Tuesday, March 13, 2007

How the future looked in 1982

I accidentally stumbled across this, an essay that Jim Morris of CMU wrote in 1982 about what a campus computing system should look like. Fascinating. Everyone knows that we have lived through an unbelievable amount of technological change in the last 25 years, but reading this brings it home, and like some kind of bloggy madeline makes me think about what I was doing with computing technology in 1982:

By 1982, I had been exposed to the personal computer: we had some Tandy computers (TRS 80's) at school and I spent the summer of 1982 at a day camp where we swam in the morning and in the afternoon, we learned to program the computer to do such important tasks as drawing cubes and writing "My name is..." in an infinite loop. Our middle school math skills were limited and one couldn't do that much with BASIC (or at least we couldn't), so the head counselor (who was a math and English teacher at my middle school) spent most of the time teaching us algebra and reading us O.Henry stories.

1982 was also the year that my family entered the home computer era when my parents opened up a big box on the first night of Hanukkah and took out a Commodore Vic-20. We hooked it up to the TV and away we went. I recall that we had a Centipede game and a word processor called "Quick Brown Fox." Data storage was a tape recorder.

Meanwhile up in Pittsburgh, Jim Morris was wondering whether or not the campus computers could be hooked up to something called "ARPANet."

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