Retro Tech – it’s cool when it still works

I brought Toshie, my laptop from 1992 (pictured below), in to work today. It’s been fun to see my coworkers “ooh” and “aah” over how antiquated it is. But it just brings back good memories for me. Granted it’s heavy, has a roller ball instead of a track pad and has a little over 4,000 K of memory on it. But it still works and it’s one of my treasured items.

I’ve been playing around with computers since, well, junior high. So what, you might say. However, this was in the 1980s when personal computers were not all that common. I was lucky to grow up in a household that always looked forward to the next new element in technology. We were the first family on the block to have Pong and Atari. I was about 12 years old when Dad and I took apart our first home computer because it stopped working, attempted to fix it and put it back together. And it worked! That was my first tech high.

Fast forward a few years later. I took one of the first DOS programming classes that my high school offered. And the first lesson I learned in programming still holds true to this day: Programs will do what you tell them to do—nothing more, nothing less. I learned that lesson the hard way when my pinball game that I programmed shot the balls the wrong way. And I am remembering it as I learn new coding languages.

When it came time for me to go to college, Dad asked me if I wanted a word processor or a new thing called a laptop. He pushed for me to go for the laptop and to always search out the new. So I agreed. For four years, I wrote college papers and short stories on Toshie. I had my first instant message conversation on Toshie.

Fast forward to 2013. Our mobile phones have operating systems. We heave enraged birds at bewildered green pigs on a variety of devices. We are writing and inspecting code for digital ads for tablets. I am still excited and always get the giggles when I open a box to a brand-new computer/smartphone/tablet/phablet, etc. I’ve been waiting all day to hear the news coming out from the Xbox reveal and to see what I’ll be thinking of buying next.

It’s been a crazy-fun 21 years since I first opened my Macintosh Powerbook 165c and named it Toshie. Those 21 years have been filled with wonderful technological advances that have helped create ideas and shaped our present. What will the next 21 years hold? And will we looking at the pictures of today’s technologies on “remember when” Twitter and FB posts, all the while thinking, “Oh, yeah. I remember that I actually had to touch the screen to make a call?”

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