I’m not that old. At least, I don’t think of myself as old.
But I learnt to type on a lever Typewriter! Remember the Margin Release key? The machine I had was said to be portable, but that was only because you had a car boot handy to put it in.
I had a Sinclair ZX81, followed by second-hand Apple 2+. I remember programming Pong in Basic, just to prove I could. The Sinclair had 2kB of memory, just ponder that for a minute…
I did long division on a bit of paper, used a wooden ruler to draw the margins, and spent my afternoons when school ended playing soccer in the park and laying down staring up at the clouds.
Then, from out of nowhere, I found myself logged into a University bulletin-board to exchange study ideas, started emailing my essays to the Faculty, typed on a word-processor. I helped manage the server when I got my first proper job, and had to take the back-up tapes home with me each night.
I remember a strange and very expensive object called a Cray 1 Supercomputer. It was not all that portable either, weighing in at an extraordinary 5 or so tons.
Now I work virtually, on a laptop with enough memory for ten-thousand Apollo Space Missions (and then some). I upload my files to a mysterious object in the ether called Dropbox, and I can’t remember the last time I printed something on paper.
And all of this in the short space of time that’s passed since I was born.
Cut to the present day, and I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but you can’t walk 5 metres through the media without hearing the word cloud. It’s all become cloud this, and cloud that – cloud computing, cloud music storage, cloud servers, now you can build your very own supercomputer in the cloud – and when you do, you won’t even be able to weigh it, because it won’t all be in the same place at the same time.
My point is, we are living in a period of incredible change, and it is the rate of change that is especially staggering. If you are a business you are almost certainly trying to keep up and if you’re a person, you’re almost certainly behind the times in one way or another.
One minute it’s Facebook and Twitter, the next it’s Snapchat and Reddit.
One man’s iPhone is another man’s Galaxy. Wait! Or is it a G4 in Leather?
Do you Viber, or Skype, or have you given up talking altogether?
Want to relive the Typewriter days? Download Tom Hanks’ app – Hanx Writer
Anyone for some Tinder action?
How about a chat on Secret…oops, that one didn’t make it.
And Apple and Microsoft still face off every once in a while, although sadly less so than the glory days it seems to me.
Phew! I need a cup of tea, a BEX and a good lie down!
Like the rest of you reading this, I love all this gadgetry, built by tech wizards and maintained in clouds.
But I’ve been missing the old clouds I used to look up at in the park. Those white ones I used to stare at as a kid, trying to figure out shapes in them.
So I’ve joined the magnificently titled Cloud Appreciation Society. An inspired organization founded by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, dedicated to building an understanding of those much-maligned fluffy white things in the sky which we all ignore or complain about.
And I’m trying to slow down a bit and stop to look up every now and again. Take a deep breath or two, and remember the fun in the simple, that joy in Basic, when I played my first game of Pong!
All that new-stuff will still be there when I stop looking up. Or new, new-stuff. Or even new, new, new-stuff….
ALEX KELLY – 10th July 2015