While I’ve got a few entries from the Olive Tree Genealogy Blog 52 Weeks of Sharing, Amy Coffin of the We Tree blog has also been doing a similar theme of Personal Genealogy History. So for this week, I’m switching where I get my theme from and writing about Technology.
I remember Pong. We had it hooked up to a TV in my bedroom in our first house, which means pre-1983. When it was out for a year or two, my parents finally sprang for an Atari 2600, and I still have that original one we owned and it still works. I also have all the games they bought, which I’ve added to a couple times with eBay.
In elementary school, I was in the Academic Excellence program. I can’t remember anything about that except that in sixth grade, we learned Basic programming on the Atari 800. I have one of those too now, but I got it during college when a professor found some while cleaning out a closet.
I don’t remember exactly when, but we soon had a computer in the house. The IBM PC, or the XT, or maybe both at different times. I remember seeing the amber monitors and wanting one, just to see something different than the green we always had. Over time, the home computer upgraded to a PS2, and just kept going over the years. Eventually, I was given my own computer, a hand-me-down from my Dad’s office; he would take parts from one or two older ones when someone was upgraded, and maybe add in a couple newer components for me. The first laptop I got was around 1993, also an office hand-me-down.
I was a late adopter of CD technology, having such a collection of LPs and cassettes and not wanting to replace them. Eventually I was given a few CDs for Hannukah and took the plunge.
My Dad was the type who liked to have the latest technology for most things. He had a remote control for the TV, or maybe it was just for the VCR, back when the remote had a long wire still attached. He liked to buy the most expensive VCR, that even a rocket scientist reading the instruction manual would have difficulty programming. I always bought one of the cheapest ones, which were much simpler to operate. Dad even had one of those weighs-as-much-as-a-brick cell phones when they first came out.
When I started college, moving into the dorm, instead of a phone, I had a beeper so I could be reached. I was introduced to email, chat, and Internet beginning in 1991 and was programming web sites by 1993. I didn’t pick up a cell phone until I lived in Nashville in 1998. In 1999, I tried a different carrier, and just before my big genealogy trip across the US and Canada, they introduced nationwide calling plans, so I didn’t have to calculate long distance and roaming charges. I switched to broadband via cable modem in 1999, leaving behind the last land line phone I’d ever have (so far), no longer needing the second line for the computer and depending on the cell phone for phone service.
I was a fairly early adopter of the PDA (personal digital assistant) and I still use one today that I bought in 1996 (my third). I have not switched over to a smartphone yet, especially having used all the major cell phone carriers at one time or another and not being thrilled with any of them anymore.
I know there were lots of other technologies that came about during my lifetime, but I didn’t pay attention to most of it. I was never into fads, so I didn’t have “the latest thing” until it wasn’t brand new anymore. By then, it seemed to be around forever. I vaguely remember rotary phones — our phone number started with 949, can you imagine calling home on one of those with that number?