Coming of Age in the 90's


Not something precisely hardware-focused. However as time crawls on I realize this is the year Blade Runner was set in, and kids born after 9/11 will be able to vote soon. The 80’s were not some long ago forgotten time, if anything it was the genesis point of modern trends and is excessively well documented. Thing of it is, I feel like I don’t fit in line with the other ‘kid from the 80’s and 90’s’ stories I’ve seen since I didn’t have Money, my school had apple II’s into the 90’s for elementary, and highschool? Yea when I got into my freshman year the whole place got upgraded for ‘class of 2000’ but at the same time there were a lot of 485’s around, and I swear there had to have been a couple 80’s era AT machines in my typing class…

Anyway the real point of differentiate I suppose is the fact I have 20/250 vision with correction (likely 20/600 without.) So I went to a school that catered to visual impairments, which meant special software. I suppose I should consider myself lucky in that usually a simple font increase will suit me fine as opposed to needing screen magnification or shudder screen readers. Look I know both have made great strides, but I’ve looked up the price of JAWS and like adaptive hardware, adaptive software costs an arm leg and your first born if not more.

So when I learned typing in elementary the apple II had a speech card and ran a several programs in one disk. ‘please wait a mine-you-tee’ being a pronunciation gaff I always had a giggle at.) Weird thing is in middle school when I’d ‘graduated’ to DOS machines, I gravitated to word perfect 6 because all the shiny graphics and buttons and you’d think I’d be happy with word 5.1, but I dunno. Blind guy that likes pretty graphics. That one confused even the testing people that graded my performance and tried to figure out what aid I actually needed.

I didn’t really appreciate older hardware til after I failed collage. Before then it was’ BBS’s? PFT man check this yahoo portal out, way easier to navigate’ why dos when I can mouse around in windows?’ It was only later I realized how much faster keyboard shortcuts were. I"m not sure there was an exact ‘aha’ moment, because due to my school’s focus on ‘blind friendly’ ways of doing things I just took for granted ‘everyone’ knew that windows still made heavy use of dos shortcuts and many programs could be navigated without a mouse if absolutely necessary. Yet after a bad patch left me having to move back in with family ‘how did you do that?’ was often something asked about doing a thing on the computer.

I have no amazing thrilling stories, at least none that jump out beyond a blurr of slowly getting family more computer literate, and feeling disappointed when my brother’s interest stopped at ‘porn and music’ rather than the nuts and bolts of it all (I remember wanting to build a mini ITX and shoving it all in an NES case. Huh now I could do the same with a raspberry pi and have tons of room left over.)

Lately though I’ve been trying to figure out how useful older methodologies could be when trying to look at how locked down ‘the internet’ could be if a variety of worst case scenarios happen, and it always bogs down at ‘what about rural households?’ since I’ve lived fairly rural for most of my life.

Still, People like N-O-D-E and a variety of software protects give me hope if the worst does happen and the unified internet becomes a blip? older methodologies and mindsets can combine with new technologies to keep the party goig.

That said, nothing will beat the bandwidth of a kid running cross campus with a backpack full of floppies. Well, except for that time a jumbo jet full of harddrives got shipped cross country. :wink:

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Thanks for telling your story!

Sounds like it might be true that many US schools had Apple IIs in the same way that many UK schools had BBC Micros. Which is great from the perspective of a 6502 fan! I know we have readers from all over the world (and probably from many decades) - what machines, if any, did you use at school, I wonder? Were there C64s in schools in Germany? MO5s in France?? And was there a consequence for retrocomputing now?

(I’m a little older, so no micros at school in my school days.)


Apple had a program for educational institutes as a way toget their foot in the door with prospective customers and gain mindshare. After all that was the era of wildly incompatible systems, so get kids on apple’s methodology and structure and hey might get the family as a whole.


Well, I’m definitively older, so in my school years I had pens, pencils, lots of paper and … my brain (that still works fine BTW), NOTHING else. I met computers heads on at the university on the early years of the 1970’s (Big Blue mainframes) and the rest is part of the computer history, in one way or another.
A big jump in time and what is predominant at schools nowadays, at least in USA, are the Google’s Chromebooks, that use a Linux based OS that can run Chrome and Android apps (you can even install a Liniux distro on them, if you want). What a difference with respect of the previous decades. Hey, even Microsoft changed, and how!, now these days, while still keeping the Windows OS and its ecosystem alive, they develop apps for the Android and iOS stores after ditching for good the WIndows phone, release Open Source software, bought GitHub, contribute actively to the Linux kernel and are porting their server applications to Linux … how not to fall pasionate about computer history?