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This Week's Scuttlebutt

Byte-ing Into an Apple, Part 2
June 1987

After I'd been pushed into the computer age by an excited school principal (Byte-ing into an Apple, Dec. 23, 1986), I studiously read a variety of computer magazines, trying to find ways to use this new toy. I wasn't the least bit interested in programming but telecommunications sounded mysterious and interesting so that was the area on which I focused.

Within a year and a half of learning to use the school's Apple computer, I became the proud owner of a basic Apple IIe computer system through Apple's teacher program. I still needed a modem, though, so I went shopping. At a science supplier's warehouse sale I found a top quality Apple modem marked down to a ridiculously low price. The modem had belonged to an office worker who was no longer with the company and the firm just wanted to get rid of the modem. I gladly took the unwanted modem off the company's hands and did a jig once I got out the door. I'd just purchased a $700 modem for $75! All I needed now was a cable and a manual and I'd be all set to join this new telecommunications world.

Finally, on my 38th birthday, I made the plunge into computer telecommunications. All the parts were connected, the software for a national bulletin board system (bbs) was loaded, and I logged in. I had no idea what to expect and was excited when I found the bbs's general message area. I couldn't wait to post my first message! But! Everyone was using handles, similar to the handles used by CB radio users, so before I could post my first message I had to give myself a handle. I sat there perplexed until I spotted my favorite dragon statue sitting on a bookshelf. “Dragonlady” was born.

As I was trying to figure out how to post my first message, the screen interrupted with a greeting. Someone, claiming to be from Maine, was saying “hello” to me! It took a few minutes for the person to convince me that I was actually talking/typing to someone from Maine. Once I was convinced, I was hooked.

In the weeks that followed I made friends with people from around the world, and even had a chance to meet many of them in person. (I lived in Chicago and many of my new acquaintances travelled to the city on business,) In fact, I found my job in the business world through online networking when it finally became time for me to leave teaching in 1989.  


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Monday, August 03, 2009