Visionary John Acres likes to use his engineering background and computer expertise to solve problems. He has sold more companies that most people ever form—Electronic Data Technologies, Mikohn Gaming, and Acres Gaming—and he still owns the Acres 4.0 and Gen Seven companies. The 2016 Inductee to the American Gaming Association and the University of Nevada Las Vegas Gaming Hall of Fame reshaped the gaming industry by inventing electronic player tracking, progressive jackpot systems, and loyalty programs. Each innovation focused on customer service—"what would the customer think; what would they like; what would really get them excited; what would get them to come back"—and harkened back to lessons taught him by Norman Little, manager of Mr. Sy's Casino of Fun and one of the first people to hire a teenaged John Acres. In this interview, Acres bookends his remarkable career in gaming with the customer service philosophy of Norman Little as the basis, culminating with solutions to enable g
Acres, John Interview, 2017 July 11 & September 28. OH-03198. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.
i AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN ACRES An Oral History Conducted by Stefani Evans and Claytee D. White The Building Las Vegas Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ©The Building Las Vegas Oral History Project University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2017 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Editor: Stefani Evans Transcribers: Kristin Hicks, Frances Smith Interviewers: Stefani Evans and Claytee D. White Project Manager: Stefani Evans iii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of the UNLV University Libraries. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank the university for the support given that allowed an idea and the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Building Las Vegas Oral History Project. Claytee D. White Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University Nevada, Las Vegas iv PREFACE "How do we make people feel like it's Cheers, where everybody knows your name? You walk in and they shout your name in a glad way. 'I'm so glad you're here.' That's what everybody wants, all of us." Visionary John Acres likes to use his engineering background and computer expertise to solve problems. He has sold more companies that most people ever form—Electronic Data Technologies, Mikohn Gaming, and Acres Gaming—and he still owns the Acres 4.0 and Gen Seven companies. The 2016 Inductee to the American Gaming Association and the University of Nevada Las Vegas Gaming Hall of Fame reshaped the gaming industry by inventing electronic player tracking, progressive jackpot systems, and loyalty programs. Each innovation focused on customer service—"what would the customer think; what would they like; what would really get them excited; what would get them to come back"—and harkened back to lessons taught him by Norman Little, manager of Mr. Sy's Casino of Fun and one of the first people to hire a teenaged John Acres. In this interview, Acres bookends his remarkable career in gaming with the customer service philosophy of Norman Little as the basis, culminating with solutions to enable gamers to increase business in a declining market and the Gen Seven philosophy of long-term stewardship of resources. v TABLE OF CONTENTS Interview with John Acres July 11, 2017, and September 28, 2018, in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Stefani Evans and Claytee D. White Preface…………………………………………………………………………………………....iv Rural Indiana childhood, U.S. Air Force, marriage, 1972 arrival in Las Vegas with Air Force, and housing and part-time jobs. Norman Little, Mr. Sy's Casino of Fun, promotions, customer service, electronics, and video games. Indiana, Ball State University, math degree with computer science major, early computers……………………………………………………….……...….……. 1–17 Catalog showroom, engineering, Indiana, Delco Radio Electronics/General Motors ethos v. Hewlett-Packard ethic, Norman Little and importance of sales and promotion, MGM fire and return to Las Vegas, and Norman Little and customer service. Progressive jackpots and lessons learned: Andy Tompkins, Lady Luck Casino, and "just a little better" philosophy; Ray Silvestri, the Aladdin, and work ethic and trust……………………………………………………..... 18–33 Getting back up, ACR Consultants, Cecil Freddie and The Frontier, Steve Wynn, Golden Nugget Atlantic City, customer service, and loyalty program ticket dispensers. Electronic hotel room key, Speak 'n' Spell, player tracking, the show, and Harrah's Atlantic City; smart phones on systems and processes, and gaming evolving to new markets. ESports, reinventing tribal gaming under Native American regulations, "gen seven" thinking, trust, and oral history…………...…... 34–53 Si Redd, progressive jackpots, order cancellations, International Gaming Technology, and Electronic Display Technology (EDT); getting up again, Mike Stone, Mikohn Gaming, and Dutch auction. Corvallis, Oregon; Wisconsin Winnebago Indians, Tony Alamo and Mandalay Bay; Anchor Gaming and Wheel of Gold, Acres Gaming and IGT; suit and countersuit for patent infringement, Anchor Gaming and IGT…………………………………….……...………. 54–79 Acres Gaming, Gen Seven, organization, and gaming regulation; gaming as social interaction, reinforcing exceptionalism; artificial intelligence, the future of gaming, and Norman Little's focus on customer satisfaction. Gen Seven and long-term thinking, return to Las Vegas, family, and the future.