Monday, August 13, 2007

The history of my love affair with computers

The history of my love affair with computers began in 1975 when I joined Canadian Pacific Airlines as a reservation agent. When I first started with the airlines there was no computer system. We took airline reservations on cards and then put them on what looked like a mobile washing line. It then moved round a large room to the front where individuals checked if there were any seats left on the flight in question and then it came back to us so we could call and confirm the flight. It is amazing people got to where they wanted to go.

That year Canadian Pacific moved over to a system called Pegasus. It was a major event, the size of the system took an enormous space, but that was when my love affair with computers began. However in 1977 there was a huge layoff in all areas of the company and that included me. So I got married instead and had three sons. A good use of unemployed time.

When my oldest son was about 12 we were moving about quite a bit so I decided to homeschool. Included in my plan was computer training because I could see that in the future computers would be very much a part of every home and job.

In order to teach the boys it was necessary for me to attend courses at night school. I remember my first DOS class, it was very difficult, I found, especially as I had not yet purchased a computer. I would take copious notes and then they didn't seem to make sense when I returned to class. The word processer available then was WordStar and it was certainly not intuitive. A lot of Ctrl this and Alt that to remember. However I did finally learn enough to feel I could go ahead and buy a second hand computer, because I could not quite manage the price of a new one.

One of the things I had my boys do was create a picture, but they were not allowed to draw on it, for this exercise anyway, they had to do it by pixel counting. However they did create a lot of artwork with the computer. We did a lot of desktop publishing of essays and when we hooked up to the internet the downloading frenzy began. We all learned simple html and started designing web pages. This was long before the schools were getting computers in the classrooms. I found the computer to be a major motivator in getting school work done. My eldest son went on to design computer games, the youngest delves into 3D animation, but the middle son just uses it as a tool for keeping in touch although he plans to use a laptop to give presentations for his business.

I went on to teach computers, I had a small classroom of nine where I taught DOS, Wordperfect, Windows, Microsoft Publisher, and various other specialized one-on-one courses. Later I worked for a hotel and implemented their computer system and took them through the scare of 2000, but nothing happened of course.

I bought myself a new computer in February of this year, but decided it would be wise to stick with tried and true Windows XP rather than get Vista. I am glad I did as I hear that Vista is still a trifle unstable. I have obviously had several computers since the first, second hand, one my favourite was a lap top, I still might get myself another one.

The village where I live recently made broadband available, so the next thing I must do is get hooked up to that, as dial-up with Telus is driving me mad. It is so slow and it keeps bouncing me off the internet.

I find that people are always asking me to help them with their computer problems and to the best of my ability I do, but I am aware that I am fast falling behind in knowledge. I don't suppose I need to know a lot of the information anymore, but I am hooked on any type of 'techy' blog and read Lifehacker and KillerStartups as well as a variety of blogs dedicated to help one improve their blogging skills.

So that's 32 years of my history with computers, and it is not likely to stop as it is a major hobby for me and I spend most evenings doing something on my computer.


david mcmahon said...

Hi Vic,

Really enjoyed that post. Starting a family was a great way to cope with a career break.

And where would we be without computers?

Keep smiling


Cicero Sings said...

I started in the 70's on computers too. Computers were just coming in mode and the company I worked for got a big old main frame with these stacked platters for discs ... I got the job posting to take it on! The programs were created for the company by an outside programmer ... and I had to work through and around all of the glitches!!! Interesting times but I learned a lot. Then the personal computers came out. I never got my very own computer until just last year, when I bought an iMac. I love my Mac but I don't have to do business anymore!! Thank goodness. I'm way behind technology wise now ... hard to keep up these days. I just like to play.

Jeni said...

My computer experience goes back a little further than yours initially -I started working with computers back in 1965 when the company where I was employed switched their membership files from a Remington Rand to an IBM system. I was a "Keypunch operator." Eventually, I did some work and had training in COBOL programming with them too. Around 1986, I took some classes, one being Wordstar 2000 but have never used that. In 1988, I got hired for a weather forecasting company doing data input, a little here, a little there, in terms of computer work but nothing that really gave me a big push in learning more in depth. This computer -just bought it back in February -is actually my 3rd I suppose but only the 2nd that I purchased new. The in-between model was one my cousin gave me when her workplace bought all new units and GAVE the harddrives away! Then a friend of mine sort of cannibalized my first computer, added parts of it to the one my cousin gave me, etc. I have difficulty learning this stuff though from just reading it - really need someone to show me how it works first, then sometimes I can figure more out on my own.
I got the comment clicks added to my blog yesterday too! Thanks for pushing me in the right direction for those.

Norma said...

That's a lot of experience. I think mine started (other than library terminals) in 1987 when I went back to work and had to learn a little ms dos program.