Thursday, January 3, 2008

Life without Internet and Cell Phones

It is an amazing contrast when you think about life 20 years ago when no one had cell phones, computers, or the Internet. Do you remember calling your friends houses and asking if someone was there? When is the last time you did that? When you wanted to hang out, you would have to find them at home first.

My first exposure to a computer was at elementary school on a Apple IIe, and the smart kids were allowed to play Carmen San Diego. Unfortunately, I guess I wasn't smart enough as I only got to watch the smarter kids play games while the rest of the class had to read. Thanks LAUSD.

I remember my first computer being a 386 DX 40mhz 80MB hard drive It came with a Turbo button so I could slow it to 20mhz just incase things ran too fast. I'm not sure why my dad was so open to the idea of buying us one. It wasn't cheap, we were pretty poor, and he had no interest in using it. But I'm glad he did because that purchase has probably shaped my life today. Was the reason that we got a computer based on what it was going to do for us after we got it? Of course not. We bought it due to effective marketting. Even 5 years after our first computer, a computer at home for most was used for 3 things. One being word processing. Another for computer games.

I remember hearing my first mod, which played with the a high pitched background noise, but it still sounded amazing on my pc speaker (notice the word speaker is not plural). Anyone remember Future Crew, Purple Motion, Panic, Second Reality, etc? When I got my first sound card, I was blown away.

I learned how to program in Pascal in high school. I created my first graphic games on TI-Basic on a TI-85. I had the TI-81 2 years before that, which was a lot faster, but didn't really have any memory to do anything interesting. I remember my first email was a group effort with 2 other classmates. There was a terminal in my computer science class. We looked at a list of people's email addresses, since people rarely had email back then, and decided to email someone at random at Mt. Pleasant. We chose it because we wanted to ask the guy whether it was really pleasant where he lived. I guess receiving an email was just as fascinating as sending one as the guy at Mt. Pleasant was happy to talk to us about random stuff. After that, I remember having an email address at as my main email address.

BBS' started to show the potential of how the computer could be used as a social and "data sharing" tool. UUEncode baby. AOL came a few years after, and really dominated for a while. Then around 1996, Internet took off like a rocket. Before google, information on the Internet was a challenge to find. Remember webcrawler,, altavista, yahoo, lycos, and hotbot? They all had different uses. Although probably millions were connected, posting content, and finding it took some luck and determination. After google, and with the help of the exponential growth rate of the Internet, it is possible to find information on just about anything the moment it happens.

With AOL's influence, I've been on AOL, mainly chatting since I've had a modem Which is probably around 1993 or 1994. Back then, you found people to talk to in "Chat rooms". Now, you use it to keep in touch and to coordinate with people you know.

I remember watching news on TV about technology called shockwave in 1996 (which became flash and macromedia). Internet video streaming sucked with real player. Tiny screens, it was choppy. I would guess real player just stuck with what they knew, and what they did best, and that's why almost no one who is on the technology bandwagon uses real player today

I think I discovered divx around 98 or 99. The website had pixar shorts to demo the technology. I was as amazed at the compression rate along with the potential for sharing movies in a single CD.

My first web page was written in 1996. I didn't know at the time, but it was my first blog entry. It had a background. It had a picture of Beavis and Butthead. And it played a sound when you loaded the page. Everything was split by using line breaks. And I believe everyone was using Netscape 3.x at the time.

With the Internet and cell phones, we can SMS, email, voicemail, instant message, telephone, video conference, and it still doesn't seem enough. Will we ever be able to touch, smell, taste, or feel something over the Internet? Video conferencing seemed and still seems like the next step, but it has failed to catch on for the last 7 years. We are in fact heading towards the very opposite direction of video conferencing. More communication is done over instant messaging, sms, and email taking away phone time.

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