RSI on Slashdot and Exercise Break

Slashdot has a story on Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) from computer keyboard use such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. This story brings back old hacker memories! Read on for a short trip down memory lane.

Exercise Break for Windows is a timer based exercise program to reduce stress and Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) that’s been around for a long time. You can get it cheaper here. It is a cool program, that won’t tax your system much at all.

How do I know? I spent 2 years writing it around 1990. This was at a time when shipping a Windows app of any kind that worked was a major deal. The timing model in it was 3 years ahead of anything that Microsoft or pretty much anyone else had at the time. It was written in C with no ++ and directly processed messages from the Windows message queue. Unfortunately, I went to medical school and couldn’t capitalize on the underlying technology.

That program was the tour-de-force of my programming career in that I simultaneously created it in 4 internationalized versions for 3 platforms: Windows 3.1, DOS and Mac using practically everything I knew about programming. At the time this was a lot as I had just finished a BS and MS in computer science. It was ahead of its time.

Ah, memories. I’ve thought about GPL’ing it although the code is ancient C now. The executable was something ridiculously small like 10K but contained an easy to use GUI-based fully user customizable timing model and a graphics engine to display the exercises. None of these existed in Windows 3.1 at the time in a usable form and it was an exceedingly difficult program to do. I haven’t had a royalty accounting for years now on it but last time I checked it was a modest success with about 30,000 copies sold.

I place this apocryphal story here on the Internet before knowledge of Exercise Break and this little snippet of history goes away.

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