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simonvee
07-11-2015, 05:05 AM
Hi,

Before the vast usefulness of the internet came in existence, people like myself had computers in their homes and others had it in their offices. What you could do with a computer back then was very limited without the internet, in my opinion.

I only used it for:
- Word Processing (I will give it credit there...considering it was the modern day type-writer)
- Encarta (very limited thinking about it now)
- Printing out pictures/charts (very rare)

Did anyone else use computers, without internet, for other things I have not mentioned?

I would watch early 90's movies and see businessmen carry around laptops. Really?! What could they possibly do with a laptop that you could not Google, send emails, online banking and so on. It could possibly be a pretentious way of carrying around a 4 kg machine to take down notes. The only quasi-useful things I can think of is carrying around their laptops to a meeting to illustrate PowerPoint slides on a projector or work on Excel spreadsheets where ever they went. Or is this an distorted reality presented by Hollywood?


Any thoughts?

dbm
07-11-2015, 05:24 AM
We had computers at home from the mid-80s, and it was several years before we even had a dial-up connection.

My first computer was a Commodore 64, and the main thing it was used for was playing games. But it did inspire a love of computers, which was undoubtedly my parents' ulterior motive in buying me one! I learned to programme in BASIC and it has stood me in good stead. The language may change but the principles remain broadly the same.

We got our first PC (a 486) from my dad's work. Dad is an engineer (now retired), and was the lead designer as well as managing director. He did a bit of CAD design (his company actually had Macs in the office, although we had a PC at home for some reason). I learned to do CAD and worked in his company during my holidays, starting off on the shop floor sweeping up, but after a couple of years I moved into working in the offices and became a part time CAD draughtsman. This didn't require any kind of internet connection, but was extremely powerful. Radical even. 'Blueprints' come from the technology used to copy CAD drawings. You draw on white paper, and then put the original through a machine with a special, light sensitive paper to expose a negative image. This has to be cured with an ammonia based chemical (stinky!) and ends up blue with white lines. This is no longer needed once you get a computer and plotter - just press Print again!

The company was run on computers. Accounts, inventory, customer history. All these things were previously done with paper in a time consuming manner. They migrated over to computerised systems and massively increased efficiency.

So, the answer to your question is that people created data, held data and processed data in volumes and at speeds that were previously impractical. Connected computing is massively enabling, but unconnected computing is still pretty amazing in terms of what it can do!

McBie
07-11-2015, 05:29 AM
I used a laptop back then for exactly that .... spreadsheets and presentations.
You had to carry around all the information you needed .... today, information is everywhere and you have access to it at anytime using multiple access mechanisms.
That was lacking in those days, but looking back, I was very proud to use a computer :-)
For me the biggest improvement in those days was WiFi slowly becoming a commodity, although it was very expensive to build a WiFi infrastructure...only the " selected few " in the company would get a laptop with WiFi :-) At home that was too expensive.

I always tell our daughters ( 26 & 23 ) what it was like growing up without a computer, and that my social network was all about jumping on my bike and cycling to the nearest football ground.
A lot of fun, but I can not imagine me being without a computer in today's world.

Cheers ... McBie

simonvee
07-11-2015, 05:49 AM
Thanks for clearing that up.

Those functions were for large businesses and would definitely be useful. Then where does that leave the 'average' computer user? I remember in 1997 my parents bought me my first computer (Pentium, 166 Mhz). It costed $3,000. Thinking about it now, it was such a waste of money for the tasks it could perform for a high school student. I typed my assignments on it. At rare times I would refer to Encarta. That was it. Oh and played Doom and Mech-Warrior.

Even before anybody knew anything about the internet, it was said that there would be 'a computer in every home'. It certainly makes complete sense now. However, that statement appears overly ambitious when all computers were for the average person was merely a modern day typewriter that you can play games on that cost 6 weeks of average salary.

dbm
07-11-2015, 06:30 AM
The average computer user in the early days was the very definition of a geek before being a geek became cool! People had computers because they were interested in them or what you could do with them. And in earlier days it was much easier to start creating your own programs and the like since they were much simpler back then.

So I suspect computer users fell into two camps: people who played games on their machines and people who tinkered with their computers. Very few people ever use computers for anything beyond the basics in my experience, whatever that 'base' is made of.

I know my folks bought me my first computer because they saw it as the future. My grand father was a miner. My dad was an engineer. I am a software engineer. If ever there was a clear line of technological progress, that is it in my mind!

The other big change in computing is how cheap they are now - basic computers can be had for a couple of hundred quid so you don't need a compelling reason to buy one. In fact, I would say that this has driven the internet as much as the internet has driven computer adoption. One phone is useless. Two is a novelty. Three is a proposition. A million phones is a paradigm shift. It's the same with computers. Once they are out there, it's worth considering connecting them. I used the internet before the web, and it was difficult to use or find things. WWW was a radical shift in terms of making the internet easy to use for ordinary people. Things like Facebook and Google have made it so straight forward that zero technical capability is required.

simonvee
07-11-2015, 06:39 AM
The average computer user in the early days was the very definition of a geek before being a geek became cool! People had computers because they were interested in them or what you could do with them. And in earlier days it was much easier to start creating your own programs and the like since they were much simpler back then.

So I suspect computer users fell into two camps: people who played games on their machines and people who tinkered with their computers. Very few people ever use computers for anything beyond the basics in my experience, whatever that 'base' is made of.
.


Yes, I have noticed a couple of those instances when early computer users bought computers just to 'tinker' with them. Those people turned out to be working in IT in their careers.

So why did these people needed to code programs? And particularly at such a young age. What were the programs used for? Isn't it already available on the market?

McBie
07-11-2015, 07:47 AM
I remember coding a very simple " accounting " program, that did just what was expected .... no fancy things.
Full programs were commercially available but at a very high cost.
But what was most important with these commercial programs was that they were designed by an IT guy ( mostly the programmer ) and not by a business guy ( who had to use them and try to read the programmers mind )..... what was this guy thinking when he coded this stuff :-)

Interesting times .

Cheers ... McBie

Lifeisabeach
07-11-2015, 08:37 AM
Are you kidding? Besides games being an obvious one, graphics design has always been a major use for a computer even pre-internet. I used to do a newsletter on my first computer... an Amstrad 80086 system with a CGA monitor and a pair of floppy drives for booting the OS. I've printed out long banners for birthdays and other events. There were dozens of other productivity uses. Spreadsheets... finance tracking... accounting applications... much much more.

dbm
07-11-2015, 12:05 PM
So why did these people needed to code programs? And particularly at such a young age. What were the programs used for? Isn't it already available on the market?
I went from making stuff in Lego to writing very simple games (I wrote my own version of the snake / caterpillar game). I did because it was fun. :)

What more reason do you need? :D

Slydude
07-11-2015, 01:17 PM
Even though most people used the computer s a glorified calculator or typewriter that use was still imports. I am a horrible typist. Even using the electronic ones that put a line of type on screen before committing it to paper were horrible for me. The ability to spell check and cut/paste was a miracle.

