If you were born after 1975-- you can probably hardly remember life without your personal computer. I was born in 1970 and I have a vague recollection of getting Apple computers in my sixth grade classroom. They were fun. I played math games on them.
My first real memory of using a computer on a regular basis was in my yearbook class during my junior and senior years of high school. We were designing double-page spreads on graph paper and then transferring it all over to an Apple, saving it on a floppy and mailing the creation into the publisher. The beginning stages of graphic design.
I met my husband the next year during my Freshman year of college. He was a senior and neither of us had a computer. Oh, I had to take a general education course on how to use Word Perfect, but like everyone else, I still did all of my English compositions and history essays on the electric typewriter that I had purchased the summer before with graduation money. I thought it was very cutting edge because it had a correct ribbon. I didn't even have to use white out! Spencer finally broke down and bought a Commodore 64 during the last couple of months of college because he anticipated having a lot of writing to do when he arrived at seminary. He never really did master the thing. The last night of his senior year, he was frantically trying to get his paper to print as he and his roommate poured over the instruction manual. In the end, he couldn't get the dot matrix printer to print the text within the confines of the perforation. The next day, he ended up handing in a twenty page paper that was all connected-- "accordion style." Incidentally, he handed that paper in to Dr. Bayer's secretary at 4:59 pm, one minute before the Redford School of Theology was closed for Christmas break. We ran across campus, shoved the paper into the unsuspecting secretary's hands and piled into a crowded car with enough Keith Green in the stereo and enough change in our pockets to make the eight hour drive toward southern Arkansas for the wedding of close friends. Spencer was to be the best man and I, the wedding singer. Those were the days.
The next semester, he embarked upon the seminary years and as he had correctly assumed, he did have a lot of writing to do. And he did it. First with pencil and pad and then he would transfer it all (or get someone else to transfer it all) onto his computer. That's right-- he had not yet learned the art of composing on the computer. No joke. He would write the entire length of his paper by longhand and then hand it to me for the typing. This was all great fun until we started having children. (We got married at the end of his first year of seminary.) Now that I had babies waking up in the middle of the night, staying up until two o'clock in the morning was starting to losing it's appeal.
Fast forward twelve years later, and all of those memories came flooding back at me last night. I was remembering endless nights of my husband frantically ripping another page out of his spiral and running it over to my desk in the next room to be typed out on our Mac (yes, we finally ditched the Commodore) while at the same time downing
cups pots of coffee. Spencer was supposed to turn in the first three chapters of his dissertation last Monday, but things haven't changed all that much from the days when we were running across campus with the accordion paper. His doctoral advisor graciously approved an extension, giving him five extra days to get everything together and now the paper is due today. At noon.
I stayed up with my husband until 2 am last night-- just like the old days. No, there was no frantic ripping of pages from the spiral. Instead he kept e-mailing me, from his office to the house, attachments of chapters to be edited. I would download, print out and mark them up with a red pen. Then I would hop in our van, call him on my cell phone as I was pulling into the church parking lot and deliver the next stack of edited papers.
The technology has changed, but not the fun that came from the sense of camaraderie that we shared. I just hope we can make it to Kansas City by noon.