To finish off our campaign, we asked our team members to share their first experience with tech.
Unsurprisingly, many of our first experiences centre around the old, off-white clunky computers that are probably in a museum now. It’s also interesting to see how in the early days, there wasn’t a computer per person and we had to share with our peers.
Click on each of the names below to take a trip down memory lane.
Drawing was not a matter of pen and paper anymore. I was 7 years old at school and we had a class called Computing where they first introduced us to Microsoft Paint. Painting the white ‘paper’ screen, creating shapes on it, adding text to it was great but what amazed me the most was seeing how moving the mouse across the desk was creating the pointer to move in a similar manner, helping us interact with the computer and perform our actions. How clicking or double clicking was the translation of ‘I want this’, ‘Open this’ or ‘Give me this’.
Truly fascinating seeing how somebody invented a bridge for us to communicate by giving instructions that perform actions to obtain things!
As far as I can recall, I saw a computer for the first time when I was in college. It was also the first time I got to touch one. It looked like this image.
It was during computer lab time in my college and we only had 10 computers for the whole class of 40 students. It was a black and white desktop PC with windows’95 operating system. To be honest, even the computer teacher in our school seemed to be excited to be using the computer during our lab sessions.
MS-DOS commands were being taught to us and each one of the students had to go to the computer and create a directory with his/her name and then create a file inside it. All from command prompt. I was so excited when I typed ‘MD Sandeep’.
Around 1990, my dad bought his first computer and I remember the screen was just black and white. I asked him what was it and he said it was a computer, Microsoft DOS.
When I was in Year 7, my school had 2 computer classes each week. I learnt how to type English and Chinese using Zhuyin. A typing game which I love was similar to Tetris, Chinese characters fell from top and we had to spell it to dismiss the block. At the end I was getting really good at that and no one in the class could defeat me.
A modern version of the Zhuyin game.
Upon hearing this sound, normal human instinct would be to run! But to us 90’s kids, this used to be sweet music to the ears, the sound of dial-up internet connection.
After drawing circles, squares and spirals in Logo for school assignments, I got introduced to a computer with a Windows 98 operating system. All of a sudden, it was like the ‘Future’ in front of me.
Well soon, changing wallpapers and setting moving-screensavers became boring and surfing the internet became the new normal and that’s when this awkward sound started sounding sweet.
It was 2002, I was in year 7. My uncle had a Pager device which amazed me a lot. As it used to beep whenever a message was received on the device and most of the messages were related to some specific blood group required and I used to feel surprised.
Is this like some broadcast platform that all are sent messages on this device? And why is it just for messages? Can’t we use it to call? My mind was filled with many questions that I didn’t have answer to but now it makes sense.
As far as I can remember, my first experience with tech is 90’s big square TV.
But, I was more amazed with technology when my uncle gifted me a 90s game console, this is how it looked like.
I remember that I got that on an evening and I had started to play after dinner, and continued till next day morning, how amazing it was.
And another thrilling experience was when I first went to watch a movie in Cinema hall, I was like someone stand behind screen and doing something.
It was 1998 and I was in year 3. Our classroom had a chunky computer and my teacher, Mr. McMahon, let everyone take turns learning how to use it. I remember adding borders to Microsoft Word documents and experimenting with WordArt.
We were also allowed to play a colouring in game where we could ‘colour in’ objects like dinosaurs. It was also the year I was introduced to the floppy disk!
I don’t remember how old I was, maybe around 8 years old so this would have been around 1996…
My mum was working in a library where they had a “computer room” with a couple of PCs and I remember having to show people how to double click to open folders 🤣
I remember being at a party when I was about 6 years old and seeing some older kids playing PONG – the first computer game I ever came across. It was basically a table tennis game that had 2 rectangles for paddles, and a square as the ball!
Pong was created by Atari, which still happens to be my all time favourite game console. I’m pretty proud to admit that I MASTERED both River Raid and Space Invaders 😊
A few years later, my sister and I got into Wonder Boy on our Commodore 64, but these days Candy Crush is about as complex as my computer games get.
