Cheryl "Regena" Whitelaw
“She put the Home in Home Computing”

photo of cheryl whitelaw

The usual question your friends asked after you told them you’d bought a computer for the home in the early eighties was: “That’s all very nice, but what can you DO with it?”

Well, Cheryl Whitelaw, writing under her middle name ‘Regena’, showed you not only what you could DO with it, but also HOW to do it. And all through the medium of BASIC programming on a TI-99 (later a 4A as well) - the clearest and simplest implementation of BASIC available to the home user.

Regena’s focus was on providing applications to help perform and add fun to the real-life tasks and occupations of daily family life - learning, hobbies and games, nurturing young talent, managing home finances. In her penultimate TI article (published in MICROpendium October 1993), she summarized the whole range of topics included in her published writings and programs on the TI-99/4A computer: amortizations, baking, chemistry, databases, electrical engineering, farming, flags, games, geography, grammar, graphics, history, knitting, languages, math, music, physiology, quilting, quizzes, reading, sorting, sports, typing - a list that would still have to end with the word ‘etc’ to fit everything in!

Cheryl Regena Sunada Whitelaw and her husband Chandler bought a TI-99/4 for Christmas 1980 as their home computer, having decided TI’s command module system and the Scott, Foresman math and reading programs would be great educational tools for their young children.. With her natural math ability and civil engineering background, she was one of the first woman to be offered the Lillian Gilbreth engineering scholarship at Utah State University. Cheryl was the first woman to graduate in civil engineering at USU and was also in the first group to get Master of Engineering degrees at USU.

Cheryl had no problems with starting programming. She soon had educational programs published in 99'er Magazine and was appointed program editor by the magazine from their second issue. Keeping up the fun side of her TI home computer, Cheryl was one of the winners of the 99/4 Home Computer Users Group's first programming contest in 1981, and followed that up a year later by joining their Hall of Fame through getting to the 43rd screen on Munchman with a score of 178,950.

After just over a year with 99’er, Cheryl started working with Compute! magazine in 1983. She continued to apply her own particular skills in spoken languages, music and teaching to producing genuinely useful programs for the home, being a great proponent of the question and answer style of on-screen learning. As well as her magazine work she wrote three Compute! books for the TI-99/4A, including the invaluable Programmer’s Reference Guide to the TI-99/4A, and also contributed a few chapters to Compute!’s TI Collection Vol 1.

That same year, Cheryl started a regular column for Enthusiast ’99 entitled “A Woman’s View”, which appeared from May 1983 through May 1984. Not a feminist column, her goal was to show how women could also use and enjoy the TI home computer.

After TI left the home computer market in 1983, Cheryl remained a regular a guest speaker at TI Fest-West faires, and was named Fest-West “Programmer of the Decade” for the TI-99. She continued writing TI-99/4A programs and columns, moving to MICROpendium magazine after Compute! stopped publishing their home computer program listings. Cheryl’s valedictory article for MICROpendium took the form of, naturally enough, a musical program, which played the Hawaiian song: Farewell To Thee. Cheryl also wrote programs for the Atari 800, Atari ST, VIC-20, Commodore 64, Amiga, IBM PC and PCjr, TRS-80, Color Computer, MC-10, and Timex Sinclair.

She can look back on a TI-99 related publishing career of:

30 articles/programs for 99’er magazine
53 articles/programs for Compute! Magazine
83 articles/programs for MICROpendium
7 columns for Enthusiast ‘99
3 books: Programmer’s Reference Guide to the TI-99/4A.
Compute!'s First Book Of TI Games
BASIC Programs for Small Computers - Things To Do in 4K or Less

Today Cheryl, who was born in Denver, Colorado, lives in Utah and enjoys life with her husband, six children, and 13 grandchildren. She has been a professor at Southern Utah University since 1993, teaching mathematics, engineering and computer science. Her latest publications have been Internet and genealogy-related research.

Click below to view a video of Cheryl "Regena" Whitelaw" doing a presentation at a Houston UG computer fair (date unknown - circa 1984?). (Courtesy of Bruce Maret of Video 99 - About 52 Minutes)
     - Low Quality (18.1 MB)
     - Medium Quality (247.9 MB)

Inducted into the TI99ers Hall of Fame on December 24, 2004