Gizmodo has a great little article on remembering your first time using a computer. My first go round was a Commodore 64 when I was in middle school in the 80′s. My parents bought one as well, and we used to play some early games on it. Later on the school got Apples, and at home we upgraded to the Commodore 128d. I was a whiz with that thing. I was programming music melodies into it, and almost got my folks to commit to a modem, but they weren’t buying it. War Games must have just turned them off to what I could have done online. God help me, I could have been a terror.
But all of this nostalgia makes me realize that this is all part of a moment, and one that we’ll not experience again. The children who come to my library are exposed to computers before they can read on their own, while their brains are still forming. Remember the iPad baby? She will always live in a world where the iPad is a method of reading things online. Sure, iPads may be a fad, and may fall out of fashion, but there’s really no turning back the clock for working with computers, reading documents online, playing games, socializing with friends through the internet, and on and on and on.
Every year Beloit college does the incoming freshman mindset list. Theoretically this is supposed to give the professors perspective on what their students are like, by placing their life experiences within context of popular culture and technological advancement. No child born today will be able to remember his or her first computer, because they will have used a computer before they can develop long term memories.
I don’t necessarily see a problem with this, but I feel this kind of nostalgic question has to be contextualized. Sure they may be able to remember outdated models of computers that their families had at home, but that’s about it. We’ve seen the last generation who can actually answer this question.