The computer also opened up a level of creativity even within basic word processing not possible with typewriters. I know folks who spent tons of time on their Apple IIGS and Mac machines changing fonts in letters to get just the look they wanted.

MX372
07-11-2015, 01:55 PM
When I was a kid (VIC 20/C64/TRS-80/Apple II/Atari 400-era machines) and later a teenager (PC-XT/AT and original Macitosh-era), they were used for education (Apple II primarily), games, BASIC programming and tinkering, and not really much else. Of course, in the business world at that time I have no idea - ICBM codes :D ? But form my perspective, that's about it.

Once I became a teenager, I saw them used in businesses for inventory control, word processing, database management and such (mid-late '80's). In fact, my first job was working for an old man inputting his inventory into his Tandy PC-compatible computer. The software was custom-programmed by a local company apparently, but he had no clue how to use it when the girl that did it for him moved away.

When I became an adult and joined the Army, I used a 386 laptop with Harvard Graphics 3.0 to produce charts and graphs for my commander to use in his training briefings, and I used other software to type up correspondence, create training schedules, duty schedules, etc. There was no internet at that time, but there were BBS's (Bulletin Board Systems). You connected using a modem on your phone line, at 14.4kbps (or 33.6kbps if you had a fast modem). You could download files, pictures (mostly porn!), and chat with other people. Then AOL came out, a pre-cursor to the WWW. That's really when things started to change for the "Average" user.

My children do not remember a time when there wasn't the internet - they were too young really and by the time they were old enough to understand the technology around them, the internet was widely available and easy to use. They don't know what Windows 3.1 is, and never used dial-up or AOL, and a floppy disc - what is THAT?!.

You know what I'm interested in? What kind of computer do you have; what do you primarily use it for; what other devices do you use and for what (tablet, smartphone, etc.); and could those tasks be accomplished with a machine of much less powerful specs? Not just you specifically, but anyone reading this (I should start a new thread on that topic!).

I'm interested in those things because it seems to me that, with the exception of business-related tasks or things like CAD, video editing, etc., that what the general computer user or "consumer" uses a computer (or tablet, or smartphone) for does not require the level of hardware technology that we seem to think we "need" - it could be done with much less (of course, the code would have to be more efficiently written, like it was "back in the day"). I'm sure others will disagree with me on that, but that's what I think.

Anyway, it IS hard to imagine a world without Wifi, cellular, and internet.....how DID we get things done back then??? ;D

MacInWin
07-11-2015, 02:00 PM
I started in personal computing with a home-brew, built from components machine that was basically an adding machine. This was before TI came out with the first four-function calculator. I then moved to the Radio Shack TRS-80 and did word processing on it with Word Perfect and a dot-matrix printer. At work we got a dedicated word processor machine that came with a CP/M boot disk that let me get to the system and program it in interpreted BASIC. I wrote a program to track pilot readiness for our squadron, something that we had track manually back then. Later I built a Heathkit H-100 for me and used it for word processing and Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheets. By then I was in a small company that did IT consulting for small businesses and we built an S-100 based system for a 6-store appliance chain to track inventory at all the stores and to allow each store to see what was at the others when a customer wanted something not in the local store. We also computed the truck load and route to get that inventory moved efficiently from store-to-store. The connection was a dial-up, 300baud line with S-100 terminals in each store that connected to the Z-80 based processor card in the S-100 card cage located in the main store. We put all six processors in the one card cage along with a seventh card to drive the hard drive that held the database. CP/M was very easy to work with!

So, all of that came before Internet. In fact, the internet started when I had moved to a major university data center. We were a major node of Bitnet (Because It's There NETwork). Bitnet was a store and forward network between universities world-wide. The connections were 56K dedicated lines between universities. We had a connection to GulfNet, in the Arabian gulf. It turned out we had one of the first indications of the invasion of Kuwait when the University of Kuwait dropped out of the Bitnet when Iraq invaded!

At that time the Internet was non-gui. To navigate and use the internet, you used ftp, rsh and other terminal commands. What made the internet useful for the average user was the creation of the World Wide Web and HTML. By getting away from having to know the IP number to connect and being able to just use a name, and by using a graphic interface instead of the command line, the web became usable to mom and pop, not just the IT guys. The rest, as they say, is history.

MX372
07-11-2015, 02:16 PM
Very interesting!

So you've been around this stuff for quite some time then. I never really dedicated the time to become more proficient and learn as much as I'd like because work and family life left little time to pursue my "hobby". My employment after the Army was as a Diesel Technician, not IT. But, I used what I did know and my desire to learn more to do things like take instrument clusters apart and re-solder cracked solder joints around connector pins, saving my fleet (or the customer) money on replacing components, and at the same time reducing electronic waste. I always felt good about that type of stuff. Of course, I was the top guy for anything electrical, and later, anything with ECU's, programming, and driveability diagnostics or multiplex CAN network stuff.

Now I'm in Operations Management, which to me is not really "technical". Frankly, boring and not that difficult. That's why I'm excited that my employer has this opportunity to get into computer network defense and pen testing-type stuff, and if I meet their criteria, they'll train me!

MacInWin
07-11-2015, 02:35 PM
CLIP... Then AOL came out, a pre-cursor to the WWW. That's really when things started to change for the "Average" user.No, AOL was not a pre-cursor to the WWW. It started as a portal to the Internet, providing a hub of modems into which an AOL user could dial to gain access. Later on it started to add content of its own creation. When the cable companies got into providing connectivity, AOL tried to shift to being a content provider, but didn't do very well and went into a major decline.

CLIP...

I'm interested in those things because it seems to me that, with the exception of business-related tasks or things like CAD, video editing, etc., that what the general computer user or "consumer" uses a computer (or tablet, or smartphone) for does not require the level of hardware technology that we seem to think we "need" - it could be done with much less (of course, the code would have to be more efficiently written, like it was "back in the day"). I'm sure others will disagree with me on that, but that's what I think.I started coding when it really was coding--entering the binary code one byte at a time into memory in hex digits. You had to code both the commands and the data that way. It would take lots of inputs to set up a program to run one simple program to add two numbers. If you got clever, you could have the program run to allow you to enter the numbers you wanted operated on (in hex, of course) and then trigger the operation with another hex code. Input and output was, on my machine, an eight-hex digit display and switches to flip to set the bits to get the hex number to show. There was no storage of the "program" at that time, you had to reenter it each time you wanted to run it. Later on we could store the program on cassette tapes and use audio processing to turn the 1's and 0's into sound, then the sound back to 1's and 0's to load the registers. Very nice.

