I ask myself every day…

April 4, 2012


I purchased my first computer system in 1996. Cartoonists were just beginning to send their material to the syndicates by digital transmission. Before then, it was the USPS or courier. I wasn’t among the very first to make the transition, but I did get into the game pretty early. My first computer looked something like the one above. At the time, I lived in the boonies about 80 miles from Memphis. I drove the distance on a Friday afternoon, planning to have a bit of an evening out and visit a computer store Saturday morning. Overnight, Memphis was beset by a particularly virulent ice storm. The motel where I was staying did not lose power, but much of the city did, including the computer store. They were open, however, two young men sitting in semi-darkness when I arrived the next morning. An hour or so later, I departed with a CPU tower, a monitor that must have weighed 50 lbs. and a very solidly built scanner, all purchased from a computer outlet with no electricity.


50 thoughts on “I ask myself every day…”

    • Most of North Mississippi was hit particularly hard. Some people back in the woods didn’t get power for a week or more.

  1. I purchased my first computer back in 1983 to transmit florist orders. I was ahead of the game with few others to transmit to. Today every florist in the world has one, few use land line telephones but all use celkphones like Janis.

  2. You bought something from a store with no power? Oh, yeah, that was back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth and we hadn’t yet discovered stores couldn’t operate without credit/debit POS terminals.

  3. Briefly just now I was Jimmy Johnson. Ghost of course beat me to it. He was Jimmy yesterday.

    The computer continues the confusion.

  4. Computers are great when they work don’t think there was as much identity theft or scams before they became the norm. Cant live with them our without them. Reminds me of something else.

  5. I remember in 1984 being amazed by the fax machine. The one we had at work was the size of a washing machine. By the time that we replaced it a few years later it was about the size that it is today…except virtually no one uses one!

  6. Identity roulette continues. Now, for the first time ever, I am Bob in Orland Park. For my next trick I shall reclaim my own identity of Mark in TTown. I was in Tuscaloosa when that ice storm hit and we were shut down for several days. I particularly remember it because it ruined a planned date with a pretty redhead I had met. So when things thawed out I took flowers and a card to her workplace and told her how disappointed I was that we hadn’t been able to keep that date. And we set another time, which didn’t get iced out and went very well.

  7. I became a computer programmer very early in the game (the late 6o’s or so). We still had two guys in our department that were “wiring boards” for card sorters and other card manipulating machines. My first computer was as large as a living room and had 24 K of storage. It had a card reader and a printer, no tape drives, no disc drives. I don’t know how it accomplished anything. I also don’t know how companies could afford the constant and frequent upgrades that were required to move the world forward. It was an exciting time to be in the field and I have enjoyed every minute.

  8. I became a computer programmer very early in the game (the late 6o’s or so). We still had two guys in our department that were “wiring boards” for card sorters and other card manipulating machines. My first computer was as large as a living room and had 24 K of storage. It had a card reader and a printer, no tape drives, no disc drives. I don’t know how it accomplished anything. I also don’t know how companies could afford the constant and frequent upgrades that were required to move the world forward. It was an exciting time to be in the field and I have enjoyed every minute.

  9. Oh, yeah. I forgot to put in the computer information. My first PC was a Sony VAIO, bought online direct from Sony in 1998. Large desktop running Windows 95, package set came with a clunky CRT monitor. I had lots of fun with that, especially when XP came along. At that time there were lots of companies turning out wargames for the computer that were like the tabletop versions I was familiar with, but without all the setup and takedown. And the cat couldn’t scatter all the pieces when you were three hours in and preparing your master stroke.

    • Now that you mention it, I did have that computer before 1996. That part of the world is susceptible to freezing-rain events, and I suspect I have my ice storms confused. The year not withstanding, the rest of the story is true.

      • If the ice storm came through in early February 1996, that’s the one I’m thinking of. The lady and I shared the same birthday and we were going out to celebrate our combined birthdays.

      • Sounds suspiciously like a Jimmy Buffet song.

        It’s a semi-true story
        Believe it or not
        I made up a few things
        And there’s some I forgot
        But the life and the telling
        Are both real to me
        And they all run together
        And turn out to be
        A semi-true story

  10. My first computer was a TRS-80 from Radio Shack in 1980. It has 4k of RAM and loaded software with a portable cassette player. I taught myself BASIC programming at 14 years old and have worked in IT my whole life.

    • My condolences. I started on Trash-80’s in high school and well I remember the pain of loading programs from a tape recorder. Still pounding away on the big iron.

  11. I remember when I got the first PC for my office that had a hard drive (10 megabyte, as I recall) to use in place of dual floppy disc drives. At the time, I thought personal computer tech had reached its peak.

    • I bought my first computer in 1984. It was a TRS-80 Model IV that was enhanced by a local computer shop. It came with a monochrome monitor (orange text) and a dot matrix printer. Two bays for floppies.

      Compared to the IBM Selectric that I had been using since my sophomore year of college in 1972, I thought that it was a gift from the gods.

  12. Thinking back I remember my cousin Jack who got his doctorate in computer science back in 1960s. Computers were size of large rooms and I have no idea what he did.

    He was one of my favorites but died in surgery for bleeding ulcers in 1982. I always felt computers contributed.

