Tech Folly

This is a bored, drunken rant. So…

Hello, adventurous reader! And how are you? I hope you are faring well in this desolate COVID-19 landscape. I hope you and yours are well.

Anyway. A friend posted this meme on Facebook tonight:

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My first computer was the ORIGINAL MacIntosh. From Apple. My mother gave my sister and I a choice one year. She said, “We can either go back to Disney World for vacation this year, or we can get a computer.” Well, I had been to Disney World, and I had seen all of the 1980s sitcoms that told us that the 80s were going to be THE FUTURE! And computers would talk to us like real people. And I was a lonely child, so I pushed for the computer.

I remember the day we went to the computer store (because back in the 80s, there were a LOT of small businesses, no big-name corporate entities dominating the consumer landscape). I was expecting the clunky, green-text-on-a-black-screen kind of computer. You know, like the Apple IIe or something. The salesman showed us this little beige box with a tiny black-and-white screen, and he said it used a revolutionary operating system that used something called “windows.”

Now, this wasn’t the Microsoft Windows we all know and use today. This was the first platform to use multi-tasking programs that operated in a sort of picture-in-picture screen system they referred to as “windows,” as in “This window is a word processing program, while that window is running a calculator program.” How the F*** Apple didn’t capitalize on THAT concept, I will never know. Microsoft stole that shit but QUICK, and here we are.

original-mac

My first computer. I still remember how it SMELLED. How the manuals that came with it SMELLED. How the store where we bought it, and the subsequent software and games we purchased for it, SMELLED. And I remember watching “Newhart” while I played with it.

Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh, yeah, the “micro-floppy disk.” Every other computer system in the early 1980s that had moved beyond audio cassette input had been using the amazing “floppy disk.” Big, black squares with a doughnut hole in the middle. Well, fuck THAT! This was, what, 1982? The FUTURE WAS NOW! So Apple gave us the MicroFloppy! (see picture above) The 3.5.

See that big, blank space by the thumb? That’s where the sticky label went. So you could write on the disk to label the content. Like a VHS tape. Which was also a new thing. See that little empty square in the lower left-hand corner? That was how you would ‘lock’ the disk, so the information stored on it — on all of its massive, what, 18k? — could not be changed or erased.

Where was I going with this? Ah, yes. The 1980s were THE FUTURE. People wore silver, shiny jackets, and puffy “moon boots,” and we sprayed our hair out to weirdly explosive styles, and wore flashy, narrow sunglasses. Because we thought it would all just be there, waiting for us. All of the crazy Sci-Fi stuff we saw in the movies. They had been telling us for years, DECADES, that once we hit the 1980s, space travel would be common place. Lasers and computers would run our lives, and we could sit back and watch TV on bubble-screens as we hung upside-down in gravity shoes and sipped Venusian martinis.

I am old. I am one generation away from the Dark Ages. My father died two years before the original MacIntosh came out. He never had an email address. He never knew what the Internet was, and he could never conceive of such a thing as 5G WiFi.

And I thought I was a whiz with computers because I could load, label, and lock one of those little plastic squares you see above when I was 13 years old. Now I read about “coders” making apps that make them billionaires overnight. Do they even know what BASIC $GOTO was?

You know what we all are? Useless. Just give it time.

Thank God I believe in reincarnation. I can’t wait to make YOU feel old with the shit I cook up in a few generations. 😉 Stay well.

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