Monday, January 26, 2009

"Stevie, You Rodent!"

I never had a computer growing up. I fantasized heavily about having one from the time that I saw the segment on Sesame Street with the school kids and the Commodore Pet (I think), along with lots of stuff like this:

So I'm about 5 or 6 in 83/84 and now there is a character on practically every single cartoon or television show that is using a computer. By this time I'm already starting to feel like an outsider, so i consider being the token computer nerd as a way of fitting in. It seemed like an empowering path, with the smart kids solving all the crimes in cartoons and such. By this time I'm much more obsessed by video games in arcades and on the Atari 2600, and the ability of computers to play games is not lost on me. I start to gain limited access to the Commodore 64 in my friend Tina's house by 85. It's in her father's den and he was a pipe smoker, so now every time I smell pipe tobacco I think of her often unsuccessful attempts to boot up "Pogo Joe." "Pogo Joe" is a pretty good expansion on the Q-bert "tile touching hop" kind of game play and is worth checking out via emulation. I'm both fascinated and intimidated by the difficulty of interacting with the machine. Around this time, we are subjected to some Apple II's at grade school, primarily for using LOGO. You may recall LOGO as the tedious design program where a user gives commands to a small triangle/turtle, which leaves a white line trail. Using computers in this way solidified the idea that I did not want to use computers unless it was for playing video games. But my contact with computers (outside of "Oregon Trail") stopped for a bunch of years, not by choice, just cuz I didn't know any home computer enthusiasts.
The games only attitude towards computers lasted a number of years, until seeing this commercial in 89:

This little commercial was the impetus for me heavily fantasizing about having a computer to work on my great creative endeavors and meet some girls. Of course I had no great creative endeavors to work on, but I was convinced that once I had a video camera and a computer, those impulses would flow endlessly. By the time I enter High School, I'm using MacPaint in the Library, doing lots of cartooning, and nonsense flyers. I had also played Maniac Mansion and been on Prodigy at my friend's Dad's apartment. Because of my exposure to these programs, along with the games reviewed in "Video Games and Computer Entertainment," my desire for a computer ramped up. VG&CE was the best videogame magazine of the late 80s-early 90s era, and it definitely does not get the props it deserves. And I can't find any back issues anywhere! AGG. Anyhow, I did get a video camera when I was 15. That was awesome. My family didn't get a Home Computer until 97 or 98. I never got to play any of those LucasArts games from the classic era. Maybe I'll get to "Loom" someday.

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