A trip down computer memory lane

Okay, if you know what the VIC 20 is, you’re obviously dated, like me.  The VIC 20 was last sold in 1985, so that gives you an idea how old it (and I) just might be.

I remember the VIC 20.  My brother had one.  (Yes, he’s that old.  Sorry.)

The first beast, a VIC 20, which connected to your home TV.

It was my first gaming experience.  And how I loved it!  I honed my video game skills on Radar Rat Race, Lunar Lander, and Frogger.

The VIC 20 disk drive. For cassettes. Literally.

Graphics have come a long way from those first arcade- style games we played at home on our regular TV sets, long before HD-TV and plasma screens.  At the time, though, it was a fun experience, bringing the arcade to your bedroom without all the little boys with cooties.

I didn't own Clowns but had games like it. They went into the back of the keyboard. Happy shoving! If they didn't work, you took them out and blew on them.

Remember the “run” commands you had to use to get the cassette tape in your tape deck to load up?  It was great until the E key on my keyboard decided to break.  I haven’t been able to use the VIC 20 since though I’m sure it’s still in the attic.

Ah, Nintendo, how you begat controller rage.

Interestingly enough, though those old disks that you shoved (sometimes rather roughly) into the back of your keyboard/computer seem crude by today’s standards, Nintendo adopted similar technology back in its early days.  And even today, the memory cards for your camera are similar in conception.

Similar to my clunky computer with the black and orange screen.

The VIC 2o didn’t have a lot of memory.  As a result, the technology is as archaic as the slate.  The what?  Exactly.

However, to a little girl who was on the cusp of the computer revolution, the VIC 2o planted the first seeds of an interest in technology.  When I was allowed to play the VIC 20, I felt old and responsible.  By the time my brother got a Commodore 64, the VIC 20’s descendant, I was enamoured of the VIC 2o and was honoured it came to stay in my bedroom.  I had my own computer.

Through the years, as technology grew, so did my computer skills.  I learned how to use the Commodore 64.  Then came the Nintendo, followed by the Sega.  Word processing was done on my correcting Smith Corona typewriters.

In junior high, we worked with Apple computers that really didn’t do much.  There was no internet back then.  It was only by senior high that our library finally got connected to the internet.  But like Facebook in its first few years, it wasn’t that exciting because few people were on it.  There was no Google, no Wikipedia.  It was all very crude yet.

When I was in high school, I finally got my first word processing computer, an old thing with a black and orange screen and no mouse, so you had to rely on shortcuts.  It had Windows 2.0 on it.  Never heard of Windows 2.0?  It really didn’t do much.  But as a writer and lover of words, all it had to do was store my stuff until I could print it off on my dot matrix printer.  I was a writing maven.

After I graduated school, I managed to score a second-hand laptop for $750, a Toshiba Satellite Pro that had Windows 95 on it, I believe.  I still have it.  The hard drive ticks like a bomb when it runs, and it runs slower than cold molasses running uphill in January, but it was significant because it was portable and had a colour screen.  Yes, in 2000, I finally had a computer with COLOUR!  The peasants rejoiced.

In journalism school, I learned to use Macintosh computers and got my first e-mail address, a Hotmail account.  The Macs were rather old my first year (barely colour) and, despite having high-speed internet access, were anything but high-speed.  But by my second year, we had iMacs, which purred nicely.  I began to download songs and whatnot.  Lots of whatnot.

My little laptop lasted until I started studying at Acadia University, where IBM Thinkpads and eventually Dell laptops were standard issue.  They were quite powerful, though flawed, and worth about $2,000 if they required replacing.  Needless to say, mine had insurance put on it!

The Acadia Disadvantage some days.

These days, I use an older Windows XP desktop, with a large screen that is still not flat (oh well) and questionable speakers that don’t really work much (or at all.)

However, last year, I bought my first new computer, an Acer One Netbook.  It’s powerful, has a crystal clear screen (important as it’s only 8.9 inches), and is all mine, a computer of my own that wasn’t a hand-me-down.  The best part?  It was about $300.  That’s a long ways from the $2,000 laptops from Acadia I was scared to take out in the rain, even in the safety of my schoolbag.

My Acer Aspire One is much like this one. I picked blue.

Computers have come a long ways from the early 1980s.  Just like me.  I’ve been fortunate enough to go along for the ride, which has made me quite computer literate.  Thank goodness.  Learning from scratch would be a task and a half.  Windows 2.0 taught me the basics and I learned to manipulate technology to my advantage.

My pink iPod has Tetris and CSI: Miami games on it.

Someday, I’ll feel fortunate that I was there for the beginning of the revolution, fortunate that by the time I’m old (if I make it there) I will have seen many discoveries and inventions in the computer sphere.  I’m sure that’s how people felt in regards to cars or telephones back in the early 1900s.

My cell phone, the Samsung Cleo, which has some computer capabilities.

Computers have drastically changed my life and made writing delightful beyond belief.  I am a different person today because I don’t have to write with a quill.  And it all began back with that very first VIC 20.


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