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Old Feb 7, 2013, 10:42 AM   #1
Squilly
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For Those Who Lived Through the 80s

Was thinking about this recently. The 80's and 90's started the huge change in technology, specifically computing. I'm not going to make this a long paragraph but what did you think when the computer landed on the market? Did you think it was going to be the next big thing or didn't think much of it (as if it were a new product at a bakery)? Must've been interesting.
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Old Feb 7, 2013, 10:51 AM   #2
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Like most things it was incremental so it wasn't like one day we didn't have computers and the next day they popped into existence. You had things like Atari's that plugged into your TV so that was just another thing like a VCR. Some Atari systems had keyboards. You also had Commodore/Amiga machines that could plug into the TV or a monitor. You started getting Intel computers. You could connect to other computers via modems. Then you connected to bulletin boards via your modem. Services like AOL, Compuserve, and Prodigy were the next thing you'd connect to and it gave you access to more computers. Then the Internet.

So it was all gradual over many years. It's kind of like saying "What'd you do before iPhones?!" in 20 years. The introduction of the iPhone was neat, but it wasn't incomprehensible. It was building on prior technology that you or somebody you knew already used.
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Old Feb 7, 2013, 11:13 AM   #3
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I'll agree with SilentPanda.

The personal computer didn't land on the market. It crept into the market. There were not lines of people waiting on release day to get the latest and greatest. In addition, prices were high. The original Macintosh 128 was approximately $2500 in 1984. I bought a Apple IIc that year for $1300. Most of the people I went to college with didn't have a computer and relied on the few computing clusters on campus. Definitely more evolutionary than revolutionary.
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Old Feb 7, 2013, 12:22 PM   #4
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I used computers at work, starting in the late 80's. I never saw a need for a home computer until my kids hit middle school, and then we figured they might need a computer at home. They used it a little, more in high school. Now I use lots of spreadsheets and wonder how I managed without them.
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Old Feb 12, 2013, 08:36 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by SilentPanda View Post
So it was all gradual over many years. It's kind of like saying "What'd you do before iPhones?!" in 20 years. The introduction of the iPhone was neat, but it wasn't incomprehensible. It was building on prior technology that you or somebody you knew already used.
Yeah, it's not like we didn't have pocket computers or even tablets back then.

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Old Feb 12, 2013, 11:28 AM   #6
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Yeah, it's not like we didn't have pocket computers or even tablets back then.

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Yep, although those made my world go round during the 80s. Not that scientific...

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Old Feb 12, 2013, 11:46 AM   #7
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Yep, although those made my world go round during the 80s. Not that scientific...

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I had the octopus myself.

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Old Feb 12, 2013, 11:51 AM   #8
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I had the octopus myself.

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I had the jugglar game back then

