Because I was assigned to the National Security Agency (NSA) while I was still in the army, straight out of college, I became familiar with computers long before the average American. NSA was a pioneer of computer use years before anyone else, either in government or in industry, made regular use of them. I remember the rooms filled with strange machines used for a variety of signals intelligence endeavors but especially for cryptanalysis. Because I was in awe of what these strange machines could do, I couldn’t wait for personal computers to come on the market.
I bought the first commercially-produced portable computer, the Osborne 1, as soon as it was available in 1981. It cost close to $2,000, weighed 24.5 pounds, and ran on something called the CP/M 2.2 operating system. I bought the computer because I was a writer. I was thrilled to be set free from the typewriter and be able to make changes and corrections to a text on the tiny five-inch CRT screen.
I’ve never been without a computer since. I’ve used them to write six books, 17 short stories, five years’ worth of daily blogs (like this one), and a series of presentations using slides. My current computer is a Hewlett Packard Pavilion, a laptop I use as a desk computer. For presentations away from home, I use an older laptop attached to a slide projector.
These days my near-constant use of a computer makes me like everyone else. I remain unusual in one respect: I’m a lousy typist who never got past the hunt-and-peck method. That’s because when I was in high school and college, boys weren’t allowed to take typing. So I taught myself to type on an ancient manual typewriter. I’m still at it more than seventy years later. Sometimes stubbornness pays off.