Take a Look Back

 Image source: Old Timer-Pixabay dot com, Acoustic coupler and floppy disk -Gus Kilthau
@Ceerios (4756)
Goodfellow, Texas
September 23, 2016 9:13pm CST
Take a Look Back - There are some nice folks who are here on MyLot who, bless their dear souls, were not around to see the Internet really come in strong - with all of its computer tech and posting nonsense - back around the early 1970s. Today we can upload and download texts, images, videos, and all sorts of stuff - both legal and illegal - at blinding speeds (gazillions of bits per second ) and get to cussing and carrying-on when anything slower than that gets in our way. Old timers, and I am one of those, actually uploaded and downloaded files at the fantastically fast speed of 10 baud and on up to the blinding speed of 30 baud (10 and 30 baud rates are essentially 10 and 30 BITS per second) using what were called "acoustic couplers." There is a picture of one up on top. You stuck your voice telephone onto the coupler's rubber cups and the gadget would beep and carry on in code, both inbound and outbound, sending text and images back and forth for you. Back in the early days there was a "website" with the catchy name, "The Source." It was sort of like a baby version of "Google" or of one of our many other search engines. Right around that time there was some news about a huge sinkhole in the earth up by Kermit, Texas. It was a big deal to folks, and people wanted to know what was going on up there in Kermit before all of the people were swallowed up in that giant hole in the earth. At the same time, the "Muppet Show" was a big thing on television - really popular with the kids and us oldies. (Still is popular with me...) We were demonstrating how good little home computers were in keeping up with world events to a roomful of folks. Our telephone set got itself jammed into the cups of the acoustic coupler and was dialed in to query the then one and only search engine, "The Source." On the computer's keyboard we typed in our request for information about "Kermit" (using that one word as the tag). We wanted to know about the sinkhole stuff up in Kermit, Texas. Our printer started tapping the reply from "The Source" search engine, and the green screen (no color screens yet...) displayed the same information - all about Kermit the Frog, the little Muppets doll. Today, were we to ask for information like that, we'd probably get three pages of reply and all about every kind of Kermit ever known to man. Times have moved right along. One more thing in that photo up on top of interest. A "floppy disk" and its envelope are showing there. That floppy is one of several used back then. I had some of those "Elephant Disks" (that brand claimed that their disks would never forget) which were sized 5-1/4 inches in diameter, and I also had some that were 12 inches across. Up on my office shelf sits a big cardboard shipping box just full of those old "floppies." I am not sure why I hang onto them, but likely because they are old friends. They fit nothing that I own around here except for one thing - an old desktop computer from back in 1977 - the first one that I could claim as my very own. I remember using that old computer the first time for some word processing. I put its spelling checker to work on some text I had written. Watching it go to work, checking each word in the document, it was a regular marvel to me to see it check each and every word, one at a time - blinkety, blinkety, blink. Watching that was maybe the most amazing thing I'd ever seen a computer do up until that moment. Think what all you and I can do on a computer today. Even so, it is fun to take a look back, isn't it? * * * * * * * * * * Image source: Old Timer-Pixabay dot com, Acoustic coupler and floppy -Gus Kilthau * * * * * * * * * *
5 people like this
4 responses
@LadyDuck (163218)
• Switzerland
24 Sep 16
I remember our first computer, bought in 1979, an Apple II, of course Internet did not exist. I remember that, just like @pgntwo, we also used Kermit to transfer files. I still have boxes of 5.1/4 diskettes, the same in the photo "Elephant - Never forgets" . I do not know why my husband keeps them.
2 people like this
@pgntwo (21736)
• Derry, Northern Ireland
24 Sep 16
Verbatim and 3M disks are the brands I remember.
2 people like this
@LadyDuck (163218)
• Switzerland
24 Sep 16
@pgntwo My husband ordered the Elephants in the United States because they were very good diskettes. We also had 3M, I did not like the Verbatim a lot, they are those who lost the data sooner that all the others.
1 person likes this
@pgntwo (21736)
• Derry, Northern Ireland
24 Sep 16
@Ceerios I can see I have .missed out on a bit of computing history... But I did have that device for snipping out the hole in the cover so you could save data on the other side of the disc too.