………………………………………………………….…………….……...………. 80–92 vi 1 Good morning. This is July 11th, 2017, so it's seven/eleven. Stefani Evans and Claytee White are here with John Acres. Would you spell your first and last name for the tape, please? J-O-H-N, A-C-R-E-S. Thank you. Why don't we begin with a really hard question? Why don't you tell us about your childhood; where you were born, what your parents did for a living, games you played as a child? Well, that goes back a ways. I was born in Elwood, Indiana, 1953. My father worked in a factory and ultimately became a toolmaker. My mother stayed at home and took care of the kids. I had three sisters and a brother; I was the second oldest. I spent my childhood—I think the first thing that we were taught was stay out of the house until dinnertime. So I spent a lot of time running around the neighborhood, playing with other kids, and doing things. We lived in a fairly rural community. We didn't live on a farm, but there were farms nearby. So I did a lot of farm work when I was a kid to earn money—baling hay and castrating pigs, interesting things. It's kind of fun to think about how things were in the sixties. And now because, I guess, most of those things that we did would be considered—or the way our parents raised us, it would be—irresponsible now, by most standards, to just say, "Go away." But I certainly never felt unsafe or anything like that. I grew up with guns being around. I remember I was allowed to take my shotgun out to go hunting when I was nine, alone. I remember riding down the street with the gun across the handlebars of my bike. Of course, that would cause some reaction now, I guess, but, different times. CLAYTEE: What kind of hunting? Just small; squirrels, rabbits, pheasant; things like that. In this rural area there was nothing big. 2 So we would go out and shoot them and eat them and do all that stuff. Now that you make me think about that, it's such a different time but it doesn't seem like that long ago. You think of different times as being like the 1800s or something, and then you realize, well, it is over fifty years ago, so things have changed. So what did you do with them? So you shot a squirrel and then what? We would skin them. While you were out? Well, no, you'd take them home, because I'd only go a couple of miles. It wasn't like you'd go way far away. Then you'd bring them home, and you would gut them, and skin them, and cut them up, and cook them, and eat them. You did all that? Well, I wouldn't do the cooking; my mother did. But I would do the skinning; my dad taught me how to do that. It seemed like a very normal thing to do at the time. It wasn't like our house was the only one that did that; it was just a tradition or a common thing in the neighborhood. But it was also your parents teaching you how to do things that they had learned from their parents. Oh, sure, absolutely; absolutely, yes. I remember my dad showing me how to do stuff and saying, "This is how my dad taught me." So some of those things get passed along. Of course, the chain was broken then, because I never did teach my kids how to skin a squirrel. Kind of difficult in the city. Yes. Somewhere in there it changed. So what games would you play? Basketball, tag, and run around—just all the normal kid stuff. As I got older, I got really 3 interested in electronics and started tearing things apart and pretending to fix them—mostly breaking them for the first couple of years. By the time I was twelve or thirteen, I could fix things, and then it just grew from there. So that's where the interest in technology came from. So where did you go to school? Tell us about your schooling. The schools that I went to early on always had pairs of grades together. So first and second was in the same classroom, third and fourth, fifth and sixth. So for whatever reason my parents put me into school early. Then when I was in second grade they said, "You know what? Why don't you just skip third and do fourth?" So I ended up being younger by a couple of years than most everybody else, and that was great up until maybe twelve or thirteen. Then you start noticing these big differences of interest, because your friends think girls are cool and you think they're creepy. So I think that that experience, being younger than most, kind of gave me the experience of spending more time alone, because I just didn't quite fit in. It wasn't that I didn't get along with anybody, just different interests. Of course, they could drive a couple of years before I could, and all that. So my grade schools were all rural. You would drive a couple of miles out in the country and here was the school in the middle of nowhere and that's where everybody went. You would either ride your bike or take a bus. Then junior high and high school were in town, which was like a three-mile walk to get there. There the grades were separate. I graduated from high school when I was sixteen. I played sports, so I got a partial football scholarship, but that was a disaster. I go to college and I'm sixteen and everybody else is nineteen or twenty. That first year was a real interesting time. So I dropped out of school; I wasn't ready for that. I ended up joining the [United States] Air Force. Of course, Vietnam was in process at 4 the time, and it wasn't something that appealed to me. But if you waited to be drafted into the [United States] Army, then they would put you wherever you went. If you went and took a test and