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Senior Musings: Technology Keeps Moving Along

April 18, 2011 by Special To The ...

Senior graphic.jpgSenior Musings is a new feature offered exclusively on The Cheshire Herald website where local senior citizens will discuss different issues they face in everyday life. First up is Sandy Chase, who talks about how she has seen technology advance from its early stages all the way to modern times, when electronics seem to control our world.

I was graduating from Crosby High School in 1964 and was deciding on what to do with my life. My parents wanted me to become a nurse but there was a new career choice that I found intriguing. A new technology was coming to the forefront. Computers were opening up a whole new world and I wanted to be in on the ground floor. I decided to get my feet wet by taking a course at Post Jr. College to become a key punch operator. What, you may ask, was a key punch operator, and what did they do? It was a form of data entry that was popular in the 60s and into the 70s. We sat at a small desklike machine with a keyboard used for typing information and punching holes into blank cards. These blank cards were stacked in a hopper and fed through the machine as we typed, coming out on the other end with corresponding holes. After each job was complete we again took these same cards with the holes punched in them and repunched them again with the exact information as a check for errors. From there the cards were brought to the computer room where they were magically transformed into pages and pages of vital information. The computer room was a huge room which was kept very cold (people working in them wore coats or heavy sweaters) and filled with large ominous looking computers. Computers of that time were about the size of a restaurant refrigerator, and were fed with the punched cards thus spitting out information at a record pace. That was my first experience with computers but certainly not my last. Even though I used a computer on a daily basis at work, I could hardly contain my excitement when I got my first home computer from Texas Instrument. The TI99 came into our home and our home was invaded by strange creatures from space via Space Invaders . I learned very basic programming, used floppy discs, hard discs and over the years have tried to keep up with technology. Through the years I have marveled at the progression of the computer industry. From my first TI99 to the Commodore 64 and so many in between I am here now with a desktop in my office and a laptop on my lap sitting in front of my tv. Technology, you gotta love it.
How many of you remember a party line? For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, a party line was on your telephone. You shared your phone with at least one other person but usually as many as 5 or 6 other people. Everyone had their own ring to distinguish who the incoming call was for. When you made an outgoing call you had to check to make sure someone on the party line was not already talking. There was no such thing as privacy because everyone on the party line could and would pick up the phone and listen and even comment on the conversation. Gossip ran rampant on the party line. Well as we all know phones have come a long way from the heavy, black phone with a party line on the desk or kitchen wall to the tiny, multicolored phone we carry in our pockets with caller ID, distinctive rings and email.
I called my 5 year old grandson the other day and he was so excited to tell me about his new phone. My daughter and her husband use cell phones at home but, because they have small children, they decided they wanted a phone that could be used for incoming calls and outgoing 911 in case of emergency. Cells phones are not that reliable for 911 calls.
“Gramma, I cant wait till you come to my house and see my NEW phone, it is on the wall and it has a cord and everything. And you know when you hang up on a cell phone you have to push the button? On my NEW phone all you have to do is hang it up. Isn t that cool?” YES, that is very cool and technology is in the eye of the beholder.

The Cheshire Herald would like to thank the Cheshire Senior Center for helping with this new feature.

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