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My parents' finances


My mother
Donald Knuth Scientist
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I should say something about my mom, who was also very important in my life, of course. She was unusual also at that time, because of… because she had… had a good job. My parents were the first in their families... in… in the whole history of our family – to have some kind of education. My dad had gone to a… a teacher’s training college in Chicago, and my mother had taken one or two years of training as a… as a secretary – as a legal secretary. And in the… during the Second World War, she got a job working for a man in downtown Milwaukee, who owned and managed several of the skyscrapers downtown, and she became his… his personal secretary, and later a Trustee of the… of these… of some of the organizations that… that owned the property, and at the time of his death she was… she had been doing rather well, and was… was asked to be… asked to be the manager of one of the buildings.  So she spent her life working in real estate in… in Milwaukee with the… with the large commercial buildings in the downtown area. And she… and she had started doing this part time work when I was 5 or 6 years old, but still, you know, doing everything else at home, as well. My… but my grandfather was… my great-grandfather was a blacksmith, my… my grandfather was… my grandfathers on both sides, were in… in construction work and maintenance. There was not a… a family tradition of education, and… and I certainly was the first one ever to… to go on to… to higher levels of education. It's partly the story of America, of course, that… that more and more people are going to college, but when I was in high school, at that time still, it was, I think something like 7% or 8% of our… of my classmates went on to college, and that was considered pretty good at that time.

Born in 1938, American computing pioneer Donald Knuth is known for his greatly influential multi-volume work, 'The Art of Computer Programming', his novel 'Surreal Numbers', his invention of TeX and METAFONT electronic publishing tools and his quirky sense of humor.

Listeners: Dikran Karagueuzian

Trained as a journalist, Dikran Karagueuzian is the director of CSLI Publications, publisher of seven books by Donald Knuth. He has known Knuth since the late seventies when Knuth was developing TeX and Metafont, the typesetting and type designing computer programs, respectively.

Tags: Chicago, WWII, Milwaukee, America

Duration: 2 minutes, 43 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2006

Date story went live: 24 January 2008