enlisted, then you could choose a range of what you wanted to do. So I took the test. I did pretty well on it. I picked doing flight simulator maintenance; that's how I got stationed in Las Vegas, because they have all the flight simulators out at Nellis [Air Force Base]. But, I'm sorry, we were talking about school. But that's what you did instead of school in that progression. Yes. So I joined the air force. I had a girlfriend that I really liked. She was two years behind me. I went to college for one year, and then I was out for a year and joined the U.S. Air Force. As soon as I was done with my basic training, which was in June of '72, my wife had graduated from high school about two weeks prior. So we got married in Elwood and drove to Las Vegas. When we told my parents that we were going to Las Vegas, my dad's reaction was, "Well, where will you buy groceries?" In his mind he could not comprehend that this place called Las Vegas would have a grocery store. And some people can't imagine it today. It was like, well, where will you live? Where will you buy groceries? It's so hard to realize now, with all the communications we have, that even in the early seventies our understanding of places distant was nothing like what it is now. But we have ninety-nine-cent buffets. Forty-nine cents then. That's right. That's what we can eat. We don't have to go and buy groceries. They had no concept of that, either. All they had heard about was Las Vegas, gambling, Mafia. 5 That's the Midwestern impression. No one, I think, would admit to wanting to go to Las Vegas, but everyone seemed to really want to go to Las Vegas. Some of my relatives were horrified about the whole idea. But each and every one of them, when they finally did come out, they thought it was cool. So you came here in '72; where did you live? Several places. When we got here, as an airman in the Air Force I was making, I believe, $382 a month. So we go out to the base and they give us a sheet of paper of "affordable housing," is the way they put it. So we go to look at these places. The first place we go to is a trailer park, and that's okay because my wife always had this imaginary idea of living in a trailer. We open the door and a couple of mice come running out. She goes, "Nah, we're not living here." I think we stayed at the Desert Rose Motel the first three nights. That was out in North Las Vegas, I believe. It's been forty-seven years, so I might be wrong on the location. So we both went out and looked for jobs; I looked for a job in the evening, and she looked for a job in the daytime so that we could afford something better. In the meantime, we found a one-room, studio apartment in downtown Las Vegas. I think it was on First Street, but I can't exactly remember. I know that they tore those apartments down a long time since. But it was a really old cottage. We lived there for about a week. We had put our names, when we first got to Nellis, on a list for public-assisted housing. So a week later we became eligible to have a one-bedroom place over on, I think, Elm Avenue. I think it is right by the freeway now. At the time it was a decent place. It had swamp cooling, which the first place didn't have at all. Swamp cooling is pretty nice except on the worst days. So we lived there for about six months, I think. In the meantime, we both got a job; my wife got a job selling shoes at Penney's, and I got 6 a job at a place called Olson's Electronics. It used to be— At Maryland Parkway there's a mall there, Maryland Square. It's across the street from the Boulevard Mall, a little bit south. It was a prime shopping center back then. It was advertised on TV all the time. They had an electronics store called Olson's in there, and then they had a repair department. So I started working, fixing televisions and radios, part-time. What's good is that it didn't require regular hours; I could go do my work, go out there, and they would have these things stacked up. You could do them and they would just call the customer when it was done. So we did that, and we both were making a little bit of money. So we had a chance to get a non-public-assisted house—or apartment, rather. So after about four to six months—I can't remember exactly how long it was—we ended up moving over to the Casa Vegas Apartments, which were pretty new at the time. It's on Maryland [Parkway] and Vegas Drive, roughly. It's over by Sunrise Hospital, real close to Sunrise Hospital. Then we lived there for probably a year. She was doing okay at the shoe store; she got a little bit of commission. I was working doing the repairs. This guy named Norman Little came in, and he had a radio that wasn't working. He asked if we could fix it, and I fixed it for him. He came in and said, "Well, I took it to two other places and they couldn't fix it." He brought me, I think, a television and said, "Can you fix that?" And I did. Then he says, "Listen, I'm the manager at a little casino called Mr. Sy's." He says, "We have a problem with the sound system. Why don't you come down and see if you can take care of that one evening?" What was the name of the casino? Mr. Sy's Casino [of Fun]. It's right across the street from where the Stardust was, but behind a gas station. Mr. Si, S-I? 7 S-Y-apostrophe-S. The guy that owned it, his name was [Seymour] "Sy" Husney. It's now a Korean restaurant, and it's in the Golden Key Shops. There's a Catholic church off the Strip, and then to the north a little bit more is a drugstore, and