Hot, Sweaty, and Wireless

August 25, 2006 - 1 Comment

Last week, while I was on vacation, I listened to the book The World Is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman. I listened to the audio-book CDs while I purged my storage unit of old, unused, and unnecessary clutter.Yes, I spent my vacation sweating in a hot, dusty, 10×10 metal box sorting through 70+ boxes of books, family heirlooms, obscure kitchen devices, abandoned furniture, obsolete computer manuals, and way too many pairs of skinny jeans stored in the forlorn hope that I will someday fit into them again-.As I tossed my Macintosh 512K computer manual into the trash pile and listened to Mr. Friedman’s stories of the world’s flattening revolution, I realized that I am again part of a historic technology shift. I’m part of the cresting wave towards a wireless world. Yes, I’ve come a long way from my Macintosh world of 1984-..In January 1984, I was working as a student usher at Flint Center in Cupertino, California where Apple Computer held their company meeting and previewed the now famous Apple Computer 1984 commercial (13MB, 5Mb) that introduced the Macintosh to the world. When the video finished playing, the audience went wild. They applauded and cheered. Raw energy, excitement, and enthusiasm for the Macintosh were everywhere. Breathless from the experience, I told my father that personal computers were the future. Everyone was going to have a personal computer. I had to have a Macintosh. I could use it for my homework. I could use it to organize my record collection. I could use it to write a screenplay that Steven Spielberg would buy. [Back then, I was a dreamy, naive, excitable film and creative writing student. 🙂 ]My father, an unfailingly logical engineer-totally disagreed with me. He insisted that: – No one needed a personal computer-unless it was to sort recipes for cooking. – If I wanted to play with a computer I could play with his Texas Instruments TI-99 computer that had a tape cassette drive and its own TV monitor. – Yes, I must learn to use a slide rule just in case my calculator failed me. – No, I could not invest any of my college fund to buy stock in Microsoft (circa 1986)On the day that I brought my new Macintosh 512K home, my father declared that I was wasting my college-job money on a $3000 loan that would take me 2+ years to pay off. It would’ve been smarter and cheaper to buy an electric typewriter with a built in erasable head for my writing. Ignoring him, I happily kissed and hugged my glistening new Mac. I declared that his circumscribed view was wrong-personal computers were the future! Several years later, my father finally admitted that I was right about personal computers and Microsoft. But by then, he insisted that I was wrong to still love a machine that supported a paltry 512K of memory-especially since I’d moved on to a PC laptop. Today, if I was able to talk with my father about wireless technology (he passed away in 1995) I think he would agree with Mr. Friedman who defines wireless as one of the key drivers flattening and connecting the world. Well, he’d agree, after a few discussions and a demonstration-my dad, the engineer, loved a snazzy technical demonstration! Yes, wireless has left the port of new technologies and is now established in the seascape of business critical technologies. Like those of us who bought the early PC’s and Mac’s because we could see the future and value of personal computing, users all over the world are embracing Wi-Fi in the office, at home, and on the road. Mobility is the future.What else would my father have to say to me? Well, since he was never one to hold back on his opinions, he’d tell me that it was ridiculous of me to spend my precious vacation days purging clutter in a hot, dusty storage unit-even if I used the time productively, to listen to a book that I should’ve read last year. And, all those skinny jeans that I have in storage? He would tell me to give them away. Why? Because, although my father could not predict the future of technology, he could certainly predict that I’ll never again fit into those skinny jeans.

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  1. A wonderful blog posting, Peggy. Thoughtful, funny, human.I’ve got some boxes to unpack from a recent move. I think I’ll grab Friedman on tape before finishing it up. 🙂