Annd here’s the blog where everyone finds out how old I am. My family got its first computer in 1994ish maybe. My parents bought a package deal that came with a monitor, a CPU, and a mouse and keyboard by Acer. This computer did not behave the way my mother, having been raised with electronics that have lasted her 15-20 years, should and continued to have what I now know to be normal computer problems of that time. To this day my mother will not buy Acer and in her defense her current Dell doesn’t have any of those problems so maybe she had a point. We had AOL for the internet…dial up internet and we paid by the hour. Dial up in case you don’t know means that you couldn’t use the land line at the same time, which sounds practically barbaric now. It is amazing how quickly you can burn through 1000 hours of internet when there are chatrooms.
Ah chatrooms…my sweet sweet time wasting chatrooms. I was sheltered. I mean really sheltered, like my parents didn’t let me watch Saturday morning cartoons until I was in high school sheltered so the chatroom was my window to the world. Except, most of the people on AOL chat rooms where just like me, white, middle class and American. It was less my window to the world and more my window to the neighborhood. The first day on someone conned me into telling them my password and my parents then had to discuss basic internet rules that even they didn’t truly understand what they are themselves. AOL was life. I was 13 or 14 when we got the computer and to this day I am certain AOL was what shaped what I feel the internet is for. I remember thinking I was so cool because my family had an email account. An email account, as in one for all three of us, that none of us knew how to check for at least the first month.
This commercial just validated that I was super advanced and special. I mean they spent a billion dollars and I was who they did that for. Also the teen that laughs uncomfortably and says ‘Email!’ totally wasn’t looking at her email unless it was to get the latest pirated copy of Myst.
Myst. I hate that game so much. This was before game designers realized they could make more money by making a game playable and not requiring an advance degree in logic. That was the other thing I used the computer for was to play games. Specifically Pinball. The Acer came preinstalled with Space Pinball. Not windows compatible it had to open from a C prompt. Yep high quality programming there guys, why make a program that works with the number one operating system in the world? Pinball. Geez. Okay so there was this pizza joint in town that everyone went to and they had this pinball machine which up until the point at which the Acer moved in was my sole connection with the outside world that wasn’t carefully filtered through my mother. I sucked at pinball. I would save for weeks and blow all my quarters in 15 minutes. Oddly this didn’t translate to computer games. I owned Space Pinball, I had the high score. I was the only one playing, but I didn’t really know what a high score ment just that you got a cheesy firework display.
In cased you missed it my major mistake was giving someone my password and the biggest achievment I felt I had was the high score on Pinball. To be honest the Acer was not my first experience with computers. I went to private school and we had a room of Apple computers which we used to play Oregon Trail on 5 inch flopies. I’m sorry oxen and child and sometimes wife, you never made it to Oregon, possibly not even to Ohio. Since we only played Oregon Trail I really saw these machines as sad gaming consoles that only had one game.
The computer and I would have this ongoing gamming relationship for most of my life. We went through a few units before my mother gave up trying to demand a qulity machine and stopped making them give her a new computer every few months. The computer became this thing that owning one allowed me to be apart of the social dialouge but also it dictated what we talked about. In addition, it demassified the world for everyone else while vastly expanding it for me. People were able to find groups that shared their common intrests and shared their values, while I was finally able to see what the rest of the world was doing. I could sit in our office and my parents without knowing it were allowing me to experience the world all on my own. To find out what kind of people I was like. What groups I would belong to. I could find vast stores of knowledge good and bad that opened up before me. But most importantly, I had the high score in pinball.
Do you remember AOL? Do you still have an AOL email? No judgment so does my favorite podcast Hollywood Babble On. Comment below and tweet me your favorite early internet memory @TheRebeccaH