David Kha

1. Sometime in the early 80’s, my mom brought home an Osborne 1. It ran CP/M and had a tiny-tiny display with a large floppy drive to the left and right of the screen. The main thing I did with it was learn and use WordStar, with friendly commands like to save, control K (as in blocK) D (as in save?). If you were writing a full line of text, the tiny screen really couldn’t display a whole line, so you’d have to hold the control key down and hit an arrow to move the screen so you could see where your cursor was and then continue typing. I don’t think we had a printer for a long time, so everything was trapped on those 5.25″ disks. It also had GWBASIC, so once I learned how to use that, I could write crappy adventure games and then there were games to play.

2. The first computer I ever owned that I could call my own was a Macintosh SE. In 1989 I picked it up at a weird electronics shop in New York and it got me through the end of high school and the beginning of college. I covered it in PEZ wrappers.

3. I used to transcribe for a woman who has a neurological disorder during high school. I would go to her house and she would dictate the story she was writing to me and I would type it up on a word procesor (probably Word Perfect). It paid better than a selling popcorn and peanuts at the football games and was a lot less work.

4. My first exposure to being online was in the mid 80’s calling up local BBS’s from an Apple //e. We started with a 300 baud modem, then upgraded to 1200 baud. At that point one of the local BBS’s was called The Liverpool Express, and the owner had wanted to get rid of it, so my dad decided he would take it over, despite having zero experience with programming or having his phone line tied up forever. We ran that thing in off hours and people would call in and use the BBS. There was a “chat the Sysop” option, and I would often answer them and chat with random people in the city. Over the years we had a dedicated phone line, bought a massave, shoebox-sized 1MB hard drive and loaded the whole system onto a single drive.

5. AOL was the first job where I really the first job where I needed proper internet access. You know the rest.

6. Nearly everything blindsided me about computers. I didn’t think a GUI was a good idea, command line was what I was used to and I saw no reason to make me move a mouse around. I was on Compuserve, GEnie and Apple Link and they seemed like giant BBSes, but I never thought that would go mainstream. I was on Six Degrees of Separation (an old social media site) and loved the idea, but with only two friends on it, I figured social media would never catch on because nobody else was on the internet and why would you just want to message those other two people? I did think the future of music was digital and that instead of buying stereo components, you’d buy software to play your music on. No more buying fancy graphic equalizers, just download that component to your computer and you had a brand new piece of hardware. I was kind of right.

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