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Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
Twentieth Anniversary of Joyce's First Computer
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
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 Yes, I still have my Premier Issue of MacWorld, Vol. 1, No. 1. 
Article written by Joyce M. Tice
Stephen Jobs and I have both put on weight in the past 20 years, but he's richer. I still have all my hair. 
Nothing gives a technophile's heart a warmer glow than the memory of her/his first home computer. In February 1984 I had been considering a home computer purchase for some time but had not made a decision on which one to buy. At the announcement of the new Macintosh by Apple Computer, I went right to Computerland and grabbed one. It cost $2500, Imagewriter printer included, and it had a whopping 128 k of RAM, no hard drive, one single sided floppy drive, and the only software was MacWrite and MacPaint. 
The Macintosh's graphic interface was a real improvement over the text based menus we were accustomed to on our mainframes at work or the unforgettable and unforgiving C prompt (C>)on DOS operated computers. It actually seemed a little silly at first, but it made it very personable, almost human. On the day I took it home and first put its little floppy in, it ejected it immediately. The screen showed a little Macintosh image looking quite ill and distressed. I called the store and told them, "It threw up." They told me to use the operating system disk instead. That brought up the famous little Mac Happy Face and we were off to a long and productive relationship. Remember that long ago?  It was the first widely distributed computer to use the mouse as an input device and had the first small and hard encased "floppy" disks - actually no longer floppy, and the first widely used graphic interface. It was very innovative for its time, incorporating features we now take for granted and still use.

Over the next couple of years, I added every upgrade that came along, the hard drive, the full megabyte of Ram, a second external floppy drive to minimize that blasted and interminable disk swapping we used to have to do in the beginning. By the time all those were over it was a $10,000 computer. My first modem, a "lightning fast" Hayes 300 baud in 1985, cost $300. Can you believe the prices? I remember paying $700 to $900 in about 1987 for a 40 mg hard drive that would be unspeakably puny by today's standards. I joined Compuserve in 1985 as ID 76334,346, and yes, I do still remember that ID. Don't ask me why. Of course there weren't many others to communicate with back then, and using any of the  Compuserve features required that you remember and type in accurately the codes in those pre-graphic interface days. AND, it was unendurably SLOW!!! What patience we had in the "olden days."

Shortly after getting the Mac, I tried to form a user's group where I was working at Ethicon (J&J) in New Jersey. I reserved the finance conference room after work and put a notice in the company newsletter or on the bulletin board in the cafeteria. One lone chemist showed up. We decided we were not enough to be a "user's group," so we went to the monthly meetings of the Macintosh User's Group at Princeton University which was a tad down the road. One memorable meeting Andy was there from Apple. I can't remember his last name, but he was famous at the time for developing Switcher. That was a piece of add on software that allowed you to switch from one application to another without shutting down any. Ah, the things we take for granted now. Anyway, I won Version one of Excel as the doorprize that night. The memories just keep flooding back. That was an outgrowth of the earlier spreadsheet software, Multiplan, that I used all day, every day both at work and home. My Mac friend and I used to review each other's new software. He liked games. I'd look at his games, play them once, say, "That's Great," and put them away. He treated my statistical analysis software, spreadsheets, and database handlers that were the joy of my life the same way.

I used that computer, upgraded it regularly, for many years. In 1989, I became self-employed and bought a second Mac. In 1990 I bought my first DOS based computer as well as my first laptop computer, also DOS based. Both were necessary for business reasons, but we still used the two Macs for our own office work. About 1994 or so my office person was working on the older Mac and told me that the screen was going all wobbly and she smelled fish. About that time green foul smelling smoke started spewing out the vents. I unplugged it and carried it still smoking out to the porch. It was very dramatic and certainly looked fatal, but a $5 new capacitor brought it back to functional life. By about 1996 I had to unwillingly abandon the Macs because I could not afford to keep two platforms current enough for business and most of my clients were DOS based. After leaving it on a shelf for several years I gave my original old Mac to my computer guy as a novelty. It still ran as well as ever. I asked him for it back last month for my museum, but his wife and son had cleaned out his storage space while he was on vacation, and it is GONE. My old dear friend is someplace in a dump. The second Mac, I gave to my office person who used it for a long time and then gave it to her uncle who is still using it. I've had at least a dozen computers since that old Mac, but none has fonder memories for me.

Tell me briefly about your first computer. It is now part of our history. Bill T., below, jumped the gun and sent his story in as soon as I announced the title before the article was written - Thanks.