Later I programmed in assembler, which let us get away from hex. You moved data through registers and to/from storage with commands. In those days code was pretty efficient because you had to create the process each time. So if I needed to add two numbers, I'd retrieve the first from a location in storage and put it into a register, then retrieve the other from a different location in storage and put it into a second register and then trigger the add command to combine the two registers and put the results in a third register. Then I would put the results from that storage into a different location in storage. Each time I needed an add function, I'd repeat that same code. Sometimes the location of the numbers in storage was also stored in storage, so you'd have to move that number to a register and then use that register to retrieve the real number from storage, etc. Bottom line, coders did this repetition of code a lot! Once the assembler program was working, you stored it on tape, sometimes paper tape, sometimes recording tape, and fed it to a compiler that built up the binary code for you from the various commands you had entered.

Then along came higher level compilers. Magic tools that let you NOT have to worry about register and storage addresses and codes. You could use sort-of English to just say what you wanted and the compiler would use a pre-stored set of assembler code. BASIC was one such. How magic that you could simply define A and B as having some value then "X=A+B"and it would give you X! Amazing! I din't have to worry about where A and B were stored, or retrieve them before adding! But the increase in programmer productivity came with a tradeoff--the resulting binary code was much, much larger than it would have been if you used Assembler, and that was much larger than if you just entered the 1's and 0's in hex. The reason is that compilers have to accomodate multiple uses and have code in them that I may not need but YOU do, or checking code that has to make sure the operation completes properly, which I don't need to worry about if I'm looking at the register moves, etc. So, in being more "efficient" in being able to slam code faster, I pay a price of inefficient size and some extra overhead in execution. No problem, the faster machines can take care of that, and after all, the big cost in programming is labor, so we're good, right?

So, if we wanted, for example, Word to be as "efficient" as something written in binary and input in hex, it would cost a fortune to buy and maintain, but it would run in a lot less powerful machine than it takes now. But that's not progress, is it?




Anyway, it IS hard to imagine a world without Wifi, cellular, and internet.....how DID we get things done back then??? ;DLandlines, secretaries, libraries, encyclopedias, paper phone message forms. Been there, done that.

MX372
07-11-2015, 03:29 PM
@ MacInWin - Thanks for the background on programming languages. I'm no programmer, for sure. As a kid/teenager, I, like many I'm sure, programmed a few things in BASIC and had some fun, but that's not the career track I went into - and not really by choice per se - sometimes you have to do what makes you money and maybe isn't really what you are interested in. And I wasn't trying to give a 100% chronological account of the internet, I apologize. I guess AOL was after the internet then. Never used it myself, but it sure was advertised ALOT back then. I guess I'm just more of "use what's free" type of guy? :$ BBS's were free......

100% valid point about cost of labor vs. efficiency, and progress, but what I said was true: code today is much less efficient, no? I understand that is the way it is, and part of why we need ever-more computing power. It's the same with automobiles. 20 years ago if you got 20mpg that was real good. Now? They have full size trucks that can get that. Of course, they cost $40k+ and have more computing power on them than the Apollo 18 mission did.....

Lifeisabeach
07-11-2015, 04:18 PM
No, AOL was not a pre-cursor to the WWW. It started as a portal to the Internet, providing a hub of modems into which an AOL user could dial to gain access. Later on it started to add content of its own creation.

Eh, no not really. According to Wikipedia, they didn't start offering an internet portal until 1993. This matches my understanding since this is about when I first started hearing about "the internet" and had long known of online services already, including AOL, though I wasn't a user of any until I joined AOL in 1995. Distilled as best as I can from Wikipedia, they started out in 1985 by the name of Quantum Computer Services as an online service along the lines of CompuServe, but geared towards novice users, and changed their name to America Online in 1989. I was an AOL user myself from 1995 till about 1997 and they self-hosted all their content that you accessed by dialing into their servers, and they provided a web browser that let you get to "the internet". At some point, 1996 or so, they allowed for an option to access their service via an ISP for a reduced rate.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AOL

EDIT: I should add that they weren't exactly a pre-cursor to the internet either since the "internet" has been around since, what, the early 70's? But to academics only, until it was opened up to the public in the early 90's.

chscag
07-11-2015, 04:25 PM
@simonvee


Before the vast usefulness of the internet came in existence, people like myself had computers in their homes and others had it in their offices. What you could do with a computer back then was very limited without the internet, in my opinion.

Just curious and a question for you.... (and don't take this the wrong way) But are you working on some kind of dissertation or thesis? The only time you post in our forums is to ask or inquire about some subject that stirs up a lot of replies. And I notice that you post only here in the Lounge. Nothing wrong with what you're doing but it does seem a bit odd that the only time we see you is with this type of post.

simonvee
07-12-2015, 01:01 AM
Haha. No thesis for me. This is for personal knowledge. Good observation though.

I switched over from Windows to Mac in late 2013. I've learnt many of the 'technical' skills to operate a Mac than an average user. On rare occasions now I might post a technical question if I do not know how to perform something.

Every now and then a 'general' question that the general public might take for granted will make me curious. I have pondered on this question when I got my 1st computer in 1997 but have not got around to asking it. At the time, how my friends, relatives and myself used a computer was no more than a game machine and glorified typewriter which cost 3+ weeks of average salary. It was a minor troubling thought. Now days, you would not question that since it costs just half a week of work to buy a decent computer that does a tonne of things for your everyday life.

My previous general question was why doesn't Real Player on OS X play MPEG or such? Why doesn't Apple create their own universal media player that could play everything. I think that's a really good question but has troubled me for some time. However, now I know the answer to it and accepted why things are the way it is.

Hope this makes sense

simonvee
07-12-2015, 02:12 AM
Back in the mid-90's. The word was out-

"Kids need a computer for school and education"
"Every house will eventually have a computer in the future"

I urged my parents to spend their hard earned money to buy me a computer for....."education" and that all other kids had one. Education was...ahem...Encarta 97. A downgrade from the free public library.

I think at the time, it was marketers making us want what we do not need. As they always do...

Heck, I only used the $3,000 computer as a game machine, media player and typewriter. With the phrase of 'every home will have one'- I asked what will my blue-collar parents use it for? It seemed overly ambitious and whack that every house will and should have one.

chas_m
07-12-2015, 05:09 AM
I could write a book on this subject, but the short form comes down to two things:

1. It's important to bear in mind that expectations were quite different then. For example, look at how popular Facebook is for keeping in touch with people. Back in the 80s and 90s, we didn't have need of such service because we had telephones, post stamps, and of course we didn't know nearly as many people! Speaking for myself, I always thought of a computer has a huge improvement on a typewriter right from day one. Later on, as they got more capable, we did more things with them. And that opened up new doors.

