Looking back, I can remember my first encounter with computers, and specifically PCs. When it comes to computers, my first ever experience with them was on old Apple IIGS computers in school. I used these to learn how to type, and remember that time seemed to pass twice as fast when doing the 30 minute sessions with them.
It was amazing fun just to type with the keyboard and see the letters appear on the screen, a big departure from writing and typewriters. What’s funny is these computers were very limited in what they could do. Rather than running on a complex OS, they booted off of floppy disks placed in their drive, and that determined the only program you could use it for before rebooting.
My first experience with PCs came some years later, when my family got its first windows based computer. It was a Gateway 2000 that ran Windows 3, and was before the advent of AOL and the internet. I actually remember one of my teachers back then asking how many people in the class had the internet at home, and two of the twenty some people raised their hands. Half of the kids probably didn’t even know what the internet really was, as the school had yet to even adopt it into their computer labs.
Back then, I used the computer only to type up papers. We had no games, except for solitaire, and without the internet, there really wasn’t much else to do. We used WordPerfect instead of MS Word, and I’d spend hours having fun typing my papers in different fonts and colors.
Today, my life would be very different without a computer. Its really hard to believe I did just fine without one at home until I was 12, and without the internet until I was probably 15. Academically speaking, I’d spend a lot less time at home and a lot more time at the library on campus to do my school work.
For everyday life, Its not really how I’d do things differently, but what things I wouldn’t be doing. Without a computer, I wouldn’t have facebook, or any instant messaging service. I’d probably not be in contact with as many friends and family members as I am. I would also be calling home more often, since I wouldn’t be able to e-mail my parents. I still remember doing that when I first moved out, and my parents had yet to “learn” how to use the internet.
I would also be laughing a lot less. The internet thrives on humorous misfortune, and there’s countless sites and “memes” revolving around these things. Without a computer, I would see any of these things, and also wouldn’t be looking for them.
Lastly, I would be returning to my old habit of going to the bookstore weekly. Before I had cable internet, I always went to the bookstore at least once a week. I’d go there to read magazines to keep up with sports, entertainment, and world events. I’d also read new books and especially newspaper comic collections in the humor section. Once I got cable internet, and could browse as long as I wanted, I had all of that information and entertainment at my fingertips. Sadly, I don’t go to bookstores nearly as much, and I get the feeling a lot of people are falling into that same change. When I went to see my parents this past Christmas I saw that the local bookstore where I grew up had closed for good.