Saturday, January 9, 2010

Believe it or not - the computers in my life !

I am not, and has never been a computer geek and my profession has always been language teaching..As far as the computers are concerned,  I only know how to use whatever that I need to. But believe it or not - computers have been in my life as far back as 1970 ! I was teaching in Singapore then . The world was already aware of the existance, function and role of the computers. But it affected mainly big organizations. Personal use was never thought of at that time.

Cobol Programming. 
When I ended a 4-year relationship, I wanted to do something . I wanted to continue my studies but academic is far from my mind ! So instead I enrolled in a Cobol Programming Course with ICL (a prominent computer company ), situated at River Valley Road  in Singapore . It was a 6 month programme and in fact I became very close to a group of classmates comprising of 2 teachers, a Bank clerk,  an engineer employed by BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) in Johore Bahru. and our instructor . Of course at that time discs were non-existant and the storage system only consisted of reels and reels of magnetic tape, and we use stacks of punch-cards  to run our programme.
At that time , big companies do not have their own computers as the size could fill up a big room. So what they did was to buy computer-time to run their needs at computers companies. This usually happened at night and we use to watch those big massive card-punchers and readers running programmes for big supermarket like Fitzepatrick and Cold Storage till very late at night.  Only one of us , the bank clerk continued on to a career as a programmer. He was employed by a bank in Hong Kong.

Fotran Language. 
Whilst doing my degree in UK in the early 80s, personal computers were just coming into the market..In my University, there were several computer labs for students' use. All these labs were connected to a main frame computer somewhere else in the University compound. Of course colour monitors were unheard of. They are all the green monitors. In my second year, I chose to do Computer Studies as my anxiciallary subject. We had to know the computers system (at that time then), and we had to learn the Fotran Language (of course these would probably be obsolete by now I suppose.) We used to stay up very late ( closing time) in the computer labs to do our assignments and was so often frustrated when our programmes could not run. . I remember at that time there were computer wizards among the English students who helped us with our assignments and sometimes they even managed to get the answers by 'getting into' the lecturers bank of questions and aswers ! ( Remember, personal computers was unheard of then ).

The  Amstrad CPC
When I completed my studies, I brought back with me to Singapore the Amstrad CPC. At that time the consumer market was flooded with home computers from Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Texas Instrument, the Commodore 64. Every Christmas , there always seem to be a new model out in the market! Looking at it now ---it was a laugh. We used the casette tape for storage and had to buy all sorts of programme on tapes and install it before we could use it. And it would take ages just squeaking the informatio, into the processor !

The Amstrad that I brought back, and below, the specs . Imagine---4MHz !!!!!!
Manufacturer : Amstrad
Type:  Personal computer
Release date : 1984
Discontinued : 1990
Media : Casette tape, 3-inch floppy disks
Operating system:  AMSDOS with Locomotive BASIC 1.0 or 1.1; CP/M 2.2 or 3.0
CPU : Zilog Z80A @ 4 MHz
Memory : 64 to 576 KB[1]

The original 1982 ZX Spectrum
Type 8-bit Home computer
Release date 23 April 1982
Discontinued 1992[1]
Media Cassette tape
Operating system Sinclair BASIC
CPU Z80 @ 3.5 MHz and equivalent
Memory 16 KB / 48 KB / 128 KB

My computer education , or should I say 'self-education' continued when I was attached to a local University and later to private colleges. For what its worth, I am glad and thankful that in a small way, I am able to adapt to today's expectation of work style where the role of the computer is indipensable and totally necessary. In my previous work place , I have seen people of my age  group who are 'afraid' of the computers. They become a burden and a liability to the whole office machinary. Anyway.................


anak si-hamid said...

You have a more formidable history of knowing computers. For me (I'm now in my mid-60s) it was zilch until a few years ago. I have been learning all kinds of new definitions for ordinary words like mouse, boot, programme, windows, menu, default, cookies, wizard and so on and so forth.... HELP!!!!!
I need to be re-booted!!

Helas(^o^)\m/ said...

Ash i think the keyboard is still remain the same.. coz the "QWERT" alphabet exactly the same as typewriter in your house . the old school 1 that u let me see before (",)