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Old Feb 7, 2013, 12:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Squilly View Post
Was thinking about this recently. The 80's and 90's started the huge change in technology, specifically computing. I'm not going to make this a long paragraph but what did you think when the computer landed on the market? Did you think it was going to be the next big thing or didn't think much of it (as if it were a new product at a bakery)?
IMO, the catalyst for was a simple program called Visicalc. If you spreadsheet by hand, you'd see what a godsend Visicalc was back in the day. It was a clunky program, but it was a step up from the old way. Like the Model T compared to the horse and buggy. That was when I knew computers were the next big thing. Thanks to Visicalc, you didn't have to be a super bean counter to embezzle (and you could always claim it was a misplaced decimal.)
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Old Feb 9, 2013, 10:15 PM   #10
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When computers started to become more popular, did you think it was going to be big or were you interested in it when it was first unveiled (disregard price)?
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Old Feb 10, 2013, 07:10 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Squilly View Post
When computers started to become more popular, did you think it was going to be big or were you interested in it when it was first unveiled (disregard price)?
Personally, it just seemed like a natural progression. I had been able to send message to people locally for quite some time via bulletin boards. Then things like fidonet came along where bulletin boards would connect to each other over a period of time and your message could get to somebody on another bulletin board. Email wasn't much of a stretch after that. None of it felt like "oh my gosh this is going to be huge!" It all felt like, "That makes sense."
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Old Feb 10, 2013, 08:59 AM   #12
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I think the most amazing thing is that I've gone from having a Mac LC II desktop with 40MB of storage in 1993-1997 (I'm not even counting my Apple IIc I had from 1983-1993) to being able to store 64GB on a card the size of a penny. That's 1,600 times the storage I had on a full desktop in college.
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Old Feb 10, 2013, 10:44 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by SilentPanda View Post
Personally, it just seemed like a natural progression. I had been able to send message to people locally for quite some time via bulletin boards. Then things like fidonet came along where bulletin boards would connect to each other over a period of time and your message could get to somebody on another bulletin board. Email wasn't much of a stretch after that. None of it felt like "oh my gosh this is going to be huge!" It all felt like, "That makes sense."
So like the next big thing from say.... iPad to iPad mini? These "bulletin boards" or fidonet were like email?
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Old Feb 10, 2013, 10:51 AM   #14
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So like the next big thing from say.... iPad to iPad mini? These "bulletin boards" or fidonet were like email?
Yep. Bulletin boards were basically calling somebody elses computer in your area code that had some software on it. Mostly it had forums and some ascii games. Then fidonet (and a few others) came along. I could then send a message to somebody several states from me for free. I'd drop a message off at the local bulletin board, then once a night that bulletin board would call another bulletin board and so on... they'd pass messages off that way and get messages back. It wasn't instantaneous but it worked. They could also sync up forums this way too.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FidoNet

An equivalent to today would be if I just dropped off an email at gmail, then later in the day gmail would contact hotmail and send all the hotmail messages to it and get all the gmail message. Now of course since everything is connected 24/7, there's no need for the delay.
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Old Feb 12, 2013, 01:23 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilentPanda View Post
Personally, it just seemed like a natural progression. I had been able to send message to people locally for quite some time via bulletin boards. Then things like fidonet came along where bulletin boards would connect to each other over a period of time and your message could get to somebody on another bulletin board. Email wasn't much of a stretch after that. None of it felt like "oh my gosh this is going to be huge!" It all felt like, "That makes sense."
Yep, I remember that too. It was a slow progression.

I first learned about terminals and modems because my dad had a VT220 for work. He would dial in using the 1200 baud modem. It wasn't "magic" or anything, it was just like learning how to make a phone call. Oh, you dial this number, you press this button on the modem when you hear this sound, and now the computer is connected and you can type stuff.

A few years later I discovered that the modem and terminal wasn't just dad's toy, but I could use them too, to dial into public BBSes. In those days BBS'es were standalone systems. You'd dial one up, you could post or read messages on its (sole) message board, you could play door games, you could upload or download files. You could call up with a dozen or so different BBS's one by one and start getting a feel for who hung out in each one, which one to dial into to talk about certain subjects or to download files of a certain genre.

The next step was FidoNet. BBS'es would call each other up at 3:00am and synchronize their message content. This was cool. Now I could dial into my favourite BBS, post a message, and within just a few days, that message would propagate to other BBS'es around the world (whoever subscribed to that particular node/network). And I would get answers back! From people in other cities! Cool.

By this time dad had purchased a 386 (25 MHz!) which ran DOS and Windows 3.1. Just in time for me to start junior high. (I had begged and begged, "Dad, can we please buy a PC? I know they're expensive, a 286 would be fine!" He kept on gruffly saying no all the way until he brought home the 386. I was so thrilled!)

I saved up my pennies and sent away by mail order for my own 2400 baud modem, which I was very proud to install and used extensively for BBSing. I even ran my own FidoNet "point" for a while, like a rudimentary dial-up email service.

Email technically existed at the time but most of us didn't use it yet; our concept of talking "privately" was more akin to private messages on discussion forums. It would be another few years before I found a large BBS that interfaced to "the internet" and gave me access to popular internet services like email, gopher, archie, telnet, finger. It had multiple phone lines, too, so multiple users could access it simultaneously, and, even cooler, actually talk to each other! You could send an "OLM" (online message) to a user on another phone line, and you could set a "who banner", a short message that appeared just below your username when someone typed "who", the command to show who all was online at any given time.

