Truthful Tuesday:1 September


My First Computer Experiences

I read Fandango’s post about his first experiences with computers and decided to play along with PC GuyIV as I realised any comment I made was going to become a long one.

My very first brush with computers was in high school. 1972 to be exact. My class was taken to another school who had acquired a mainframe computer for teaching purposes. I was interested in the idea but seriously underwhelmed by the experience.

We were in a classroom with the computer in an adjoining room. I can’t recall if we were allowed to actually see it. I know the room was climate controlled and have a vague memory of someone in a lab coat. I may be wrong about that bit. It was 1972 remember. I was fifteen in case you were wondering.

Pete Birkinshaw from Manchester, UK / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

We were given cards to mark, two kinds, one lot we marked with strokes of a pencil, the other was a punch card. I think we were just supposed to make the computer print out things like our names or simple sums like 2+2. The cards reminded me of the cards mum used to play lotto.

The cards were taken into the next room and later the teacher came back with huge reams of paper . My piece mostly said “syntax error”. I just could not get what I was doing wrong. Thus ended my first experience of a computer. It was more than 20 years before I had anything to do with computers again.

Xavier Caballe / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

My husband loved computers though. He started reading a lot about personal computers. I think he secretly longed to be a hacker. I remember the year, 1995, when he got a Vic 20 soon to be followed by a Commodore 64. He got the tape deck, extra memory and even an accoustic coupler. He loved that thing. David tried to teach me how to use TasWord. That was my first actual experience of using a personal computer. I was fine with typing a letter. I used to write a lot of letters back then. I didn’t like having to keep calling David to help me format it. I recall telling him that I could do most of what he did on the computer faster with a pen and paper. I was lousy at Moon Landing too.

The bad old days !

It was only when Windows came along that I became a convert. We bought a PC, a Pentium 286 I think. David set it up and we started to figure out how it worked and suddenly I realised that he had no more idea than I did how to operate it. Level playing field at last! he used a computer at work so I encouraged him to go to any training that they offered and to continue learning on his own when he left that job. Computers were starting to appear around my workplace so I thought I should learn too. I’d seen others struggle because they were only taught what they actually needed to do at work, not how to use the computer properly. Naomi and I took a class at the adult education centre where we learned Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 and the rest, as they say, is history.

Taswegian1957

I was born in England in 1957 and lived there until our family came to Australia in 1966. I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, where I met and married my husband David. We came together over a mutual love of trains. Both of us worked for the railways for many years, his job was with Australian National Railways, while I spent 12 years working for the STA, later TransAdelaide the Adelaide city transit system. After leaving that job I worked in hospitality until 2008. We moved to Tasmania in 2002 to live in the beautiful Huon Valley. In 2015 David became ill and passed away in October of that year. I currently co-write two blogs on WordPress.com with my sister Naomi. Our doll blog "Dolls, Dolls, Dolls", and "Our Other Blog" which is about everything else but with a focus on photographs and places in Tasmania. In November 2019 I began a new life in the house that Naomi and I intend to make our retirement home at Sisters Beach in Tasmania's northwest. My current housemates are Cindy, my 14-year-old Staffy-Lab X dog and Polly the world's most unsociable cat who is seven.

4 comments

  1. I must admit, I’m a bit younger than you, but occasionally I’m so amazed by how much technology has changed in my lifetime. My kids may never see a cassette tape playing. They will never know the joy of sticking a pencil in and trying to fix the tangled tape. They never played Emu Joust or Scavenger on a little Microbee with a screen that only showed black and green. When we went to Jakarta, the American school there used Macintosh computers with 3.5 inch floppy disks. And my South African friend had a Commodore 64 which, to me, seemed so advanced compared to anything I’d known. I remember, in high school back in Australia, sitting in the little phone nook upstairs chatting to friends and twirling the twisty cord around and around my fingers. Who has a phone nook these days? Ha. My friend and I used to send each other little cartoons by fax. By the time I got to Uni, intranet was a thing and we used the University’s email system called “Wumpus”. I loved writing emails and I loved Wumpus. I don’t remember when I first met Windows. It all blurs together after Uni. By the end of Uni I had my own laptop and it was absolutely expected that all assignments be type-written where as at the end of high school, I still hand-wrote a lot of essays. I watch my kids now and they are learning to type at age seven and eight. I don’t know if I like it. Just like I don’t know if I like that analogue clocks seem to be on their way out. To me the analogue clock face is so much more descriptive of the passage of time than a few numbers on a digital screen. I wonder how all this stuff changes our brains? I wonder what skills we are trading for what?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do love computers and the internet but the generation who have grown up with it have lost skills. Teenagers can’t make change because their electronic cash register tells them how much change to give. Oldies like me who say. “I can give you the odd 20c.” in order to wind up with less coinage in their purses confuse the hell out of the. Probably anyone who pays cash confuses the hell out of them now. Can children tell the time on a clock face? Has Big Ben become irrelevant if young people can’t tell the time from it.Don’t get me started on self serve checkouts!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I paid no attention at all to computers until after I moved to Israel, discovered I could actually own one, and from then on, I built my entire professional life around the development of computers and computer-based systems. i literally went from NO interest to complete involvement almost overnight.

    Liked by 1 person

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