Computers are wonderful things. In fact, some consider that they are as important as the Industrial Revolution. Others tend to disagree. I've been fascinated by how things work since I was a child, preferring toys that 'did something' over those which were more passive.
The first computer I owned was an Acorn Atom, which a friend and I built from a kit of parts, and which was programmed line-by-line in BASIC. It was fun, but tedious, because it had no backing storage, and a program would have to be loaded, from a cassette tape recorder, every time you started.
The first computer I used at college was a DIGITAL PDP11, which was programmed with punch-tape via a teletype terminal. Actually, only marginally quicker than the cassette tape on the Atom.
The first PC at British Coal (Coal Products) was a real IBM PC, which was in the Finance Department. They grudgingly let people share it, mainly because they didn't know what to do with it themselves. This is where I discovered LOTUS 1-2-3, the first package to do something really useful (as far as I was concerned).
There followed some serious pleading on my part, for my managers to let me learn more about these mysterious machines.
Late Nights and Black coffee
The rest, as they say, is history. Courses on LOTUS 1-2-3, DATAEASE, & MULTIMATE ADVANTAGE followed, and then SMART. All PC-based software applications running under the DOS Operating System. At Cannock Computer Centre I learned about mainframes, CMS & VMS, and how to make PCs talk to mainframes (and vice versa). At the training centre, I learned to stand up, use a computer, and talk, all at the same time. It was clear that my life had now changed (probably for the better), but would under no circumstances ever be the same again. Luckily I really enjoyed the teaching of computers to others, and it definitely meant you learned your software programmes thoroughly.
In certain areas, British Coal also used WANG computer systems, and WANG VS was next on the list, quickly followed by WANG WP. The wordprocessing was very similar to MULTIMATE ADVANTAGE, so teaching it was easy, and the knowledge meant I could also use it remarkably well for a bloke (most typists were still women back then). The creation of tutorials and manuals became a bit of a speciality.
My first 'home computer' was a PC with an INTEL 386sx processor, a 40Mb hard disk, and (I think) 256kb of RAM. I'm not too sure about the RAM, but I do recall expanding it, by filling up the four SIMM slots with whatever they would take; I think up to 1Mb.
After British Coal, I updated to the latest PC packages, and did WORDPERFECT 5.1, WORD FOR WINDOWS 2, LOTUS, DATAEASE, ALDUS PAGEMAKER, WINDOWS, and good old D.O.S. It was an interesting time to be using a PC, as Windows hadn't taken the strangle-hold it now has, and many people were still DOS-based, with products such as WordPerfect and Lotus. It soon became clear however, that Microsoft Windows was the way to go, and WordPerfect and Lotus gave way to Word and Excel.
The Microsoft Office suite of programs became the industry standard, and provided the majority of my training workload. OUTLOOK and E-mail then became the latest must-have technology, and they were incorporated into the repertoire.
With the introduction of computer literacy incentives by the Government, it became increasingly difficult to sell computer training when it was being offered free by colleges, so I did a teaching certificate (something British Coal neglected to give me), and joined the opposition, teaching at post-16 ages at a college in Nottingham, and eventually North Yorkshire. CLAIT, ECDL, Key Skills ICT, up to advanced level.
Although I'm not teaching at the moment, and I find the kitemaking is in more demand than computing, I try to keep my hand in wherever I can. I still love spreadsheets; they are a design icon as far as I'm concerned, and wordprocessing allows me to be productive and expressive - and change my mind - all in one go. I'm using Open Office most on the PC at the moment, and find it surprisingly good, considering it's been written my a committee that is spread across the globe. It just goes to show how far computing, and the Internet in particular, has come. E-mail is an absolute neccessity, and now of course, it's all web-based, so that I can get to it wherever I am, although it readily appears in my pocket, on my mobile phone. I appear to be the unofficial helpdesk for a number of products which are used by my friends, family and aquaintances, but it all helps to keep me sharp.
Feel free to ask me a question.
The UK Referendum on Staying/Leaving the EU.
I will not begin to force my views on you. Better to leave it to one of the 20th Century's great philosophers...
“Did you ever get the feeling that you wanted to go,
But still had the feeling that you wanted to stay,
You knew it was right, wasn't wrong.
Still you knew you wouldn't be very long.
Go or stay, stay or go,
Start to go again and change your mind again.
It's hard to have the feeling that you wanted to go,
But still have the feeling that you wanted to stay.
Do, re, mi, fa, so, la, si, do.
― Jimmy Durante