then the Wynn—no, I'm sorry, the Wynn is to the south—there's the Wynn, and then there's this Catholic church. It's really hard to see because it's set back and it's on Desert Inn. Near the Peppermill? Yes, very near the Peppermill. But you know where Desert Inn [Road] is. Desert Inn at that time was just a regular street. You'd get to the Catholic church by pulling off Desert Inn. Now you have to use some gyrations to get in there. It's a nice little church. So Mr. Sy's Casino was right across the alley from the church. Then there was a Texaco gas station in front of that. So they had, I want to say, three hundred slot machines, no tables, nothing else. They called it a slot parlor because it didn't have any hotel rooms or anything else. Soon thereafter they passed an ordinance that you could not open places like that anymore. The full casinos felt like, we make this big investment in restaurants and swimming pools and hotel rooms and then these guys come along and they just kind of pirate the business. There's a good point there. But the places that were already open were allowed to stay. So that was sort of like a Dotty's [Casino]? A big Dotty's. Dotty's is called a restricted location; they're limited to fifteen games. Dotty's resembles a bar with a few games around. This was set up— I would say the whole place was maybe these two rooms together—a few thousand square feet—and just jammed full of banks of slot machines with a little snack bar off to the side. No alcohol? No alcohol, nope. But you could go across the street to the liquor store and help yourself. 8 Was it busy? It would be busy a lot of times, because this guy that I worked for, Norman Little—it turned out to be probably one of the best things that ever happened to me, because he was a promoter. I fixed his sound system, and then he says, "Well, we'd like to have a sound that goes off when a jackpot hits at one of these banks." So I hooked that up. Was that the first time? First time what? That a sound would go off. No, I don't think it was the first time, but it was one of the few times because it wasn't common; it wasn't a standard thing. But Norman, he felt like you wanted to do two things; you wanted to recognize people as individuals, and you wanted to celebrate when they won. But the way he would get people to come in—because when you come to Las Vegas, you could go to the Stardust, you could go to the Dunes, you could go to all these other places—why would you come to this little place? He taught me the meaning of the word free. Sy's had a big one of those signs, where you put up the letters so you could change it all the time. Their sign was "Free beef stew; free hot dog; free phone call." The phone call was really interesting, because back then long-distance phone calls were exceptional, and you'd pay forty or fifty cents a minute to make a call. That would be like three or four dollars a minute now. So people placed a high value on long-distance calls. So Norman set up a phone booth and would allow people to come in and make a free, three-minute phone call to anywhere in the United States they wanted to. You'd come in on a Friday night and that line would be an hour long, people just waiting to make their free phone call. I remember seeing a woman in what I perceived to be a very expensive fur coat standing in the middle of this casino 9 for a good hour waiting to get a three-minute phone call. The volume got so great that one of the first things Norman had me do was to create a little circuit, a little electronic circuit that from the time they lifted the receiver, it would start a timer; and then two minutes in, the light in the phone booth would flash and you'd have one minute left. Then at three minutes, it's done; it's gone. It just cuts you off? Cuts you off, yes, because you had people just waiting and waiting and waiting. So you were able to take what you knew about those electronics and do all of this? Yes. Not without some effort. But still. Yes, yes. So he'd say, "I want this." I'd go to the library. I ended up with a library of electronics books. If somebody wants this, well, what's the closest I could find [that] somebody else had already done? How did they do it? How could you learn from that and apply it over here? So where did you go to the library? Which library did you go to? Wow. I went to the UNLV library a lot because it was by far [the best]—especially for technical. In fact, that would be the primary place. What I found was that UNLV had a decent range of books, but they certainly didn't have every book. As I got deeper into what we call electrical engineering—UNLV is not an engineering school; so, of course, they didn't have everything—I started building up my own library. For twenty years after that, we'd go on trips—I remember going to Washington, D.C., and the wife and kids wanted to go see all this stuff, and I did, too—but I set aside a day, because I heard there was this really great bookstore. I ended up buying like three thousand dollars' worth of books and having them all shipped. Whenever we'd go to a city that had a great bookstore, I would go there and just buy one copy of every electronics book I 10 could find, because otherwise you're stuck. The internet makes it so easy now, but then— Your capacity to help others adapt is limited by the resources that you have available, because you're not going to sit there and invent new ideas nearly as quickly as you're going to copy and adapt something that somebody else