A Memory Moment

Posted 2009.07.07 9.21 in Family/Friends, Pointless Blather

On the way to work this morning, I stopped at the Timmies drivethrough to get a coffee – a morning ritual for a great many Canadians. As I was getting my money ready, I noticed the date on a Loonie I had in my pocket – 1988. I didn’t realize the Loonie had been around that long. Twenty-one years, since that coin was minted. I handed it over (along with the rest of the change), got my coffee, and drove away, thinking about how much has changed since 1988.

In 1988 I was eighteen. Although the Loonie existed, there were still dollar-bills around too, and some people were refusing to use the new coins, hoarding or at least hanging on to the dollars they found.

In 1988 you could go into a “Record Store” to buy music. Music came on little reel-to-reel tapes that were sealed into a plastic container, they called these “cassette tapes”. Tapes held up to 120 minutes of audio (60 mins per side) but the most common ones only held 60 minutes (30 per side). Yeah you had to flip them over halfway through. Music stores were called “Record Stores” because music also came on things called “Records” – for you youngersters, a record was a flat rigid / brittle disk about the size of a dinner plate, made of black vinyl, and could hold about 30 minutes of stereo audo on each side.

These newfangled Compact Disks were just coming out, and a Compact Disk player was fairly expensive – so were the disks; it cost about $20 to $30 for one. The record stores had to add a new section for CDs, and this quickly expanded as the record section shrank and vanished.

By 1988 the home video recording device had been around a while, but most movies were priced for the rental market – that is, a ‘new release’ could cost you $100 to buy, while older movies were around $30. These prices were set so that the movie rental market could exist, charging a few dollars a night. It was only rarely that a movie was released priced for home sales, in the $20 to $30 range.

In 1988, home computers were still expensive big clunky things that were quite rare. There were folks who had Apples, there were folks who had Macs (usually not as home computers, but they would bring them home from work on weekends sometimes) and there were folks who had PCs. Actually, most of the home computers at that time were probably the kind you hooked to your television – the Vic 20‘s, Commodore 64‘s, and that sort of thing. Tandy (Radio Shack) also had a line of home computers. I had a DEC Rainbow-100 that my dad had bought for work but found wasn’t as useful as he’d hoped, but he was happy to discover that I had a knack for these things. I also had a Tandy 102 portable computer, the first computer I bought for myself.

In 1988 I was finishing high school, and in my last year of school I was also taking a correspondance course or two from NRI McGraw Hill (they’re gone now.) The first course I took was in microcomputer repair and maintenance. I don’t remember for sure if I finished the course in 1988, but the last lessons of that course included building a computer from parts – it was an 80286 PC clone with 640KB of RAM and a 20MB hard drive. That’s right – 640 kilobytes of RAM and 20 Megabytes of hard drive space! I’m sure today’s toasters have more processing power than my first ‘mainstream’ PC computer.

I haven’t mentioned what the internet was like, because there wasn’t one – at least, normal people had no concept or inkling of it. There was something that would become the internet, but it was pretty much only in existance for universities or military stuff. If we wanted to use computers to communicate, we used a 1200 baud modem, or 2400 baud if we were lucky. Maybe 19.2k baud were out there, I don’t remember now… and you connected to a ‘bulliten board system’ (sort of like today’s forums) or a chat room kind of place, and posted messages. You could also post / download binaries. Yeah, the internet wasn’t around yet but computer pr0n sure was.

I could go on and on with this, but I’ve babbled enough already this morning… suffice to say, it is really shocking how much things have changed in the last 21 years. In just 21 years… and it totally boggles my mind to think about what someone like my Great-Aunt Anne has seen in her life. Her 100th birthday was almost 3 years ago, and she’s still alive – nearly 103, and just imagine how much the world has changed in her life! Just to think that when she was my age, World War 2 was just wrapping up… makes me almost afraid to wonder, if I reach her age, what will the world be like then?

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