I’m part of Generation X (okay, just barely, so sue me!) and as such, I’m a pretty avid user of electronic technologies. Unlike the students who are just starting college this year and everyone younger than them, technology hasn’t always been ubiquitous in my life.
When I was about 7 years old, I got my first handheld computer game. Yup, my folks got me a Merlin. Apparently I turned pretty anti-social when I got that thing – my mom reports that she had to put it out of reach when neighbor kids came over to play.
I love that game, learning all the games and playing them over and over and over and over and over and over again. It should come as no surprise that future computer games like Tetris and QBert were also favorites of mine.
My next door neighbor had a Commodore 64 and Atari, but I never really got into either of them. That lack of getting into non-puzzle computer/video games still holds today for me. I can watch other people play them and can understand how they derive pleasure and entertainment from them, but it’s just not for me.
A couple of years later, my grade school got a line printer computer. Several of us played Oregon Trail a few times a week in the library. Gaming in the library, back in the 70s! Gotta love how what goes around comes around…
In the seventh grade, I started taking computer class. Our lab was set up with maybe 8-12 computers, and we learned how to program simple functions in BASIC.
High school brought a move away from the small town in northern Minnesota where we lived to a suburb of Minneapolis; my folks purchased our fist home computer, a Macintosh Plus. I learned to type on that computer.
In college I used a VAX email system; “talk” was the chat protocol my friends and I used on the system. My best friend who went to a different college gave me her boyfriend’s logon credentials in their system, so she and I could chat for free (this was pre-cell-phone days, and long distance was expensive!) One of my favorite professors had the first Windows computer I ever saw, running Windows 3.1. It was pretty swank.
My parents helped me purchase my first computer before I went to grad school in 1994. It was a 486 with 256K of RAM. That thing took me a long way – I had it for 6 years! I only really screwed it up once, when I inadvertently changed some video driver settings. Fortunately, my friend Mike spent a fair amount of time helping me fix THAT mistake!
In grad school I got on the internet more intensely than in college; we learned how to use gopher, archie, veronica, jughead, and wais in the courses I took. AND THEN came Mosaic, and oh was Mosaic cool. It was the first graphical web browser, and for those of us in library school, it was pretty heady to learn how to use this new tool and to try to envision where it was going to take us. Looking back now, it’s no surprise that I had no IDEA we’d be where we are now.
Since then, I’ve followed a pretty predictable path: I’ve owned a couple of laptops, have a couple of iPods, have a couple of digital cameras, and have had two cell phones. I’ve figured out how to do enough to be pretty dangerous (i.e. I can break my stuff REALLY easily but can fix most of it given enough time.) I’m certainly not on the bleeding edge, and I wouldn’t even consider myself an early adopter of most (hardware) technologies. But I am in that first wave of mainstream folks in adoption of hardware, and I like it there.
What’s YOUR personal technology history? How did you end up on the internet? What were the first computer games you ever played? Tell me, so I know I’m not the only one who remembers this kind of stuff.