did. So I ended up with just thousands and thousands of books on electrical engineering. So I used that while I was at Mr. Sy's. So how long did you work with Norman Little at Mr. Sy's? The first time I worked for two years, a little bit over two years. It was kind of an interesting situation, because I was eighteen when I started working there, and even then that wasn't looked kindly upon. Can you go into a casino at eighteen? I was going to ask if you had to stay outside. Well, it wasn't like now. There wasn't the enforcement. And honestly, there wasn't a big problem. For me, I just wanted to work. So I didn't realize that this wasn't the tradition, but the way it worked is I could not be on their payroll because I was too young. So Norman would pay me every Sunday by going around to the slot machines and opening them up. Oh, there's a lot of money in this one. We'd take out twenty bucks among here and among there. Norman was really good about it. I just thought that's how it worked. So I would end up with a pile of coins and take these over to the cashier and she'd give me dollars and I'd take the dollars home. I thought it was a pretty nice way to do things. In my Air Force check they took out a little bit for taxes and FICA [Federal Insurance Contributions Act]—not much, because it wasn't much of a check—but over here [at Mr. Sy's] they didn't. I didn't know that you weren't supposed to do that. I had no idea that this was not the way things were. Norman was really good about rewarding for ability, and so he kept giving me raises. 11 Within a year I'm making three hundred bucks a week, and my dad's making only a hundred and eighty. I'm making three hundred bucks a week working in the evenings after I get done with the Air Force. So we're feeling pretty cool, and that's how we ended up buying a house. We paid thirty-six thousand dollars. Oh, how are we going to do this? The house payment is going to be like a hundred and forty dollars a month. That's a lot of money. The house was 4640 La Fonda [Drive], over in East Las Vegas, pretty close to Sam's Town. La Fonda? Yes, yes. So I worked there for about two and a half years all told. I got out of the Air Force and I really felt like I should go back to college. My wife, Jo, had just had our first baby, and she was really homesick. She missed her parents. She missed her friends. So when I got out of the Air Force, we left here, and we moved back to Indiana. What year was this? That would be 1974, the middle of '74. So you sold your house? Oh, yes. We only had it for about nine months. But she was just really homesick, and I wanted to go to college. So we moved back. I had taken some correspondence courses and built up some credits. I went back and enrolled at Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana. It's about a thirty-mile drive. The other thing that Norman Little did besides running the casino: he had a route of pinball machines and amusement games. When I started there all he had were pinballs with the flippers and everything. Then around 1973, I think it was, video games came along. That early? Yes. So the first video game I ever saw was called Computer Space by Nutting, Incorporated. It 12 was a real futuristic, fiberglass design. It had a TV screen in it and it had a joystick. You'd fly this little spaceship around. It was really adapted from colleges. It would act like it was in space because there wouldn't be brakes; there wouldn't be friction to slow you down. So if you wanted to change directions, you'd have to flip it over and fire the boosters in the opposite direction. There were little spaceships that chased you and you had to shoot them down. So it was before Pac-Man? Oh, way before Pac-Man. Oh, yes. Pac-Man was 1981-82. This would be 1973. Actually, I apologize; I'm lying to you—well, no; that was the first game. The game that came immediately thereafter was Pong. Pong is the one I was thinking of— It turned out that the space game was too complicated for most people. When they go out to the bowling alley or to the bar, they don't want to think; they don't want to learn; they just want to have a good time. And so the idea of just moving a paddle up and down, which is all you could do on Pong, because here comes the ball— You could see what I was doing with my hand. I was playing Pong. Yes. So Pong was like, oh my gosh, this is crazy. People would line up. I remember working with Norman and helping on a route sometimes, and I'd get called several times that the game wasn't working. You'd go out to find out why, and the coins had just piled up so high that it was blocking the coding center. So the first year when these things were hot was a great lesson in supply and demand. When there's only one or two of something, everybody is excited and they'll wait in line. But as soon as the supply increases, then nobody wants to play it anymore, because it's common. But those first years were pretty good. I took his idea and I built up a little route of pinballs and video games in Indiana to run 13 while I was going to college to help pay. Your own business? Yes, yes, yes. What did you call it? I didn't call it anything. Didn't have to? No. No, because you'd just go knock on bowling alley doors or bar doors and say, "Look, I've got these games. I'll put them in. I'll share the money with you fifty-fifty." If it was a good location, they get 60 percent and you get 40 percent. They would call you if there was a repair problem, and that's the reason