What did your first computer look like? Do you remember? Was it a big clunky thing with two floppy drives (5 1/4 & 3 1/2)? Did you have a bundle of wires behind your desk that would choke a horse? Do you remember those times? Man have things changed.
I first took an interest in computers back in the late 80’s but I wasn’t about to pay the prices they were asking at the time. I waited until the fall of 1991 before I bought my first computer. It was a IBM 286 with a 40 meg HD (That’s right 40 meg). The 386’s were relatively new on the market, but heck I didn’t even know how to turn one on so why spend the extra money right?
Anyway, I got my 286 set up in a closet of an apartment where I was staying, while waiting for my transfer to Calgary. I got the monitor, mouse and keyboard hooked up and turned it on. After a few seconds of some clunking and grumbling there it was at the top left side of the monotone screen C:\ What do I do now?
It took a while but I figured out how to get a few things going and actually write a short letter in Word Perfect 5.0. About a week into my journey I discover Bulletin Boards and 2400 bd modems. My life would never be the same. Over the course of the next few months with the help of a few other “SYSOPs” I down loaded Maximus and Front Door and had a full fledged bulletin board up and running including echo mail, net-mail and games.
I ran the BB in Calgary for a while, I even bought a 386 (486’s were out now) and I was a “HUB” for FIDO. I was one of many fish in a very big pond and maybe I could have become a bigger fish in that pond but along came the internet and life changed again. If you don’t understand some or all of the terminology so far, don’t worry about it most people don’t. As a matter of fact most people probably didn’t even know computers existed until the internet came along.
When the internet came along I opened a “Shell account” with a local ISP (Internet Service Provider). I was still using DOS on my computer to run my Bulletin Board, but when the internet came along I wanted to be able to see the graphics and so I installed Windows 3.1 on my 386 and loaded a group of internet programs like Web crawler, Gopher, Archie and Netscape .98 I was officially a Geek.
The internet drew millions of people into the computer age. My sister, brother, brother-in-law, neighbours and friends. And the price was enormous $2500 for a system, $3500 for a system and even $5,000 for a family computer so they could have access to the internet.
The world has changed since those early days of computers and internet. There are no encyclopedia salesmen knocking at your door during dinner for one. The world is at your finger tips. Book a flight, buy a car or sell a painting. You can do it from your favorite chair in the evening or before you go to work in the morning, or use your cell phone and do it while taking the bus to work. It is everywhere, it is a part of every segment of our lives. Facebook, Twitter, MSN and all the rest have changed the way the world communicates. Hell even an old fart like me can set up and run a blog.
A colleague of mine who discovered the wonders of the internet along with me back in the mid 90’s once referred to the internet as “Eye Candy”. “Wait til we see what it’s going to be like a decade from now, Bruce”, he said.
Well Frank, the “Eye Candy” is still here but the store in much much larger than either of us had anticipated and there are so many new flavors to try.