He always sat in the back and remained somewhat aloof, although he would display a very satisfyingly weird but funny sense of humor from time to time. And although he had been "kept back", it seemed the general impression of him was more one of "weird" then the expected stupid. He was weird in that he was more inward then the rest of us, but not creepy, or at least to my finding.
As I was also a borderline "weirdo" taken to angry emotional blasts, organizing student strikes, the class muso (violin and choir) and not really being accepted into the A list, I found myself sometimes stuck out with no one but him to relate to. My family at the time, was flying off the centrifuge into atomic dispersal and I was forging my own way with a strong will towards getting out of it. This could be seen in my 8th grade (1966) science fair project being on the joys of lysergic-acid diethylamide!
Dave invited me over his house, which was a good size wooden frame, first quarter 20th century house on a far side of town (how his father rangled him into our district is a question I have never pondered before). His father taught at MIT and was never around in my experience. I do not remember a mother figure at all. In a large room up under the eaves of the house was his father's, and by extension David's, lab! WOW! This is 1965-66 mind you, but there was a REAL computer terminal, on line to some computer at MIT! There were also all sorts of electronics and a very good hi-fi. Pig heaven to a guy like me. On a week end night, we might smoke a joint and relax. Now David's idea of relaxing was to try and write a program that would determine if a number was prime or not (and this was a guy who was "kept back"). This was not my cup of tea, but I would bathe in the sound of "The Blues Magoos", "The Count Five" or whatever cool records I stole from my big sister that week on the hi-fi, while Dave silently poured over his computer printouts, breaking into excitement every ten minutes. Really cool :-)!
Here is how history records Dave at the time:
By 1966, when David Silver took his first elevator ride to the ninth floor of Tech Square, the AI lab was a showcase community, working under the hallowed precepts of the Hacker Ethic. After a big Chinese dinner, the hackers would go at it until dawn, congregating around the PDP-6 to do what was most important in the world to them. They would waddle back and forth with their printouts and their manuals, kibitzing around whoever was using the terminal at that time, appreciating the flair with which the programmer wrote his code. Obviously, the key to the lab was cooperation and a joint belief in the mission of hacking. These people were passionately involved in technology, and as soon as he saw them David Silver wanted to spend all his time there.
David Silver was fourteen years old. He was in the sixth grade, having been left back twice. He could hardly read. His classmates often taunted him. Later, people would reflect that his problem had been dyslexia; Silver would simply say that he "wasn't interested" in the teachers, the students, or anything that went on in school. He was interested in building systems.From the time he was six or so, he had been going regularly to Eli Heffron's junkyard in Cambridge (where TMRC hackers also scavenged) and recovering all sorts of fascinating things. Once, when he was around ten, he came back with a radar dish, tore it apart, and rebuilt it so that it could pick up sounds--he rigged it as a parabolic reflector, stuck in a microphone, and was able to pick up conversations thousands of feet away. Mostly he used to listen to faraway cars, or birds, or insects. He also built a lot of audio equipment, and dabbled in time-lapse photography. Then he got interested in computers.
David, noticing my interest in music, brought me over to the student radio station at MIT (at that time WTBS, now WMBR). He, being a "child" of MIT, knew the place and its attractions like the childhood playground it had been. He had grown out of radio, pop music and the like, but he left me there to get my FCC radio engineer's license by 14 years of age. I slept on the floor of the record library, typing file cards for the library, taking request phone calls and pulling/delivering them to the DJ (along with another young "townie" named David Massey) to earn my right to hang about. Soon I had my own radio show and produced and engineered many others. All of this changed my life in a complete way, and I send out a great cosmic thanks to "Dave Silver" wherever he may be. He also turned me on to the tech model railway society, but that is an altogether other kettle of fish. (I still know that hand made console in the picture in my sleep. That may be Sasse John "ten thumbs" in the photo. I remember when we got those new tone arms. Notice the tall .05 Coke, ice cold from the machine. MIT was Coke powered, and ashtrays were often full.)
Indeed, there would be a whole slew of patient and wonderful, accidental teachers who were there at WTBS who all deserve a great thanks from me.
The last time I saw Dave (that I remember) was in the hall of the High School, he had just come from the office where he had officially dropped out. I, being of a middling intelligence and unable to fathom Dave's real life, and basically a bourgeois prude to be, was worried for his future.
It seems David Silver is a very common name, the best I can make from this here 'net is that after wowing everyone as a teenage hacker, he made a name for himself in robotics with the invention of the "Silver Arm" pictured at right, in 1974. After that I loose him in a noise of David Silvers. I wish him the best.