Last I posted was number 486, reminding me of my first computer which did not require cabling up to a television set, did more (but not much more) than play Sonic and Toejam & Earl, and didn't come with a small plastic handheld box of buttons. The 486 gifted to our family by my grandmother and her husband had its own weighty monitor, separate speakers, a boneshaking earbashing inkjet printer, Day of the Tentacle, Sherlock Holmes & the Case of the Serrated Scalpel and Civilization, and the small plastic box with buttons rested on the tabletop and was called a mouse. The 486, unlike the Master System and Mega Drive which I have previously alluded to, came with a typewriter keyboard, and had two things called Operating Systems; Windows '95 and a clumsy scary and fascinating mess called MS Dos.
I had almost no experience with non-game systems, proper computers. At primary school, which I attended from some time in the mid eighties until ninety-three, I vaguely remember their being one computer and being allowed once to do some one fingered typing. I remember the room the computer was in, placing me I think in the second year, making me aged seven or eight. I don't recall seeing it, or hearing it mentioned ever again, let alone getting a go on it. Years later, at high school, there were DOS-type computers in an English room, and two of the Design and Technology rooms. These were BBC computers with no Windows-style interface, and slots for 5 1/4" floppy discs. I never saw a disk. The computers in the D&T rooms were never used, we got no instruction on. Sometimes someone would turn them on and type, in the white pixels on black screen, a rude word.
The computers in the English room were used once or twice, but with trepidation and reluctance from the teachers. I doubt very much that the teachers really knew what was going on. When I came to do my GCSEs we were given a small amount of instruction on Information Technology, which was limited entirely to making a basic spreadsheet; most of the time was spent trying to get the document to print via the network to the printer locked away in a teacher-only room. We were then given the opportunity to choose a half-GCSE in Information Technology. I declined and did Religious Studies instead. Some time in ninety-six or -seven-ish I remember seeing the internet for the first time. There were computers in a science room, but we weren't allowed to use them. I remember secretly looking at a geocities page about Nine Inch Nails, and being giddily excited about seeing such a thing at school.
There was no mobile phones back then either. Now my four-year old niece can play Angry Birds on an internet connected touch-screen iPhone. I will have to struggle to keep up if I don't want to become a confused old Luddite.
Here's a map of the internet (to view larger, click here):
|Now you'll never get lost|