Growing up you almost always form a certain stereotypical elderly figure in your mind… whether from TV or movies or whatever… whose sole job is to wait for the opportune moment to hold out a bony old finger and, with a dentured whistle, blurt out something like “I can remember back… when we didn’t have any of ‘dem new-fangled bread machineries… and Ma would holler out back to the dog to drag a sac o’wheat into the stove room… and we’s a be making dough…” You know how it goes.
Well, I’ve caught myself recently pulling these same shenanigans. Today, in particular, I started a sentence with “Back when we had to log into Unix workstations”… and I could have easily added something about not having new-fangled so-called wireless internet. Now, this really isn’t shameful, but I can’t help but wince at myself whenever I hear something like that coming out of my mouth. Lately I’ve taken to starting those sentences in the mimicked voice of the proverbial old man (the one with the weather-forecasting big toe) and in that way almost poking fun at myself before anyone gets the chance.
And why not reminisce about the good ‘ole days of computing? It’s not like I’m telling stories about punch cards (way before my time). The days of hunting around campus for a free workstation in one of my undergraduate institution‘s multiple computer labs was a time of computing excitement. The so-called information superhighway was just starting to flourish and the rise of the first-person shooter had dawned. Them was good days! For fun we’d reset the servers of the freshman dorm workstations… great amusement for upperclassmen, and a belated explanation for the oft random crashes of those pesky freshmen terminals.
I could go on about learning to surf the “command-line” way using a UNIX window running in MIT’s X11R5. Or how about gopher? Or using the brand new Mosaic program to browse something called the world wide web? Ahhh… pure nostalgic geekness.