How Computers and Technology Changed My Life

Swim Practice

Swim Practice

It was my daughter’s 19th birthday this past week, and I texted her Happy Birthday, first thing in the morning. Yes, I talked to her later, but I knew she’d be at swim practice early and couldn’t talk to me right away. I wanted a nice message for her whenever she had a chance to glance at her phone.

photo (1)My birthday last year was filled with FB wishes. Twenty years ago, I’d get phone calls. It was a big deal, because I‘d hear from people that I’d lost touch with for years. Plus, people would call “long distance!” Sometimes they left messages on my answering machine, if I was busy at work.

Remember the answering machine?

Remember the answering machine?



I used to write my mom and my best friend letters. I had moved from Washington to Southern California, and we couldn’t afford to make that many long distance phone calls. I loved getting long letters back from those close to me. A lot of news and thought was put into writing letters. It wasn’t at all like the quick posts we do on FB or our tweets today.

On the positive side, I can stay in contact with a whole lot of people thanks to social media that I’d probably lose contact with otherwise.

In my working days before the computer, I’d write my stories on a typewriter. We’d use special purple mimeograph paper to type on and then I’d walk it over to the print shop to be printed. We’d mail the stories to the local papers, except when my boss would drive timely ones straight to the editor of The Desert Sun.

My favorite typewriter. The IBM Selectric II.

My favorite typewriter. The IBM Selectric II.

My newsletters were also typed on an IBM Selectric —what a luxury that was to type on compared to other typewriters — and I knew how to do the math to figure out how many words of copy would fill a column inch. I’d drive my copy to Indio to the typesetter and a few days later drive back to pick it up. Then I’d proofread, mark it up and drive it back. No, we didn’t have fax machines back then.

The machine I used to "send copy over the wire."

The machine to “send copy over the wire.”

The closest thing I’d used to a fax was “sending a story over the wire.” I took my sheet of paper with my copy on it, and rubber banded it to a round metal cylinder. I called the newspaper’s office and we started the wire. I took the phone receiver and placed it on a cushioned base and the cylinder spun around as the words were magically transmitted. If my wire didn’t go through, I’d read my words slowly to someone transcribing them at other end of the phone.

What a difference technology and computers have done to my world. Mostly, it speeded up the process and made everything so much easier.

What differences have technology made in your life?

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