 Subj:  Computer Anniversary
Date:  02/01/2004 11:38:36 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: (Bill Thompson)

*"25 FEB 2004* *Twentieth Anniversary of Joyce's First Computer of her own"

I beat you a little.  I got my Commodore 64 in late 1980 or early 1981 (and have it packed away in the original boxes in hope of its becoming a "collectible" some day).  I probably still have the paperwork if I dug around for a while to find it.  I started programming my employer's computers in 1962, but they were too big to have at home, and definitely too expensive for almost anyone to have one of their own.

Joyce, (December 2006)

I so enjoyed the article about your treasured Mac. Your magazine with the pix of Steve Jobs on the cover is probably worth something on the collectibles market! The article brought back pleasant memories.

My first computer was an IBM XT in early 1986. The previous September I had started what was meant to be a part-time, home-based typing and editing service called Precisely Yours. The equipment consisted of a telephone and an electronic typewriter with a one-page memory ($600 purchase on a credit card).
In the 1980s banks often required that someone co-sign a loan for female entrepreneurs. The business grew fast, and within six months I found myself applying for a business loan to purchase the first computer. My hubby was agreeable, but I was thoroughly humiliated to have his signature on my business's $5,000 computer loan.

Suddenly I needed greater visibility and full-time status to pay for the box with the blinking cursor. So, the little typing service became Precisely Yours Copy Center and moved to a commercial location a few blocks from downtown in Oswego, New York. Renting a small room off a side porch of a realtor's building, I pounded the keyboard in what had originally been the kitchen of a funeral home. Weird feeling to know that.

Over the next 9 years the business saw two more locations, both in the heart of the downtown business section. By the time I sold my shop in 1994, the equipment inventory had grown to three more PCs, two copy machines, a fax, numerous HP laser printers and an electronic postal scale. How else could "Precisely Yours Business Services, Inc.," have morphed into a mini business center for the general public! Never did I imagine a home business would end up as a full-service copy center serving as a U.S.P.O agent to sell stamps; a Federal Express and UPS shipping and mailing service; a retailer for small gifts, greeting cards and office supplies; a nationwide resume service (Resumes USA); a print broker for business cards and stationery; and a desktop publishing service for small businesses and the general public.

Strange how once a computer enters a home, it takes over --- and it all started because I had worked in the computer department at Cornell University using a terminal to access a mainframe, as well as training on Xerox's word processing equipment with what I remember as using 8" inch floppy disks. Initially afraid Cornell's computer would blow up if I hit the wrong key, I had slowly gained the courage to teach myself how to use that first PC I courageously signed on the dotted line to get.

Do I still have a computer at home in 2007? You betcha! Having taught myself to use the Internet in 1994 via America Online, as well as through a university mainframe connection, I've been a self-employed, (home-based, of course) career consultant and professional resume writer since. Three years of that time span was even spent trailing hubby's jobs around the country while I pounded a Dell Computer keyboard from hotel rooms. That was a bit of a challenge.

A love affair with computers has been tremendously important to my addiction to genealogy. Examining old records and reference books across the country kept me busy while hubby was working construction jobs. No city library could hide from me. The Internet, often the bearer of inaccurate family history data, has made a favorite activity so much easier. My eighty-something Aunt back in New York examined records in cemeteries, libraries, court houses, etc. for nearly twenty years before turning the torch over.

For a gal who hated history in school, I'm now fascinated with historical research. Places. State history. Battles (didn't know I had relatives killed at the Wyoming Massacre in Pennsylvania or the Deerfield Massacre). Patents and inventions. War heroes. Masons, Odd Fellows and more. A Terry who made famous calendar clocks. Diaries with stories about the hardships of pioneer life, near starvation, Indian battles and multiple migrations to new territory. And then there's Lion Gardiner of Gardiner's Island, and other lines such as Kinne, Palmer, Rose, Shusler, Konieczny, Bentley, Parshall ... and tons more. I feel that each one of them, whether connected directly or through marriage, has a special place in my heart. If only we had known each other back when the country was new ... when there were no computers, PDAs, spam mail or cell phones.

Beverley Drake
Joyce's Search Tip - November 2008
Do You Know that you can search just the articles on the site by using the Articles button in the Partitioned search engine at the bottom of the Current What's New Page

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Published On Tri-Counties Site On 03 FEB 2004
By Joyce M. Tice
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