Musings #28: A List of Nerd Firsts
My first computer that had its own screen!
My top Twenty Firsts in no particular order:
- The first “blog” I ever wrote was 1991 called “Truthseeker’s Haven.” I still have it archived somewhere on a dusty 3.5 floppy or ZipDisk. They weren’t called blogs then, but were called Personal Webpages. Youtube, Facebook, Myspace, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter didn’t exist. A personal webpage was a combination of all those things. Except Youtube. We didn’t have smooth streaming video back then, kids. I did mine by hand by teaching myself HTML code, and later I taught myself how to use BBedit. This skill even got me a work-study position at my school. I really hated having to fix webpages that had messy code. A lot of those pages those days had a lot of bling that could give you a seizure.
- I got my first email address in 1991. It was a college provided one you had to request (they didn’t just give it at enrollment). It was firstname.lastname@example.org (I am not sure about the @ part, but the username is correct). You used this email system on the VAX system provided by the school. One of my friends had the username “stretchwithlegs”and she was the one who told me about the VAX. Keep in mind that most of us average people didn’t have mobile phones because they were huge, we weren’t rich. A lot of people didn’t have their own personal computers and relied on the school.
- The first browser I ever used to call up webpages was in 1992. It was called “Lynx” and was available only at one computer at a central location at my college’s library. I almost got nerd-whiplash when I saw that boxy computer with the orange letters on the black screen. I do believe I browsed all five webpages available.
- The first search engines I learned to use all were part of the Gopher protocol system and were named Archie and Veronica and Jughead for my Population Biology class 1993 to 1994. Netscape Mosaic was just starting to pop up on lab computers around this time, if I recall correctly.
Navigator. I thought it was a PITA
The first service provider I ever used was The Prodigy Network. I was using a 1200 baud modem until my sweet new upgrade to 2400 baud. My username was GDYR52A and Marge was my first online friend ever. Because it was a paid service I stuck to the free areas of bulletin boards and a maze game I wasted many hours on. And, yes, haters existed on bulletin boards even back then. <G> It was pre-installed on my Hewelitt-Packard computer that sported the infamous Navigator operating system. I used Prodigy from 1990 until around 1993 when AOL (I think from version 1.0 ) began it’s aggressive mail campaign and offering 20 free hours. At the time AOL (was charging more per hour, but if you played your cards right you could use the multiple free hour disks they sent you in the mail by cancelling your account and starting another. I still have one of the original usernames still active on AOL and a reincarnation of another for my current yahoo account. You had to pay for email accounts in those days and most services charged by the hour beyond a certain amount set for your monthly charged allotment. If I recall anywhere from $2.99 to $4.50 (not unlike upcharges on mobile phones when you go beyond your minutes or text allotment).
- The first computer I ever owned was the Commodore VIC-20 in 1987. It was a keyboard based computer that hooked up to your TV with a special AC-adapter if you needed one. My grandfather managed to hook it up so that I could switch from cable-TV (mind had three buttons), to the ATARI, to the NINTENDO64, and back to the VIC-20 just by sliding a button. Dude was smart. He even installed a car phone in his Buick with one of those big mobile phone monstrosities of the day. He would have been all over today’s technology even though he would have been in his mid 90s. He was that cool.
- The first gaming network I ever played on was the ImagiNationNetwork and it was responsible for my first an only $400 up-charge bill. They were sneaky bastards. My username there was Taran (gender neutral was better for avoiding creepers) and I played often with someone named Edgewood. It took me six months to pay off that bill with a lot of low-pay extra hours slinging doughnuts. I kept strict tabs on my hours after that bill and stopped playing altogether soon after. Too expensive even with just sticking to the monthly hours.
- The first RPG I ever played was Transylvania at the first (and only) computer camp I went too back in 1985. They had commodore computers at the school with a light pen! Ooooh! We learned to program in BASIC and got to do some coloring programs on the Commodores (they were in color!). We also took the bus to a nearby college and got to work on the little box Macintosh computers and used LOGO to create pretty cool designs. I still have the floppy disk with the LOGO caterpillar I designed. I think we played Transylvania on the MacIntosh II which was located in a different room than the rows of the Macs we programmed on. I would love to play it again! I remember a lot of the scenes in it (ravenous mice, the old stump, the princess in the sarcophagus, old wagon, and a witches house). I met the director of the program almost ten years later at the same school and surprised him when I told him I remembered him from that summer.
- I used my first word processing program at computer camp that same year 1985: Bank Street Writer
- The first book I ever read and understood what the words meant as I was reading was Disney’s 101 Dalmations.
- The first novel I ever read was Cujo by Stephen King. I was ten. It was the gateway book to the big books like Lord of the Rings, Dune, and authors like E.A. Poe, John Saul and Robin Cook.
- The first MUD I ever played was called The Highlander. It was doomed by a lot of server changes and I eventually lost track of it in the mid 90s. I always played a character with the name Truthseeker. It was a hack and slash game.
- The first MOO I ever played on was Harper’s Tale based upon the Chronicles of Pern. I am still there but inactive with a near original character (she was made a few weeks after the first). I believe that character is 17 years old now. I used a program called SimpleMu to access without having to use Telnet (you can still access it direct from your command prompt: telnet moo.harpers-tale.com 7007) Now that I think, around the same time I got an account on LambdaMOO. I wonder if my rooms are still there? Probably not! MOOs really improved my typing speed!
- The first anime-based cartoon I remember watching is Voltron
- The first computer magazine I purchased was a 1993 PCGamer.
- The first poem I ever wrote was a haiku for Mrs. Hutchinson my 7th grade English teacher. I don’t remember the lines (for my mother threw away my Purple Accordian Folder that was worn with love on the top where I would haul it around everywhere under my arm which had all of my very first poems and stories. That woman loves to throw things away!). I have tried for years to remember those first writings. I can only remember their subjects: the funny haiku about a boy and a man, a short story called A Toy Fox, a greek-myth inspired story called Chrysallis Goddess of _______, and a rather long poems called Wild Horses.
- I can’t remember the first episode of Star Trek I ever watched, but I do remember the first one that made me sick to my stomach. The one where the cuboid gets crushed killing the Go-Go Girl of the week: By Any Other Name
- The first class that ever made me hate writing and reading was in college and called Review Writing. I swear she was the even meaner Doppleganger of my 11th grade English Teacher. She wasn’t even the “I believe in you so I am being a hardass” kind of mean. She was just arbitrarily rough.
- The first chat-type service I used via my school’s internet access was called Rivercity, I used in college it until it became a pay service. In later years, off campus I tended to use an early chat called ICQ. My user name was 161718. I did have another IRC-type account, but I hardly used it. I was getting overwhelmed with all the online programs I was using to do different things. Yeah, us old folks used chat-speak , multi-platforms, and emotes too. You kids, and your new-fangled emoji and snapchat. Hrmph.
- The first books that made me want to rewrite every piece of drivel I came across were “Harlequin” and “Silhouette” — I was only ten. I would read just about anything I could get my hands on in those days.
Feel free to share this list or to add your own tips to the comments below!