2. As for practical uses, starting with the TRS-80 model III, my primary use of computers was to typeset and send to a Varitype machine text for newspapers, which was then turned into strips of processed photopaper that was waxed and stuck to boards representing pages.

simonvee
07-12-2015, 07:24 AM
1. It's important to bear in mind that expectations were quite different then. For example, look at how popular Facebook is for keeping in touch with people.

Facebook and online videos is in my opinion the biggest factor why folks (e.g. senior) with less than amateur computer skills use computers/tablets today.

MacInWin
07-12-2015, 08:35 AM
Eh, no not really. According to Wikipedia, they didn't start offering an internet portal until 1993. This matches my understanding since this is about when I first started hearing about "the internet" and had long known of online services already, including AOL, though I wasn't a user of any until I joined AOL in 1995. Distilled as best as I can from Wikipedia, they started out in 1985 by the name of Quantum Computer Services as an online service along the lines of CompuServe, but geared towards novice users, and changed their name to America Online in 1989. I was an AOL user myself from 1995 till about 1997 and they self-hosted all their content that you accessed by dialing into their servers, and they provided a web browser that let you get to "the internet". At some point, 1996 or so, they allowed for an option to access their service via an ISP for a reduced rate.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AOL

EDIT: I should add that they weren't exactly a pre-cursor to the internet either since the "internet" has been around since, what, the early 70's? But to academics only, until it was opened up to the public in the early 90's.

LIAB, the Internet had been around for a while before Berners-Lee proposed the WWW context in 1989. By 1993 that concept was in place and the first public browser was made available (Mosaic). In Spring of that year the decision was made and announced that WWW was free (you still had to have an ISP to connect, of course) and the thing exploded. The growth of the web was absolutely astounding. What triggered the really explosive growth was the creation of search engines to allow anyone to find anything anywhere. Google is the biggest, of course, but Yahoo hung in there for a long time as a major competitor.

I don't recall AOL before the WWW as a content provider. Perhaps it was, but I seem to recall that Prodigy, CompuServe and GEnie were the big three in that area. AOL may have been a bit player in that space. But AOL came into it's own when the WWW started in 1993. At that point AOL became the major provider of internet access via dial-up, eclipsing the big three. It came down to pricing and marketing--AOL sent out millions of floppy disks (later CD's) with the AOL software for free. You got to try it and then you paid for a subscription. By making it so easy and keeping the price down, AOL created and then met a huge demand. But as I said, once cable got into the provisioning service, AOL couldn't compete. It tried to be a value-add on the Internet, found itself being ignored there because people wanted more speed than dial up and they also just wanted to surf on their own, and started the decline to what it is today.

I never used AOL myself. My ISP at the time was something called, IIRC, CapitolCom. Same idea, but nothing there but a connect point. It was a few $$ less than AOL and got me to the internet.

The irony of it all is that I had a business associate who tried to talk me into investing in a few thousand $ of modems and a connection to the Internet and offering our own service, just before AOL hit. He thought we could drive Prodigy, CompuServe and GEnie out of business by just offering connectivity. Had I been more of a risk taker, I might have done it and become a wealthy man, but the risks seem to outweigh what I saw as the benefits and I averred. Ah, well!

MacInWin
07-12-2015, 08:46 AM
Facebook and online videos is in my opinion the biggest factor why folks (e.g. senior) with less than amateur computer skills use computers/tablets today.And email.

MacInWin
07-12-2015, 08:56 AM
@simonvee, here's something to contemplate. It's been estimated that well over 90% of the computing power in the world (from phones to supercomputers) is not being used. Think about that! Before I retired I worked for IBM and we had an internal program of trying to use that idle time by way of an integrating program that sits in every computer in the network and multiprocesses into those computers whenever the CPU utilization drops below a threshold. So when I dropped my ThinkPad into the network, it connected and reported to the central controller that it was available for the central project. We were donating the time, as I recall, to cancer researchers as part of modeling various potential treatments. The CPU would jump up to about 75% busy even when I wasn't on it. We never saw the results, but the researchers got their time on EVERY machine in the network that participated. From ThinkPads to Supercomputers to Watson, idle time was donated.

There was a public donation project, too, from SETI, to process signals they had recorded for patterns indicating something non-random. I don't know if it's still out there or not, but in today's security-conscious Internet, I seriously doubt it.

MX372
07-12-2015, 09:45 AM
Not sure about the SETI project, but Stanford still has the folding at home project at https://folding.stanford.edu/.

If the internet did not evolve the way it has, the way we use computers today would be vastly different.

I'm not a big fan of most social media sites, specifically FB and twitter. I think tweeting is stupid, and FB (from what I've seen) only causes more social interaction problems between people. Can it be used as a great communication tool for people many miles apart? Sure. But so can email, Skype, and a plethora of other applications. I just can't stand it that people post so much stupid crap on FB, and then there is the complete disregard for security consideration - people pay for stuff like LifeLock to prevent ID Theft, but then plaster FB (or some other SM site) with a ton of personal info. DUMB.

It's funny that you mention that so much of our computing power is unused, since I also think we have (in general, for the average home user) machines that are more powerful and have more features than people use, YET, people still upgrade to the latest and greatest every (about) 2 years. Cell phones in particular. What a waste.....

Strider64
07-12-2015, 10:00 AM
I used to run a BBS (Bulletin Board Service) before the Internet and used to visit BBSes via modem (starting out with a 300 baud modem). The first BBS ran on an 8086, 300 baud modem and Wildcat BBS, it was basically used for getting files and sharing files - kind of like an earlier version of Napster. I remember going over to my friends house just to download a 100K file that would take forever to download, we usually ended up playing 9-ball on his pool table. I think my final version of my bbs was running on a 80286, 2 phone lines using 14,400 baud modems and Syncronet BBS software. Ah, the good times. :D

Lifeisabeach
07-12-2015, 10:42 AM
LIAB, the Internet had been around for a while before Berners-Lee proposed the WWW context in 1989. By 1993 that concept was in place and the first public browser was made available (Mosaic). In Spring of that year the decision was made and announced that WWW was free (you still had to have an ISP to connect, of course) and the thing exploded.

Yes, that's what I said. The "internet" as a whole (which compromises of many services like usenet, "the web", email, IC, and more) were around well before 1989.

"The origins of the Internet date back to research commissioned by the United States government in the 1960s to build robust, fault-tolerant communication via computer networks. This work, combined with work in the United Kingdom and France, led to the primary precursor network, the ARPANET, in the United States. A 1980 paper refers to "the ARPA internet". The interconnection of regional academic networks in the 1980s marks the beginning of the transition to the modern Internet." - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet

As stated previously, it was available only to "academics" (educational institutions, scientists, etc) to more conveniently communicate share research. Now the web was introduced in 1989 as you describe. We all habitually refer to the web as the internet, when it's really just one of the services available on the internet.


