Talk of the Town - Cyber sailor January 15 2003

A computer pioneer in the Giant Lofts

The Giant Lofts are gritty, charming and utterly honest in their square-brick simplicity. Once the Westinghouse corporate headquarters, and most recently used for records storage, the 100,000-square-foot building saw new life when it was renovated in 1997. It was a new life for David Day, too, when he moved there from Vinings.

He embraces his downtown lifestyle from his fifth-story loft with vigor and optimism. At 59, he's out pounding the club scene at places like the Somber Reptile.

Day recently downsized from a larger loft to keep things small. One trip to the bathroom and you've seen the layout. Yet, there is a simple elegance to the place, and underscored comfort. The living room is an amalgamation of super high-tech and earthy charm.

But what really makes him so different is that he's a computer age pioneer.

Creative Loafing: I know you work out of your home. What is it you do again?

Day: I'm a digital security consultant.

How long have you been working in computers?

[Sigh.] Forever, really. Since 1967.

Really? What were you doing in 1967?

Well, like every good man in the '60s, I went to school to be an engineer, but when I got out I didn't want to be an engineer anymore. So, I got this offer to go and work for American Airlines where I wound up as a programmer on the original team that set up the first airline reservation system — SABRE.

Sounds pretty cutting edge.

Yeah. I was also one of the guys that installed the first IBM process control systems in East Tennessee. I moved to Atlanta a little while later, in 1980, and in 1994 I set up one of the first ISPs here called NetDepot.

Sounds like you're on the cusp everywhere you go.

[Chuckling.] Yeah, I just happen to be in the right place at the right time.

That's a hell of a sailboat model you've got there, and some nice boat pictures behind it. Are you into that kind of thing?

Oh yeah! That's a model of Tartan 35. Those were some of the first original racing sailboats. I used to own my own sailboat, but I sold it a little while back. I even raced competitively in Antigua on a 70-foot boat, but I got my ass kicked by the professionals. I love it because it's my connection to the real world, since the cyber world is my business. I think that's why I love this place so much too, because it's just like living on a boat. It's small and quiet up here. It's like sleeping below deck at night, nothing too fancy, and peaceful like the sea. You want to go to the roof?

This is a hell of a view up here!

Yep, sure is. If you look over there you can see the King and Queen buildings [at the Perimeter], and if you just look straight ahead there you can see Stone Mountain. I can see the whole city from up here.

Just set sail.