1980. Anistics

First Job Out of College

The name Anistics is a portmanteau of Analytical Statistics.  The company was a small consulting branch of Alexander & Alexander, now Aon, the large insurance firm. Being an analyst there was my first gig out of college. I made presentations about why insurance prices always go up and tried to find patterns in data about robberies of Seven-Eleven stores. There actually seemed to be something going on with the phases of the moon.

My  desktop terminal connected with “the mainframe” via a 300 baud acoustic coupling modem. Nevertheless, we did some pretty cool stuff with a language called APL. Though we didn’t realize it at the time, the financial scenario comparison matrices we set up in that language were essentially spreadsheets. This was right at the time Visicalc was being conceived.


I also created an accounting package at night in APL. It was painful but it worked acceptably for my little side business.

Below is an APL keyboard. The symbols are operators to act upon arrays. Some handle iteration. There were no control structures like while loops and you could do an amazing amount with just one incomprehensible line of code.

Think you can impress the girls with your regexp? This is the infamous Game of Life in One Line of Code:

life ← { ⊃ 1 ω ∨ . ∧ 3 4 = +/ +⌿ 1 0 ‾1 ∘.θ 1 – ‾1 Φ″ ⊂ ω }