Thursday, October 6, 2011


The death of Steve Jobs got me thinking about my involvement with computers.

In 1984 I was fortunate enough to be allowed to 'play' with one of these at school on a regular basis. I had to hang around for a while to catch a train home and the Principal thought it might be a good idea. Guess he was right!

The VIC20 was fun. Of course you plugged it into a TV and any programmes were loaded from cassette.

Shortly after I was allowed to spend the absolutely massive amount (and it was!) of $200 on one of the below beauties for myself. I learned some rudimentary BASIC programming and lusted after the 16kb RAM expansion module! Foolishly I gave this computer away. It was an MC-10 which was made by RadioShack.

My school got into computers in maybe 1986. We had some Apple IIe units as well as a lab of IIc computers later on. I think we did some basic word processing and publishing using AppleWorks and PrintShop. And we'd moved on to 5.25" floppy disks!

For a while I wasn't all that interested in computers. I tried a unit in Information Systems at university and was disappointed when it was pretty much all maths that I couldn't do.

But then I ended up working in IT in the Army. By mistake. In 1992 was lucky enough to work on PR1ME minis as well as Wang. They were dumb terminal systems. We also started rolling out the first XT, 286 and then 386 computers. The first PC I built myself was a 386DX-40 with 2x 120Mb hard drives and 4Mb of RAM. Man, that thing flew!! We also worked on the first laptops that didn't even have batteries. Heavy! We got into networking using Novell which was the bomb for a while. I didn't really enjoy working in civilian life though - the lack of a common purpose apart from earning money was a real drag. And that's when I got into teaching.

Although my degree is in Politics I had more than enough work experience to be able to teach computing. And it is a hell of a lot of fun. We try and cover the whole gamut of IT from basic word processing and spreadsheets through to animation, video, databases and various programming languages. And, really, the platform or flavour of software doesn't matter at all. It's all about being able to use whatever is put in front of you.

When I look now at my iPhone, laptop and all the various pieces of technology lying around we really have come a very long way since that VIC-20 in 1984.

I really couldn't give a hoot these days about the Apple vs. PC debate - just choose whatever works for you - they all do roughly the same thing for the majority of users.

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