Monday, January 28, 2008

A Computer Discussion with Myself

I awoke late one night, at least I think I awoke, to find myself in conversation with a much younger version of me. The young me was from about 1986 and the subject of the conversation was computers. It was quite an interesting conversation and I thought it should preserved here for posterity.

As I a began to wake up, it seems that the conversation was already in progress and I fell asleep before it was over, so forgive me if it seems to begin and end somewhat abruptly:

Young Charles: "Oh yeah, I bought a memory upgrade."
Old Charles: "You can never have too much RAM."
Young: "I agree. Timex Sinclair makes it easy. I now have a full 16K. That's like 8 times more memory than I had before."
Old: "Ah, that's right, I remember. The Timex Sinclair came standard with 2K of memory."
Young: "Yes, but it wouldn't even run a lot of programs. I had to have it in order to run a flight simulator."
Old: "You mean Microsoft Flight Simulator?"
Young: "Micro-What?"
Old: "Microsoft. You know, Bill Gates? The ones who make the IBM operating system."
Young: "Operating System?"
Old: "Yes, You know: DOS?"
Young: "Whatever, dude."
Old: "Well, where did you get your flight simulator? Who makes it?"
Young: "Out of a magazine. It was about 10,000 lines and it took me two days and nights to type it in."
Old: "Sheesh, I remember now: BASIC! Man, I - er, you - spent a lot of time just typing in all that 'if X=Y then goto Z; else goto A; plot xsin'. "
Young: Yeah, it's a pain, but at least you only have to do it once. After that you can save it and just load it the next time you want to run it."
Old: "How big is your disk drive?"
Young: "My what drive?"
Old: "How do you save it?"
Young: "With the tape recorder."
Old: "Oh yes, I remember. You plug the cord in to the output jack and start the recorder."
Young: "Yes, then you press play to load it."
Old: "And remind me: How long does it take to save and load a 10,000 line program?"
Young: "About 20 minutes. It's pretty fast."
Old: "Um, yeah: 16K in 20 minutes. Fast."
Young: "So, tell me about your rig."
Old: "You wouldn't believe it."
Young: "Sure I will. A friend of mine has a Commodore 64. It's got a ton of RAM: I think it's like 128K or something like that. He's got a modem and everything."
Old: "Mine's a little more than that."
Young: "How much more."
Old: "Well, for starters I have a gigabyte of RAM."
Young: "What's a gigabyte?"
Old: "It's um, a million K."
Young: "Yeah, right."
Old: "It's true. And I've got a 80 gigabyte hard drive."
Young: "A what?"
Old: "Tape recorder."
Young: "It must take a long time to type in that many lines of program."
Old: "Yeah, but we don't really do that any more. We go to the store and buy disks with the programs already on it. Or we download it."
Young: "You what?"
Old: "Never mind. You really wouldn't understand."
Young: "I'm thinking about getting a modem. You can dial into other computers and leave messages for people and read stuff."
Old: "Yes, I remember."
Young: "Do you have a modem?"
Old: "Yes, but I really never use it. I connect through a wireless broadband connection."
Young: "Huh?"
Old: "Like I said, you really wouldn't understand..."

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