Cyber-Farmer Boy

In a prior lifetime I expected that my carreer would revolve around agricultural economics and/’or farm management in developing countries. I did a master’s degree in Agricultural Economics at Purdue in the late 1970’s. For my master’s thesis I went to west Africa, where I had been in Peace Corps, and gathered data on an irrigated farm built by the World Bank and managed by the Food and Agricultural Organization of United Nations — and used the data to build a linear programming model, and an integer programming model of the farm.

The guts of the model (which I did not write) was 4,000 lines of FORTRAN IV. All my data was manually transferred onto punch cards. In summer/fall 1979 I spent about 18 hours a day refining that model. Each iteration took about 20 minutes to run on a Control Data Corporation Cyber 6000, and the results came in the form of a bunch of numbers on a 180-column form-fed print-out. I would read the numbers and imagine the farm in my head.

I thought building a farm simulator was the coolest, most fun thing — not to mention important — that one could possibly do in this world. Life takes its twists and turns, and I ended up doing other things. But I have often daydreamed that if I won the lottery I would go back to school in Agricultural Economics & try to pick up where I left off.

So it is with a certain degree of wistfulness that I include this


Check out the John Deere game.