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Nobody Wanted To Touch It

Posted by Bruce Kebbekus on 2 Apr 2000, 10:12 p.m.

I got an HP41-C back in about 1979 (whatever, they had just come out). I had heard about them and how hard they were to get.

Then, one evening one appeared on the Connecticut Public Television Auction. Contributors could call in to Bid, and I called in over and over to bid and re-bid even when I was high, to keep others lower. I raised by oddball amounts until I won it at $187.75.

I got it and showed it off at my Financial Planned job at Aetna, but when I took it home to study how to program, I got so frustrated that I took it back to work and asked anybody to buy it for most of my cost.

Nobody wanted to touch it.

So home it went, and one weekend I just sat with it until I figured how to write a loop. Now I had an old BASIC timeshare program I had written back in '73 at Oregon where I worked and failed to get my Finance Doctorate, so I wrote the same steps into HP 41C language and got the calculator to come up with the VALUE of a GNMA Mortgage Pool at a given yield, age, and prepayment rate or FHA Speed. ( I was a closet GNMA expert, and the recent father of Aetna's multi-billion dollar guaranteed investment contract products).

Off I went, I fussed with that routine, boiled a version that gave 30 annual years with the same results you would get if the program ran the actual 360 month mortgage life...I figured all sorts of correction matrixes and built these in. This gave the slow HP41-C enough speed because a Bond Trader wouldn't wait 2 hours for an answer, but they would wait a minute and a half, and that saved a lot of interpolation and fussing with out-of-date yield books being put out by Financial Publishing Company.

After working on this for about four months, I got permission from Aetna to do mail order sales, and took out an ad in the Wall Street Journal. Off she took, and the new company, Almont Analytical, began to get all sorts of calls from Bond Dealers who wanted it, or to get consulting. My phone at Aetna got embarrassingly busy as many discovered where I really was.

The next Christmas, I got an Apple II Plus with one disk drive, and I went through the same programming. Of course, the Apple was much faster, and I found protection schemes, hookups to tape drives and compilers. So I quit Aetna.

That was the start of a very successful company. It became part of the Thomson Companies and long after I retired, it absorbed the yield book publisher, FPC, and still runs out of Avon, Connecticut, just down the street.


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