Thursday, November 19, 2009


While I often complain about being technologically challenged, I also consider myself and others like me Computer Pioneers.
I went from a Commodore 64 in 1982 to an Amiga, then a Macintosh, (one of several), to my current PC.
The Commodore, (Wisdom of the day- who would ever need more than 64 megabytes?) worked like a typewriter, except you didn't have a carriage return and the words parsed all over the place. You couldn't always see the beginning of your sentence, or the end of your sentence when it jumped as you were typing. Disconcerting. This beauty cost me about $1,000 plus classes to learn how to use it.

To print on my C Itoh printer, I had to program the page like this:

SP1:pp66:pg55:lm15:re70:vpt< (manually <> (return) eleven times.

For a different program you had to reset the printer turning on and off various dip switches. Instructions: Bend over the machine to read from left to right, with cord to the right, hold a flashlight and use a fingernail or small screwdriver to set the switches.

The formula read like this:

SW1 8,7,2-closed. 1,3,4,5,6 open.
SW2 2,4,7-closed. 1,3,5,6,8 open.
(Change #8 for programs that double space to #6 on switch 2.

You had to know braille to figure out what was off and on. The flashlight, if you could hold it, didn't help much.

To boot up my word processing program I had to type in a load formula, no auto boot.
I guess it isn't such a big deal when I think about today's long singular lines, no caps, passwords, some numbers and signs, but, at the time, it was daunting and complicated and didn't make intuitive sense. Nothing popped up automatically in your address line. You didn't even have an address line. If you pressed the wrong button you could easily lose your work. Now, at least, you get a window that asks if you want to destroy, or delete work. Yes, they were quite primitive, those first computers.

We spent the money, helped iron out the bugs, kept buying the next generation up until they could be mass produced inexpensively, so everyone could own a computer. We fought with those machines and cried over tossing them for the next best thing. We were the pioneers.

What the heck, learning truly is the best entertainment. I'm guess I'm surprised I got from there to here.
I'm grateful for my computer. I don't do anything fancy on it except manipulate pictures, which I love. Its way better than the old typewriter. Thank you Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and half that generation for teaching an old dolly new tricks.

No comments: