COMPUTERS AND A CERTAIN AGE

Whether you embrace this new world of artificial intelligence and constant communication, or  using a computer is like entering a foreign country, may partially depend on your age.

I am of the latter age, but was lucky enough to be given a computer to use when I worked as a stringer for a daily newspaper in the mid-nineteen seventies, when the biggest share of you reading this were yet to be born. As a stringer (sometimes referred to as a correspondent) I submitted a lot of print to the paper via telecopier (look that one up). The editor or someone at the paper then had to retype it into their press computer. They decided giving me a Compugraphic computer would save the staff time and I could submit my writing so it could be edited and sent directly to the press.

 

The Compugraphic had five-inch discs. One had to kept in place because it was the operating system. A second disc would record up to 300 characters on a ring and there were 30 rings on each recording disc. If one story had more than 300 characters, I had to put the rest of the story on a second ring, etc. I could write over a recorded story, otherwise it would remain on its ring.

 

There was a red button on the keyboard, which I never touched because it erased the ring I was writing on. I had a cat who loved to hang out on my desk while I wrote in the morning. You guessed it. I had just completed a story when Rasputin walked across my keyboard and put his paw on that red key. He was persona non grata that day!

 

When I left that job and moved to a city, I found work which required me to learn to use an IBM Word Processor. The company sent out several hundreds of letters t
o town and village officials who were possible customers. I read about merging and how we could send letters that were far more personal. It took me several hours, but I taught myself and my coworkers the process.

 

My next job requiring use of a computer came for a Meals-on-Wheels program. We kept track or our clients on a computer with a 30MB capacity.

 

Now I am a writer and can’t imagine not having the use of a computer. This laptop might be called limited at only 596 GB. However, it is enough for me. It does what I need it to do because so much of what one can do, I don’t need for my life at this certain age.

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