Open Thread

Monday Flashback Open Thread: Technology

Good evening, Persephoneers! I hope that Monday has treated you well. School is starting all over this week, at least in places where school starts before Labor Day. This year, many high school students (and in lower grades) will be returning to the classroom toting iPads.

Several schools in my area have done away with text books altogether and have issued students iPads, instead. Because I am a dinosaur, I find it very Jetson-esque. Here’s my question – what kind of technology did you use in school?

In elementary school, we had a couple of Apple IIEs, on which we played Lemonade Stand and Oregon Trail while waiting for the bus. That’s all we used them for, as far as I can remember.

In high school, we had PCs with big ole floppy disk drives. My senior year, I was editor of the yearbook and I produced the yearbook on a beloved Mac+. It was the first year the book was produced by doing the layouts on the computer rather than on big pieces of paper. Innovative, eh?


So tell me – where was technology when you were in school?

30 replies on “Monday Flashback Open Thread: Technology”

Somehow I missed this until now. Reading the comments has me both laughing and ready to weep. When I was in high school (I dropped out in 1979) the most technologically advanced things were the electric typewriters in the front office.  By the time I got to college (1982) the Commodore 64 had just came out.

Fuck, get off my lawn ya babies :-D

Remember those big signs the Apple printed out with the holes in the paper?

Even I find it shocking that we did not have cell phones in college.  Yes, they existed in 1998 but they were not being used by college kids.  Texting would have been a great way to find out where all the parties were.  Instead, we walked around campus aimlessly from fraternity house to fraternity house and often called friends by yelling up to their dorm windows!

My family was so technologically challenged. We had a computer (in theory) but it was so painfully slow and impossible to use that I still typed my reports and papers on a typewriter. Talk about embarrassment! I didn’t get a working computer until I was about to graduate in 2003 and even then I bought it myself.

My school was one of the first in the region to get snazzy computers, and by snazzy computers I mean ones with trackballs and action buttons (which amused elementary-school me immensely).  MathRace and Oregon Trail (and some sort of Canadian trucking game, which in hindsight is super weird) were a thing.

Vaguely relatedly:  P’neers, my research (all computer simulation based, so not totally off topic!) is exploding (ie, nooooooothing is working properly).  I’ve spent three years hacking away at a PhD in a field in which I had very little background (so the first year was sort of a wash), but it’s going nowhere fast.  Supervisor is vaguely helpful at best, and I’m just….. ugh I feel like I’m wasting my time here.  I’m still stuck on the first stage of the first part of my thesis work, which, after three years (or even two years, since the first was a wash), I feel like I should’ve finished up by now.    Have any of you quit grad school?  If you did, how did you know when to pull the plug?


I do sim stuff too! (mostly ecological modeling for population dynamics, movement, and whatnot) There is nothing worse than exploding sims. How long have you been working on this part of it? My advisor, myself, and another grad student spent over 6 months of last fall/winter/spring with a model that kept exploding… I think the only thing that made me not want to give up on everything was the fact that my advisor was having the same issues we were on it.

I’m really sorry you feel like you’re just spinning your wheels on grad school. I’m just starting the third year of my phd and three people in my cohort have dropped (two just last semester).  All I can say is, whatever you decide- it’s okay, so long as you’ll be happy in the end. You obviously need to do some serious evaluation here: How much have you spent vs. how much you’re going to keep on spending before you’re done? What do you want to do with your finished degree? What can you do for a career with what you’ve got? Will that be enough? Is there a different route/project/advisor you can switch to that wouldn’t lose any progress you’ve made and still be the degree you want?

Hey, I am a humanities PhD and I am so sorry to read what you are going through. If it helps, I fantasize about quitting a lot (this past year was ROUGH: teaching was brutal, I had some issues with candidacy exam stuff etc. etc.). In fact, a close friend of mine who is also a PhD student and I have sort of a “fantasy quit league” (instead of fantasy football) where we have an organized period of time where we talk about what we would do if we quit. Anyways, I guess I am telling you all of this to say in a super round about way that wanting to quit is normal (and I would venture to even say perhaps healthy and balanced?).

At the same time, if you do not see the point, are feeling like you are spinning your wheels, are reaching the end of your funded period (humanities PhDs have 4yrs of funding in most of Canada) then I think looking into other options is totally admirable. I feel like it takes guts to quit grad school, we have it drilled into our brains to since the day we start our masters degrees that we can’t do anything else, that anything short of becoming a TT professor is failing, and this simply isn’t true. Best wishes as you figure this out.

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiago? was the one game I always played. Much of my basic knowledge of geography comes from that game.

On a current technology note, I’m facing the possibility that I may have to get a new computer if my Macbook (affectionately named Lola) cannot be salvaged. I’m not keen on PCs so I’m debating between a Macbook Air and a Macbook Pro. Thoughts on the plus and minuses of either would be greatly appreciated.

It depends on what you use it for. I have a 5 year old MBP on its last legs that I will replace with a brand new retina display MBP (squeeeee!) when it finally dies. I’m a designer, so I run a lot of heavy duty software and doing a lot of image based work that requires huge amounts of computing power. If your computing power needs don’t extend beyond a word processor and maybe one or two medium weight programs, you can definitely do the Air. It is a lot lighter, and I think they make a 13in one now. MBPs are awesome, but super expensive, and if you don’t need to pay more, why do it?

Yeah, I’m not a designer and don’t really have the need for a MBP. The only thing swaying me into getting a Pro is that right now, the basic MBP is about the same price as a 13′ Air. So that may sway my decision. As cool as the retina display is, I definitely don’t need it. Thanks for the input though!

My senior year in high school, our school actually got internet access for the student computer labs. Before you think, “Oh man, she must be older,” let me tell you that was in 2003. Ah yes, I remember the days of web browsing for information on American pop culture and trying to find out what movies would be opening the summer I would return to the US. Brings a tear to me eye! :’)

In college I got my first email address with dial up and my first cell phone- attache case size…that was smaller than the previous version.  First computer in school was 5th grade where an A earned your 10 minutes of play time.  It travel through the school on a cart!

Well, after a fire in the computer lab burned all the Apple IIGS computers at my grade school, they replaced them with the first generation iMac computers, complete with the stupid hockey puck mouse that was too small for my hand in grade school. We still played Oregon Trail though. (My father played Oregon Trail in his computer class in college, and that thing didn’t even have a monitor, just print outs.)

I saved up my babysitting and chore money when I was eleven to buy a Texas Instruments TI-99 home computer, which I am proud to say still works, because I still own it. I used to by computer magazines that had the code for games in them, and spent hours and hours and hours copying it line by line. (I saved the finished games on a cassette tape, of all things.) Texas Instruments stopped making home computers soon after I got mine, but I remained loyal to it, even though everyone made fun of me at computer camp. (I know, right? I was too nerdy for computer camp. *sigh*)

That’s ok, I’m watching the paranormal files/ghost hunter type shows on netflix. Did I mention my apartment is in a large-ish victorian era (not fancy) with some edwardian elements house that was divided up? So it is kinda creaky when the wind goes hard, and has some things like my fireplace complete with creepy greenman (or devil/imp? can’t tell, horns are too intense for typical green man though.) cover on it.

I took a picture but it is too big to upload here. (and the first shot I took I forgot the flash was on and got an orb. 0_0 )

Edited to add:

a fireplace with a creepy cover on it, an orbish thing very large.

Also Apple IIEs with Lemonade Stand and Oregon Trail. I had a graphing calculator in high school that was the cutting edge of technology. First email address was sophomore year in college, when we had green-screen computers: 10 of them. In a lab. For 7000 or so students.

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