It’s nice to reminisce. I was reading an article about why monitors aren’t black with green dots any longer; Spoiler- they say it’s because of eyes with astigmatism. Not sure I agree with that, since I have astigmatism in both eyes and actually prefer the dark background and light text. Regardless, the article got me thinking back to my first computer. An Apple IIGS “Woz Edition” came into our home somewhere around 1987, it was glorious. It had a mouse, TWO floppy drives, an RGB color monitor, and a color dot matrix printer. Yes- dot matrix dabbled in color too, folks! It had something called Apple Desktop Bus (ADB). It had no hard drive, but we didn’t need it- everything ran just fine in RAM loaded off of those handy floppies. Networks hadn’t really become a reality yet (AppleTalk doesn’t count in my opinion), but I installed a 2400 baud modem and got some BBS activities going, that is, until we got a rather hefty phone bill… It was a powerhouse and I was hooked.
Fast forward to 2014, and my home thermostat is more powerful than the entirety of that computer, but it laid the groundwork for so much. I look back and see ADB as the building block for USB- one of the most successful and ubiquitous standards ever. That RAM/disk idea? Yep- that’s in play today on every computer you use. Who even uses floppy disks anymore? You do! That USB stick that you keep in the drawer to quickly transfer files, print something, take something home, etc.- it’s a glorified floppy disk. Sure- it holds more than every Apple IIGS ever sold, combined, could have, but it’s portable storage. That color dot-matrix printer? Okay, that never really panned out- but think of the concept of dot matrix: a tightly grouped pattern of pins that fire at a certain color to produce an image. How do TV’s, Monitors, Phones, and nearly every other type of display work? Oh- the same way. The dial-up bulletin boards of the 70’s and 80’s set the tone for information sharing, collaboration, and the free exchange of tools. That’s the origin of the massively-game-changing-planetary-system that connects us, a.k.a. The Internet. The mouse remains largely unchanged, but the point and click concept was new in the 80′s- we’ve adapted it to work with touch, eye-tracking, gestures, and more.
I guess I was pretty cutting edge in 1987- being so far into the future that Emmett Brown couldn’t have predicted where we would be. I’m still waiting for my hover car. I think Maglev can still work out. Here’s to the future!