Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My First Computer

The following story is true. Only the names have been changed to protect both the guilty and the oblivious. The math department, under my classroom neighbor Creps, was the first to have a computer (an Apple) in the classroom. I soon borrowed the manual wanting to keep up with the times. It seems you had to "program" it yourself. Whatever that meant. I managed to accomplish the feat and showed some of my students how to use the machine. I plowed ahead requesting the second classroom computer to arrive in our high school. I reported that my senior economics students were making graphs to show the linkage between certain demographic data and levels of economic development. The situation cried out for a computer solution as a more efficient means of producing a correlation co-efficient. I thought I might finally get some use for the knowledge gained in my college "Statistical Analysis" class. I got the computer for classroom use and a leave to attend a two day "Computer In The Classroom" seminar in Rochester, Minnesota. Carrying the spanking new Apple II to the class, as required, I arrived at the site of the meeting early in the morning. It was the Holiday Inn. I knew where the meeting room was as we often had our regional union meetings there. Parking was a problem in the front , so I settled in on a residential street behind the motel.Rather than carry the computer all the way around to the front entrance, I opted to check a back door. Fortunately, it was unlocked and I entered a large very dimly lighted room. It was then that I saw a red exit sign across a large space.Pausing to look carefully about, it was then that I realized I was in the swimming pool area. Walking slowly, in the dim light, I proceeded to skirt the pool by a wide margin. And stepped blindly into an unnoticed kiddie pool, plunging head first, computer in hand, into about two feet of water. On my knees I lifted the computer out of the water and stood up. I was soaked from the knees down but otherwise remarkably dry. I then entered the hallway to the restaurant and found myself a bathroom. With about fifteen minutes to go, before the class was scheduled, the hand blow dryer was put to useon my pants and the dripping machine. "Mr Troutbirder?" I heard when I finally entered the meeting room. "Present", I said quietly, trying to be as unobtrusive as possible. I took the last empty chair available next to a fellow teacher, who appeared to be the motherly elementary school type. Setting the schools precious computer on the table in front of me, I mumbled something about hoping it would work. "Mine too," the kindly lady said smiling. "This computer business is totally new to me," she added. To that, I tried to nod as sagely as possible and pointed to myself. For some strange reason my computer failed to "boot up." Upon raising my hand for help from the instructor, he was unable to determine the cause of the malfuntion. We were all puzzled! It turned out that the third grade teacher was willing to share her computer with me. She caught on quickly to the mechanics of computer operations and nurtured me thru the entire class. Later, I did manage to complain to our high school principal Mr. Landover that he had saddled me with a faulty piece of equipment. A new and improved model arrived shortly thereafter in my classroom and thus I was well on my way to becoming the "computer guru" of the History Department. I've also been avoiding kiddie pools ever since....

20 comments:

  1. That is hilarious! Now I'm wondering if you have a funny story behind starting your blog too.

    I remember those early computers and laugh when my kids complain about their slow lap tops, 4 years old (that't the outdated computer, not the kids.) I took computer science in high school in the early 80s. Only one school in NYC had a computer and we all used it through terminals at our schools.

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  2. Now that's a good story! Truth IS stranger than fiction.

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  3. My first computer was an Apple II, too! It looks very familiar. But I was sure you were going to end up with the computer in the water, too, but you saved it! Just those soggy shoes and pants must have been very uncomfortable. How far we have come from those early computers!

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  4. I have a Commodore 64 up in my attic! Imagine! Had to do our own programming in Basic. Ah, yes.

    We got some folks at NASA to help build an interface between our first Apple and a Speak and Spell - the first computer with SOUND! We did that because we had a blind student.
    Ah, the good old days!

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  5. That is so funny, although I'm sure it was a mortifying event for you at the time. I bought our first computer for my husband - it was an Atari - who quickly fell in love with computer games. I bought a PC in the late 80's and was the first one in my union office to use it (in fact, I ran for Business Rep. on a platform to modernize the data and record keeping). I went to the community college to learn DOS and spreadsheets, word processing programs, etc. and thought myself quite cutting edge although I was very happy when Microsoft developed the easy to use Windows Suite of software.

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  6. Nice story. I've spilled coffee on a company laptop with much the same results.
    My first was an Apple IIc, in 1983, I think. With every bell and whistle available (RGB monitor, second floppy drive, etc)I used it to write my dissertation, around 40 floppy disks, as I remember. My eldest daughter quickly became proficient and tutored me on the beast.

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  7. Oh I enjoyed your story..I thought perhaps you would fall into a hot tub!:)

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  8. I must admit I was grinning from ear to ear when you hit the kiddie pool and for the rest of your story. My first computer was also an Apple II. I did, however, manage to keep mine away from all pools.

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  9. One of those stories that seemed so awful when it happened yet brings so many laughs later.

    Our first computer was a Commodore 64 which had far less memory than the smallest electronic device we own.

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  10. ROFL! Oh hahaha! This is funny!

    OK...it's not funny that I can totally remember this exact computer being in my school. We got it when I was in grade 11. We had one in the library. No one knew how to use it. After graduation I went to a computer accounting school and have been on a computer ever since.

    I also had a 'bag phone' for the car. Remember those? Thought I was soooo cool! Bawhahaha!

    Keep dry my friend!
    xo Catherine

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  11. When we first received computers in the classroom that's the way they looked. I soooo remember that 'green' screen.

    Your story was a hoot! Heeehehehe!

    God bless ya and have yourself an amazin' weekend!!! :o)

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  12. I have had computers before that I believed needed a baptism, or an exorcism, but I never carried it out. You are to be commended.

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  13. Funny story! My first computer was a Radio Shack Tandy whose only operating system was DOS. It was a challenge. Fortunately, I had a couple of kids (ages around 10) with lots of computer savvy friend connections. They were soon playing Zork on it, while I struggled to figure out how to do anything else...

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  14. haha that was great! I remember my dads computer, it had only green letters/numbers and a black background... oh, those good old days ;-)

    I hope you wife is doing ok, i think about her ever time is see your little picture show up on other blogs!
    Big hugs
    Leontien

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  15. A skeleton in your closet -- love it! And look at you now.

    Hope Mrs. T. is doing well, Ray. Have a great week. :)

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  16. I'll be giggling about this all day. Thanks so much!

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  17. I sure can't match your first experience with a computer like that.

    You must have missed that "No Diving in the Kiddie Pool" sign.

    "Damn the Torpedoes. Full Speed Ahead!!"

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  18. Oh, this was funny! I could just see you stepping into that pool. Shortcuts aren't always the best way to go.

    I loved your description the elementary teacher next to you. I guess I sorta miss those days of teacher trainings on those now very outdated computers.

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  19. Kia ora TB,
    Ha ha! Lovely. Why didn't you go online and create a virual map to guide you through the maze. Oh yeah......
    Cheers,
    Robb

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