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One of the things that got me interested in computers, back in the '80s, was the mystery that surrounded them at the time. If you wanted to use a computer back then, you really had to work at learning how to use them.

Growing up in the town that I did, it wasn't easy finding information about computers back then. Not many people knew much (if anything) about them - not many schools or offices even had a computer. For most people, to be someone who knew anything about micro-computers meant that you were a “wizard” of some sort. And, to be frank, to be able to use a computer back in the early eighties was a skill that had to be acquired; unlike today, when using a PC is not much more complicated than using a toaster.

The ability to learn micro-computing was even more of a struggle for kids in my home-town, as the resources to do so was limited. Fortunately for me, there was an education T.V. program that was produced on TVOntario, a public broadcasting station based in Toronto, called “Bits and Bytes”. It was a very critical resource for me, as I tried to learn all I could about these wonderful things called micro-computers.

Programming like this really helped keep my interests in computing and provided a real advantage for me. By the time I was finally able to take a micro-computer coarse in my high school, I knew just as much as the teacher (if not a little bit more).

Today, there's nothing really mysterious about using a computer - today they're more like interactive televisions than they are “computers”. For the most part (at least for the general public), the experience of using them is more of a walled garden sort of experience. You're free to do with them what you want, as long as you remain in the confines that the developers have provided to you.

But, back in the early days of computing, it was a very different experience. What could and could not be done with a computer was never defined. Computers weren't so “user friendly” back then, but they also weren't so controlled, either.

blog/2014-01-04.txt · Last modified: 2019/04/08 05:00 (external edit)