they'd keep you around. I found out the second reason; they'd rob it. The main reason they'd want—I'm sorry—the second main reason they'd want someone to provide the game is that they couldn't figure out how to fix it, and they could just call you to take care of it. The main reason they didn't want to own the games is because the games had a very short shelf life. You could put a game into a bar or a bowling alley, and for the first four or five weeks it makes a ton of money. But that local population that keeps coming in over and over again and gets tired of it. Now you have to have multiple locations so that you can rotate those games; move game A to location B. If you didn't have enough locations, then you couldn't keep people fresh. You could probably get away with moving the same game back to the first location again a year or so later and get a little boost. It wouldn't be the same. But if you didn't have lots of locations that became a real challenge. I thought I'd have four or five locations and just do this. Well, now you have to have forty or fifty locations. Then you're borrowing money financing these games, because the vendors that sold them expected weekly payments, but it [the payment] 14 was really high. Anyway, I got a good lesson in the backside of business. Then I found out that you're supposed to pay taxes and all that other stuff. I said, "Whoa." So you get used to that. Anyway, I graduated from Ball State in May of '76 and I came back to Las Vegas. So you graduated in two years? Yes, because I had some credits from that one year that I went and I had done some correspondence courses. Then they had some sort of an advanced placement test; you could get other credits for that. And you get credits for work experience. Anyway, I ended up getting a degree in math. Math? Yes, I got a degree in math with a major in computer science. The reason I did that was because I had always been doing this stuff with the casino. While I was going to college, I would always kind of go there with the idea of all the problems that I solve in the casino. How can what I learn here apply over there? In hindsight that was hugely helpful because I'm in there— Let me see; it was '75; I'm twenty-two. The kids that were nineteen and twenty, they've never worked. And so here's all this information, and they're digesting it, but they don't have a framework to put it in. What good would this be? What would I use this for? I think that was a huge benefit for me that I could go think, oh, if I would have known that, I could have done this. I didn't live at school; I was married. I had a couple of kids. So it wasn't like [I had] an involved student life. I was a drop-in; I'm going to take some classes and move on. And it worked out. Right when I started back to school—I told you I'd keep track of all the books and things and subscribed to magazines—one of the magazines was called Popular Electronics. I think it was like the latter part of 1974 they had a cover story on a computer that you could build 15 yourself called the MITS Altair 8800. The MITS? Yes. Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry [Systems], something-another. This company in Albuquerque, they made telemetry systems, things that you could put in cars. They sold them to NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration], where it would send off little beacons, and it would record pressure, and things like that. The microprocessor had come along, and they decided, oh, that's pretty cool; we'll build a kit out of it and let people do this at home. So it's like, wow, I want one of those. Like Christmas morning. Yes. I wasn't sure what I would do with it, but I wanted one. Did it fill up a room? No, no. It was a box that was probably about two feet long and eight inches high and a foot deep. That was just what you said; it was like, wow, this fits on a table top—unheard of—and it's a computer. All I knew about computers, really, were that they were cool, because I was just starting back to school. So I bought one of these kits—it was two hundred and ninety-nine dollars—and I put it together. I went to use it, and realized I had no clue if it worked or not, because I didn't know what it would do. It had all these switches on the front. If you buy a computer now—like I just bought a new Mac—I think it's got 32 gigabytes, which is 32 billion bytes of memory in it. This one literally had 256 bytes. It was really incredibly tiny, but 256 sounded like a lot. It had these switches on there, and you could buy a Teletype machine to attach to it; but that was a bigger expense than I wanted to do at the time, because it was like twelve hundred bucks. It was one of those things like you see in the old days, tic, tic, tic; tic, tic, tic, and then, ding; tic, tic, tic; like an 16 automatic typewriter, and the yellow paper would scroll out. I always wanted one of those so bad. It was like, wow. But I'm stuck. The only thing I have is, I think there were twenty-eight switches on the front and about the same number of little LED [light-emitting diode] lights, little red lights, that can be on or off and that's it; that's all you've got. Do you have photos of this? Oh, yes, somewhere, yes. If you look up the MITS Altair, there's a lot of stuff out there. They still sell them on eBay, because people like me want them to—I don't know what they want them for. Yes, like that. Yes, yes. Not as cool as that. Right. So I got this thing; I didn't know if it worked. I thought, I