“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?
1. The first computer I can remember with any certainty was a TRS-80 that a friend had. Before that I remember accompanying my dad down to the local university computer lab so he could submit his computer punchcards to the university computer person to print his thesis paper (or something along those lines). I remember the punchcards more than the computer though, for why I cite the TRS-80.
2. 1980 roughly. Dad got the family an Apple ][ Plus for Christmas – including a dot matrix printer, stylus and mouse. We used an old TV for a monitor until getting an Apple monitor /// later.
3. Computers have been my source of employment, a tool to use at many of my jobs as well as a source of recreation and communication. Computers have also allowed me to learn more about any topic one might think of: Old Time Radio, quantum physics, “hobo nickels”, medical conditions, Ramune, foreign TV shows and endless other topics.
4. The domination of “the instant” versus waiting. The weather forecast going from newspaper to phone information to smartphone app… Shopping going from driving to a different town to find an obscure item of interest to purchase to a few mouse clicks on Amazon… Getting your photographs developed at a Next Day shop to a drive-through One Hour Photo booth to digital cameras… Even commercials have gone from 90 seconds to 30, to 15, etc and they still feel long and obtrusive.
5. At this point, I want a good AR and VR device that exceeds my expectations.