Wings of the Tern Blog

January 24, 2010


Filed under: Current Posting — wingsofthetern @ 5:37 pm

My grandson, Roberto, received a copy of the game, Legos – Star Wars, for Christmas. Now, anytime he comes up missing, we know that we will find this seven year old back in our bedroom playing his game on our “Dell” (the only windows computer in the house).  This has caused much discussion among us adults as to how much time should we allow him for this activity.  We know that some of it is good, in the sense that it improves hand/eye coordination and problem solving skills, but too much can be a detriment.  The jury is still out, but generally, we are limiting him to one hour sessions.  The last time I looked in on him, I was impressed with his keyboard skills.  Although, he is using only a half dozen keys at this time, he is rapidly punching away at them, without looking, at a steady 35 words a minute rate.

We have certainly come along way in electronic technology. As a child, I remember sitting on the  floor listening to Little Orphan Annie on a radio that was about three feet high.  Remember Crystal Sets?  One of those was my first small radio.  I had to plug the antenna wire onto some large piece of metal and listen through a ear phone.  TV wise, I remember hearing from another child about a box that showed pictures in it.  The first TV shows were broadcast for only a certain number of hours a day and the rest of the time all you got was a test pattern. It was years after our first TV before color sets were on the market.  Then came the era of the High Fi.  My folks bought one that was a large console.  It had a radio, a record player and large speakers which provided pretty good sound before Stereos.

My first experience with computing devices was with my dads adding machine. It was as big as a bread box and all mechanical.  You punched in the number on the keys (one for each digit), then pulled a handle back to make it do the calculation.  It could only add or subtract.  My first electronic calculator had four functions and cost me $150 dollars.  I was taking business Statistics in college and really needed it.  I also was introduced to computers in college.  We learned how to write programs that did such simple tasks as producing a large “X” on a print out.      To accomplish this, required our keying in a stack of key punch cards about four inches high. Once the cards were completed, they were dropped off at the computer lab and run during the night. The next morning the print out was picked up.  If it didn’t produce the large “X” as desired, the program had to be debugged and resubmitted.

I guess my first computer was really a HP programable calculator.  I had several of these and would teach them how to do lots of “if true – do this, if false – do that” type of problems.  My first real computer was a HP-150.  It costs several thousand dollars and was only about 250 kb.  Each program had to be loaded before using it and only one program could be used at a time.

As you all know, the last couple of decades have been a blur in rapidly developed electronics.  Four function calculators are now sold at the dollar store, High definition TV’s are thin and hang on the wall like paintings and each of us now carry personal communication devices on our belts.  Don’t you just love it?


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