Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lisa & Mac - 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Technology

The prompt for Week 8 of 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History is Technology.

What are some of the technological advances that happened during your childhood? What types of technology to you enjoy using today, and which do you avoid?

I'm going to change this up a little bit and write about the most profound technological advance in my lifetime - so far.  Hands down, that would be the development of the personal computer.  I can remember keypunching cards in college (and in a summer job with the data processing department at American General Life Insurance Company, where my dad worked), and typing lots of papers and college organization newsletters on an (electric!) typewriter.

That all changed (for me at least) in 1984.  I was working for the City of Corpus Christi (and Mark) then, and he sent me to a presentation to learn more about the Apple Lisa computer.  I was hooked, but the price tag at the time (about $10K!) made getting one out of the question (for home or work).  Later, though, our office did acquire an IBM PC, and part of my job was to test software and look for ways we could use it in our work.  I was a beta tester for WordPerfect 4.0, one of the earliest word processors for personal computers.  I also used spreadsheet applications like VisiCalc and Microsoft Multiplan (the precursor to Excel), and came up with some models that we actually used, for example, to forecast water revenues under different rate scenarios, and allocate data processing expenditures.

Lisa by atmasphere - Jonathan Greene
Macintosh 128 by Ian Muttoo
That same year, I also got my first computer - the original 128K Apple Macintosh.  My brother and his wife were students at the University of Texas in Austin, which was part of a pilot program to get personal computers into colleges.  They were both eligible to buy a Mac at a discount, but only needed one, so they sold the other to me.  I LOVED the way I could now type documents and easily make corrections, without white-out or correction tape!

Here's an interesting article that relates to this topic:  Generations and Their Gadgets.

© Amanda Pape - 2011 - click here to e-mail me.


  1. My husband knew a gal who did it back in the seventies. It was a time when it was a big monster of a machine. It sure has gotten smaller since then.

  2. you are talking my language. I LOVE my gadgets. Great post! I remember my older brother giving me his old computer when I was in eight grade...I was hooked.

  3. Thanks for commenting, Rootdigger and Tracy! I later got a Mac SE30 and hung on to it for YEARS - finally got rid of it in 2005 before moving back to Texas.