I have a confession to make.
I’m a computer geek. Have been for as long as I can remember. My husband and I can’t go into electronics stores because I can’t be trusted to play the responsible wife and say “you don’t really need another gadget, honey”. Truth is, I want the gadget or the new computer as much as he does.
I remember the first computer my family had. My dad has always been keen about new technology, you see. We weren’t wealthy, we never owned our home, but we were the first to have a video game console in our street (before Atari, when all it could play was ping pong), we were the first to have a vcr (my brothers and I quickly converted our bedroom into a movie threatre and would put signs out announcing the movie of the week and charging our friends some token amount to watch it), and we were the first among our friends to have a PC.
It was a big clunky machine with a green screen and no hard drive to speak off. If you wanted to write a text, first you had to insert a diskette on drive A and load the word processing software and then load a blank diskette on drive B to save your work. It ran DOS. It was hard to use. You had to know all sorts of command codes just to type the stupid text. But when we loaded the Prince of Persia video game my brothers and I were blown away. After years of playing pac man in Atari, Oddyssey, and the like, the graphics on the computer were unbelievable. When the prince jumped, you could see his muscles flexing. We were hooked.
I had similar wow moments – truly blown-away reactions – at other points in my life. Like when a cousin of my cousin, introduced us to the internet and IRC chat rooms before the internet was widely available to the public. The cousin worked for the World Health Organization in Brasilia and had internet at work. When I first sat down in front of his computer and typed “hello” and someone on the other side of the world said “hello, where are you from?” back, I was totally mesmerized. Of course we could contact people on the other side of the world before through the telephone, but who’s going to pick up a phone and dial some random number in Australia? I came back from that vacation at my cousin’s telling my dad “we MUST get internet”. So we upgraded our computer, bought a modem, updated our OS, and joined the internet back in July 1996. I met my husband on the internet in September of that year.
I’ve had another wow moment this week. I had read about the iPhone and seen the pictures and was sufficiently blown away by it all. But this morning I finally watched Steve Jobs’ keynote address and his demo of the iPhone. It’s incredible. I don’t think Apple is far off when they say they reinvented the phone. Each element of the device – internet, ipod, cell phone – is revolutionary in its interface and ease of use. We can all bicker about the lack of hard drive space (4-8 gigabytes may not be enough for some people), the inability to run things like Skype on it, the fact that it comes with exclusive contract with Cingular phone services in the US. All these things are details that will evolve with time. Hard drives will become smaller and more powerful allowing small devices like the iPhone to handle much larger drives without compromise in speed, battery life, size or weight. I believe that phone companies as we know it – cellular or not – will no longer exist in the future. Instead, all our comunications will be done through the internet through programs like Skype.
Right now I’m just wowed and sad. Wowed for witnessing the development of another revolutionary product. And sad that it probably won’t be available in Canada for a very. long. time. And that’s too much for a computer geek like me to handle…