A Boomer's Look at Yesteryear's Technology - Gadget Guy MN


A Boomer’s Look at Yesteryear’s Technology

old technology

Hello Gadget Guy MN blog readers! Please allow me to introduce myself: I am Hannelore Burnstein, aka Mom to the Gadget Guy MN, Oma to my grandkids, just Hanne to my friends. OR, just go with all three at once: HanneOmaMom.

Paul, aka Gadget Guy MN, asked me to tell you a few things about myself that might resonate with some of you. First off, my birth year is 1946, which makes me someone from the very first year of the Boomer generation. As you can well imagine, my interest in technology is rather different than Paul’s.

Yes, both my husband and I were intrigued by the Texas Instruments (TI) computer that we got for free when we recarpeted our house in the late 70s. So, we even bought a little computer table to set it on and spent about two weeks trying to figure out how to program it using BASIC – then decided it was a useless contraption that quickly became a dust catcher in our family room. The next computer for our family was Paul’s Apple IIGS – I remember that when Paul asked if I wanted to see how it works, I immediately managed to wipe the entire hard drive, so we could not figure out why we were staring at a blank screen! The computer’s mouse presented a challenge all of its own – I simply lacked the coordination to use it. Being a lefty has never made it any easier for me to use a mouse!

Here is an example from about 20 years ago that will give you an idea of the fun our family had at my expense…

My son, Paul Burnstein, was about to turn 20 and was a student at the University of Southern California. He and my husband decided to have a little fun with our home computer. Little did I know, they added a command in Microsoft Word that automatically inserted the words “Cowboy Pete” whenever I typed “Peter.” And every time I typed Paul’s name, it was automatically replaced with “Boy Wonder.” I had no idea how to change it! And on top of it all, I was in the middle of writing holiday letters. Needless to say, holiday letters went out that year with mentions of “Cowboy Pete” instead of Peter, and “Boy Wonder” instead of Paul.

Speaking of gadgets, right about that time telephones were undergoing their own revolution. There were cordless phones (very convenient – no problems with those), pagers, and the first big, clunky cellular phones. Business answering services were replaced by electronic voicemail, which I resisted for a long time (why would I trust a machine to relay messages??). And Paul, aka Gadget Guy MN, loved being one of the first to own anything new. We did not object, as long as the gadgets were not abused (overused) and he paid for them himself. So he became the first in our family to own a pager, and eventually a mobile phone, also a so-called “black box” for TV, a much better sound system than ours, and the list goes on. It naturally followed that he became our “go to” guy for answers, repairs, and general enhancements.

I think I’ve rambled on enough! Let me know if there is anyone out there in cyberspace who wants to hear a “senior’s” experiences with technology… I’d be happy to oblige. ;>)

– HanneOmaMom

Image by Matt Jiggins via Flickr, licensed under CC BY

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