I started learning programming in the 80’s, when there were no search engines, no internet, no mobile phones and 256k was a massive amount of memory. The only way to learn programming was from borrowing a book from a centralised repository that was called a local library.
There were a few computing magazines around at the time – my favourite was PC User and they would publish programs in the actual magazine, so every month I would buy the latest issue and then copy character by character into a text document that could be compiled to run my program on a computer. Even simple programs could be a thousand lines printed in a magazine with many thousands of individual characters and if one was wrong the program would break.
One of the very first programs I wrote from scratch myself was in BASIC, it took a few hours and was a continuous loop, each with a different coloured flashing background.
I called my brother to see my new computer program running – with a repeating message down the screen displaying “Craig is a pig”. He called me a dick head.
It wasn’t until year 11 before a computer science class was available at school, we had two students to every computer and learnt to create programs that would create geometric shapes on the screen.
In the early nineties, I learnt Cobol, Fortran and Pascal programming languages at uni – although ended up failing Computer Science and my lecturer, Lex Melville suggested I look at another career.
And we’ve saved the most interesting til last! Our developer Igor recounts how he learnt to code – the old school way.
Writing my first code – by Igor
I remember this experience as the one aimed at scaring young uni students away from the noble activity of programming, rather than encouraging them to have a good deep dive into it. Why? Judge for yourself, as I tell you the story.
Picture yourself as a young student who’s given a ‘laboratory work’ of a type never experienced before. The student only has a pen, paper plus his nerve-wrecking semi-knowledgeable mind and a yarn of nerves flashing in anxiety about the final results, as the tutor is strict and merciless indeed, and you can never ever be too ready for the ordeal.
So, here is the sequence of steps you, as someone in my student shoes, need take in order to survive the rigour of the test:
1. You take your pen and paper and write down the necessary commands. Yes, yes. Forget about PCs with keyboards that are available for everyone else who have passed the test. You need to do it the hardest way possible to deeply and unforgettably realise what the profession entails.
2. Once you have written your commands on sheets of paper, you first have them checked by your faultfinding and ego pinching tutor and if you are lucky with him you then head to a special laboratory to ‘perforate’ your code on special pieces of cardboard known as ‘punchcards’, just to make them ‘digestible’ for the processing by a huge mainframe monster-computer named EC-1022 (was in the top-performed mainframes more then 20 years ago prior to the quest described here, 80,000 operations per second, 256 kb RAM, HDD 7,25 Мб, power consumption 25 kWa!). In the laboratory, your task is not to waste a single additional punchcard, or you are going to be punched by punishment, so you need to be very thoughtful and accurate. The task, on average, requires about 50 precious punchcards, eighty symbols / one command approx. per one punchcard. If you fail to do everything the right way on the first go, you will have to wait for another week for your access to the laboratory and you are risking to further lose on your grades.
3. You have succeeded in punching the punchcards the right way? Now you need to rush to the ‘Inner Sanctum’ of the University, the laboratory hosting the EC-1022. No, you won’t be allowed into it, No. You are too a lowly being for it for now, just a terrified inexperienced student. You need to know your place. You go to a special reception desk which looks like an embrasure with a sullen midaged lady, a laboratory assistant, sitting behind it. She grabs your pile of punched punchcards, sequenced by you with uttermost precision (as the loss of order inevitably leads to a failure in the test results), and carries them away.
4. Now that your work has been taken away for assessment, it’s time to wait and pray with all your might. All you really want is not to fail, fingers crossed.
5. The time has come to grab the results. They are presented on a wide white and long piece of rolled paper (not to confuse with the type that was recently in deficit across Australia) and you look at it and are not quite sure what you see. Yes, that’s right. You are not supposed to fully comprehend the result. You need to quickly trot your way to your revered tutor again and ask him humbly to tell you what you’d got.
Were you a success? Of course, you were! Otherwise you would not be sitting writing this memorable essay.
Here’s a ONE-question quiz for you, Dear Reader. What is the language that the coding in question was written in?
If not sure, ask me!
We hope you enjoyed reading some of our team members recount their first experiences with technology. It’s funny to think how far things have come, that tech in 2020 will be someone’s first experience with technology, and everything may look a lot different in a decade!
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