I don't recall AOL before the WWW as a content provider. Perhaps it was, but I seem to recall that Prodigy, CompuServe and GEnie were the big three in that area. AOL may have been a bit player in that space. But AOL came into it's own when the WWW started in 1993.

Those were the big 3, but AOL most certainly was around. AOL was the first online service I ever joined, but that wasn't until 1995. Their portal to the web was pretty crude though... a very rough web browser that was slow and barely worked. The real appeal of their service then was their own content and services.

EDIT: I should expand on that thought a bit. AOL's growth certainly exploded in the mid-90's, in part because they offered access to "the internet" as part of their service, and while hordes of people joined up because of the growing buzz over "the internet", they mostly didn't know what that really was. To them, AOL and its own services WAS the internet. I should also point out that if people simply wanted to get to the internet, it would have been FAR cheaper to simply sign up with an ISP, which typically cost $12-$15/month flat rate, IIRC. AOL, on the other hand, billed by the minute and could easily cost you a hundred bucks or more monthly. It wasn't until 1997 or so that they went to a flat rate model.

Here's a better read than the Wikipedia entry (EDIT: this is from TIME Magazine's site):
AOL at 30: The History of America Online, Founded in 1985 (http://time.com/3857628/aol-1985-history/)

Lifeisabeach
07-12-2015, 10:54 AM
Every now and then a 'general' question that the general public might take for granted will make me curious. I have pondered on this question when I got my 1st computer in 1997 but have not got around to asking it. At the time, how my friends, relatives and myself used a computer was no more than a game machine and glorified typewriter which cost 3+ weeks of average salary. It was a minor troubling thought. Now days, you would not question that since it costs just half a week of work to buy a decent computer that does a tonne of things for your everyday life.

I got my first computer in 1989, largely because I got tired of driving to the computer lab on the college campus to do my coursework (no, not a "computing" degree... accounting). Using one as a word processor certainly was a major use back then, but by no means was it the only one. Take anything you do now... you could do it back then in some form. The fact that you can do more of it "online" now and more conveniently doesn't mean you couldn't do it before. The fact that you and your relatives/friends couldn't find a better use for computers than how they were using them doesn't mean they weren't capable of more. Not in 1989 in my case, and certainly not in 1997.

simonvee
07-12-2015, 12:12 PM
Take anything you do now... you could do it back then in some form

Sending and receiving files online is of significant improvement. Now days students can download course material online. Back then you had a floppy disk but what significant convenience does it give? If I could drive somewhere to give someone (e.g. lecturer) a floppy disk, I may as well give them the physical document.

Not to mention, now there is 1) interactive online learning amongst students and being able to 2) Google additional information. These two are a major contributor of learning. I majored in accounting myself. All you need is a calculator, lecture notes and textbooks. Unless if you were dealing with MYOB or Quickbooks then yeh, you need a computer.

Lifeisabeach
07-12-2015, 12:20 PM
Sending and receiving files online is of significant improvement. Now days students can download lecture notes for example, online. Back then you had a floppy disk but what significant convenience does it give? If I could drive somewhere to give someone (e.g. lecturer) a floppy disk, I may as well give them the physical document.

Not to mention, now there is 1) interactive online learning amongst students and being able to 2) Google additional information. These two are a major contributor of learning. I majored in accounting myself.

If you used a BBS, you certainly could send and receive files. When Windows 95 was first released, I had to get a driver update for one of my PC components from a BBS. I didn't have a sub to one myself or even a modem, so I used someone else's computer to get it off CompuServe. Shortly thereafter, I subbed to AOL, and I can absolutely assure you people traded files quite a bit on there and had been for years. Many companies hosted driver updates directly on AOL's servers in their own little section. The internet is simply ubiquitous today. That's all.

simonvee
07-12-2015, 12:23 PM
I see :)

I guess the bottom line is to purchase something within the price range that correspond to your personal optimal usage

For me, I could not make the best use out of a computer. Therefore, I should have not bought one. At least for $3,000 anyway.

Lifeisabeach
07-12-2015, 12:35 PM
I majored in accounting myself. All you need is a calculator, lecture notes and textbooks. Unless if you were dealing with MYOB or Quickbooks then yeh, you need a computer.

I don't know what kind of program you went through, but we had to learn how to use word processing, database, spreadsheet programs, and more, ALL of which were relevant in the late 80's for accounting. One class, I forget which one exactly, but we had to use a program written by the instructor to do analyses on making the most cost effective use of inventory space. Another class, business management, our class was broken up into teams of 4 and assigned a scenario involving a major corporation. We had to do presentations complete with flowcharts and graphs to demonstrate how that company could improve their business practices and revenue flow. And guess how these presentations were created? On a COMPUTER! Oh, this was 1988-1990. And you expect me to believe you weren't required to do any of this in 1997?????

simonvee
07-12-2015, 12:45 PM
I don't know what kind of program you went through, but we had to learn how to use word processing, database, spreadsheet programs, and more, ALL of which were relevant in the late 80's for accounting. One class, I forget which one exactly, but we had to use a program written by the instructor to do analyses on making the most cost effective use of inventory space. Another class, business management, our class was broken up into teams of 4 and assigned a scenario involving a major corporation. We had to do presentations complete with flowcharts and graphs to demonstrate how that company could improve their business practices and revenue flow. And guess how these presentations were created? On a COMPUTER! Oh, this was 1988-1990. And you expect me to believe you weren't required to do any of this in 1997?????

My accounting studies began in the mid 2000's actually. I had to use Quickbooks within a subject called Accounting (Information Systems). All the small tests were done with the university lab computers to demonstrate that we knew how to do Quickbooks. However, the exam was all paper work. Other than that, a computer was very convenient but not essential for the course of accounting.

When you do flow-charts, you don't actually need a computer. All you need is that projector that projects the image of those clear plastic sheets that you can imprint charts and graphs on. I don't know what it's called, but you understand what I mean.

Lifeisabeach
07-12-2015, 12:54 PM
My accounting studies began in the mid 2000's actually. I had to use Quickbooks within a subject called Accounting (Information Systems). All the small tests were done with the university lab computers to demonstrate that we knew how to do Quickbooks. However, the exam was all paper work. Other than that, a computer was very convenient but not essential for the course of accounting.

When you do flow-charts, you don't actually need a computer. All you need is that projector that projects the image of those clear plastic sheets that you can imprint charts and graphs on. I don't know what it's called, but you understand what I mean.

That's insane. In the real world, everyone was doing all of this on a computer by the late 80's. You mean to tell me your university wasn't preparing you to use the tools that your employers would expect you to be able to use in the mid-2000's?

Exodist
07-13-2015, 05:34 AM
Hi,

.

