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Asher is a Co-Founder of The Novelty Factor LLC and the company’s Executive Creative Genius
Asher Wolfstein is the quintessential autodidact. From philosophy to computer science, he taught himself the majority of his hard-earned skills.
Rocky Mountain High
Life started for Asher in the “heart of something grand,” Colorado. The state is home to Ouray, Switzerland of America. This is the town and valley that inspired Mulligan’s Valley, otherwise known as “Galt’s Gulch” in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged. Asher grew up near Camp Chief Ouray of the YMCA, an echo of the idyllic town located much farther south.
Literally nestled within the Rocky Mountains, his family lived out the traditional western independent homesteading lifestyle amongst sheep and swine. Even now, Asher’s brother Asa continues to operate a sustainable homesteading business, Sisu Farms. They offer grass-fed beef and other agricultural products using regenerative farming.
A Foundation For The Future
Asher’s father Scott built the family’s log home himself. Throughout his life, Scott offered a solid but intricate foundation of rational philosophy, imparting a dedication to the truth. To uncover the truth you must always follow the argument where it may lead, even if it’s somewhere you don’t like. A lifetime of that kind of unwavering dedication, despite emotions, societal pressures, and aspirations, and you might even get a namesake building.
Embodying the entrepreneurial spirit, Asher’s mother, Tina, now operates a traditional brick-and-mortar retail store downtown. The Fabric Nook is a bastion of quilting, sewing, crafts, fabric, and good service. Tina is currently running a blogging and social media campaign in 2021 outlining That Town And Country Quilt by Susan-Claire Mayfield. She is posting a quilt block a day for a whole year. Asher has worked with his mother, lending his technical expertise, to fashion her web presence comprised of both a landing page and a blog.
Meaningful, practical work in animal husbandry, small construction, fence laying, and more helped form the foundation of Asher’s reality-based ethics of responsible self-application.
One Man’s Trash-80…
In 1977 the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, along with the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, proposed an experimental “videotext” project called “Green Thumb.” This program meant to create a low-cost Videotex terminal for those in the agricultural industry. According to BYTE Magazine (Vol 5 #2 Pg. 70), “Farmers, via telephone lines, [would] be able to access weather, market, and agriculture data from remote computers.” Videotex, coined by a consortium of companies, referred to two-way interactive text/image capabilities adapted to CRTs, particularly televisions.
After some chip-making revisions by Motorola, the AgVision/VideoTex terminal sold through RadioShack stores starting around 1980. Tandy Corporation decided to strip the machine of its internal modem and replace it with I/O ports for cassette storage, serial communications, and joysticks. They additionally added an expansion bay to the right side for future hardware/software enhancements. They marketed this new design as the TRS-80 Color Computer, with relation to the previous Zilog Z80 based machines by name only. It was their foray into the home computer market.
…Is Another Man’s Christmas Gift
Years after this development, Evelyn Yager purchased the second generation of this machine, boasting a whopping 16 kilobytes of RAM, for Asher’s family. Evelyn was Asher’s great grandmother and wife of Louis Yager, owner of the local drug store, and brother of Don Yager, founder of the famous Devil’s Thumb Ranch. Evelyn would later purchase a Macintosh IIsi as a Christmas gift to the family in the 90s.
At the age of seven, Asher taught himself how to program with his family’s TRS-80 Color Computer II 16k. Hardware preceded software in many regards, and it was later that packages like operating systems (such as OS-9) would surface, making the hardware easier to use. These circumstances created a window where the esoteric art of programming a machine was paramount to operate the machine effectively.
Ready Player One
After a couple of years of perusing the manual included with the TRS-80 Color Computer II and teaching himself BASIC and rudimentary programming, at the age of nine, Asher first came upon the Nintendo Entertainment System. Across the globe, in Japan, with the success of microelectronics and the PC-8800 series, video game development was continuing to grow. What is colloquially known as the “video game crash” in North America never quite occurred culturally in Japan.
