit badges gave me a wealth of interests and minor talents which help and hinder me to this day. Deep, deep inside I am still that Boy Scout in pursuit of his latest merit badge, except now I make up my own.
I started at Penn State in 1963, just as the Beatles burst upon the music scene. I was quite a fan. I did poorly in college at first, but got better and finished strongly to earn a BS in Business Statistics in 1967. Along the way I drifted into a bohemian way of life, started playing acoustic guitar, and spent a summer in England living with relatives of my girlfriend of that time.
After graduation, I joined the Army just ahead of the draft and spent the next two years in freezing swamps in Missouri, dust storms in Oklahoma, and in the fetid jungles of Vietnam. In Vietnam, I was mostly based at LZ Bayonet, just north of Chu Lai, where I aimed artillery using an early computer called FADAC (Field Artillery Digital Automatic Computer.) We lobbed 105 mm artillery rounds out into the night, and got VC mortar fire thrown back at us in return.
In 1969, I mustered out of the Army and moved to New York City, where I did drudge work at Prudential Life Insurance by day and reveled in my freedom at night. I lived in the SOHO section of Manhattan and was surrounded by the hippie revolution at its height. This was a joyous change from the discipline of army life.
In 1970, I returned to Penn State to pursue a masters degree and in 1972 received a MS in Management Science. I have never worked a day in that field, but some of my courses involved programming an IBM 360 punch-card computer, and by the time I graduated, I knew I wanted to work in the computer industry.
From 1972 to 1975, I worked as a tech rep for Burroughs Corporation, a manufacturer of mainframe computers at that time. I spent my early years with them learning how to maintain a large B6700 at the Philadelphia Electric Company in downtown Philadelphia. This was just after the big blackouts of the early 70s, and the purpose of this machine was to prevent such catastrophes from happening again. This computer had to be up 100% of the time and by immersing myself in the task of making this happen, I eventually came to a good understanding of how computers work. During the later years of my stint with Burroughs, I spent time teaching others about the B6700 and its various programming languages. I also move around a good deal more, working on Burroughs machines at Drexel, Philco-Ford and the University of Delaware.
From 1975 to 1979, I was Manager of Instructional Services at the University of Delaware. Here I tended to the academic computing facilities of the University, taught occasional computer and programming courses, and sometimes traveled to give speeches on various aspects of academic computing. During these years I also met and married my wife Pam, who was then earning her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at the University.
From 1980 to 1985, I was Director of the Computer Center at Clarion University of Pennsylvania… a new name, but the same school where I went to kindergarten years before. I helped replace old IBM and Sperry computers with DEC machines, and managed the introduction of microcomputers and communications networks to campus. I also taught Continuing Education classes on computer related topics. At the same time, Pam and I renovated an old Victorian house, had our son Pete, and vacationed around the world in search of interesting adventures.
In the early 1980s, I started to develop microcomputer software program for interior designers as a hobby, and by 1984 was selling this through ads placed in national computer magazines. In 1986, I quit my daytime job and started Hufnagel Software. For years, I sold my software package, called ROOMER, to interior designers, but in the early 90s, I refocused this toward the less crowded area of event planning. In 1996, I rewrote my software as a pure Windows program and renamed it PartyCAD. This is a niche product but enjoys something of a following among party rental firms, event planners and caterers.
I also wrote educational software as learning tools for my son and graphics programs for my own enjoyment.
In 1995, with my son was approaching Scouting age, I became involved with the Boy Scouts again, eventually becoming Scoutmaster of Troop 51 in Clarion. I fell into the habit of writing up the Troop’s adventures for the local paper, and this nurtured an interest in writing which grew during the following years. My interest in Scouting continued until Pete, too, became an Eagle Scout and went away to Penn State as a Computer Science major.
My business prospered in a small way in the following years, and I began to set summers aside to do something different. I wrote books, I wrote games for the XBOX 360, I made videos on local historical subjects and of my guitar playing. I also wrote my best program ever, a graphics app called Ornamania which combined my interests in Escher-like symmetry and unit origami. It will never make a million, but I had an immense amount of fun doing it.
I am now in my late 60s and beginning to fade a bit, but I still have a few good
years left in me. This very day the last of the snow is melting. The sun is shining
and spring is in the air. Another summer is not too far off, and I am curious to
see what I will do with it this time.
Hank Hufnagel, March 7, 2014