An old friend

I’m going to tip my hand here a bit at let you find out just how long I’ve been a HUGE GEEK.

First of all, I am a pack rat. Actually, the term I prefer is “Old Yankee”. In this case, I use the word “yankee” in its true and pure form. I am a native of one of the original New England colonies and have a deep and abiding affinity for saving something because it might come in handy later. In my younger and more foolish days, I used to think that I wanted a big ole’ farm house and barn. I realize now what a disaster that would be because like a goldfish grows to fill his bowl, I would undoubtedly fill my house and barn with perfectly good “stuff” that I would no doubt need later on. Maybe.

So, I have no barn and alas, my house is small and so, I must pass by perfectly good “stuff” and leave it for someone else to find. I do however, have a selection of items from my past that I will not let go of, even though I know it’s silly to hang on to them. I plugged in one today to take it for a test drive. It’s my Apple ][+

If you know anything about the old Apple computers, If you are thinking, “Hey! I used one of those in school!” … you’re probably wrong. You are most likely thinking of an Apple ][e. The “e” stands for “enhanced”, and this computer is most defiantly NOT enhanced. It’s the Apple equivalent of the lung fish. It’s not quite a land dweller but not anything to shout about in the water either. It is however, an important link.

The Apple ][+ was the machine that Wozniak and Jobs made for the mass market. To take the step out of the garage where it all started, they had to make a few upgrades. One of these steps was that it had to be in an actual cast case. The original Apples and Apple ][‘s came in a case made of wood. That’s right. Wood. (BTW, I am by far geeky enough to want one of these desperately) The Apple ][+ however came with the beige molded case what would become an icon of the 80’s. What the Apple ][+ does NOT have is lowercase. That’s right! No lowercase available. “Why?” might you ask? One simple reason. You don’t need any fancy pants lowercase to do this…

10 NEW
30 GOTO 20


Ahhh. All those days spent at summer computer camp still pay off.

So, down in my basement, I dusted off my much loved and practically forgotten best silicon friend. The Zenith green screen popped to life and with a bit of trepidation, I reached around the back and flipped the switch and heard…APPLEIIPLUS.mp3

“BEEP! Chugga chugga chugga”

Hooray! Then, since there was no disk to put in my trusty “Drive II”, I hit “CONTROL-C” to make a line break. “Beep!” and the flashing cursor awaited. I started to type the above program. It looked like this…

10 EW
30 RU

“Aw crap”. So it looks like a bunch of the keys are buggered. The real bummer is that the nostalgia of this being my first real computer coupled with my default reaction to fix things that are broken and then toss in the fact that I’m a computer nerd of epic proportions means that I will now have to take the keyboard apart and start looking for replacement parts to fix it with. I have no idea why I must do this, but I must. Perhaps it’s the fact that in my youth I spent every rainy day possible in front of it. Perhaps It’s because it’s what I learned to program on. Perhaps it’s because I’m just a huge geek. What ever the case is, I will get this bit of personal history running again and some day, I’ll show Short Stack and Lulu Belle where their shiny, mega powerful Mac laptop started and they’ll no doubt look at me and say something like, “And why exactly are you showing me this?”. Oh well…

Now where are my blank 5.25 inch disks and my copy of Copy II+…?

What the heck were we watching?

I am a child of the 70’s. I was born at the beginning of them, I remember the latter half of them fairly clearly and though filled to the brim with fuzzy velour shirt memories, I’m often blown away with what I’ve managed to forget. Perhaps “forget” is too harsh a word. How about “Not thought of in thirty years”. I grew up with a television in the living room like most folks. It was color, fairly big (or at least the case was) and like much of my age group, it was very important to me. I can remember a handful of my favorite TV shows and given a peer group, some beer and a fun evening with both, I think I could remember more of them with little difficulty.

Some shows are easy to recall. Captain Kangaroo, Drawing with Captain Bob, Zoom, School House Rock and The Electric Company come to mind. Remembering specific episodes of the shows is a bit harder. This is where the inter-tubes come in. I must say that there has never been a more amazing time traveling device than YouTube and its ilk. Somewhere out there, someone had the most amazing stuff on tape AND is a big enough geek to take the time to rip the video from cassette, edit it copy and upload it to the web. Thank you Geeks! We owe you a box of Ho-Ho’s and a 2 liter of Mountain Dew.

Some shows are still running after 30 years, but by necessity, have little resemblance to what they once were. Sesame Street is the best example possible. The adult annoying Elmo and many others were not from my era, but that’s not to say that the show wasn’t fun. The Doctor sent me this bid of acid trip nostalgia from the early days of children’s public television. I can almost picture myself plunked down on the floor, eating a bowl of Cinnamon Life cereal, watching this trippy story unfold on our Zenith.

Now THAT’S infotainment. I remember being mildly freaked about the claw-arm that comes out of the rocket ship. Why did they have the “n” in the first place? Is it an alien “n”? Was it kidnapped? Brainwashed? The topic of probing hadn’t come into the vernacular at that point, but if it had, I would have wondered that too. It leaves one with more questions than answers I thought. Zen cartoons. Now that’s what we need more of.

What’s the sound of one “n” clapping?

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