1. When was the first time a touched a computer? 1978-79ish? The punch cards were on the way out and keyboards were on the horizon. I connected to an acoustic coupler from my “station” to the main frame. The baud rate was a sizzling 300bps. I logged in for the duration of my programming session. (Fortran was the language taught @ my college.) I actually touched a DEC VT terminal for my lab experiments. In 1980-81, I was able to assist one of my profs with his newly acquired Apple II. I never looked away from the light.
2. Mac SE(I upgraded it to an SE30 as soon as I could afford it. A 20 meg HD set me back $600 @ the time. Around 1988-89 time frame. Teachers were give a discount by Apple, as they still do, so one day I bit the bullet and paid $3000 for my new life.
3. AOL, however… I taught HS for a number of years prior to AOL. At my school they were handing out Mac Classics to the teachers. Nobody knew what to do with them, so I “stole” them and created a networked lab in my classroom. I taught the kids “HyperCard” and how to use the 16-bit scanner. We created lessons on a variety of topics. Kids learned a lot that couple of years.
4. I used an external modem for many years. I tried CompuServe a couple of times during the mid 80s. Never liked the command line approach. GUI was good. Tried Prodigy and liked it. No content, but it was cool. Easy to use. Then I got the disc in the mail. I love the ease of use within AOL. Click, you were off to someplace new. It seemed magical to me, even in Black & White. I didn’t have AOL in color until 1996. At home.
5. AOL was the first time and really the only time.
6. The ease of access was the largest thing I don’t think I recognized as becoming a “thing”. ISDN was the “bomb” of the early days. It was also hugely expensive and unreliable. I couldn’t see it getting any better. Internet T-1 connections were for the business ends, but the home user was stuck I felt.
Computer wise you just knew they were gonna get faster and smaller. The smart phone was of course a surprise.