Friday, December 16, 2005

My First Computer 

I bought my very first computer when I was in grad school at the University of Iowa. They had a computer center where students could purchase computers and spread the payments over the course of the year. I did my research, and placed my order.

It was a Packard-Bell with an 8088 processor, 80MB hard drive, a green monochrome display a 5.5-inch floppy drive and a dot matrix printer. I loaded all the software myself, including MS-DOS, Word Perfect, Lotus 1,2,3 and some statistics package I needed for my stats class. I learned how to use it by reading the DOS manual, then moving on to the WP and Lotus documentation.

I would spend hours on it.

I would go to the store and check out all the 5-1/4 inch floppy disks -I would get double density, of course, since I could store a whole 360 KB on it. Then I'd bring them home and format them before use.

In addition to doing the usual writing of papers and statistics crunching, I also kept track of all my students' progress. I created detailed analyses of their scores and earned points throughout the quarter, and gave them updates on where they needed improvement. Grading of tests was accompanied by spreadsheets to breakdown the percentages of how many got each question right, so I could see where perhaps I had failed to impart the information correctly. I created bar graphs and pie charts (with different shading patterns, of course, since there was no color-coding available in monochrome and with dot-matrix).

It was my birth as a geek.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 5:50 AM