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Oct 11, 201109:42 AM
The Lighter Side

Exploring the humor and peculiarities of the Big Easy

Time to Put Away Childish Things

My first computer was an Apple II+ back in the early 1980s. The original 48k was beefed up to 64 with an expansion card. It was a sweet machine. Over the next few years I built it up even more and it eventually sported dual 5.25 inch floppy drives and an internal 300 baud modem. (Remember baud? I don’t even remember what baud stood for, except that it was a measure of speed.)

I taught myself Basic and coded with friends, even delving into "BBSs" - bulletin board systems which were the forerunners of today’s websites. For a while the II+ ran neck-and-neck with its arch-nemesis, the IBM PC, until its speed was eventually eclipsed by the latter’s monster 1200 baud modem.

Along with the coding, I played long-form games like Wizardry and Ultima. Individual games spanned about a half-dozen floppies – that’s how you knew you were getting your dollars’ worth. Other Apples came along and I played on those as well - the IIe, the “portable” IIc, and (eventually) the IIGS. But by this time high school was upon me and I left the computers behind to pick up guitar and learn how to talk to girls. Back then, liking computers was not something that was regarded as normal and I wanted to fit in. Walking away from those Apples is now one of my biggest regrets. Had I stuck with them, I like to think that the decision I’d have to be making right now would be where to send the Mega-yacht for the winter season – Australia or the Cote d’Azur – not wondering if open-cell foam insulation might save me $50 a month on my utility bills.

By the time I returned to computers, their world had largely passed me by. I caught the tail-end of the dot-com boom and managed to eke out gigs using HTML, that pig-Latin of a language that even a dim-witted lemur could master. I work now among guys who never gave it up, who now swim in Java and who speak of things beyond my comprehension. I like to listen, and I can follow to some degree, but it is akin to eavesdropping to someone fluent in Spanish while only having had a semester of college: I can pick out the words but I can’t really jump into the conversation. I’m now trying to get conversant again.

When Steve Jobs died I felt a real loss, as did many of us. I made the switch away from Apple recently, because I don’t really jibe with the proprietary nature of the model. Other open-source platforms have come along that interest me more. But I am sure that these Linux-based platforms were at least driven in part by a reaction to Steve and his vision. Even the haters owe a debt to him. And along the way I have owned a II+, IIGS, Performa 6300, MacBook, iMac, iPhone and more peripherals than I could throw a cordless mouse at. I made a conscious decision to put Apple in the rearview before Steve passed, but I would never have been in a position of strength to do that had it not been for him. And those early years on the Apple II were some of the happiest and most fulfilling times I had growing up. Thank you Steve, for having been with me all along the way.

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The Lighter Side

Exploring the humor and peculiarities of the Big Easy

about

Annie Drummond is a graphic designer and artist from Columbus, Ohio. She has a degree from the Columbus College of Art & Design. Two years ago she made the move from the Midwest to New Orleans' Bywater neighborhood and fell deeply in love as she discovered the rhythms and traditions of her new city. In addition to The Lighter Side, she writes about food, art and design (and other stuff) at www.AnniedelaDolce.com.

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