Thursday, 19 February 2015

HOW COMPUTERS HAVE CHANGED OVER THE YEARS

Having just purchased a new laptop, I marvel at how quickly personal computers have developed.  When I was a child, there were only mainframe computers, the size of refrigerators, and only businesses or universities had those. The Apolo 11 crew had a portable computer for their Command Module but it was extremely primitive compared to what we now have. Microprocessors didn't exist until I was well into my adult years.

Do you remember your first computer? Mine was a Vic-20 that I bought second hand from a shortwave-listening club member. Instead of a hard drive, programs were stored on cassette tapes. To access one, you had to pop the correct tape into the player and type in a command to run it. Thirty years later, I still have the Vic-20. It might be a collector's item someday so I'm hanging onto it.

My first "real" computer was a used IBM clone which I bought in 1993 for seven-hundred dollars from a computer store. It had a 100MB hard drive and drives for 5.25" and 3.5" floppy disks. It also had 2MB of memory, too small to run Windows 3.1. A friend gave me an amber monochrome monitor and I bought a dot matrix printer from a friend at work. As I've written before, this computer opened the world of writing for me.

It wasn't until November of 2000 that I bought a new PC with Windows 98 on it. Along with writing and research, I was able to record my music to its hard drive and burn my own CD-Rs. I also made tray and j cards for my disks, as well as printing labels for them.

In April of 2008, I bought a new PC with a much faster CPU and it was able to use USB flash drives. I made videos with it and the PC is still my main machine today. I'll have to upgrade to Windows 8.1 from XP but some of my beloved programs won't run anymore on it.

Now I have a laptop, fulfilling a dream I've had for years about writing outside during the warm months of the year. I can also take it with me whenever I travel. Though I'll have to get used to its flat keys, I feel confident that this helpful device will be of use when we get our lovely summer weather here in Alberta.

I've mentioned my computers and how I wrote them in my three memoirs. Read about the first two at Bruce Atchison's books page. My most recent paperback is at Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, and Powell's Books.