On computers

I had not planned on watching the History Channel’s TEXAS RISING because I knew there would be inconsistencies for the sake of drama, and sure enough, I found an article stating just that and giving them all. But I did watch National Geographic’s AMERICAN GENIUS: Jobs vs Gates or perhaps the names were reversed; regardless, I found it quite informative.

In working on my last book, TRASHY WHITE GIRLS, I looked around trying to find where computing was in various years and I really could not be comfortable mentioning “computer” until 1986. But in 1979, 1980, when I was working as a Medical Transcriber at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, the supervisor of transcription and I were trained on a computer, brand name CPT. It was my introduction to the world of computing. And what I figured out is that the blank screen was a blank piece of paper. I could type, make a mistake, backspace and correct, and print, and it would all be perfect. That simple premise stood me in good stead for years afterward when learning new programs.

We moved to Texas in 1981 and I got my first computer maybe 10 years later.
Workwise, I started in Medical Records on an IBM selectric. When I fled from there due to inability to produce as much as they wanted, typewriter again. The doctors in the dept I was able to convince that computers were the way to go and I singlehandedly showed them in a week what a computer could do. My life’s finest achievement, workwise. From there I went to a department that used computers and after three months I transferred to … mag card. I sucked it up and used it. The department finally came into the computer age. There were department-wide layoffs, mainly of people who had no interest in computers. When a doctor asked me after a week what would I do if we went back to mag card, I told him, “leave.” He said, “really?” I replied, “watch my dust.” So while I never had any input as to what particular of the three or four systems we had over the years, I was its most ardent proponent.

I have always had for personal use what they call an IBM clone. It was easier for feeding software programs for use. I have never named my screen; the Big Box of Information has always been Spock, the printer, Higgins. Those two are in like their sixth generation.


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