What did we do before?

30 Nov

New student blogger Rob Taylor asks ‘how did we meet people before the internet’? Social and networking both existed before Facebook came along, though it may be easier to meet strangers now because of the internet (and riskier too).

Here are some more questions with answers that may surprise those born at the end of the 1980s (ie today’s new students).

How did we write before word processing? Essays and letters were written by hand. Smart documents like a CV we typed on a manual typewriter. If you made a mistake, you had to start all over again.

How did we communicate before mobile phones? It was sometimes difficult, but we managed. dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot. Stuff like that.

What did we do before email? First there were letters, then there was fax. This was exciting: your letter could be transmitted and recreated remotely in seconds.

What did we do before searching the web? We had to use books and libraries.

How did we get about before sat nav? We consulted ancient hieroglyphics called maps (I still do).

I could go on: I recall my excitement at seeing an electronic calculator, a video recorder and colour television for the first time. I can even remember a world in which photocopiers were rare. Now most of these functions are available in pocket size devices.

Gail has just returned from a trip to the Sinai desert, sleeping out under the stars. What mattered was food, water and fire wood (though she did receive a few text messages from me).

2 Responses to “What did we do before?”

  1. chris marritt 03/12/2007 at 4:35 pm #

    How did we meet people before mobiles?
    Surely simply promising to be at a precise place at a certain time never really worked, did it?

  2. Heather Yaxley 07/12/2007 at 9:18 pm #

    I learned to touch type on an electric golfball typewriter (although many in the class had to build up their finger muscles on a manual). Layout involved mathematical calculations of characters per line – and accuracy was evidenced with carbon copies.
    When I first worked on computers, word processing involved using dot commands. But this has proved very useful in understanding html.
    Working in an office in the early 1980s, there were no direct dial telephone numbers and making overseas connections via the switchboard needed a degree in engineering.
    The office calculator had a handle and churned out miles of paper. And, there was a telex machine (I can’t really remember what it did though).
    Photocopying involved a horrible chemical process that resulted in smelly purple tinted print on slimy paper.
    And, we used to network over cups of tea and talk to each other in the office face to face. Amazing really…

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