Wednesday, August 1, 2012


When I was a kid there was a sexist saying: "Men!" (or "Women!") "Can't live with 'em and you can't live without 'em."

Now I say that about computers. They can drive us crazy when they don't function well, but we depend on them for lots of things.

Long ago computers were science fiction. Then real ones were invented, but they were the size of refrigerators and couldn't do anything like what tiny contraptions like i-phones can do today.

Back in the early 1970s I worked at the California School for the Deaf in Berkeley and people from the nearby Lawrence Hall of Science brought some  Tele-Typewriter Devices normally used for sending telegrams to our campus and connected them with their computer through phone cords. The idea was that Deaf people might be able to communicate at a distance that way. I was computer phobic and a bit scared to be one of the staff who first tried using the TDD, but also excited to get to do it. I outsmarted the program and soon had the computer typing gibberish so I got over my fear of them.

A few years later I took a computer class from a friend. It involved feeding tapes from a tape recorder through the computer and using a lot of html code, which I couldn't remember. I decided computers weren't for me.

But in the 1980s I got a Macintosh Computer that fit on my desk and found it easy to use. By then the tapes were consolidated into floppy discs. I got one of those discs, but doubted that I'd ever fill it up in my lifetime. Of course you know how inaccurate that was.

Now computers are everywhere and I use mine all the time even though it's difficult to keep adapting to the changes in software, etc. I consider myself a techno-idiot because I know lots of people who are far better than I am at technological stuff, but I keep on learning and can do things I wouldn't have imagined were possible a few decades ago.

And when something goes wrong, like what made me take my laptop in for repairs this week, it's obvious that doing without a computer is now a major problem.

Computers! Sometimes it's hard to live with 'em, but we sure can't live without 'em anymore.

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