Interview 6: Joe “K” Kochenderfer

Interviews, Local Residents

His love of this city shines through his commitment to the community.

Photo of Joe Kochenderfer at the Joe K Trail, Havre de Grace, MD courtesy Baltimore Sun paper, 2017

Joe “K” Kochenderfer
b: 5/8/1934     

interviewed 2016

Joe Kochenderfer with his wife, Sara, moved to the area in 1959 for Joe’s new job at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Within the first year, they ended up moving to Havre de Grace, choosing one of the first Poldi-Hirsch spec houses, which has been ‘home’ ever since.

Joe is a fine example of making a new city ‘home.’ Once settled in, he soon was involved with Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, city council and city planning commission, and a Girls’ Softball Program (before it was available through Little League). In 2009 at the age of 75 and after 20 biking adventures with the Scouts, he fractured his pelvis on a long-distance biking trip from Cumberland to D.C. on the C&O Canal, ending his biking adventures. He also has been very involved with the city’s recycling program, the Susquehanna Museum at the Lock House, and the Greenways programs.

Joe talks about using machines at APG

ENIAC computing machine at Aberdeen Proving Ground, courtesy U.S. Army

Well the big thing to me was I came to Aberdeen Proving Ground. Of course, Aberdeen Proving Ground had the ENIAC, which was the first, argumentatively the first, electronic computer. I had never seen electronic computers in my life. Going to college it was something I never thought about, I guess. It was built by the people – a combination of the Moore School of Business (note: actually School of Electrical Engineering) and the Army – for the sole purpose of creating what was called firing tables – like I have a cannon here and I want to hit the courthouse in Bel Air. How do I do that.

(So it was like a calculating machine? You gave it numbers and it worked out…)

YES. And it took up a room – you know, the administration session in city hall – from … it took up a room that size all the way down. And then as time went on, we had the next level. Of course, the technology again, this was early on, everything was fed by punched cards. The output at that time was punched cards, which you then used on a printer. The first time in my, in our group, we got handheld adding machines, electronic – they were $450 bucks a piece or something like that.

For several years when we started out, we used monromatics. You know what those were… they went shshshshsh… well, you didn’t have to pull it (the handle).. but had to shshshshs… push the button… shshshsh. And that is big technology. Of course, now what kids have today in a laptop can do everything that that whole building of stuff did in those days! But I’m somewhat overwhelmed.

The Joe “K” Trail (officially the North Park Trail) on the north end of town is a tribute to Joe’s steadfast commitment to an idea. In interview 8 we’ll share information on the trail. Although he says he’s a ‘glass half-empty’ kind of guy, he is most certainly a remarkable example of being an active, committed citizen – a fine example of the individual threads of our residents creating the beautiful tapestry of our city!

Photo of a section of the Joe K Trail, Havre de Grace, MD

Here are some links you may enjoy perusing:

ENIAC computer

MONROMATICS calculating machines

PARTY LINES – phones

Enjoy! And watch for our next Wednesday interview!

Verified by MonsterInsights