In 1985, on my sixteenth birthday, I got a 300 baud Mitey Mo modem for my Commodore 64. My friend Mike came over to help me log in to the local BBS, the Caves of Aptos. This BBS allowed long login names, with spaces, and it was essentially unheard-of to use your real name. Mike was "Milo Bloom". Lying next to my computer on that particular day was a copy of "Time Enough for Love", by Robert Heinlein. So I picked "Lazarus Long" as my login name.

Via the Caves of Aptos, I met lots of new friends. All of them called me "Laz". I liked that a lot better than my given name, so I stuck with it. After a while, almost all of my friends were calling me "Laz".

When I got to UCSC in 1987, "lazarus" was the obvious choice for my b account. It had always been my computer name. I have no memory of how I found out about b accounts, and at the time I had very little idea of what to do with it. I knew about e-mail from the BBS, but of course the unix system was different.

The account lay mostly unused for two years. In 1989, I was randomly assigned Jeff White as a roommate. I can't remember who led him into temptation, but later that year, he turned into a total geek. Eventually he was spending lots of time using my computer to log in from our apartment. So I decided to see what he was doing, and got totally geeked out myself.

Later, I dropped my given first name, so in the end my login name became my legal name.