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So I'm Getting Old


Tim Goyette

At the end of the year magazines often review the big developments of the past year and project what they think the New Year will bring.  Well, I just recently passed the big 50 and am on the downhill slide.  So in this editorial weíll go over some of the big items that have come to pass during my lifetime.

My daughter born in 1990 and myself were walking into a store and the door opened at our approach.  When I was a kid watching first run Star Trek episodes it seemed so cool to have doors open automatically.  Mentioning this to my daughter brought a surprised response.  She couldnít imagine a time when doors didnít open automatically.

In one episode of Star Trek Teri Garr spoke to a typewriter and it automatically typed.  Far out stuff at the time.  Now Dragon Naturally Speaking helps me with transcribing hand written work.

In college I studied computer science.  We typed our programs on punch cards, on line per card.  The professors encouraged us to hand number the cards so we could easily reassemble them if they should be dropped.  Which didnít happen to me, but I saw it once, a very sad sight.  We turned in our punch card stack to the mainframe administrators, who would run then in turn.  If a stack were delivered in the morning the results would be out by afternoon.  If one worked fast they could get two runs in one day. 

Then came mini-computers, PDP11s were popular and time-sharing.  Finally we had terminals and could run programs as we wished, provided a terminal was available and we hadnít used up our allotment.

Finally in the late 70ís hobby computers appeared on the scene.  Generally these were sold as kits, but some electronics stores started selling these devices in pre-built form.  They generally didnít come with operating systems.  If you wanted one, you should write it your self. 

Then came the commodore PET, the TRS-80 and several other ďBrand NameĒ microcomputers, which would later be named PCís.  I wrote my first professional program on an Atari 800 with a 5 ľ floppy drive.  Hard drives were not available yet, most of the early micros used cassette tape for storage.

Then came the apple and finally the IBM PC and most everyone know the history from there.  I now have a Palm TX.  It is much more powerful than the early PCs and it fits in my hand, with a color screen, no less.

One more Start Trek reference: Spock and McCoy used small, what looked like plastic, cards to store information on, now we use SD cards and other such solid state memory.

Our children can only read maps and directions because we insisted on it when they first started driving, but we use GPS devices when every we travel to new places now.

When I was very young there was only black and white TV and only 4 or 5 channels.

Cell phones, hah, I grew up with rotary dial and a party line!  For those of you who donít know, a party line is where more than one household shared the same phone number.  Youíd pick up the phone and here others talking on it.  If there were an emergency youíd ask them to hang up so you could call out.

Microwaves didnít exist as a household item.  My grandmother used to reheat spaghetti in a frying pan.  We called it fried spaghetti. 

Most changes have been for the better.  But the one I miss the most is Halloween.  It used to be that people would make there own treats to hand out to the young monsters accosting their homes.  My grandmother used to make molasses popcorn balls.  Others would make brownies, or there own cookies, caramels, or other treat. 

Apparently somewhere in the US someone put pins in apples or something like that, or someone became too fearful of the possibility, and we all switched over to packaged candies.  Donít get me wrong packaged candies are great, but some of the magic was lost.   

2009-01-26 04:51:44
I can relate to the recollections! Just turned fifty myself on Jan 1st. I love the look on my kid's faces when telling them I saw the landing on the moon, live on TV.

2009-01-23 06:58:43
Good one! I laughed repeatedly! Is there a better compliments than this?

2009-01-22 19:50:11
Yes, I remember the magazines with pages of code you could type in. They even published a couple of my programs.

2009-01-22 09:04:48
Ahh, the TRS-80, such fond memories. Typing for two and a half hours to play a game for fifteen minutes (if I was lucky). Happy Days.

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