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More Secrets of Jacksonville, Part II

Jacksonville has incredible stories and most of them are still largely unknown.

Published December 2, 2013 in History      5 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

It is the birthplace of the Father of the Personal Computer, Don Estridge.

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December 02, 2013, 03:29:01 AM
Very cool. Visit Jacksonville!


December 03, 2013, 10:01:21 AM
I still can't wrap my head around the blues one. Was it Prof. John W. F. Woods that was the first "documented account of a blues performance on stage" or was it Ma Rainey? The linked MJ page seems to indicate Ma Rainey was largely responsible for proliferating the style, but then it would seem she would have to have been playing it in her touring act since around 1902. Plus the style would have been around for anywhere from 20-40 years at that point, so its hard to think no one would have been playing it on stage before 1910. I can't find the specific claim in the referenced work by Lynn Abbot and Doug Seroff to figure out what, exactly, the claim is for Jacksonville. Google has the book, but that page is missing.


December 03, 2013, 02:05:25 PM
PeeJay, Johnnie Woods' performance was the first documented example of the blues being sung on stage. The info is from Abbot and Seroff's "They Cert'ly Sound Good to Me", page 413 in the version I've got:

The earliest known published account of blues singing on a public stage has it coming from the mouth of a ventriloquist's dummy. Southern vaudevillian John W. F. "Johnnie" Woods grew up in Memphis where he performed in rough-and-ready theaters such as the Gem and Tick's Big Vaudeville before 1909. That year he toured with the Plant Juice Medicine Company as a "buck and wing dancer, female impersonator and ventriloquist." His "little wooden-headed boy" sang "Trans-mag-ni-fi-can-bam-dam-u-ality."' By the spring of 1910 Woods was back on the southern vaudeville routes; particular news from the Airdome Theater in Jacksonville, Florida, was reported in the April 16, 1910, edition of The Freeman:

This is the second week of Prof. Woods, the ventriloquist, with
his little doll Henry. This week he set the Airdome wild by making
little Henry drunk. Did you ever see a ventriloquist's figure
get intoxicated? Well, it's rich; it's great; and Prof. Woods knows
how to handle his figure. He uses the "blues" for little Henry in
this drunken act. This boy is only twenty-two years old and has
a bright future in front of him if he will only stick to it.

There are a few earlier known printed references to the "blues" as well as confirmation from early progenitors such as Ma Rainey that it was well established for a number of years prior, however this is the first known time it was used to describe a specific musical performance.

For some earlier references, Peter Dunbaugh Smith in Ashley Street Blues notes that a Jacksonville newspaper ad mentioned "the blues" on April 27, 1909. He also notes Ma Rainey's claim that she had had newspaper clippings describing her performances as the blues, but that they were destroyed in a fire in 1905 (p. 14-15 and note). As early as 1897 there were documented songs that referred to having the blues, but musically they still didn't use the blues style; I've heard them called "protoblues." The general consensus is that blues music developed organically in African American communities in the later 19th century, and started taking off in the Deep South around 1901-1902 when professional musicians like Ma Rainey and W.C. Handy encountered and adopted it. The oldest song I'm aware of that connects the term "blues" with identifiably blues music is Antonio Maggio's "I've Got the Blues" from 1908. Here's a video of a modern musician playing it:

The LaVilla performance is notable for establishing that by that time the form was being incorporated into live performances, and that it was recognizable enough that readers would instantly know what it was. It shows that Jacksonville was an important center of early African-American musical performance.


December 06, 2013, 08:50:29 AM
Actually Don Estridge is not the "Father of the Personal Computer"....he is the "father of the IBM PC".  Apple Computer and Commodore International both had personal computers on the market for almost 5 years before IBM did.

Don's work changed the computer industry and resulted in a vast increase in the number of personal computers bought and sold. He led the way in creating an entire industry of hardware manufacturers of IBM PCs.



December 06, 2013, 09:02:16 AM
just technically speaking, the apple II was a microcomputer.

The personal computer enjoys the ubiquity it does because of one man: Philip "Don" Estridge. An IBM employee since 1959, Estridge headed up the skunk works in Boca Raton, Fla., that in 1981 launched the IBM PC. Estridge made the decision—revolutionary for that time and place—that the machine would be made from off-the-shelf, easily obtainable parts and that the design specification would be made public. Estridge and his wife Mary Ann died in the Aug. 2, 1985, crash of a Delta Airlines L-1011, which was hit by wind shear while landing at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. Estridge's longtime friend, neighbor and coworker Jan Winston, now retired but still consulting with IBM, talked to CIO about the colleague he still misses.

DON AND I LIVED NEXT DOOR to each other in Boca Raton. It was a sleepy town in those days, not sophisticated like it is today. Then, it was only old people and IBM employees. You could stand outside watching the kids play and have a departmental meeting. Our families were very close well before the PC project started; he and I had worked together on the Series 1 project, IBM's first minicomputer. Because we had different responsibilities, we were often in contention on that project, but there was no stress in our friendship.

Don was very human, with a wonderful sense of humor and a charming personality. He combined a manic drive with tremendous respect for his people, recognizing all that they were sacrificing during the PC project. When the PC took off, it was like a rocket ride, and he did a wonderful job of exerting executive leadership. And he was a technically competent visionary. Don had a very broad view of where computer business was going technically as well as the importance of computers to the economy and to society as a whole.

Would the world today surprise him? Its magnitude would. Our first sales projections estimated selling 250,000 units over three years. The executives wondered what we were smoking because the best-selling IBM computer had sold only 25,000 over three to five years. We always said to ourselves that the technol-ogy would grow by leaps and bounds because of applications like VisiCalc. We knew there was going to be e-mail too. But the broad acceptance of the computer, the way it embedded itself in our everyday lives and the explosion of the Internet, is an order of magnitude beyond what we were thinking about in the early '80s. 
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