1.1. Computer Technology in Everyday Life

1.1.1. Computer Technology in Everyday Life

When I was a child, my grandfather showed me a punched card sorter at the newspaper where he worked. Ever since, I have loved computer technology and strived to find ways to exploit its potential. However, until the 1990s, people's use of computer technology in their everyday lives was seemingly limited to a small group of people like me. It was uncommon to have your own personal computer—that was a "hobbyist" thing or something only businesses did. Other than using automated bank machines and perhaps "programming" a microwave oven, most people felt they had no daily interaction with computers, especially as an obvious integral part of their personal lives. (The flashing 12:00 on a VCR was a common reminder that many people wouldn't go to the trouble to even learn how to do something as simple as "program" that machine.) Cameras had film, and you shared copies of pictures by getting "doubles" when the film was developed and mailing the copies in an envelope. To talk with someone at a distance, you had to go to a particular place inside a building or a special booth where a fixed device using 100-year-old technology was wired into the phone system. You had to know which specific such device the other person was near at that moment to talk to them. The fact that a few disparate computer systems around the world could be networked together and may have been used for academic sharing had no meaning ...

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