Even those of us who have been involved in the computer
technology business for a long time still when concluding a conversation about the
complexities and the break neck speed of innovation in the technology, we surmise
to each other, just as every one else does, with a shake of our head and the comment "just where is this all going to take us?"
In my first year of college IBM operated from a store front on Albert Street
a few blocks North of College Avenue.(Regina) They had a nice glass store
front and I would often hang around the place on my way home from class. The keypunch
machine and card sorters were in a neighbouring room and made a lot of noise, but
I was impressed with the "Selectric" ball writing typewriter of
the day and dreamed of having one to punch out my assignments. That was in 1962.
In the years that followed there was lots of talk of the power of computers but it
was mostly rumor, part science fiction and mostly "wowie" stuff. But in
the fall of 1979 I was at a teacher's convention in Regina and there were some folks
from Regina Board of Eduation showing of their amazing "PET"
machines. I was aware of learning contraptions of one kind or another but this
was something else. I got my nose into the Radio Shack catelogue of the time
and studied it with amazement and then read in various magazines the wonders of the
coming of home computers. It was in the spring of 1981 that an Apple ][+ showed
up in my school (Watson Lake High School In Yukon) and I was into it
was into it as deeply as possible and at three thirty in the morning my wife came
to the school thinking something had happened to me and indeed it had, I was playing
The reason I relate this to you is to point out that the computer at first was essentially
a toy. So much so that directors of education and board members specified that those
machines purchased for use in the eduational setting must be used by students and
not for the entertainment of their teachers. They could not have been more wrong.
Had our teachers been issued machines from the beginning the blend of that technology
might have been much less stratified than it has been, for we have seen computer
technology divide society between the computer literate and those who simply roll
their eyes and tell you they know nothing about them and intend never to find out.
We went on to what was a sort of the Internet in 1984 and that is now
more than twenty years ago. One of my three sons can not remember a time when there
wasn't a computer in the house. For all of his lifetime it has been a part of what
we do and how we do it and even those folks who roll their eyes, though they may
not realise it, are completely dependent upon computer technology.
DataPort in Melfort
Computers 4U in Melfort
Apple Macintosh Mac Mini
easy to see the size of the machine by noting the size of the
A Ford pickup has fifteen integrated control and sensor curcuits under its
hood, each one is a complete computer. Cell phones are a part of everyone's life
today and they are simple an extention of a computer system.
Indeed, for most of those twenty years of computer involvement, the technology has
been far more promise than practical operation tools, but in 1992 the Apple Macintosh
machines and a laser printer combination were indespensible in the communication
industry and since then even more so. From making newspapers to movies, music to
photography, the marvels of the computer are a fact of everyday life.
I recently moved up to the "monster" a
twenty-one inch tall brushed metal beast,(G5) but kept the old
one running along side it because of the increased capabilities the two of them give
me. In fact, there are five running computers in my office, each with their own functions
and each doing their job twenty-four hours a day.
The picture at the top of the page is fairly typical of what we think of as a computer.
A screen, a keyboard, mouse and tower. This particular machine is running Windows
XP which is what most new computers come with, but if you watch closely in television
shows an in movies, increasingly the computer that is being used is an Apple Macintosh
of one kind or another. I don't want to discuss the pros and cons of the Windows
and Macintosh operating system environment, because the easy of use and functionality
of all computers has progressively become a non-issue. Sure, a few people still play
games and always will, but more and more people are using their computer to play
music, make CDs and DVDs as well as doing the day to day work of business.
The two towers on this page (above) were photographed in two Melfort computer
stores between Christmas and New Years and are typical of the trend
in home computing. Powerful machines with transparent walls with interior lights,
a little glitter for the computer. Yesterday Apple Computer introduced something
that is headed in the opposite direction.
Mini is a full blown full power computer
more capable than most Intel based machines yet in a simple little two inch
high box, a mere six and a half inches by six and half inches. Plug in a monitor,
connect a wireless keyboard and mouse, connect to the Internet and you are cruising.
Priced at about $600 Canadian this computer will, like other Macintoshes have
a life of about five years or more. Most Macintosh users are now using machines
that were made in 97 and 98 and they are running the current applications and OS
software, they were truly outstanding investments.
Apple sold more of its little music computer, the iPod than all
other competitors combined during this past Christmas season and yesterday introduced
one about the size of pack of chewing gum. This enormously popular technology lead
to the development of the new Mac Mini as Apple has created a whole
set of included software that makes use of online music, digital photography, digital
video and sharing and improving these elements in a package they call "iLife".
This brings us to the point in all discussions of this kind. "Where
is this all going to take us?" I
have the answer.
After playing "pong" for several nights I told my wife back in 1981
that I had to have one, a simple Apple ][+ and she, being a practical and
wise individual, demanded to know what would I do with it and I had only a bunch
of baloney to give her because, quite simply I didn't know. The thing about technology
is that it makes its own world and when we discover what we need to know to make
it work, we only really discover how much more we need to learn and how we need to
change the way we are thinking. Before I used a word processor, I thought I was doing
just fine on my electric Smith-Corona portable. When I discovered what I could
do with a database on an old //e I was ready to tackle database construction
on a Mac.
One door opens to another and it is all one skill, one realisation after another.
The first time I used e-mail I immediately realised that communication would never
be the same, just as when I started using telephony with video over the Internet
I realised that an old fashion telephone call was just that, old fashioned, primative
and a thing of the past.
The Mac Mini like its predeccessor the iMac has turned
another corner on a road that we don't really know where we are going, but it is
inexpensive, easy to use, powerful, perfect for the kitchen, the shop, the classroom,
the barbershop, anywhere six and a half inches by six and half inches will fit. Add
wireless capability to it and you have another tool that can inform, empower and