Objects in the Rear View Mirror

Meatloaf2

Maybe some of you are familiar with this Meatloaf song, if you’d like to watch the video you can see it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37GrbCUvZEM

I thought of it today as I considered my post but what I want to do is substitute the words, “Person at the keyboard may appear much older than they are”.

After yesterday’s post I was pondering the computers I’ve owned and in fact why I bought my first one. At the time I was trying to get back into the workforce after having my children but was very soon put into a position where I faced a “Computer Room”. About 10 Commodore 64 computers were arranged around the edges of the room and in a cupboard in the corner was something very technical. I decided that if I expected to get a job I had to know all about them. I couldn’t afford the flash new Commodore 64 so instead bought a second-hand Vic20 and my learning began.

I bought a book of programmes and spent ages typing in the code to eventually end up with a little game called, “Duck Shoot”, a very simple game. All the code was done in DOS, I don’t remember much more about it but do know I very quickly realized I wasn’t going to be writing code for everything I wanted to do!

Computer No.2 was a Commodore 64, it came with a tape deck to record data on and as with the Vic20, we connected up to a small TV, not a monitor. That’s when I learnt all about CTRLC, CTRLP, CTRLX etc. To type up a document you had to insert those codes into your text, even a code for a capital letter or to centre text. I remember typing up an essay and I obviously reached the limit of the computer’s memory because every time I sent the document to print it lost half its formatting. Eventually I had to format each page then print it and this was for a Tertiary level essay so can imagine how many pages.  The printer was a dot matrix and the paper came with each sheet attached to the next and concertinaed into a box. There were strips down the edges and the holes in these had to be aligned with “pimples” on the printer edge. After you’d printed your document you tore off these strips. My daughter became a whiz at “Henry’s House” but my son spent his computer  time making up little skateboarders which went down ramps though he did play some game which got him so wrought up I threatened to ban him from the computer if he didn’t just relax and play.

I can’t remember how long it was before I became high tech and had a disk drive! It was a separate drive and the disks were, I think 8”, floppies and they really were a bit floppy. They were inside some kind of card or plastic cover with a window hole in it and the data was read through that window as the disk spun. The first ones you could only use one side but later exciting double sided ones came out. By today’s standards the amount of data that could be stored was miniscule.

Computers after that were an XT, 386 then probably the one I have now which is an Intel Quad core and as you’re probably thinking I’m due for an upgrade!

5 thoughts on “Objects in the Rear View Mirror

  1. Oh, I remember my Commodore 64. I sat for hours and played some kind of adventure game and wrote little programs that said “Hello World”! It was great fun!

    Thanks for bringing back those memories!

  2. I love this song. I have no idea why, at the age of 30, I’ve known it since it came out. I would’ve been just 10 or so. But it’s stuck with me, for some reason, even when the only other Meatloaf song I can remember is that god-awful “But I Won’t Do That.”

    And I remember dot matrix printers and dos and floppy discs…I was just discussing some of that with my fiancee yesterday. We almost always had a computer, though if I reach far enough back I can remember not having one. But my uncle built computers, and he and my dad made sure we had one from the time they were small enough and affordable enough.

    I remember the progressions through DOS to Windows and floppy discs, hard discs, etc. so well…The screen changing from a 1 font, black with green type to the myriad colors and graphics we have now. I think I was probably 12 when we first got AOL remote dial-up, and by the time I was 21 I was using a cable connection and Myspace.

    I cannot imagine being a child like my own, who never knows a world without so many constant replications and barrages of almost-real-life from a computer. I watched it happen, and I’m still amazed by what we do.

      • It would be!

        That has also been a huge thing for me-watching as we went from that green and black screen on computers and low-res TV to such crisp pictures and realistic graphics.

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