Friday, September 19, 2014

How Did the Baby Boomers Get Online in 1958?

A "personal favorite" posts from the first years of my blog, edited a little.
My son is no longer a teenager.  And he never did locate a Betamax player. But we have enjoyed obsolete technology together - such as my old reel to reel recorder from when I was a teenager.  I'm still a bit surprised that my son never decided to open a Museum of Obsolete Technology.

No, wait, there is one - his room. (Only kidding, dear son, especially as you live on your own now).

Still, don't you think this Betamax commercial is just a little touching, even if it is obsolete?

Next, let's consider my iPhone 4S. With the release of iOS8, which I dare not install, my phone would become (if I did install it) what young people call "a brick".  When I got my first computer, in 1996, would I ever have imagined that one day my phone would have more capabilities than that computer? Or that I would use my phone to go online?   No.

Hence this post:

So How Did The Baby Boomers Get Online in 1958?

First, I am not trying to mock my teenage son. But it shows how, in some ways, the mindset of the present generation is so much different from those of us born only 35 or 40 years earlier.

My son knows about what the computers of the 1950's looked like. People of my baby-boomer generation, do you remember the UNIVAC?

Do you remember the famous "hoax" picture of the 1954 RAND prototype of the first home computer? Maybe that was what son was thinking about when he asked his question.

One evening my son asked me "how did you get online when you were growing up? Did you have one of those huge computers in your bedroom?" I thought he was pulling my leg.

He wasn't.

Although he intellectually knew there was no "internet" as he knows it back in the 1950's or 1960's, he had to believe that there was something out there, just something very clunky, probably in black and white, and using technology full of vacuum tubes.

No.

Interestingly, son is also very interested in "old technology". For example, he is looking for a good Betamax player (and has several Betamax tapes). He just couldn't make that intellectual leap of people living before certain technology existed..

 Let's think about this a minute. I bought my first home computer (a bit later than other people, I admit) in 1996 and went online in January of 1997. So my son was in early elementary school at the time.

From his viewpoint, there was a computer in his life "forever".

By the way, when did the Internet start? The answer is complicated. This link has quite the discussion and the answer is..."it depends".

Do you remember life before "online"? Or, has there been a computer in your life "forever"?

14 comments:

  1. I remember life before the internet. It was simpler:-) Much simpler. I believe the internet began in the early 80s.... why, because I have been watching "The Americans":-) While the Russian spies were involved in kidnapping a scientist to work on this wild project.... now what did they call it? By the late 80s I met a friend I thought was nuts because he couldn't wait to get on his PC every evening to "talk" to this rather underground group of people who typed out notes each others computers. How strange... I think as I comment on a blog. lol

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    1. They had online services in the 1980's, and friends of mine subscribed to them - it wasn't the Internet, though. My first internet service provider, in 1997, was one of those services in its final independent days- CompuServe.

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  2. We bought our first home computer in 1996 as well, and went on line at that time. It's just astonishing to think about how fast technology has moved in the last twenty years! It really is wonderful to have an idle wonder about something and be able to just look it up immediately! However, it is also increasingly difficult to just shut it off and be alone with your thoughts. My husband and I can do it, but my kids have a hard time with that.

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    1. The gulf between my son and us is wide in so many ways. One basic way is the fact that he rarely uses the phone when communicating with his peers - except to text, fo course. There is even a gap between me and my sister in law, who is 12 years younger than I am. Sometimes, I feel like things are changing too quickly.

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    2. Oh, it makes me nuts that my kids won't pick up the phone and just call their friends, especially when it's something they need an answer to quickly!

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  3. Your delightful post, Alana, brings back memories not just of times when life was ... different, but also of my kids' own first discoveries. I'll never forget when my son first discovered the Beatles. He came home one day and asked, "Ima! Have you ever heard of the Beatles?" He was so excited! It was hard for him to believe that his mama actually grew up listening to the Beatles and actually remembers a pre-Beatles era! HUGS <3

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    1. One thing I am happy about is that the musical gap between my parents and me does not exist between my son and me. I'm happy my son was spared the fights about "hippie music" and "hair length" that so many of my contemporaries had to fight.

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  4. My friend and I wrote a book on electric typewriters when our kids were young. We also wrote a weekly newspaper column based on our book for two years for the primary newspaper in the area, and we typed each column (using carbon paper so we'd have copies) and drove them 10 miles to the newspaper to deliver them. Every week.

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    1. I remember the days of electric typewriters, onion paper, carbon paper and the correcting pencil with the brush on the other end too well. In fact, I learned to type on a manual typewriter. I never had to quite do what you did but I can remember when it was a big deal to own an electric typewriter.

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  5. I'm the same as you. My computer experience started about 10 years ago, and I don't have a smartphone.
    As for computers, My husband entered a London competition in the 70s to challenge that original big single-roomed computer in settling complicated figures--all stemming from each other like a giant bet. My husband finished faster than the computer.

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    1. Loved that story about your husband and his competing against a computer! I just read about Watson, the supercomputer that beat two Jeopardy (a popular U.S. quiz show) champions in 2011, and how anyone with an Internet connection will be able to ask Watson questions in just a few weeks.

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  6. Great post! I love the commercial. It's so sweet. I got my first computer in 1987, but I cannot think of when I first had the Internet. But yes, I definitely remember "the olden days." Thanks for the entertaining article!

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    1. Those good old days. I'm a computer newbie compared to you! Glad you enjoyed the post.

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  7. Great post! It's crazy to think where technology is going in the next 20 years :)

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