  13. I worked in the industry and was “online” at work by 1984 or so chatting in chat rooms and seeing 10 sec .gif files of mainly racy stuff; Fargone engineers, ya know….I held off on owning one for about ten years and one layoff…and then the work at home started, I Symply regretted that purchase.

    Those tornado winds came up north and knocked a dead tree on our bunkhouse porch

  14. The first time I saw a real computer was in November 1970. I was in a small group of local HS students invited to the HQ of Holiday Inn in Memphis. They had two IBM 360s to run all their operations, with one shadowing the other and separate power supplies. We were given a brief lesson in Fortran, encouraged to write a simple program to calculate the current value of the fabled price paid by the Dutch for Manhattan Island. We keypunched our cards and I got mine to run on the 2nd try. I think. But I did get it to run and print the right answer!
     
    It was another 10 years before I bought my first Apple II with 64K of RAM.

  15. I have a mobile device that I use only when I am mobile.

    Otherwise, I prefer my tower computer, two large monitors, and ergonomic keyboard and mouse.

    On those occasions that I have much typing to do, I use Dragon Naturally Speaking.

  16. The first computer I attempted to tell what to do was an IBM 7094 in 1966, via punch cards bearing Fortran. First interactive computer session was with an IBM 360 via a Selectric-based terminal. First “personal” computer was a Xerox Alto in 1983, connected by leased phone lines across the country to PARC and on to the ARPAnet. First home computer was a dual-floppy (one soon replaced with a hard disk) Amstrad, bought because it had a mouse. Tthe mouse didn’t play with Windows 3.x but was very useful in Word and Turbo C.

  17. Summer 1957 I worked in the main (NYCity) office of a large company in their communications room. It wasn’t the mail room; that was down the hall. In my place were several teletype machines going on for hours on end – what a racket. One of my jobs was to gather the teletype messages and deliver them to another desk where they were sorted and then sent to the recipient(s). There was another machine whose name I have forgotten. It featured a smallish (maybe 5″ diameter) cylinder which rotated on a horizontal axis. As it turned, some kind of pointed stylus came close to or touched the paper and left marks. Were these marks text or photos? I associate a metallic coating on the back of the “paper” which, apparently, allowed the device to work. Can anyone tell me what kind of device this probably was?
    Computer-wise, at college in ’57 or ’58, a club took a trip to a steel company in SW OH. Among the features shown was a room-sized computer. Memory says it was an IBM 7040 supposed to be the most elite then available.

  18. curmudgeonly, that drum object was a facsimile machine, of the original design. When I was aboard the Oklahoma City from 1976-1977, the Navy used those to send weather maps from the shore stations to the ships at sea. I also recall reading a comic book reprint from the 1950’s that showed Dick Tracy sending mugshots from Chicago to somewhere else using the same device. And I agree with the racket teletypes made. Part of my job in the Navy was to send and receive messages on those. That is what they used to send text format messages before email.

  19. Murder, she wrote did a fairly good job at keeping up with technology, most of the time. I remember an episode where Jessica was on a cruise ship (The ship’s captain was played by Leslie Nielsen of all people!) and she received a Telex from somebody on shore.

  20. Still some groups of cranes flying / the Neb. refuge, but I think most have left in large flocks for up here & farther N and W, even a few to extreme NE Siberia. Peace,

  21. Thought the ice would be gone by today, yesterday it was in the high 50s and I went out to a campground a group of us have in the woods of Maine(82 acres) It was so nice we stoked up the wood fire sauna and started to relax after doing a few hours of maintenance work on the site. Well it was getting Fargone hot in the sauna(140F by our inaccurate thermometer) and I thought since. We had filled the water tower it might be a good idea to take an water ambient temperature shower in the sauna(gravity fed from tower)….unfortunately there was a valve at the top of the hill from the sauna under the water tower that needed to be opened so guess who went running up the hill(it was brisk) to turn it on…and then we Symply turned on the shower and froze….ambient water from a dug well in Maine in first week of April is not warm…in any case that was a good day, today it is cold altering between rain and snow and sleet, the ice on the lake in Bryant Pond is till there..have a great day!

    • A couple of buddies and I left college at the end of the semester the first week of June one year and drove to Biddeford Pool, Maine, where the family of one of them had a summer house. The weather reminded me a lot of late November/early December in my neck o’ the Deep South woods. Brrrrrr! But the area was absolutely beautiful.

  22. The temperature was 78 today here in SE Ohio. An absolutely gorgeous day. Couple of days ago we had freezes!

    I have made comments that my name never changed in the comments area. I spoke too soon. Currently it says I am Rick in Shermantown, Ohio. At least it got the state right! After I change it, we’ll see if it stays.

  23. No, you moved to Oklahoma!

    Mine had stayed as me, Jackie Monies for days. I prematurely said Jimmy must have fixed the blog site yesterday.

  24. And now I’m Kerry, whoever that is. It was so warm today that I still have my window open at nearly 1030 pm. I don’t expect it to last this early in April. But I am very grateful for what we are getting. Got a call from my VA doctor’s office today. I was scheduled for annual checkup in June, but they’ve moved it up to a week from Friday. So up early Saturday morning to go get the labwork drawn. Glad they have reopened Saturday hours at the clinic. Labs have to be fasting so best done early, but with my work schedule Saturday morning is the best time for me to go in. Then have the appointment on the following Friday and Dr. Liebman has had time to look it all over thoroughly beforehand.

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