You’re Not a Late Bloomer. You’re A Technical Wonder.

You’re Not a Late Bloomer. You’re A Technical Wonder.

posted in: Essays | 5

In 1986, I built my first computer, a 286 with a 20 megabyte internal hard drive, the first of its kind. (Remember disk swapping?)

I got the parts through an employee special purchase, probably because they were almost obsolete, though I didn’t know it.

That PC 286 cost $1200, with discount. Twice the average of today’s laptop. I was 27 years old.

It sat in boxes for 3 months before I got up the courage to assemble it.

I enrolled in a DOS class, so I could communicate with it. I still see its green cursor flashing against black (made so iconic in The Matrix), waiting for my command: dir c:/

It changed my life.

PC 286I’d taken a mag card class in business school, several years earlier. But I wrote all my term papers on an IBM Selectric.

In 1994, I watched my five-year-old niece navigate Windows like it was second nature. I’d just switched from necessity. I was a 35-year-old grad student competing with kids ten years my junior.

I remember my first encounter with Mosaic at UCLA’s computer center, my utter confusion as I tried to grasp this early incarnation of a Web browser.

The teenager next to me asked kindly, “What are you looking for?”  He gave me an enthusiastic one-hour tutorial.  I wish I could find that kid and thank him again.  Because he, too, changed my life.

My point is:  My classroom schooling did not include computing. Nor, I suspect, did yours. I didn’t touch a PC until I was in my late 20s.

Yet here we both are. With sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, who made their fourth grade show-and-tell presentation in Powerpoint.

Millenials, today’s 20-somethings, have never known life without a cell phone or computer. They’re taking technology to a whole new level—escaping the cubicle, becoming location independent, and rethinking retirement.

We can learn a lot from them.

In the meantime, if you were born before 1965 and you’re reading this—lean back, stare at your amazing technicolor monitor, and congratulate yourself. You’re a life-long learner.

You taught yourself what your sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, simply absorbed through cultural osmosis. The coming decades are not just theirs.

They’re ours.

5 Responses

  1. Untemplater
    | Reply

    Thanks for the mentions! I can’t imagine life without computers. I feel like my laptop is attached to my hip. Same goes with my smart phone. It took me a while to buy into the idea of smart phones after using a basic clamshell phone for years, but once I switched I never looked back!

  2. Dee
    | Reply

    Love this post.I watch in awe at the technical skill of my 4 and 5 year old grandchildren. Thankfully they watch in awe at the technical skill of their Grandma…… 🙂

    • Debra Eve | @DebraEve
      |

      Those young ones nowadays are astonishing. However, I just popped over to your site and you look too young to be a grandma!

  3. DEEV
    | Reply

    I am forever grateful for personal computers & the internet. I came into my own professionally due to the good luck in 1994 of having a temporary managers who suggested I fly to Chicago for a “How to use the Internet” communications seminar. That weekend changed my life. Praise be, my VERY BIG company wasn’t very forward thinking, so it turned out I was the only one who combined basic computer know-how & communications skills. In 1998, my 88 year-old mother started using e-mail to discuss hot button issues in our church, connecting with people of all ages around the world. As she wrote at 90, when most people found their circles of friends diminishing, hers was growing. Computers helped her gain a different, better view of herself. She never touched a keyboard – she’d dictate & I’d transcribe to computer.

    • Debra Eve | @DebraEve
      |

      What a great story, Deev! Good for your mom. My 85-year-old mom didn’t make the technology jump and she’s extremely isolated because of it. She can’t use a computer or cell phone and often talks about loneliness. I’ve tried to teach her at different stages, but she just gets overwhelmed. Makes me sad.

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