In 1977 I bought my first Apple computer: a venerable Apple ][ with 48K of memory and eventually my first floppy disk drive (at work we had eight inchers but this was 5.25).That Apple ][ lasted me several years and was eventually replaced by an IBM clone and later sold to a friend for his daughter. During its life I added a memory card (another 16K!!!), a modem card (300 Baud, no doubt), and learned Pascal when Apple made it available. It’s hard to believe now but I had a custom suitcase that allowed me to carry my Apple ][ with three disk drives and a bunch of other stuff which I used when I took my computer to work (there were no personal-type computers where I worked even though I was in the Computer Department). I loved my Apple ][ and the IBM clone only lasted a few months before I was severely strapped for cash and had to sell the whole thing to an accountant who needed to run Lotus 1-2-3.
When the MacIntosh was announced, I got mine by having a friend at college order it on a discount. Before it came, however, my local computer store loaned me one of the two units they received and I was a Mac entrepreneur the day after the Macintosh was released. I got a couple of friends interested in the Mac and we started a company to create clip-art for the computer. By today’s standards our efforts were crude and limited, but back then Mac owners were clamoring for software and we actually had one of the earliest products on the market.
Years went by; I had several MacIntosh computers: 512ks, Pluses, Classics, Dueces, Power Books, 650s, 800s, iMacs, iBooks, and more.
Just this afternoon I was sitting at my desk and realized that I must have the complete spectrum of Apple digital products. I just upgraded my flakey desktop iMac and also got an iPhone at the insistence of my daughter. Add these to the MacBook Pro I use for traveling and the iPad I use for reading (and also for traveling) and I just about cover every niche in the Apple product line (I also have an Apple TV box on one television but prefer the Roku on the other television).
But these computers, tablets, and phones, do more that just reveal a digital life … they also remind me of having grown alongside the home computer.
When I was in college we often handled Hollerith cards and I had some vague idea that they were used to sort or even compute data, but we had no involvement or knowledge of computers (shoot, photocopy machines and microwave ovens were just coming on the scene). I had a friend who brought back huge stacks of computer printout from his work at Cal Tech, so I knew there were people involved with computers (at Cal Tech there were people involved with space travel too).
Although I worked with computers in graduate school doing sleep research, it was still fairly crude. The IBM 360 had just been released and we were able to get twelve teletypewriters working on a timeshare network at the same time (a record!). I became an expert in the keypunch machines of the day and often carried three or four trays full of computer cards from one computer center to another. We had time on the computer out at one large manufacturing company in the middle of the night (we would watch the tapes spinning in the glass booth where we worked but we could also see the machine guns and other heavy artillery being conveyed around the plant just outside our little room).
My life at TPC involved more and more computers and eventually morphed into some expertise in Data Communications and later Project Management. I gave up my hands-on involvement with computers for a more managerial approach, letting those that worked for me keep up with the rapidly changing technology.Interestingly, this change allowed me to keep my interest in computers at home … too many of my colleagues abhorred the thought of home computers exclaiming that they had enough of computers at work.
Given my Data Communication background and my immersion in computers, I was running a Local Area Network in my house long before it became common and when Apple released a wireless network, I had the parts to make the conversions practically overnighted to me. I remember back then that Comcast refused to support or even acknowledge the wireless network (or the LAN itself, for that matter, wired or wireless). Now the internet provider automatically installs a router to allow wireless communications.
It’s almost scary to think back to the days without high-speed internet access and a wireless network to support devices in every room of the house.
So now I sit here with three variations on the modern home computer—the iPhone 11+, the iPad Pro, and the iMac 27″ desktop—all working in synch with the Cloud (and all within two feet of each other communicating over a wireless network). I know Apple is now an evil corporate giant and any allegiance to their products is more for the excellence than for any devotion to the corporation, but I am constantly amazed at what the digital world can do today and what it promises for tomorrow.