Did anyone else use computers, without internet, for other things I have not mentioned?

I.............

Any thoughts?

Hey Simon,
My first computer that I actually owned myself was a Tandy 1000HX. I did lots of things on this computer. I wrote midi music, painted with drawing program, programmed in BASIC, played games and communicated and downloaded files off BBS server computers. Well I typed and used spreadsheets also.. But I used it just like I use my Mac today. The only thing that has really changed is now I can do video and real music.

simonvee
07-13-2015, 07:38 AM
That's insane. In the real world, everyone was doing all of this on a computer by the late 80's. You mean to tell me your university wasn't preparing you to use the tools that your employers would expect you to be able to use in the mid-2000's?

I went to a reputable university. University in general teaches core concepts as opposed to REAL WORLD tasks used in the office. Surely, if I was the dean and was to prescribe an accounting course that would keep my graduates competitive against candidates with experience and no education is to implement:

- MYOB
- Quickbooks
- SAP
-Simple Accounting
- Advanced Excel
And many more programming topics

In terms of computers- My course just taught Excel spreadsheets and Quick-Books.

Most of the time learning in the course was from a 400 year old accounting system. Manually writing what were credits and what were debits. Not very useful in the real world. In the real world, we use computers to do all that.

Most things learned in university is not applicable to the real world. Training colleges on the other hand teaches the 'hands on' practical skills that is more applicable in the workforce. Just my opinion.

simonvee
07-13-2015, 07:40 AM
Hey Simon,
My first computer that I actually owned myself was a Tandy 1000HX. I did lots of things on this computer. I wrote midi music, painted with drawing program, programmed in BASIC, played games and communicated and downloaded files off BBS server computers. Well I typed and used spreadsheets also.. But I used it just like I use my Mac today. The only thing that has really changed is now I can do video and real music.

Thanks for sharing.

How did you Google back in the days?

lclev
07-13-2015, 08:31 AM
Thanks for sharing.

How did you Google back in the days?

Boolean operator searches....those were the days! You would type in your search words peppered with AND, NOT and OR to get the database to narrow down your results - hopefully!

I can remember when google entered into the search world getting messages from them say I did not need to enter in the search parameters anymore as they were doing that for me. I had a hard time letting that go as I was sure they did not know exactly what I was looking for. I occasionally even today, will find myself having a flashback and entering "AND, NOT, OR" to a request. I have noticed they quit with the "You don't need to do that - we know!" messages.

Lisa

cwa107
07-13-2015, 09:58 AM
My first computer was a Commodore 64C and I mostly used it for playing games as well as a bit of BASIC programming and printing banners and such from Print Shop.

That's what got me hooked though - shortly thereafter I bought an Amiga 600, then a used Amiga 2000. Aside from playing games, programming and word processing, I also started to get into Bulletin Board Systems. A friend of mine had a rather large one with 3 lines as I recall and there were a number of others within the local exchange. I spent a vast amount of time in discussion threads on the BBS as well as chatting with the others who were online (there was one BBS in particular that had some crazy amount of lines, like 20+). I was also an assistant sysop on one BBS, so I spent a good amount of time going through PD software and making sure it was virus-free and useful content.

The Internet killed the BBS world in short order, but in many ways, it was more fun than today. Definitely required a lot more problem-solving skill than we use today, which is probably why I'm in the career I'm in now.

XJ-linux
07-13-2015, 10:04 AM
Computers were useful for quite a while before their interconnectivity was ubiquitous, in my opinion. The application software just needed to catch up to be useful to the average Joe. Hence, the term "killer app", long before Apple claimed to invert the "app" terminology or Al Gore invented the internet. Marketing and price certainly factor in as a major influence as well.

Lifeisabeach
07-13-2015, 10:23 AM
Most of the time learning in the course was from a 400 year old accounting system. Manually writing what were credits and what were debits. Not very useful in the real world. In the real world, we use computers to do all that.

That's not what I meant by the "real world". Of course you have to learn how to do it by hand. If you don't understand the logic of how the software works and indeed the fundamental principles of accounting, then you are little more than a button pusher. I'm talking about learning to use the software... and not just accounting software.... that is used business-wide. I should probably add that I have never actually worked as an accountant (the job market crashed when I graduated in 1990, so my career took another path entirely), and I should also acknowledge that the tools have certainly changed dramatically between 1990 and the mid-2000's. We didn't even have QuickBooks and the like when I was in school. But I can't even wrap my head around someone still using projectors with transparencies in the mid-2000's. And I'm more put off by your complete lack of imagination and thinking that computers weren't good for anything till recently. You seem to be engaging in some form of ageism here.

Slydude
07-13-2015, 10:29 AM
I can remember when google entered into the search world getting messages from them say I did not need to enter in the search parameters anymore as they were doing that for me. I had a hard time letting that go as I was sure they did not know exactly what I was looking for. I occasionally even today, will find myself having a flashback and entering "AND, NOT, OR" to a request. I have noticed they quit with the "You don't need to do that - we know!" messages.

Lisa

Glad to know that I'm not the only one that does that now and then, In fact it annoys me when adding those operators doesn't improve/narrow the results. I still remember the early engines like Locos and infoseek among others.

MacInWin
07-13-2015, 03:50 PM
CLIP... I also started to get into Bulletin Board Systems. A friend of mine had a rather large one with 3 lines as I recall and there were a number of others within the local exchange. I spent a vast amount of time in discussion threads on the BBS as well as chatting with the others who were online (there was one BBS in particular that had some crazy amount of lines, like 20+). I was also an assistant sysop on one BBS, so I spent a good amount of time going through PD software and making sure it was virus-free and useful content.

The Internet killed the BBS world in short order, but in many ways, it was more fun than today. Definitely required a lot more problem-solving skill than we use today, which is probably why I'm in the career I'm in now.I ran the Heath/Zenith users group BBS in the Washington, DC area from my home in Fairfax, VA. We had eight lines with modems. I actually got a visit from the local police who thought I was running a bookie parlor. I showed them the setup and they seemed satisfied. It was more fun because all the users were geeks and shared the passion for the systems. Today's Internet user is basically an appliance operator who has no concept of what is going on under the covers.

simonvee
07-14-2015, 05:30 AM
That's not what I meant by the "real world". Of course you have to learn how to do it by hand. If you don't understand the logic of how the software works and indeed the fundamental principles of accounting, then you are little more than a button pusher. I'm talking about learning to use the software... and not just accounting software.... that is used business-wide. I should probably add that I have never actually worked as an accountant (the job market crashed when I graduated in 1990, so my career took another path entirely), and I should also acknowledge that the tools have certainly changed dramatically between 1990 and the mid-2000's. We didn't even have QuickBooks and the like when I was in school. But I can't even wrap my head around someone still using projectors with transparencies in the mid-2000's. And I'm more put off by your complete lack of imagination and thinking that computers weren't good for anything till recently. You seem to be engaging in some form of ageism here.