So, today, text messages and Twitter feeds and Facebook statuses, are light-years ahead of what we had in the 80's and 90's, yet in a way, not that different at all. It's just incrementally, evolutionary, better and better.
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Old Feb 12, 2013, 01:35 PM   #16
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So, today, text messages and Twitter feeds and Facebook statuses, are light-years ahead of what we had in the 80's and 90's, yet in a way, not that different at all. It's just incrementally, evolutionary, better and better.
Before it became AOL and opened its floodgates to the unwashed PC masses, Quantum Link was a truly amazing nationwide online service.

I was more active on there than on individual BBSes in the latter half of the '80s.

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Old Feb 12, 2013, 01:41 PM   #17
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I didn't really pay much attention to computers in the 80s, I had much more interesting things to do with my spare time.

By the time I left school in 1980 we only had one computer for the whole school and only the really brainy and swotty elite were allowed anywhere near it. I never even saw it.

My first encounter with a computer was in 1983 when I started working in CAD/CAM and that was on a HP with a 7" green & black screen which was so slow you could go and make a cup of tea while it was post processing the tool outputs (it takes less than a second nowadays). I had no interest in it though, it was just another tool to get the job done.

It wasn't until the early 90s when I bought my first PC and it was the internet which got me really hooked, even though it was ridiculously slow and expensive at first.
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Old Feb 10, 2013, 09:33 AM   #18
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When computers started to become more popular, did you think it was going to be big or were you interested in it when it was first unveiled (disregard price)?
I thought it would be a great toy at home and a business tool for some (word processors and stuff like that).
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Old Feb 13, 2013, 04:09 PM   #19
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IMO, the catalyst for was a simple program called Visicalc. If you spreadsheet by hand, you'd see what a godsend Visicalc was back in the day. It was a clunky program, but it was a step up from the old way.
I worked at a car dealership while in college. One of our monthly tasks was figuring out the inventory value of each car on the lot, including such things as pin-striping and rust-proofing. This was done on large green columnar pads, by hand, with an adding machine.

I was the first person to suggest using the newfangled IBM-PC XT one of the car companies sent us (its sole official function was to order - via dial-up modem - new cars) to do the inventory. Overnight a job that had previously taken six or seven hours could be done in less than twenty minutes. And Visicalc was the program I used.

IMHO, one of the smartest things IBM ever did was to design the keyboard and monitor that came with their early model PCs to look just like the monitors and keyboards that acted as terminals to their System 3XX minicomputers. Accountants bought into the whole "IBM compatible" thing, and sort of assumed these new "personal computers" could just plug into the legacy minicomputer systems they were running. It was theoretically possible, of course, but very few small businesses I was associated with ever went through with the expensive custom programming they would have needed to make it happen. So a lot of time was spent manually retyping figures from green bar printouts to populate the spreadsheets the CEO and financial people used.
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Old Feb 9, 2013, 10:22 PM   #20
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I remember when the concept if email was new. It was weird to think I could communicate with people in a different country.

I also remember people getting together to surf the world wide web

I remember going to the library and gettin on the Internet for the first time. We had to sign up on a wait list to use it. First thing I did was look up Star Wars hhaha

I also remember when cable modems replaced dial up. Talk about wow at the time

I also remember when wifi first started to get used and that to me was amazing
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Old Feb 9, 2013, 10:25 PM   #21
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I also remember when cable modems replaced dial up.
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Old Feb 9, 2013, 10:32 PM   #22
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I grew up when this was high tech


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Old Feb 10, 2013, 10:21 AM   #23
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I grew up when this was high tech


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When I grew up, these were classroom notes...
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Old Feb 10, 2013, 10:43 AM   #24
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When I grew up, these were classroom notes...
Don't lie Shrinky. I know you used clay tablets, not stone.
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Old Feb 10, 2013, 01:56 PM   #25
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When I grew up, these were classroom notes...
lol! I take it you're a bit older than me
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