It is three decades this month since I graduated college. In some ways, it seems like it all happened a short time ago and in some ways, well, as if it was a whole different lifetime ago.
A former colleague of mine and I were talking about this earlier this week, but not just to idly reminisce. We focused on how the art of writing has changed just during these last few decades.
As a senior in college, the standard writing tool for a formal paper back in the 80s was still the typewriter, which had been around, even at that time, for 120 or so years. However, I thought I was something special in college, because as a lowly student, I had access to an IBM Selectric, electric typewriter and its moving ball. But, even that seems like ancient technology now.
For me, it was the next year, 1986, when all of technology seemed to change. That was the year I began using the Macintosh Plus and I considered myself ahead of the curve, being one of the first people I knew to buy one. I even forked out $800 for a simple, black and white laser writer. It was all such a marvel!
Aside from not having to struggle with the messy eraser or correction paper, I could do all sorts of formatting with my Mac, of which we take for granted today. The printed pages all looked so clean and professional, even for an amateur, like me. Of course, today, printing articles and stories with a professional look is common place. But, back then, just 30 years ago, I felt like it was a bright new world had been opened. Although I did try, I could not envision back then how much word processing would progress 10, 20 and 30 years later.
Of course, today, computers do so much more than word processing. For instance, who could foresee back then the arrival of the internet and that touch screen technology would move past science fiction within my life time. But, here we are, not that many years later, and touch screens magically seem to be yet another futuristic technology that is common place.
For someone who felt they had been a head of the computer curve early on, I now feel, today, like I am lagging behind with just a laptop. Sometimes, I’m amazed I managed to switch from a desktop at all, which happened, already, nearly 10 years ago. Does anyone even use desktops anymore?
As technologically lagging as I may be in these brave years of advanced gadgets – without an IPad or Tablet – I know a couple of people who have never even discovered a desktop, laptop or cell phone. I mention this because I don’t think it’s just an age thing – and they are older than I am – but a state of mind and a desire to engage socially and culturally through our life-changing apps and internet with the world.
We have, indeed, progressed so far in so few years that I hope I can find my way and time at some point to at least try to catch up closer to the leading edge of this thrilling curve.