Friday, February 27, 2009

'Nuther Way my Kids Ur Gettin Smarter

Can you remember how old you were when you first laid eyes upon a computer?

I can...

The year was 1982 (approximately). Reagan was in office. Donna Summer was on the radio. And we had an Apple IIc. It was a glorious thing that, when you turned on the monitor, it showed a vacant black screen void of any information except one blinking green rectangle. THRILLING!

Then, if you loaded up a floppy disk (5-and-1/4-inch size) it would display the LODE RUNNER game. Ooh. the thrill of it all. It didn't exactly have the same graphics as Donkey Kong up at Aladdin's Castle at the mall, but at least the Apple IIc didn't take quarters.

People would come over to our house and ooh and aahhh and say, "What does it do?"
"Here," we'd say, "It can play Lode Runner."
To which they'd reply, "What else can it do?"
I hated that question. Because then we'd have to admit that we didn't know anything else it did, and although it was my father's idea to get the stupid thing, his involvement ended the moment he plugged it into the wall.

Years later, I was part of the mass population at a state university who would line up like Russians waiting for bread to get an available computer at the computer lab on campus. We'd all sit around, hoping the Mac's would open up before the PC's, because the Mac's were so friendly and those PC's were just too hard to figure out! I was majoring in Math Education, so before I was properly lobotomized I was deeply involved in a Calc 2 class that required plotting graphs on a computer using some program called MAPLE? Could that be right? Then I was to E-MAIL the work to our teacher. At the time, of course, I completely distrusted this thing called e-mail. I mean, HOW is he going to get my work? How will he know it's mine? How long will it take to get there?

My husband and I purchased our first computer in 1998. The two of us put together created just enough brain power to figure out how to hook up the monitor, CPU, keyboard, mouse, and speakers. We really believed we were on the cutting edge because we had Windows 98 - not that old, out-of-date Windows 95 and (insert haughty laugh) CERTAINLY not Windows 3.1. We had a Pentium 2 Processor!!! We had USB ports for game controllers!!! We had a ZIP drive!!!

Now I'm on a laptop that is surely out of date but I love it. Texan Papa has his own laptop and even our kids have a laptop. Theirs is a Dell, and it's only got a Pentium 3 processor but we got a good deal on it.

And, bless their hearts, they knew how to use a computer - and a laptop, no less - since they were toddlers. We had a cool program called Reader Rabbit Toddler, where you can move the mouse around and it will automatically pick things up and move them. You don't even have to click. I would post a picture of Peppermint Patty, in her purple footy-pajamas, playing this game when she was only 2 years old, but of course that photo was taken before the age of digital cameras. My children are definitely growing up in a time when they will have no recollection of a time without computers. I have already been asked many times, "Mom, what was your favorite computer game when YOU were a kid?" When I explain that there were no computers when I was a kid, they stare at me like I had just told them that our house was made out of cheese.

When my kids come home from school, their favorite activity is to play games on their computer. Some of their favorites are Club Penguin, Webkinz, and Millsberry. Even I love Junkbot on (I swear, that game is addictive.) Over at MomsByHeart, there is a giveaway going on for a 3-month membership to Jumpstart (makers of the famous Jumpstart learning CD-ROMs). I hope I win, I hope I win. Oh, what am I saying... My kids hope I win. My kids hope I win!
And, I know I must be officially old because my kids know almost more about the computer than I do. Computer class involves doing google searches, running Excel spreadsheets, and working with Photoshop. They can click around and go here and there. I am hoping they aren't loading any viruses onto the laptop...

I guess I'd better watch out. Before too long they will surely be smarter than me. I'm not ready for that yet.


Chris said...

My cousin and I had this discussion 2 nights ago. I remember that our first computer came with a book. The book was full of codes that you could type into the computer and "play games". The one game I remember was Mad Libs. It would take an hour to type in all of the code and you'd get about 30 seconds of laughter out of it. Game Over.

justusseven said...

Thanks for the link to Moms by Heart!

Anna See said...

you brought back memories w/ the whole computer lab mac vs. ibm thing. computers really scared me back then.

Sturgmom said...

Oh, that's hilarious! We used Apple IIe computers when I was in elementary school. My family didn't get a computer until my freshman year of high school when I was required to use the "word processor" to write reports.

There are so many things my children will never know what it was like to "not have-" cell phones, mp3s, mp3 players, voicemail (without the tape!), the list goes on...

Ryan@Cool Dad Central said...

Yeah, I'm amazed at how well my 3 year old uses our laptop. He even uses the touchpad instead of a mouse w/o any trouble. Of course his mother is a blogger, and his dad is a computer programmer. So that could have something to do with it. I wrote my first computer program when I was about 7. But hey, who needs friends when you can program computers?

Jen said...

It amazes me how good Hayden is at the computer and he is 4. What will he be like when he is 14, scary. I hope that you win too.

Zip n Tizzy said...

I remember getting really mad at my husband when he was trying to teach me how to cut and paste. 'Where does it go when you cut?"
"Onto the clipboard."
"Where is the clipboard?"
"It's just an imaginary clipboard."
"Then HOW am I supposed to find it when I need it!"

Amazing that was just 12 years ago!

We're convinced my 5 year old is going to be a computer hacker. He has already done some terrifying things to our computer and he's not afraid to keep going.

Scary Mommy said...

I totally remember those early 80s machines!!! I can't believe the way Lily is able to navigate my computer. It seriously frightens me.