“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your atittude.”
Baby Boomers, do you remember your first time? Not that first time. I’m talking about the first time you used a personal computer. Unlike infants today who are practically born with a computer mouse in their hand, many Boomers were full-fledged adults when we came face-to-face with the big kahuna.
My reluctant introduction to the PC occurred in 1985, when the nonprofit office where I was employed received a large box from our out-of-state headquarters. Inside the box was a used Apple Macintosh Computer. Like a second child receiving hand-me-down clothing from an older sibling, our branch office which did not have a computer got the cast-off while the main office bought newer models for their administrative staff.
I was the sole support staff in a small, two person office. Neither my manager nor I were computer literate and — typical of contented people confronted with sudden change — neither of us wanted anything to do with a PC. There was no manual inside the box containing our used computer, but it did arrive with something else; a two word dictate from the main office: learn it.
Anyone who has ever used an old Mac knows that those early computers utilized the Disk Operating System (DOS). DOS uses a command line interface that requires the operator to type a line of text or a file name at the command prompt to begin word processing or to perform other tasks. Data was saved on a flimsy floppy disk.
Luke was detailed to our branch office from headquarters to train me to use the Mac. Upon his arrival, he informed me that “I’m only here for a week.”
“A week!” I exclaimed before adding, “Are you kidding me? I am a novice. Can a newborn crawl in a week?”
Luke was a patient tutor, but learning to determine which DOS command code executed which procedure was sheer torture for me. As planned, he returned to headquarters after giving me a five-day crash course in computing; leaving me with pages of useless notes and instructions to “feel free to call” when I needed help. I called often.
Worse than feeling abandoned by Luke, I was more dismayed to learn that I had only a few weeks to familiarize myself with the computer before headquarters would take away my typewriter. I had been using that IBM Correcting Selectric III ever since I began working there two years earlier and was attached to it like scales on fish. I could not have been more devastated if they had told me they were replacing me with a robot. Each morning when I arrived at the office and went to my desk, I would glare at the big chunk of tan hardware with the ominous looking dark screen and curse it — under my breath of course — for making my life miserable.
Some days, when DOS refused to execute even the simpliest command, to allow me to complete a letter and then send it to the Dot Matrix printer — also inherited from headquarters — I would go into complete meltdown, walk dejectedly to the Ladies Room and shed tears of frustration. Although I eventually got the hang of it, I hated every D-O-S minute of using that machine.
Unlike today’s Windows operating system with its attractive wallpapers and cute little icons on the desktop, there was nothing pretty about that DOS system and each time I booted the machine I imagined that I could hear it taunting me, I am not user-friendly, so get over it. But enough of ancient history.
A few years following my traumatic introduction to computers, HQ stopped treating our branch office like a stepchild and put us on par with main. All of the support staff — including me — got new computers utilizing the Windows operating system. Oh, happy day! Yes, I did have to familiarize myself with Windows. And I can’t recall how many times someone giving me instructions over the phone would say something like, “Now, look on your desktop and find the My Computer icon.” And my initial response would be, “Which desktop? Where? Or what’s an icon?” Indeed, in those early days of my Window’s computer education just trying to figure what was meant by minimize the document, open the control panel, cut, paste or copy to the clipboard had me mumbling, “Oh, curtains!” But that was then. Now, it has all come together.
Since my initiation into the computer world I have not only grown to love my PC, but have owned several of them at various times and I am hooked on other tech gadgets, as well. But anyone who knows me will tell you that my computer is my first love. When I am without a working PC and an Internet source, I am sicker than a junky suffering withdrawal pains. Talk about a change of attitude.
Unlike Boomers, who had experiences similar to mine, members of Generation X and the millennials don’t know a world without PC’S. As for my Boomer peers who still have no affinity for technology, contemplate the words of Maya Angelou or a similar wisdom from Dr. Wayne Dyer, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”