HAS IT REALLY BEEN TWENTY YEARS?

ImageWhat was your first exposure to computers like? Mine was rather intimidating and unimpressive. Our junior high math teacher tried to teach us a computer language in June of 1971. We were then allowed to write a program on a dumb terminal at the school. All it consisted of was a keyboard and a printer. No monitor showed us what we typed or gave us prompts. Unlike Bill Gates, it held no attractive possibilities out to me.

I played a video game on a friend’s computer ten years later. It used the TV as its monitor. That was mildly interesting but I couldn’t play the fast-moving games. I also bought a Vic 20 in 1984 from a friend. Apart from playing the games, I didn’t have much use for it.

When I used a program to determine what sort of work I was suited for in 1984 and 1987 at a work counseling place, the CRT monochrome monitor was a pain for me to read. I felt I’d never be able to use computers as I had such difficulty with them.

When I heard from somebody about the CNIB‘s screen readers for computers, I applied for a grant to receive one. Then I took an MS DOS and WordPerfect 5.1 course at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology¬† (NAIT). The school had one PC with a hardware voice synthesizer and a program called Vert Plus. It made using the computer easy for me.

In January of 1993, the CNIB awarded me a screen reader. I paid a quarter of its price while the institute paid for the rest. The next month, I proudly set up my IBM clone 386SX PC. Since I didn’t know how to install the screen reader, a friend came over one afternoon in April.

Thanks to the previous year’s training course, I soon wrote my own letters on the computer and printed them out on the dot matrix printer. I only had an amber monochrome monitor at the time but it helped me see if my paragraphs were indented properly. For the first time in my life, I had a computer that I could actually use.

When I look back at those days, I chuckle at how I felt so proud of that simple PC. It had only a hundred megabyte hard drive, two megs of memory, and lacked a CD drive. Even so, I used it until the autumn of 2005 when its motherboard died. For a second hand computer that I bought for $700, I certainly got my money’s worth out of it.

This might surprise you but I wrote my first two books on that old PC. You can check them out at the Bruce Atchison’s books page. Meanwhile, I have a new book just published called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Amazon and Barnes & Noble distribute the e-book edition while Virtual bookworm handles the paperback version.

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Author: bruce Atchison - author

I'm a legally-blind freelance writer as well as the author of three memoirs and scores of articles. Contact me for details.

One thought on “HAS IT REALLY BEEN TWENTY YEARS?”

  1. My first experience with a computer was in the 1980’s when I was in college. As part of an educational psychology class, we worked with some sort of logic program in the computer lab. Of course the computer I used had no screen reader so someone helped me. Isn’t it remarkable how far we’ve come since then?

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