I understand now how computers, prior to the internet, were much more capable than my initial knowledge. E.g. 1) Boolean to 'Google and 2) BBS to share files with peers.

From another frame of reference, the peers that you share your files with on BBS must also be reasonably computer savvy in order to use it. This filters the amount of information available for peers compared to the 'galactic' amount of information found on the modern internet. Kids today can even contribute information found on the internet.

I didn't say I used projectors with transparencies in the mid-2000's. If I was to choose between carrying around a 4kg laptop in the 80's or choose transparency papers, I would choose the latter.

Nevertheless, BBS and Boolean were very useful prior to the internet. Don't take it the wrong way.

Means of transportation back in the medieval times did exactly the same as today if you want to look at it that way. Donkey vs Porsche Cayenne and Viking Ship vs Jumbo Jet. Both gets us from point A to point B but I sure don't want to row my a** off on the viking ship.

Lifeisabeach
07-14-2015, 09:31 AM
From another frame of reference, the peers that you share your files with on BBS must also be reasonably computer savvy in order to use it. This filters the amount of information available for peers compared to the 'galactic' amount of information found on the modern internet. Kids today can even contribute information found on the internet.

Maybe somewhat savvy, but kids today aren't nearly as savvy as they think they are. And letting kids contribute information to the internet? Man, just because you read it on the internet doesn't make it true! People are contributing a LOT of misinformation to the internet.


I didn't say I used projectors with transparencies in the mid-2000's. If I was to choose between carrying around a 4kg laptop in the 80's or choose transparency papers, I would choose the latter.

LOL! You mean you didn't tote your projector around? LOL! No one toted laptops around either. You put your presentation on a floppy disk and used the computer and projector that was available in the classroom. LOL! Actually in most of my classes, the instructors used slides and transparencies, but there were a couple that used a computer and projector. It wasn't exactly a novelty at the time, but it was slowly growing into more common use.


Nevertheless, BBS and Boolean were very useful prior to the internet. Don't take it the wrong way.

Means of transportation back in the medieval times did exactly the same as today if you want to look at it that way. Donkey vs Porsche Cayenne and Viking Ship vs Jumbo Jet. Both gets us from point A to point B but I sure don't want to row my a** off on the viking ship.

Hardly anyone would go back to the old days of things, but in the old days, it was cutting edge. You really are engaging in some ageism here.

simonvee
07-14-2015, 10:25 AM
Maybe somewhat savvy, but kids today aren't nearly as savvy as they think they are. And letting kids contribute information to the internet? Man, just because you read it on the internet doesn't make it true! People are contributing a LOT of misinformation to the internet.

Exactly, I am simply saying that people DO NOT need to be computer savvy to post 'information' on the internet. By information, it could be pictures, videos, reviews...and even official academic documents from scholars. Not necessarily 'scientific data' they made up. Likewise, sharing information on BBS was by nature, shared information, not always facts.


LOL! You mean you didn't tote your projector around? LOL! No one toted laptops around either. You put your presentation on a floppy disk and used the computer and projector that was available in the classroom. LOL! Actually in most of my classes, the instructors used slides and transparencies, but there were a couple that used a computer and projector. It wasn't exactly a novelty at the time, but it was slowly growing into more common use.

I might like to add I was not in university in the 80's and I am not certain if a good majority of classrooms had computers compared to transparency projectors. Nevertheless, perhaps bringing a floppy disk if the classroom had a computer was a good idea. It was cutting edge technology for sure.

Hardly anyone would go back to the old days of things, but in the old days, it was cutting edge. You really are engaging in some ageism here.

ageism
eɪdʒɪz(ə)m/
noun
noun: ageism; noun: agism

prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person's age.


No sir, I assure you I am not. It would be silly to post up a rant about discriminating someone's age or any innate facets about them. Who doesn't age?!

Dysfunction
07-15-2015, 08:36 PM
Funny that the only use for a computer now (from the OPs point of view), is to consume media someone else has produced.

chas_m
07-16-2015, 02:12 AM
There was always work to do; one used the tools one had available, or invented new ones. How did we edit newspaper copy before computers? PAINFULLY SLOWLY.

I remember sending off a manuscript to a UK magazine for a lengthy piece I wrote. Cost "a fortune" to mail it (this was post-computers but pre-cheap faxing and obviously pre-Internet). Waited a couple-three weeks, got the manuscript back with markups from the editor. Made the requested changes, called him on the phone to clarify a few points (luckily the time difference meant that I could call during the "cheap" international rate time -- not really very cheap!), and mailed a fresh printout. Some intern probably hand-typed it into whatever system they used to set copy on the Linotype or whatever!

Back then, magazines routinely worked six months or more in advance of publication because of this sort of issue. But it got done much the same way it's done now, only sending documents/files around is instant rather than the bottleneck in the process. This allows us to do more and faster, but the actual work itself hasn't changed all that much in this particular instance.

Friend of mine published a book today on iTunes and Kindle. Now he is quite experienced at this, this being the third book in the series, but it took him eight weeks, start to finish. Eight weeks from first outlining, through interviews (this is a non-fiction how-to book), photos/artwork, typesetting/design, an emergency rewrite of half the book (no exaggeration -- 30K words rewritten in a 61K word book!), and upload to Apple and Amazon.

Another book this fellow is doing -- a big, expensive, coffee-table type reference work (over 100K words) that took more than a year just to write, and where artwork makes up as much space as the text if not more -- that is being handled by a traditional publisher is now in its third year of production overall, and there's still no firm publication date.

We live in interesting times ...

simonvee
07-16-2015, 06:21 AM
Funny that the only use for a computer now (from the OPs point of view), is to consume media someone else has produced.

When did I say that?

lclev
07-16-2015, 05:44 PM
When did I say that?

You didn't exactly but you implied it with the title and follow up post content. I don't think that was your intent, just to get the conversation started.

Granted the bulk of the population today uses computers for media consumption. For those of us using them for other ventures, the internet enhances our work flow.

What I mean is if I am creating materials for an upcoming event, I can use the internet to send them to a co-worker who is collaborating on the same project but is located in another part of the state. And there are many more examples.

But to your original post as to what we did before. I started teaching computers to high school students in the early 80's . It was all basic programming and DOS. Later we added word processing, spreadsheets and databases using Lotus Works and WordPerfect. Initially, no internet was available unless you were at a university and even that was very limited.

In the late '70's, the entire school district's then over 2000 students' data was kept on 5-1/4" floppy disks that had to be turned over to read the back side. The computer was an Apple II daisy chained to 5 stacked floppy disk drives. The disks were then sent to the State Department for data collection. I remember asking why we needed to tell the state government which kids were in 4-H or boy/girl scouts. Before I retired I didn't even question all they required us to collect.

