What are your profound computer/ information age moments?

Mine, in rough order, are:

I remember when our high school got macs in the library around 1987. I would sit there and drag and fill ovals and circles for as long as they’d let me. It was mesmerizing.

The first time I used a word processor I remember thinking. ‘You can make as many mistakes as you want and it doesn’t matter!’

The WWW was a real eye opener. The first time I surfed the web was around 1995. I was enthralled into the wee hours of the night even though the content was primitive, banal, and completely random.

When I ripped a song off of a CD, ejected the CD and then played the song off the hard drive. I remember thinking: ‘Oh man, this is going to be huge.’

The first time I saw a 3D video game was a TV spot for Super Mario World. Mario was running up and down a staircase with the camera view over his shoulder. It was amazing.

The first time I used video in internet chat. I was like, “Oh my god, this is crazy.”

In Google Earth I have an add-on that tracks commercial jets in real time. Once, Google Earth displayed a jet flying right over my house. At the same time I could hear the pilot conversing with the tower via a web page that streamed air traffic control transmissions. I stepped out onto my balcony and looked into the sky. Sure enough, there I saw that very jet streaking across the sky.

What have been your “Wow!” computing/information age moments?

For me it was the first time I used Napster. You can get almost any music you want, completely free? You just knew that it was going to change everything. I know some people who went download crazy for the first month or so after discovering it.

I guess also the first time I typed a program from a magazine into a Commodore PET, and it actually worked. In those days that was the primary way of getting new games, believe it or not.

Funnily enough, the first time I used the web I didn’t really see that it was going to be big. Partly because of the lack of content and search engines, partly I suppose because I was usinga 2400 baud modem!

Playing Space Invaders. And my first copy of Civilization.

Oh yeah, Space Invaders was revolutionary. Video games already existed, of course, but up until then they were either simulations of real life games, such as Pong, or of things that you might see in films such as the vector graphics game Tailgunner. But Space Invaders was something different and original. What exactly was the scenario? What were those little things crawling across the screen, and why? The gameplay was more intricate than anything that had come before, even though it seems laughably simple now.

I remember people queuing ten deep to get on the Space Invaders machine, while Pong and pinball tables nearby sat idle.

“As God is my witness, I’ll never pay for porn again!” :smiley:

I’m an information age noob (had my first personal computer at age 25 or so, and I’m not much past thirty). But some time earlier, I remember the awe I suddenly felt when discussing online with a Guru of mine (non-religious) some 6000 miles away. Something I couldn’t have imagined in the early 90’s when I read and re-read his writings like the Bible.

With my Commodore 64 in around 1984 I was soooo smug. I even tried learning Basic.

Ones I remember being amazed by include the day I realised that Wikipedia was The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

And again when I realised an iPhone was about 1000 times more capable than James T Kirk’s Communicator.

Maybe yours is. Mine is missing the “beam me up” button.

We were planning on shooting a bike race. We were looking on Google Earth for hidden trails around the course and looking up on Weather.com for the hourly forecasts and I had this moment of “Eisenhower would have give his left nut to have intel like this.”

For me, the first was playing some sort of maze game on the Plato system at Control Data, where a friend worked.

Getting my VIC-20 and then my Commodore 64 and then my SX-64. It was as if I had finally found people who spoke the same language I did, and I could talk to them at my house.

Realizing, when I used my first word processer, that I would never have to use white-out OR carbon paper again! (It wasn’t true, but it was amazing at the time.)

When I first encountered Windows. I worked for assorted government agencies for many years and had been limited to DOS programs, so when I first used Windows 3.1, I was flabbergasted.

I thought it was nifty when we got a Commodore 64 so that we could watch flight test parameters real-time and in numbers instead of watching needles draw lines on a strip chart that would have to be examined closely to get the numbers.

The first time polygons were used in computer gaming

Virtual Racing (Sega)

Virtua Fighter (Sega)
The first time textured polygons are used in computer gaming

(Well the first that I played)



Windows scared me. (So did word processing, when what I typed disappeared from the screen.) But Windows – I’ll never forget my boss (a lawyer) screaming “Pam! Come look at this!” and he was opening window after window until the screen looked like what happens when you win at Solitaire.

What made me go whoa was realizing that I could save case citations that we used over and over instead of retyping them for every brief. And macros. How I loved macros.

For the internet, it was finding my first message board and interacting with people from ENGLAND!

I remember when Multifinder came out, thinking it was ridiculous that anyone would want to have more than one app open at the same time.

Search and replace on an old Commodore Pet, watching the lines redraw one by one

Seeing my first one-gigabyte hard drive in real life, and feeling like one of the monkeys in 2001

Making art, pixel by pixel, on a TI99/4A

Napster. Good lord. You could feel the world changing.

I went to Fry’s Electronics in Fremont, CA yesterday, and it fucking blew my mind. This is like Disney World next to Best Buy’s side-lot carnival (featuring the potato-sack slide!). Picture Newegg.com’s warehouse, with enough customers to fill it up. I had been there once before as a kid, but it was waaaaay bigger yesterday than I remembered. Eat your miserable hearts out, wee little Big Box Stores. I bought a motherboard (among about 30-40 displayed), but I bet I could have *built *one from parts off their shelves, if I had wanted to. The checkout line could have been Space Mountain’s, consistently 50+ people long, feeding 100 yards of checkout counters. I think I paid at register #47, no joke, all of them open, non-stop cash pouring in. And while I’m at it, I think every culture and corner of the world was represented under that roof, too. It was a profound information age shopping trip. (And I hate shopping.)

Also … Google Earth, Wikipedia, the Mars Rovers, and reading about all of the current science breakthroughs. The teleportation, brain implant, invisibility, theoretical-edge type stuff.

Getting Linux for the first time (by buying a brick of a book with a couple of Red Hat 7.2 CDs around 2001) and realizing real software would always be available to me from then on. I’ve since moved most of what I do to Linux (including all of my Internet stuff) and I’ve never looked back. I since moved from Red Hat to Slackware to (briefly) Debian to Damn Small Linux (following a hardware crash) to Ubuntu, which is Debian without the installation hassle. Hardware support has only gotten better, the software has only gotten more capable, and there’s never a concern about what I’m allowed to do with any of it (I don’t redistribute in any way).

Back in early '93 I was at Sheridan College, and I got to use FTP on one of their machines in the computer room. I logged on to a computer in Finland. Finland! For some reason this impressed me way more than assorted graphical feats.

Fry’s. What Radio Shack should have become. :slight_smile:

Writing my first basic program on a Timex Sinclair 1000 back in 1984.

1986 - My uncle was working for Upjon as a programmer. He let me use his mainframe account to play “Collossal Cave Adventure”. I played for hours and thought I was experiencing the future of computing.

1988 - Connecting to the university mainframe over dial-up modem at home from my dad’s Tandy 1400 Laptop. I never had to wait in line for an open terminal in the computing lab again!

1988 - Being able to send email from the university mainframe to a friend of mine at a different university. I thought I was in heaven.

1989 - Connecting to Usenet newsgroups for the first time and truly being able to read and share information with others over the globe. I was in awe.

Experiencing the WWW for the first time using AOL v2.0 in 1995. I connected to a web page in France to find lyrics to a song. I was blown away.

1996 - Heard about an online chat program called ICQ. I haven’t been the same since.

There are plenty more, but those were the top ones for me.

A dungeon game? There were quite a few dungeon mazes on PLATO (I used it at the U of I) including a MUD I tried out in about 1976. Was never very into it, though.