||This article may be an autobiography or has been extensively edited by the subject or an institution related to the subject. (June 2013)|
The widespread proliferation of the personal computer, or PC, in the developed world has had a profound impact. In the early days of the PC Van Wolverton wrote the book Running MS-DOS for Microsoft Press, first published in 1984, and since then written in 27 different languages and having sold over three-and-a-half million copies. And it was a New York best seller! That was the first of many other titles in the Microsoft Press series of Running... books, aiding readers in the understanding and use of various Microsoft applications.
Wolverton was born in Billings, Montana, in 1939. He started college in 1956 at the University of Colorado in Boulder, studying engineering, then left in his junior year to join the Navy, where he taught multi-engine navigation to pilots on flight simulators. When his four-year tour of duty was up, he went back to college at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, graduating in 1965 with a degree in English.
He began working as a journalist and newspaper photographer while still in school in Fort Collins. After graduation he went to Pocatello, Idaho, where in 1966 he wrote his first computer program, which tabulated election results. He then worked for a chain of newspapers in Decatur, Illinois. In 1968 began writing technical manuals for IBM. He had married his skills in technology with his writing.
In the early 70s the southern San Francisco Bay Area saw such a growth in businesses related to computing that it began to draw in people related to the field. During his time with IBM, Wolverton was swept up in that tide, relocating his family to the area just two years after it was named Silicon Valley. Preferring a small town to the cities, he opted to settle in the community of Scotts Valley. After his time at IBM he managed technical writers at Intel. He then was involved briefly in a start-up high tech company, until finally venturing out on his own as a freelance writer.
At that time PCs were just beginning to show up in homes of people other than hardcore computer hobbyists. While nearly all home computers today have some sort of Graphical User Interface, that was not so back then. Most people had to have some knowledge of the computer's Operating System in order to use the machine. IBM PCs and PC-Compatible computers most commonly used Microsoft's MS-DOS. Wolverton wrote the Microsoft Press book Running MS-DOS, which taught many people how to operate their computers, when PCs were brand new, and for many years after.
Wolverton has written other computer books, addressing MS-DOS, IBM OS/2, Microsoft Windows, WordPerfect, Netscape FastTrack, VisiCalc, QBasic and more. He has retired from professional writing. He has returned to Montana, with his wife Jeanne, where they live in a log cabin, far from Silicon Valley. He is a church deacon and she works for the Steele-Reese Foundation.