(prompt: ‘found’ 1/5/2020)
It had become embarrassingly clear we needed to step into the 20th century; to boldly go where we two had never gone before. To cut a long story short, we needed to buy a computer to give our secondary school children a fighting chance of keeping up with ‘modern’ technology of the day… not to mention the other kids in their class.
We’d found a well of intelligent life deep inside us many times before… along with a quite impressive capacity to learn. After all, once upon a long time ago, we hadn’t known how to milk cows. Learned that one quick smart, didn’t we? Even impressed the bank manager before the first year was out. And kids. Figured out how to raise them, too. So, a computer? Even though a commonly held opinion of the day suggested ‘most people over 25 are nervous about using them’. Bah! Humbug! Not us. We were made of sterner stuff.
Did I mention the other members of our family hanging over my shoulders to receive ‘baby-steps’ enlightenment following my initial learning curve? After all, I’d been a touch-typist and a Secretary, hadn’t I? Surely this would ensure innate and superior knowledge of the world of computering. In reality, there were many unsuspected aspects, idiosyncracies and unfathomable moments…and many, many resulting ‘bleeps’ (the majority of which were thought or quietly muttered).
None of us were prepared for all the conversation that would take place between computer and current operator – albeit one-sided. The computer was mainly limited to terrifying screen messages such as ‘Bad Command’, ‘Syntax Error’, ‘Abort, Re-try, Fail?’, ‘HTTP 404’, ‘Memory Full’ , and ‘Windows Failed to Start’. These last two in particular gain more depth of understanding and credence with every year that passes. Damn computer should check out life in its 7th and 8th decade. Now there’s a challenge! And how about this one when the kiddies were all eyes and ears around you – ‘Your computer has performed an illegal operation and will be shutdown’. NOT a pretty picture!
Our ‘brain’ was called the Amstrad CPC 464 – meaning it had the princely amount of 64 MB of memory. Sounded phenomenal in those faraway days. Certainly met all the needs of kids and parents at the time. I chuckle to myself. Cannot ever think of kids and computers in the same breath without seeing our ‘cherubs 3’ earnestly typing in compu-language from a book of programs for Home PC games. One read, one typed and one double-checked both the others. The omission of just one fullstop or forward slash would null and void the whole program, making it unable to operate and requiring hours of rechecking and retyping. Amazing the limitless patience when there was no choice!
Strangely, I found myself totally in love with a saying I discovered in those halcyon days –
‘To err is human, but to REALLY foul things up, you need a computer’.