Richard Prokopchuk

When was the first time you saw/used a computer and what kind of computer was it?
I first used a computer while in the military in 1975. We used a non-descript front end that was driven by a Vax main frame. We connected from our location in Germany to NSA in minutes instead of hours and days.
When was the first time you actually owned a computer and where/how did you get it?
I got my first computer in 1985 or late 84 at the San Angelo Mall. It was an Apple IIc. It was actually the size of a large laptop, but had a separate CRT and a built in keyboard and floppy drive. I bought it in San Angelo, Texas and got it because I didn’t like the rubber chicklet keys that the IBM had.
How have computers and technology changed your life?
They give me windows to the world. It was like having the Library of Congress on my desk. Or the Louvre or any other library and/or museum you could think of. It gave me access to music.
What did you not see coming?
I did not expect computers to catch on so fast and become so widespread.
What do you expect from future technology?
You know, I think AI is going to be more powerful that anyone can imagine. I think even folks in the Congo will be online.
Tell me of a time when technology screwed up your day?
I worked at AOL Tucson from late 95 till they replaced us. I was working the mid shift at the first Tucson call center. This lady had called and had such a weak grasp on the interweb that by the time we were done, I was crying. A 44 year old man, crying. My whole week was screwed up, not just my day. She hadn’t been able to get on line and I fixed her. She hung up without so much as a thank you” ;
Tell me of a time when technology saved the day?
A lovely lady called because she was totally new to computers and AOL. She didn’t know anything at all, what anything was called, NOTHING. Iwas able to get her Mac online after only a few minutes. She sent me artificial emeralds to thank me; I still have them. I suppose I should have sent them back. She sent them to me via the AOL address in Tucson.
Comments?
I am a retired military guy. I’m also quite disabled now. I still use my computer as my connection to the entire world.

Kenneth Folsom

When was the first time you saw/used a computer and what kind of computer was it?
It was old. Radio Shack of some sort. It had a cassette tape player for a disk drive. We were playing a game of Star Trek where you were fighting on a 10 x 10 grid of dots. The spaceship was a # it fired torpedos * at Klingons but I can’t remember what they were.
When was the first time you actually owned a computer and where/how did you get it?
High School graduation present in 1988 my parents bought me. Zenith Easy PC3 with an NEC processor that emulated an 8088 processor but at 7 ghz vs 4. It had a brand new LOW density 3.5″ floppy at 720K and a 10MB hard drive. You could buy a modular add on to increase ram to 640K and add a modem 2400.
How have computers and technology changed your life?
Got a history degree but used computers in my job. That got me into AOL Tech Support. It’s been an IT career since that.
What did you not see coming?
Virtual Machines. I showed up to a new job and they said launch your virtual machines and I said “A What?” Now we have Lambda’s and containers. Office Applications in a browser. Not surprising when you think about google sheets, but still, they did what? Err okay.
What do you expect from future technology?
People living in virtual worlds vs this one. See the book or movie, Ready Player One
Tell me of a time when technology screwed up your day?
Microsoft Project, I was new at it and inserted something in the wrong spot and my dates got pushed out without me realizing it. These were dates I had vendors then commit to. Then I realized I was a week late on 10 vendors. I have not used Project since.
Tell me of a time when technology saved the day?
Working at AOL and recruiting beta testers in the hundreds of thousands for AOL 6.0. coming off a bad 5.0 release. We had to not only process applications quickly, but then keep them on the latest software. We used the product on its self in two ways. Offline email would download the applications via emails to where we could process them with scripts into Excel. To keep everyone on the same version the product had modal and non modal window capability. For testers that would not upgrade, we forced a modal window to them with a warning and two buttons, one to proceed and one to upgrade. When they still wouldn’t upgrade we removed the proceed button and replaced it with sign off. That really moved the needle. (Note: Part of being a beta tester was you would keep a released version installed that was never blocked) We made our goal of 400K, 500K and finally 600K of daily sessions and enabled the company to find the bugs that only happened 1 in 10,000 attempts and release 6.0 with a much higher quality than 5.0. The team won an award for their efforts.
Comments?
It’s been a hell of a ride.

