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Friday, June 7, 2013

The Big, Colorful Typewriter

I once considered the computer to be nothing more than a big, colorful typewriter. Then, at some point it became the powerful magic box that through a series of mystifying keystrokes, aided by swift, assured mouse-clicks and atonal humming on my part, had the ability to find any piece of information in the known universe. With photographs, if desired. The computer, and its associated universe – the internet, is the modern-day equivalent to the old, stately home of knowledge, the Encyclopedia Britannica. The internet is an endless storehouse of information, which if printed, bound and stacked as actual books, would stretch from here to the third moon of Jupiter. Twice. This is a fact; I checked on Google.


On my big, colorful typewriter, I can also watch television, listen to music, pay my bills and type instant messages to friends and family across the land. It was one of the watershed moments of my life when I realized that I might never need lick an envelope again, rating right up there with the invention of the self-adhesive stamp, which eliminated the need to ever lick a stamp again. Licking paper was one of the banes of my childhood.

But I digress.

The big, colorful typewriter has evolved into a small colorful typewriter and then a handheld colorful typewriter with tiny little perfect keys. Then my telephone disappeared and was replaced by an even smaller colorful typewriter on which I could now telephone my friends and family across the land, as well as send them succinct text messages with complete sentences and flawless spelling and grammar. I have read that my telephone has more power than the computer that NASA used to send the Apollo astronauts to the moon. That makes me giddy. Soon, I imagine I will be fitted with a miniscule chip that will enable me to accomplish a multitude of tasks using little more than thought.

I have watched my children grow up as the computer has developed and adapt to the move into technological savvy and now see a new generation of users that know no different. There is a video on YouTube (I watched it on my computer – the small one) of a baby swiping at a magazine as if he could make the picture on the cover larger by placing his fingers on the page and moving his thumb and forefinger apart, as he would on an IPad. The baby didn’t know to turn the page, which I considered not only a senseless tragedy, but a true sign of the times.

I come from a simpler age and must admit that I miss the sound of the typewriter clacking away and trying to get to the television to change the channel with the telephone cradled between my shoulder and cheek while stretching to the very end of the phone’s cord to reach the knob. My kids will never have to do this. Nor will the babies with their IPads. I could rant a little bit about things “the way they used to be”, but I realize that I never had to chop wood to cook my meals, shoot, grow or pick my food or ride a horse to work. It’s called progress and at my age, it’s “put up or shut up” and we must roll with the changes or be left behind in a cloud of… Well, a cloud of information, because according to Google, that’s where the information lives

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