1 person likes this
@pgntwo (21736)
• Derry, Northern Ireland
24 Sep 16
I remember having to use a program called Kermit to connect to other computers, also running Kermit, to transfer files and such. I also remember Usenet, and after that, Gopher. And the PDSA, or Public Domain Software Archive... All gone now.
1 person likes this
@Ceerios (4756)
• Goodfellow, Texas
24 Sep 16
@pgntwo- Friend PGN - Oh yes. Usenet, Gopher, and the rest of them. The 8-bit processors like the "Z-80." A gazillion different varieties of the BASIC computer language, and COBOL, and all the rest. Much like fungus and mushrooms, bacteria and worldwide contentiousness, computer stuff has blanketed our world. Instead of going away, the mess has covered us over. -Gus-
1 person likes this
@pgntwo (21736)
• Derry, Northern Ireland
24 Sep 16
@Ceerios Drowning in bits, yes.
1 person likes this
@Ceerios (4756)
• Goodfellow, Texas
24 Sep 16
@pgntwo - Friend PGN - We need to come up for some ASCII. -Gus-
1 person likes this
@sueznewz2 (10067)
• Alicante, Spain
24 Sep 16
While I did not understand some of the techy computer stuff you just talked about ... I do remember my first computer like you say green screen and floppy disks and keying in mile long strings of code just to get a tiny bit of animation...and of course the mind numbingly slow upload and download speeds....pheww I'm glad things have moved on... I'm a fan of the friends tv series...this clip always makes me smile...I thought you might enjoy it.
S2 E8 (the one with the list).
1 person likes this
@Ceerios (4756)
• Goodfellow, Texas
24 Sep 16
@sueznewz2 - Ms Susan - I also do not understand much of the techie stuff as to computers and their innards - just enough to be able to locate my 10-buck keyboard and the screen. It surprises me today that, one time long ago, I actually could code computer programs and run some sizeable multi-user systems. Computers have become so complex and complicated now that I would not even think of doing such things. Back in the day I was lucky to have a good friend who was the boss of a company in the computer manufacturing business. He asked me to prepare two computer manuals for their use, and to my constant surprise today, I actually did that. It is great good fun to sit here today and to be amazed. My favorite computer manual product was for the home and business computer those folks produced, the "Automatic Learning and Educational Computer" (sold as their "Smart Alec Computer). I named the manual, "How to Get Along with a Smart Alec Computer." - and that is the name they kept with it. Fun and games, right? -Gus-
2 people like this
@sueznewz2 (10067)
• Alicante, Spain
24 Sep 16
@Ceerios wow thats quite an acheivement ... well done you... I'm glad things have got a bit easier to use... I can use a computer...but if anything goes wrong... I have to call on my friend... so I'm glad there are people like you out there...
1 person likes this
@Ceerios (4756)
• Goodfellow, Texas
24 Sep 16
@sueznewz2 - Ms Susan - When the Internet went away for this computer the other day, I called in the techies. With all of the complexity of our computers and high speed WI-Fi junk, guess what was wrong with my setup... it was a corroded wire inside the wall plug in the office. So, as always, it is to take one jump ahead and a giant leap backwards. -Gus-
2 people like this
@shivamani10 (11229)
• Hyderabad, India
24 Sep 16
This is nice. really making me go back and look at things how they happened. There was a programmer who charged 700 Rupees for just writing a MODISTRUCT on dBase. Of course, the Govt. has no alternative but to pay for it as per the contract. When I joined in Computer Course I really wondered the severity of exploitation of the Government by the Computer World. The Government was exploited to the maximum, This is not only that for using a Fax Machine people were standing in a queue . This is another exploitation.
1 person likes this
@Ceerios (4756)
• Goodfellow, Texas
24 Sep 16
@shivamani10 - Good Mill Otter Poster - Back in the day when very few people knew their way around the computer and its keyboard, those who could navigate those things could easily take advantage of those who could not. Governments, being generally populated by smart people who sit at the top of things (politicians) and people who do all of the work ("grunts") were easy prey for the few workers and suppliers who might be considered to have been "techies." Things are not so different today. The same order of personnel persists - politicians, grunts, and techies. It is just that today, the "tech" of stuff is many orders of magnitude "techier," such that the disparities are still all there. For instance, if you asked the president or the king a computer question, they would most likely just throw up their hands and tell you to ask the computer geek -"but don't ask me." -Gus-