Early Days – Uses of Computer

As mentioned in a recent post, much of my earliest computer use was some form of gaming, mostly freeware but some purchased.

For personal letter writing and other kinds of business uses, Apple Works was the go-to program. One particular use of Apple Works in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s consumed a significant amount of my free time. I organized a fantasy baseball league and served as its first statistician. I kept all the league stats in spreadsheets and manipulated and printed weekly reports for each owner using the database function. As I think back, I almost have to laugh at how relatively primitive it was having to manually enter the stats of every American League player (taken from sports section of the Tuesday edition of USA Today) into a spreadsheet. A colleague, who was statistician for a companion National League based fantasy league, used dBase and was able to download the data and avoid the manual labor I went through, but my operation was not that sophisticated. And, as I remember it, the data available for download was not in a compatible format for my use.

Very early, one of the primary reasons I bought a computer in the first place was I wanted to learn how to write programs, possibly for use in my teaching at the university. In an earlier post about my game programming/coding I detailed some of the fun I had with that.

A little later (mid-1990’s), I also dabbled with learning and using HTML. The college where I worked was an early adopter of technology and was one of the earliest to have a college website. In addition, it provided disk storage space (the early cloud concept) online for employees to create their own personal web sites. That is what triggered my learning of HTML. Knowledge of HTML was quite useful as I had professional pages on the college web site to help promote the school and especially for recruitment of new faculty.

Also, in the 1990’s, I got involved in some early ‘social networking’ via newsgroups. That was then a primary way to connect with others online who had similar interests.

With the creation of the World Wide Web and its subsequent rapid expansion, many more things were possible and available online. For example, I had some fun with a financial site that provided a stock market game as a way to learn about investing. I recall playing that game for a several years and probably should have made real investments, but alas did not. How quickly Amazon appreciated even back in the late 1990’s into the early 2000’s should have been a signal to buy!

Reminiscing about all these past uses has been somewhat fascinating. I certainly have evolved in my computer usage.


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