Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Corridor of Memory


When I was 13 years old, my Dad bought me an almost $3000 computer system. It was an Apple //e, two floppy (5 and a quarter inch) disk drives, a dot matrix printer ("Imagewriter II" as I recall or if I really wanted to, I could go look since it I have it somewhere), VisiCalc spreadsheet software, and one of the best programs of its time, Broderbund's The Print Shop. On arriving home, a few thousand poorer, my Mom asked, "He's never going to be a programmer. Why did you get him a computer?"

The question stuck with me. Now, whenever I think of a crazy expense for my kids, I remind myself of my Dad's vision. I learned a lot with that rig, and I'm grateful to my parents for their hard work.

In those days, I met other teens online via Electronic Bulletin Board Systems (BBS), and friendships grew from impromptu Saturday gatherings at Pizza Hut. There'd be a few old guys (retired Air Force), security contractors, and teenagers. As I grew older, learned to drive, the teens and I would pack into a car (or get our parents to drive us, albeit with suspicion in their eyes as to what we were up to). We'd visit Jatmon Insearch, also known as James Bullard. He ran one of the BBSs in town that made Apple //e software available for blazing fast download at 9600 baud.

Eventually, we all acquired on our software, and we'd share tips with each other, hang out. As I sat staring at my screen today, contemplating the power of Facebook and other social media to connect us, it occurred to me--for the first time in 25-30 years--to ask, What happened to those guys I hung out with?

Here are their names and links:

  1. Michael Muniz - his Dad was a chemist and we went to the same high school, Central Catholic Marianist High School. As a matter of fact, I lent him $80 bucks and never got it back! Ah well.
  2. Nick Montfort - Works at MIT. Well, we always knew Nick was smart! I remember running into him one time at the UTSA Library, where he asked me, "As a teacher, do you leave right after school or do you hang around?" When I told him I hung around, he was pleased. It's a question that I remember even now after all these years (it must have been my first year as a public school teacher back in 1990).
  3. Stephen (don't remember his last name) - A quiet young man who lived on a funny street...Armor, I think. Amazing what the brain recalls.
  4. Victor Mux - My wife and I actually introduced him to his wife and he got me started with my first IBM compatible computer (an 8088).
  5. Mark Ulmer - Works and lives in Arizona. Mark was the only person I knew who owned a Franklin computer, a clone of the Apple //e.

Wow...trip down memory lane. I imagine that today, my children won't have trouble staying in touch with their childhood friends and acquaintances...instead of peering down the narrowing corridor of memory to a time long past, those relationships will remain alive and vibrant.

For now, for me, it's enough to smile at times gone by and wish my childhood companions well.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


Ashaunte Gaillard said...

Hello, Mr. Miguel Guhlin my name is Ashaunte Gaillard. I am in an EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, AL. I have been assigned to your blog for the semester to learn and explore. In regards to your latest post about going down memory lane it started me to thinking about my first computer. If I recall it was a grey HP computer with a cd,dvd, floppy disk and double flash drive outlet. It came with standard speakers and was equipt with word perfect. Im unsure of the price because I was only around the age of 11 or 12. We used aol dial up internet, which looking back was like snail internet compared to wifi and everything else that technology geniuses. I mainly used my first computer to go on chat rooms with my friends and download music. My first computer was where I also learned to fluently type and use the internet for educational purposes as well. I also remember my mom buying me this Tarzan computer game that I would play for hours at a time. I even go back to play it every now and then since its compatible with my current computer. With this being said, that trip down memory lane was fun but Thank God technology has evolved the way it has!!!

Booknut said...

You had the exact same system we bought for our children! And me. We paid the same amount and thought we must be crazy. was the beginning of my second passion in life. The first was books and libraries. The second is ccomputer and libraries. My oldest is now a software progammer and my daughter is a scientist who has created software and databases to deal wiith wildlife data. So....I guess that $3000 was well spent!! And when Facebook came along, We had all been communicating on antique listservs and bulletin board systems for years.

The Courage to Lead