Lisa

zewazir
07-16-2015, 07:34 PM
I gotta say, anyone who is blowing off even basic word processing on those early computers (my first was the venerable Apple IIe) has never had to use a typewriter to format a 12 page term paper using MLA footnotes.

Just the word processor ability made the purchase of the Apple IIe worth every nickle. Add in the ability to run a household budget, and other "basic" humdrum applications which did away with the old paper-and-pen methods and it was a practical miracle.

I spent a couple years doing work-study for FWP digitizing wildlife habitat maps on a MPM system. Wrote the training manual using Word Star.

Then came the Mac, with desktop publishing, image manipulation, etc. All came before the internet, and still managed to revolutionize innumerable industries, as well as giving home-workers the ability to match high-level pros who were still using pre-computerized methods.

In short, yes, computers were still miracle machines in data manipulation long before the internet.

XJ-linux
07-16-2015, 08:47 PM
As a side note... corporations were using computers in a big way on LAN's long before they had internet. Heck, I worked in automotive and the office staff didn't get internet until 2000. Everything got done just the same, from designing vehicles, payroll, calculating finance and risk, exchanging design data on 4mm, 8mm and DLT tapes via snail mail, and the ever popular direct AT modem connections from dedicated server to dedicated server.

Demapples
07-17-2015, 04:44 AM
I did a huge amount with computers BI (before Internet), both at home and work. Used mainframes and terminals for research and schoolwork at university. Wrote a bookkeeping database in RBase for our personal use. Used WordPerfect then Corel along with RBase then Access and Lotus 123 spreadsheets for research databases and papers. Used early versions of SPSS and RefWorks. Wrote letters and Christmas updates to send by snail mail. My first personal computer was an IBM 8088. My first laptop cost $7k! This was just before the first Workd Wide Web boards started happening, and at first they were very rudimentary. For years in the early days only enthusiasts were online, and connecting was a chore. When I made presentations i had to mail then away to them back as 35 mm slides.

Scott Baret
07-19-2015, 11:16 AM
I also got started on computers before the internet and didn't actually visit my first website until eight years later. Initially, the concept of the internet intrigued me, and there are plenty of opportunities it gives us for information, business, discussion, even dating...but I often do pine for the pre-internet days of computing.

For starters, a lot of people tend to think computers are worthless if they don't go online. I have several computers that I either don't take online or only connect sparingly. Most are older, of course, but they manage to continue to be productive for me.

This is because there is quite a bit of software you can actually use offline. I know a lot of people point out word processing, which is definitely the number one use for offline computers, but don't forget graphics programs, spreadsheets, audio and video editing software, games, and programming tools.

You younger folks may not believe it, but we got plenty of work done on those systems. They can still be very useful provided you don't have to email any work, don't rely on the cloud, don't need any sort of messaging or video conferencing software, and don't care about visiting random websites.

I still use offline computers with the children I work with. They are quite old now (it's a "lab" of Classics, SEs, LCs, an early PowerBook, and a IIci) but the programs on there are actually superior to most newer educational programs I have tried. For one thing, they're customizable, often more so than the "fixed" nature of apps or online tools. They are also more polished. Yes, the graphics are simple, but if the main objective is to learn, we don't need flashy animation or distracting videos. There's no annoying music, no ads popping up, no passwords required, no worries if a connection goes down, and no concerns about a student clicking on some other website, either accidentally or on purpose.

A lot of the students, all of whom have never known a time without the internet, will often ask me how they can get online on the computers. I simply tell them that these computers don't go online and that they have all of their programs (they sometimes will call a program a "website") already on them. Sometimes, it takes them a little while to catch on to the concept, yet I've found kids continue to enjoy classics like Word Munchers, OutNumbered, Math Blaster, Midnight Rescue, Kid Pix, and others from the late 80s/early 90s. In fact, they soon become attached to these programs and WANT To learn with them!!!

On an unrelated note, it's great to see the kids figure out the menu bars on the old computers. They all will do a single click and expect them to stay down like they do on any modern computer--yet they all figure out you have to hold down the mouse button on their own after a little trial and error.

Back to the original point, yes, computers are still valuable without the internet depending on what you use them for. This also goes to show that an older computer can sometimes still be extremely useful as long as the programs used with it continue to be relevant to the application. I know there are a few other educators who continue to swear by older machines (I actually know one who still uses a IIGS in her classroom!) which cannot go online.

On a final note, I should say that I don't use old, offline-only computers exclusively with my tutoring business. Some of the older kids do get to use a connected laptop to do research, and I conduct online sessions from modern hardware. My business also maintains a website and does plenty of correspondence by email and text (yes, the parents have all taken to text, which works great since the voicemail feature of the iPhone is so clunky--even the old tape-based answering machine my family had in the 80s worked better). Still, the offline computers are actually the biggest difference makers when it comes to supplementing education with technology, and it's all because of the continued use of software that will never require a connection--which is the key in determining if any computer is still valuable offline.

Algus
07-20-2015, 08:26 AM
Oh man! Sometimes I miss the pre-Internet days! I got in a little late to the bandwagon vs other technical types but still had AOL circa 1995 or so.

Used to transport data back and forth from school on 1.4 MB diskettes. I had a whole box of 'em and we had to have at least one for computer class (the school actually issued them to us!).

I also had a serial cable that connected to the serial ports on two computers (commonly used by the printer but also some other stuff). This allowed the computers to "talk" to each other and you could send data...very quickly compared to dial-up internet! I used this to copy information between my desktop PC and my Compaq laptop (Windows 95, 1 GB HD, 16 MB RAM...it couldn't run an SNES emulator at full speed LOL!)

Games - well this was the glorious age of mail order gaming and shareware discs. The computer magazines and other sources had tons and tons of games on shareware and you generally got the whole game but usually only the first ten levels or so. I remember saving up and sending into Apogee for the full Wolfenstein floppies. It was like $60! But that game was amazing

Groliers Multimedia Encyclopedia - Once CD-ROM drives became common in the early 90s Groliers and others like Encarta were all the rage. It wasn't to different from Wikipedia is now. You'd search a topic and the CD usually had music and artwork to go along with the articles. I did all my school research that way.

Really the only thing that wasn't easy to replicate without an internet connection was talking to people. But I actually used a landline phone for that, heh.

For me the biggest difference now is the computer is also my entertainment hub since I do movies, music, TV, etc. with it. In the early/mid 90s I definitely couldn't do that stuff. IIRC it was as late as 2004-2005 where you were still needing to buy extra components if you really wanted a rockstar media computer (though at that point it was because 1080p and bluray cost quite a bit more than what else was being used)