Life before computers
Here’s a thought. I’ve just seen Eddie Izzard’s skit on computers, and it made me think about how they’ve evolved as my business/life has as well. When I started my business back in June 1993 my first piece of technology was a small manual typewriter – on this I wrote business plans, cash flow forecasts, a martial arts syllabus, newsletters and designed (rather badly) marketing flyers. In fact much of what I do today. How the hell did I manage that? Imagine a piece of technology that doesn’t enable you to connect to the internet, download photos, watch the news, see things on YouTube, listen to music or even retype a word without the miracle of Tipp-Ex! Does anybody still use that stuff, and if so, what for?
From the typewriter to Amstrad!
I chugged away on that machine for about a year before I got to borrow an electric typewriter, with this you could could undo typing – a revelation. Unfortunately a temper tantrum took care of that one day when a sticky key allowed me to smash it to bits. What a shame I’d forgotten that I’d borrowed it. Oh dear, more expense. I’m glad that one of things that improved not long after that was controlling my anger! My next, rather massive upgrade, was an Amstrad PCW8512. This was a proper word processor with some memory and you used 3″ floppy discs to save your work on, when the industry standard was 3.5″ floppy discs. Teenagers who may be reading this will now equate this whole blog as about ancient history, but this was the late 90’s.
A PC from Cash Converters? Really?
It became obvious that the time would come when had to buy my first real computer. I can’t honestly remember the spec on it, but I do remember that it ran Windows 3.11 operating system and it had a colour monitor, technology had caught up with television – well sort of. I bought it from Cash Converters, can you imagine doing that these days? My friend and the sales person were talking about RAM (although i didn’t realise it came in capital letters), hard drive space and 3.11 – I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. How quickly we become entrenched in the language and terminology.
iPods, iPhones and the internet
My upgrade was Windows 95 and I think this was the first computer that you could get the internet on at work. I’d first gone onto the internet at home in 1999; remember dial up modem and 56k download speed along with the noise of a strangled grasshopper? We thought it was all so clever. Took forever to download the most basic of web pages and seemed to cost a fortune – Demon Internet was my first provider. Another big advance was Windows XP and the memory on the computer was getting bigger – I was now up to 120gb hard drive and 2 Mb of RAM. It wasn’t long before my iPod had the same amount of memory – I still find that amazing, that all of my LP’s and cd’s can fit on to something not much larger than a cigarette pack. Steve Jobs and Apple have made such amazing leaps forward in technology. Along with computers I remember the development of mobile phones – I still have my first ever phone from 1995, the SIM card is the same size as my iPhone! They made for better weapons back in those days though.
All that knowledge and so little wisdom
Which brings me up to date: I have a purpose built PC with 4gb of RAM and a 1000gb hard drive, operating Windows 7. It really is amazing. 19 years ago this PC was the world of fantasy and science fiction and yet here I am tapping this into the world. Vista is the worst operating system ever so I was glad to see the back of that. Do computers help us? Of course they do. Do they hinder us? Of course they do. We are obsessed with them; with what we get to look at: Facebook, YouTube, online streaming and so many sites we probably shouldn’t be looking at. Knowledge is widely available, but wisdom is still hard to come by. Given another 19 years I’ll be not far off 70 years old and most of science fiction will have become fact. There will be more creativity, more knowledge and amazement than at any time in human history. The world is changing fast and we have to keep up and if we are truly wise and clever, stay ahead. Technology is advancing at such a fast pace that we have to be careful where it takes us, but also embrace it to help us. Think of all the people you know today because of computers: Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Tumblr and the other social media sites. When I look back I find it hard to comprehend that I thought I could run a business with the aid of a manual typewriter, but I guess some of that was that I didn’t know it was possible any other way. The video below lasts about 7 seconds so take a look at look at the screen the whole time. It happens really fast, just as this revolution has.