While I was going to college from 1971 to 1975, high tech was not part of our daily vocabulary. The PC had not yet hit the market, and an apple was simply a fruit. The only technology that I used regularly was a secondhand manual typewriter that came from a thrift store.
Today I have multiple computers in my home office and two kinds of broadband lines, a DSL and cable. We make our living from the house. Our commute consists of getting up in the morning, making coffee and sitting down to our keyboards and screens. Sometimes the life before technology seems but a dim memory. At other times, the memories come through vividly, which I suppose is how aging works.
When Sand Learned to Think
My father was big into the new calculator technologies that were coming out in the 1970s. He collected them and showed off his toys when I came home for the holidays. As always, he enjoyed explaining the electronics to me. The calculators had circuit boards with a revolutionary new component called a CPU. I knew about tubes and transistors because Dad worked as a television repairman, but this CPU thing had microscopic transistors etched into a substance called silicon, the same stuff that makes up beach sand. Calculators back then cost hundreds of dollars. Now they are almost free.
First Contact with Computer Music
In 1979 I landed a job in the emerging computer industry as a technical writer. For that job I learned more about integrated circuits, also called chips, and software. At Christmas time one year, I heard my first tinny computer music generated through an oscillator. It was Jingle Bells.
Right now the old vinyl records are back in vogue. Yes, I remember the special record sleeves, the brush and the cleaning fluid that vinyl required to keep healthy and play well. It was an art to play a record back then. I still have my 1976 Kenwood receiver/amplifier with its transistors and 400 watts per channel to drive monster speakers. Now playing MP3s can be done with a tiny player and ear buds. I have a couple of those.
The Good Old Days Were Harder
Ah yes, the good old days. How I do not miss them. My ergonomic keyboard lets me touch-type effortlessly, and I don’t need the old correction fluid. White Out was the brand name, as I remember. Life was not simpler back then. It was harder! I am absolutely thrilled that computers and the Internet have come into the mainstream.