Joshua Kassel

When was the first time you saw/used a computer and what kind of computer was it?
Saw: Mid 1970s, a punchcard-fed mainframe at UCLA. I was 5 or 6 years old.Used: Late 1970s. It was a TRS-80 with a cassette tape drive.
When was the first time you actually owned a computer and where/how did you get it?
Mac Classic II in the early 90s. It was tricked out with 80mb of disc space and (get this) FOUR mb of RAM, which cost an extra $1500
How have computers and technology changed your life?
Immensely. I went from teaching English to a career in IT by taking a summer job between semesters being a phone monkey at a call center for a new company called America Online in 1995
What did you not see coming?
Crypto currency
What do you expect from future technology?
Tech implants.
Tell me of a time when technology screwed up your day?
December 31, 1999 to January 1, 2000. I got roped into a 24 hour shift to be on standby in case the Y2K bug caused global chaos.
Tell me of a time when technology saved the day?
Pretty much every day. The way in which computers and the internet have ascended to be a central part of our lives is amazing.
Comments?
As a kid, we had a library hotline you could call. You’d talk to a person and could ask them a question. If they didn’t know the answer they’d research it and call you back. I call that “Search Engine 1.0”

Thomas Austin

When was the first time you saw/used a computer and what kind of computer was it?
Besides seeing my parents punch cards it was a commodore 64.
When was the first time you actually owned a computer and where/how did you get it?
Commodore 64. Parents.
How have computers and technology changed your life?
Suplimentry memory.
What did you not see coming?
People’s willingness to give up privacy.
What do you expect from future technology?
Uploading ones concesnence.
Tell me of a time when technology screwed up your day?
When my brother Sean Austin tried to hack ft. Huachuca and a bank.
Tell me of a time when technology saved the day?
When my criminal records weren’t uploaded from paper files.

Matthew Austin

When was the first time you saw/used a computer and what kind of computer was it?
Early 1980s, Commodore 64
When was the first time you actually owned a computer and where/how did you get it?
Commodore 64 around 1983.
How have computers and technology changed your life?
As computers and tech evolved I was able to do more in less time Creating and editing documents became much easier and more efficient. With the internet less time was needed to research information from reliable sources, making training and learning easier and more cost effective.
What did you not see coming?
Streaming.
What do you expect from future technology?
More intuitive interfaces, faster access speeds.
Tell me of a time when technology screwed up your day?
In the early days of I forgot to do routine backups I would lose everything because of a BSoD crash. Term papers, homework and research reports had to be created from scratch!
Tell me of a time when technology saved the day?
Keyword searches of electronic documents have allowed me to pull answers to critical questions in minutes when it would have taken hours, if not days,of mind numbing reading of government documents in the hopes of finding the answer.
Comments?
I came up from the days of card readers and Basic, then seeing the advent of BBSs and modems increasing from 300 to 1200 and up to 56.6k that seemed like lightning fast speeds until the commercial internet evolved. After my Commi I bought an IBM Aptiva, then built a few PCs for fun, discovered Alienware’s cool designs (pre-Dell) and eventually custom ordered a PC from an online company. Changes are faster than I can keep up with now!

Sean Austin

When was the first time you saw/used a computer and what kind of computer was it?
1980 Commodore 64
When was the first time you actually owned a computer and where/how did you get it?
Same Commodore 64, I was fortunate enough that my father understood how important computers would be and bought it for me when we moved back to the US.
How have computers and technology changed your life?
My first experience online was an old BBS, dial up at 300 Baud. I met a Sysop and became a Co-Sysop of the board. This lead to hacking games and dialing various locations around the world. Because of my love of computers, I got a job at AOL, getting away from a dead end cooking job and moving me into my current career path 🙂
What did you not see coming?
How fast memory would expand. I remember my first 10 Meg drive and 1 Gig of Ram computer. I always assumed graphics would get better, but not memory..
What do you expect from future technology?
VR 100%. I see tech moving away from multiple platforms (Phones, tablets, desktops) to a wearable platform. Ease of use that you have 100% of the time.
Tell me of a time when technology screwed up your day?
Stolen phone. You don’t realize how much you rely on technology until its gone. Many years ago, during the flip phone era, I had my phone stolen on a trolley in San Fran. Ready to met up with friends in a “Foreign” city, I was at a complete loss… didn’t know their numbers, where I was..ect.
Tell me of a time when technology saved the day?
To many times to think of one instance!! It’s DAILY 🙂
Comments?
Love this blog 🙂

