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THE MEDIA CENTER: Early Technology, Why We Love It, and What We Learned from It

By Mary Alice Anderson - Posted May 1, 2007
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I spent part of New Year's Day setting up my new computer and putting obsolete technology in storage—floppy disks, applications for earlier operating systems, assorted wires and cables, and even old automation system disks that ran on a 48K Apple II! (The sentimental side of me just won't let me throw some things out!) The occasion led to reminiscing and wondering what memories other media specialists have of outdated technologies. A quick post on LM_NET brought an instant response; apparently, many media specialists were eager to share their fond memories and favorite experiences with the technology we experienced as technologist pioneers.

Dumb terminals, Apple IIe's, Mac Classics, Color Mac Classics, Mac IIci's, Ataris, Commodore 64s, and Tandy Corp. TRS-80s were among the hardware components most enthusiastically mentioned by early adapters. Others mentioned knock-off IIe's, PC Juniors, a Xerox computer, and even dedicated word processors. These were all hot stuff in the early days, often costing as much as $3,000 with a couple extra megs of RAM. One person even mentioned paying as much as $5,000 for a system that included a Radius monitor. Many proudly claim that their old computers still work.

For storage, we used 5.25-inch floppy disks (two if we were high-tech), cartridges, and cassette drives, and the forward-thinking among us even bought a spare hard drive or tape backup system. A few mentioned the old IBM punch cards.

Software fondly remembered includes WordPerfect, AppleWorks 1.0, VisiCalc, Lotus 1-2-3, and MyTypeArtist, which, one correspondent wrote, "still works even though it's 10 years old." Others cited forerunner operating systems such as DOS and BASIC with lo-res graphics. I warmly recall a simple application made by a tech pioneer that was used to create catalog cards—a real time saver. "And who remembers Betty Costa's OPAC catalog ... so simple, but so revolutionary at the time. (Thanks, Betty, for getting the automation rolling.)" I also fondly remember Multiscribe, the font program that made an Apple IIe function like a Mac, and ClarisWorks 1.0 with its smooth integration of graphics, drawing, and charts and graphs into word processing. Cool stuff!

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Complete article is available now, or will be shortly, in a variety of formats — Preview (free), Full Text, Text+Graphics, and Page Image PDF — courtesy of ITI's InfoCentral. CLICK HERE and search “Multimedia & Internet@Schools” for the story by title.

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