A story I often tell whether teaching or whatever, is about a time when I couldn’t have been more than five. Daddy had taken me onto The Base1 to show me where he worked.
I remember two things very clearly about it. He’d written a little program that would print out a punch card with my name on it. That really impressed me, as did the banks and banks of machines with reel to reel tapes. It looked so cool and futuristic to me even at five.
But he said something that really stuck with me. He was explaining the computers, what they are, how they work (more or less) and commented that when I had children, I’d have a computer I could hold in my hand that would be much more powerful than tons and tons of metal sitting in that cold room with the tile floor.
At the time, I really thought he was pulling my leg.
Usually, I’m telling this story to my students in computer classes. I then pull out my phone (a Palm Centro) and we all share a laugh. I’d mentioned it in passing the other night and the man of the house laughed and asked me if that was why I’d wanted a netbook so badly, and why I’m fascinated with little, powerful bits of technology.
I expect that’s part of it. But, I’m fascinated by compact usefulness in general, though. I mean, I make Japanese-style bento. I can fit my lunchbox in my hand! The idea of having a wardrobe that’s interchangeable enough that I can pack a week’s worth of clothes in a carry-on fills me with glee. I have fifty novels on my smartphone that I can read. My dream home these days is a Tiny House.
But, yes, it would be fun to go back in time to that twentysomething young man with the little girl and say to her, “Nope, hon. He’s not blowing smoke. You are gonna love the future of technology.”
1There’s an R&D naval base on the Potomac where my father has spent a majority if his career.