Bill Ponder

“When was the first time you saw/used a computer and what kind of computer was it?”
The first computer I used and in fact purchased for the medical and drug treatment company I ran was in 1974. It was a “minicomputer,” Microdata Reality* with 64k of virtual memory and a 12” 10 MB platter for storage, a tape drive, mostly used for backup and drove 4 CRT terminals. Languages were compiled data-basic, English* and Proc procedural language. Believe it or not, Microdata actually was able to register trademarks for Reality and English, which is why computers that followed with natural language interfaces had to say they had an, “English-like” query language. It also had a virtual database and at the time we wondered how we would ever fill up 10 MB of disk. 
“When was the first time you actually owned a computer and where/how did you get it?”
A Mac Classic shortly after it was introduced. My wife was a partner in an Ad agency which bought several and we got one for home. Been all Apple since for home but mainframes and minis for work and unfortunately all PCs. Hated that about my job. Loved the Mac. Progressed along with it through every iteration of hardware and software. Interesting aside — much later in my wife’s company there were a few coffee tables in the offices with four old classics as the supporting legs. 
How have computers and technology changed your life?
When I started in business it was all typewriters, mostly Selectrics by then. The most copies you could have was five because that’s the most you could get that were readable with carbon paper. There was the commercial printer for mass mailings but otherwise five copies had to do. You could use mimeograph stencils but they were considered generally unacceptable in business but were common in schools and churches. Loved that smell. Then the Xerox was invented and the world changed. Over time speeds increased and cost decreased and the mass destruction of forests began. PCs added greatly to that trend and secretaries began to be replaced by administrative assistants. Everyone became a typist. Younger folks learned touch typing and most of us old dinosaurs got really good at hunt-and-peck. At home as a kid I listened to the AM radio. When I was 6 a neighbor got the first TV in the neighborhood with three channels ABC, CBS and NBC. I’d go over after school and watch Howdy Doody. Then we got a TV, about 10 inches and of corse all were black add white. I’d watch westerns. Hop Along Cassidy (Hoppy) was my favorite but also Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and The Lone Ranger. My love of SciFi began with Captain Video and his Video Rangers; Tom Corbit, Space Cadet and of course Flash Gordon as he fought Emperor Ming with his girlfriend, Dale Arden. Slowly but surely everyone got color TVs with growing screen size and some independent stations, even PBS. Now I have Dish satellite with hundreds of channels and a DVR with Google assisted voice remote and a DVR with 17 tuners allowing me to record 17 shows simultaneously. 
We went from a party line phone to a private line where you placed calls through the operator to a dial phone to push buttons to a flip phone to a smartphone. I haven’t gotten to a smart watch yet. My 3-speed manual shift-on-the-column, manual steering and brakes car with bench seats without seatbelts, roll-up windows, heater and AM radio option has gone to a six speed automatic transmission controlled with a dial, bucket seats with 3-point restraints with full airbags, climate control, power everything, sunroof, AM/FM/Sirius XM radio with CD, Bluetooth, Apple Play and Sync, hands-free phone, Navigation and voice control (but no spare).
My first flight, age 10, was on a DC3. My second was on a Constellation (3 tails and the first pressurized cabin), then a 707 all the way through wide bodies. In the early days everyone dressed up to fly, suits and ties and Sunday dresses. Now it’s shorts, tank top and flip-flops. I once sat next to a guy who took his shoes and sox off and picked his toes the whole time. 
Who could have imagined?

Dawn Reynolds

When was the first time you saw/used a computer and what kind of computer was it?
The first real computer I used was when I worked at the State Police post back in 1977. I used the LEIN (Law Enforcement Information Network) .
When was the first time you actually owned a computer and where/how did you get it?
We owned a computer in 1988 that was bought for my son . He had leukemia and he used it for mostly games. I have no idea what it was but it was nothing like computers today.
How have computers and technology changed your life?
In a good way they allow me to travel and still work part time. But the best thing is being able to travel and stay connected with family. The worst way is you never escape and everyone knows everyone’s business.
What did you not see coming?
The loss of jobs for those in retail, the loss of privacy and the inability for youth to interact face to face. It has made a very lazy society.
What do you expect from future technology?
I think it will eventually ruin humanity people will lose purpose.
Tell me of a time when technology saved the day?
When my husband needed his aortic valve replaced for the second time in less than 3 years. For his first surgery he had to have his chest broke open and his heart put on a heart machine. The second time they were able to do a TAVR procedure and thread the new valve up through his groin and place the valve he went home the next day.
Comments?
Technology is amazing I just feel there needs to be limitations. I keep wondering if jobs continue to be replaced with technology who will be left to buy the products. Factories are replacing people with machines and now they are making cars that drive themselves. I just see ultimate disaster.

TekXJim

When was the first time you saw/used a computer and what kind of computer was it?
Ibm360, yavapai college 1980.
When was the first time you actually owned a computer and where/how did you get it?
Tandy color computer 1982. Gift from parents.
How have computers and technology changed your life?
I was going to be a drunk skateboard riding farm worker but instead I was a drugged out computer engineer.
What did you not see coming?
My years of working with porn stars.
What do you expect from future technology?
Puerile Decadence.
Tell me of a time when technology screwed up your day?
From 1981 until 2014, basically every moment sitting in front of one.
Tell me of a time when technology saved the day?
When the internet went down at work and they sent us home.