When I was 16 years old, my father and I started a company together called Cellar Door Software.
We got the name from the CBC: one day we were listening to the radio in the car and heard a segment where listeners had been invited to submit nominations for the most mellifluous words in the English language; someone suggested cellar door. We agreed. And that became the name.
The personal computer was the grand overlap between my life and Dad’s: he was an early adopter of computers, using them from the punch-card days onward in his work as a scientist. We both became fascinated, in the early 1980s, with personal computers, eventually acquiring a Radio Shack Color Computer for the family.
Cellar Door Software became an umbrella for two projects: my work as a programmer, and our joint work offering computer courses, both at the local high school at at the Hamilton YMCA, to children and adults.
We borrowed $2000 from CIBC to start the business in September of 1982 and we ran it for three years until we closed it down–likely, if memory serves, because I moved away from home–in August of 1985.
We used the $2000 for a bunch of capital expenses, which my brother Mike found in a PDF file this week:
- Grand & Toy filing cabinet ($64.64)
- Centronics printer ($616.25)
- Sears cassette recorder ($40.53)
- Texas Instruments cassette recorder ($69.00)
- Used Atari 400 computer ($80.00)
- Two used 5-1/4” disk drives ($10.65)
- TRS-80 Model 4 computer ($1000.00)
- Electrohome monitor ($170.13)
The printer (a dot-matrix) and the TRS-80 Model 4 were both in service of my work for Neil Evenden at Skycraft Hobbies, where I modified an inventory control system to better suit the needs of his hobby shop.
Our primary source of income otherwise were our courses at the high school and at the Y: in both cases we used Sinclair ZX-81 computers and black and white televisions, one setup for every two students. We taught the very most basic programming, like:
10 PRINT "HELLO WORLD!" 20 GOTO 10
It was my first exposure to teaching, my first exposure to “entrepreneurship,” and helped me pay for university.
Over the three years we ran the business we earned a total of $3946.30.
At some point during our business tenure I had an opportunity to take a batik course, and I created a sign for the business; it’s hung in Dad’s workshop ever since: