"" Writer's Wanderings: In My Lifetime--Typewriters to PCs

Friday, October 12, 2007

In My Lifetime--Typewriters to PCs

Contrary to what some in my family may think, I did not start writing with a chisel and stone. I used an electric Royal typewriter that I purchased with S&H green stamps (redemption stamps should be another post). It came with a ribbon that had white-out on it and I didn't have to mess with a bottle of liquid that always managed to dry out and get white crumbs around the top. It was cool (language--another post).

A few years prior to this, my husband had scavaged computer parts from a dump behind his place of work and began assembling a computer in our basement. The computer took up most of the half-basement we had in our split-level house. It had huge tape drives and lots of flashing lights when it "thought." We oohed and aahed as the giant printer he purchased printed out a 30" wide Snoopy.

It was about then that the punch cards popularly used for programing a computer became obsolete and my mother and I took boxes of them we inherited and made Christmas wreaths out of them.

Then along came the Texas Instruments home computer, the TI-99. It was used mainly for games but it was the first step in smaller computers and was about the size of a small musical keyboard.

Next the Tandy came into our home. A Radio Shack special that eventually became totally obsolete and anything you did on it was pretty much worthless because it wouldn't transfer to the new IBM models that followed. The Tandy taught me about word processing. It also taught me to back up my work. I remember losing two hours worth of data entry one day to a komikaze squirrel who knocked out a transformer and caused a blackout.

From those early models, PCs lept forward with technology. The computers got smaller in size, bigger in memory, and faster in "thinking."

Today, the computer that took up half of our basement can fit into the palm of your hand and do the work of a dozen of those computers or more. And the white-out ribbon I was so excited about has been replaced by cut and paste in my word processing program that does about everything but create the words--oh wait! It does insert the right spelling and even suggests how I could say it better. It also automatically backs up. I no longer fear komikaze squirrels.

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