On Being an Electric Boomer

I rarely, rarely refer to myself as a Baby Boomer, because I hate the phrase. But I so identify with many of their “characteristics” such as rock & roll, accepting the differences of my fellow persons, the commonality of divorce, leaving the past and looking for an exciting future,  and finally, the birth of the wonderful age of technology!

The onset of WWII introduced a great many new and deadly inventions and suddenly we were capable of destroying the world, as the old adage goes. So of course, there had to be a new kind of human, curious and eager to embrace new technology and go forth boldly waving the banner of exploration and acceptance of all that is new and wonderful.

Sheesh, what an image. But we are different from our parents and grands. I mean, REALLY different. Both my husband and I are orphans, so as we go forth learning new and exciting things we no longer have parents to look at us as though we have lobsters coming out of our ears and ask us why in the world we would want to do THAT? Why would we exchange that thing for a new one, we just learned the old thing. Why do we always have to have a new way to do a new thing or even an old thing?

People of my age who are “gadget-minded” exist in the greatest of renaissance the world has ever known. My progression:
– When I was born, TVs were black and white with small screens and huge cabinets holding vacuum tubes and speakers. We didn’t have one. No loss, I think.
— As a child, I read books and played outdoors during the summer from after breakfast to dusk, going home, or to friends’ houses, for food, water and a bathroom break. There was no instantaneous way to be found, but someone’s parent generally knew about where we were playing and could send the appropriate child home.
— As a high schooler, I learned to type on an electric typewriter. I peeked. I also used a huge punch card machine for modern index carding (to what end I still do not know). I learned binary, and forgot just as quickly.
— Once married and settled down, the computer age began to sneak up on us. We bought a Commodore. We used to watch it count numbers?! We played some stupid game I can’t recall, then switched to Atari. First came PONG (OMG) then Asteroids, then … heck, I don’t remember. Since I had plans to be a writer, we next bought an Apple IIc, complete with that miracle, the floppy disk. Take one disk out and put the other in to save, then put the other one back in to proceed. No games, just serious word-smithing. Oh, and we got an electronic calculator!
— I went to work for the Army, in the exciting world of Inventory Control, using a microfiche reader, which was clearly the latest in tracking down who took what where.  Never mind we were all going blind. Changed jobs, went back to the electric typewriter, found myself with child and quit. All of the sudden–CABLE TV! MTV! OMG!
–Time to get a new computer, a PC clone, this time. I had an Apple before, but made the irreversible choice to walk away from Apple. Never looked back. It was a good choice, because….
–Once my daughter started school I returned to work and all of the sudden I knew more about computers than the IT people. I was the go-to person in that job and in the next, where I became the guinea pig for ethernet, a variety of programs, cables, disks, ZIP drives, and everything else they could throw my way. Loved it! Discovered the magic of turn it off, then back on.
— I quickly moved to computerized training programs, developmental tools, data tracking, creating charts and diagrams,  just about anything you could develop, create, track, or modify through a computer, I was ready to try.

And then I retired.  Oh no, I still LOVE electronics!

We now have two cpu towers, one laptop, one mini, one tablet and two smart phones. I am always attached to something electronic and feel incomplete… no, lost, panicked! if I leave my phone or tablet behind. But I don’t mind. I got this way through evolution. I left behind my typewriters for a 2kb,  110kb computer and from then on, I was flying!

So, thank you to my parents for giving me books and crayons and wings. Thank you work, for challenging me and helping me learn a new world alongside you. Thanks to HP and Toshiba for providing really cool equipment and pretty decent customer service. Can’t wait for the next generation of things to come!  Still waiting for a transporter.

3 responses to “On Being an Electric Boomer”

  1. I’m a year older than you, so my experiences are like yours—at least as far as technology goes. Our first TV was a used black-and-white; it was the 1960s before we could afford a new (b&w) TV, and 1970 before Dad bought a color TV. (When I was a little kid in the early Sixties, only rich people had color TVs.) I learned typing as a seventh-grader in 1967 as a six-week required class, and I thought this was a total waste of my time; ten years later the Apple ][ microcomputer came out, and suddenly typing was a valuable skill for a young man to know.

    But I’m not a pioneer when it comes to lots of technology. I refuse to get a smartphone or cable-TV subscription or satellite TV. I have a flip phone(!) but leave it at my house unless I’m traveling—I like the idea of people _not_ knowing how to find me.

    • How can we be so different? In school, I never saw you without a camera around your neck. (BTW, since I remember you, but you not me, isn’t it kind of voyeuristic, heehee). Anyway, it seems you would have turned out to be the electronic nerd!

      • You noticed me because I worked very hard to be noticed — my philosophy in high school was “I’d rather be hated than ignored.” As for my ever-present camera in high school, I did not have to pay high monthly fees just to use it. Whereas nowadays, everything that is electronic and fun is also needlessly expensive. I see no reason to pay a zillion dollars a month for a cable-TV subscription when I can get a year of shows for just a few bucks through Netflix.

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