Eventually, a company named Nintendo launched the ファミコン (“Famicom,” a sort of portmanteau popular in Japanese meaning “Family Computer.”) They marketed later versions of this product to North American audiences as a toy under the name Nintendo Entertainment System. With Shigeru Miyamoto’s (宮本茂) help as a game designer for the Mario and Zelda franchises, this console revitalized the video game market.
The Amber Glow
When the NES was first demonstrated to his older brother Ian by his friend, Asher was awe-struck. Seeing the system’s advanced graphical and sound capabilities, far beyond that of the TRS-80, inspired a vision of vast potential within the young man. Driven by his exposure to the Nintendo Entertainment System, he became intensely interested in creating entertaining and artistic interactive simulations.
Asher immediately became hooked to learning how to program with the goal of creating games. He quickly switched his dream career from “Nintendo Hotline Operator” to “Game Designer.” Struggling under the limitations of QuickBASIC for the IIsi, he devoured his older brother’s college textbook on C/C++ programming as soon as he saw it. As time passed, Asher fell in love with learning to operate and control this machine to do his bidding beyond games, as well as the potential to actualize imaginative worlds and (seemingly) living narratives.
A Philosophy For Living
You are responsible for your beliefs and actions and any resultant happiness or lack of it.Asher Wolfstein
Asher values quality and strives to be his personal best in everything he chooses to do. If something is not worth doing well, it’s probably not worth doing. In this vein, Asher has honed his outlook and ethics to include several principles (which he has applied to develop the Novelty Factor’s principles of business). Chief among them is that you can’t help people by taking from others, only giving.
His stoicism includes the idea that honor, fame, and riches are neutral and worth little; virtue means everything. Monetary wealth is merely a tool to use towards achieving your goals, not a goal in itself. Your existence alone doesn’t automatically make you virtuous, good or bad. There is nothing you have to do; every action is always a choice and a reflection of your values. These choices will project your virtue.
Part Of The Community
Having lived in a well-connected community amidst the transience of tourism, Asher appreciates the values of commonality and individuality. With this appreciation, he criticizes and eschews coercion and force, seeking only authentic benefits through self-reliant cooperation and respect.
Asher did not pursue higher education after graduating from secondary school. Consequently, he has been employed in several vocations. Growing up, he was often a go-to ranch hand for all tasks ranging from fence erection, animal husbandry, irrigation, and waste management. He became a fully licensed insurance agent at the Great Divide Insurance Company in his home county at eighteen years of age.
He starred in the independent motion picture Solitaire at the age of nineteen, which enjoyed a private double showing at the local stadium-seated movie house. At twenty-two, Asher worked as a professional programmer at Output Services Inc., where he optimized the PostScript printing process for financial statements. A twenty-five he also worked for a year as an educational technology paraprofessional in the public school system at the very elementary he attended as a child. In 2016, at the age of thirty-three, Asher’s artwork hung in local art galleries, including the Artist and Apprentice Exhibit in Loveland, Colorado.
The Future Is Bright
The capacity of applied philosophy to have far-reaching beneficial effects on life’s quality fascinates Asher. He’s experienced working effectively with various types of individuals towards mutual benefit and understanding in a range of settings.
Asher currently resides in Fort Collins, Colorado, with his husband. He spearheads Novelty Factor’s innovative work alongside Maus Merryjest. Asher’s further musings on life, his technological projects both commercial and personal (particularly with code), his interests and concerns, loves and hates, the spelunkings of his cavernous mind, what’s he’s currently into, and his surprising life of joy from painful beauty is available at his personal blog World of Wunk. You can also check out and connect with his LinkedIn Profile.
Asher’s current projects include:
- The production and maintenance of The Novelty Factor LLC’s (Novelty Factor) web presence, including this website and social media accounts.
- Expansion of Novelty Factor’s breadth of deliverables including software products and services comprising,
- Main Developer for Incarnate Me, Novelty Factor’s flagship (distributed) social network and identity server.
- Main Developer of the 魅惑 (Miwaku) Engine, an in-house parser-centric multi-user simulation framework for rapid immersive narrative game development and publishing.
His personal projects currently include:
- World Of Wunk, Asher’s personal blog and publishing platform.