Sunday, November 9, 2008

My walk through technology history

I'm just over 50 and I'm sometimes in awe of the technological changes that I've experienced. In high school, we weren't allowed to use calculators and our exposure to computers were punched cards that were taken out to the college computer. In college, we could use calculators so I got a really cool Texas Instrument calculator that could be programed for certain functions-ouch!-it set me back over $100. Unfortunately, it also quit working after 1-2 years-wiped out by STATIC ELECTRICITY! Replacing it cost me half the money and it could almost do twice as much. Unless you were going to be a computer programmer, about the only thing we did with computers in college was use dumb terminals to connect to the university computers for a few assignments.

Now, I like technology-we got our first computer in 1987, a Tandy, that required a 3 1/2 in. floppy inserted in the a: drive to run its desktop operating system and a b: drive to store things on another floppy. One of our teenage babysitters made a simple superman computer game using DOS for our kids, although soon there were computer games such as Wheel of Fortune that could be played on the computer. By about 1991, I was volunteering at the school and they had access through the ESU unit to the Internet. I remember using Gopher and later Veronica to access information on the Internet. I questioned my memory about these names so I looked and found this interesting website; Sure enough, Veronica had followed Archie and Jughead got involved too. (I read Archie comic books in my younger years)

We had promised our kids a new computer the summer of 1995. Windows 95 had been delayed a little so we went ahead and bought a Windows 3.1 computer. We accessed the web, first through AOL, paying long-distance charges since local numbers stopped at Grand Island and skipped to Cheyenne WY. Then we went with AT&T before our little Hershey Cooperative phone company contracted with a IP in North Platte to get us dial-up access without long-distance. We bought our next computer in 2000, having to get Windows 98 because some important software we were using for our dairy farm hadn't progressed past Windows 98 compatibility (this sounds a little like Vista and XP, doesn't it). That computer had a standard 5 year warranty with no extra surcharge. We progressed to a DSL connection when it was offered, mostly because our modem died and the new modem didn't seem happy either. Our kids appreciated the speed because they could more easily access their assignments from their college network during holidays and for online classes in the summer.

And now, we are on Windows XP and our DSL has dropped considerably in price; we have wireless for our relatives that come visiting with their laptops.

Having gone through my personal history of computers, I ponder, however, that our new and improved technology, is going the way of other things-they aren't made to last (my daughter's laptop had issues from the start)-so we will be forced to either increase our spending to include extended warranties or count on replacing these much more frequently than we had to in the past. Just a thought.


Madame Bonbon said...

Wow, what a trip down memory lane your post is! I hadn't thought about gopher, my trusty TRS-80, or Texas Instruments calculators for eons. I remember when TI switched from the red electronic view screen to LCD on those little calculators--my brother said LCD wasn't as visible and predicted we'd never see LCD readouts within a couple years. Ha! Just one more funny memory -- we had a Tandy daisy wheel printer to go with our TRS-80. The printout quality was lovely, but when that sucker ran out of paper, it triggered a warning sound louder than a civil defense alarm. My sister would always yell "World War 3 has beguuuuuun!"

Dawn said...

Yes days of reminiscing how wonderful. I remember those early days. I had one of the first apple computers that came out. See I am near your age and yes calculators were taboo. Ya had to sneak or take a zero if caught using one. They didn't have a CE button so look out if you made a mistake as you had to add that long column over again.
Enjoyed your post!

JUDYG said...

Boy, even though I am several years ahead of you Terri I do remember Veronica. I started on a Tandy also, then had a brief spell with Apples before being converted. Do I ever remember buying the first TI calculator for my Dad - he was an engineer and reluctant to give up his slide rule. I still have my slide rule in the file cabinet; wish I had his.

Anj said...

Such a rich and beautifully detailed exploration of your personal history with computers. I really enjoyed reading that. The ealiest computer I can remember using was a Commodore Vic 20, hooked up to our kitchen television.