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Monday, July 14, 2008

Memories of the Digital Past (Part I)

I can still remember (although vaguely) my first personal encounter with computers in which the “encounter” involved personally influencing/manipulating the things I see on the computer screen. As I remember things, I believe it happened some time between 1980 and 1983.

During those years, most likely during Christmas season, my parents would take my brother and I to the shopping center and let us play a round or two of arcade games before going shopping. Unfortunately, I can’t remember any of the titles of the games I had been able to play that time. The only thing I can remember is that I have played on one which had a steering wheel on it and the words “GAME OVER” would appear on the screen within 5 seconds after dropping the coins into the machine… I was still too young at that time to make any sense of what I was supposed to do or not do in the game.

Also happening at around the same time was my first encounter with a portable digital device… the Casio VL-Tone.

Casio VL Tone
Very often, I would just sit in one corner and randomly press on the various keys of the VL-Tone and think I was playing real music. And when I’m not feeling musical, I would just play with its calculator function.

Well, nothing else memorable (in the area of digital devices) happened after that until my first encounter with a home computer which happened at my cousin’s place in Cagayan de Oro in the mid- or late-80s while spending a several-weeks-long summer vacation at his/their place.

I can’t remember with complete certainty what his computer was, but after seeing countless pictures of early personal/home computers, however unsure I still am about it, I strongly believe that it was an Apple II or, more likely, a clone of some sort of it.

Apple II
It looked very much like the one pictured in this image I found on Google, except that I don’t remember ever seeing the Apple brand anywhere on it (therefore my strong belief that it was indeed a clone). Furthermore, it was colored mint green with brown wooden side panels. And the “monitor” he had attached to it was a small colored television set. He also had a heavy joystick unit attached to it that had two white square buttons right below the directional stick control.

That experience was particularly memorable because it was the only other opportunity I had at that time to play video games aside from the arcades which happened quite rarely.

I can only remember two of the games that I have played on that computer, one was a pinball game and the other was a driving one. Every time I would play the driving game, I always imagined I was D.A.R.Y.L. If you know the movie, you probably remember the scene where D.A.R.Y.L. was playing a video game and he was driving so fast and was not colliding with anything. Well, what I would do was I would drive very slowly which allowed me not to collide into the track’s barriers.

After that, as more and more of my cousins got to own computers, I got more and more opportunities of using one… until my mother bought us one… in 1993, all that had happened prior suddenly became fun and sweet digital memories. But then, I’m getting ahead of myself.

The 80s for me was filled with a lot of fond “digital memories”, and I hope I will be able to write more about it in the coming days.

Read "Part II"


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