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The Black Box … Those Were the Days …

Updated on July 30, 2010

The Black Box … Those Were the Days …

Years ago when I started an English course at San Antonio College, I immediately panicked when the instructor informed the class that our 10 page research paper would not be accepted unless it was typed, double spaced, and had all the particulars. I had never typed a word in my life, and the only typewriter I had access to was an Early Frankenstein model that was at least 40 years old.

Probably to get me to quit belly-aching about the situation, my friend Dave assured me not to worry. He said there was no need for alarm, he had a sure fire way that I could get my paper done with minimal pain and before the deadline for it.

As the weeks went by, unexplained and strange looking equipment began to appear at my house.

First there was a funny looking box. I would stare at it when I passed by, puzzled. Out of curiosity, I turned the little latch on the front of the box to see what was inside … and what appeared to be a ‘Flying Saucer’ shot out at me!

I knew then that Dave and I HAD to have a talk! This machine was potentially dangerous! What next? Little Green Men?

I’m a trusting person, so when I was assured again that all would be taken care of, and that the ‘launching pad’ was part of the deal, I dug out the good ole Underwood and started to hunt and peck my way through one of the intermittent assignments.

I was SO proud when I handed in my masterpiece! I had spent 7 hours on it and my finger tips were bruised, but I got an A+ on the giant index card I turned in! Was I ever on a roll!

The next bit of equipment to show up at my house was a funny looking typewriter contraption. I thought that it had to be an electric typewriter, but there was no plug and no place to put in any paper!

I was spending untold hours in front of the antique Underwood, using bottles of stuff called ‘White-Out’ on all the gazillion typos and I used up what seemed like reams of paper, while I was being assured all the while that things really were being taken care of.

Next came the printer. I was ready for this … well … at least not surprised that it looked as alien as the other stuff.

The only thing recognizable was the TV. That I could NOT understand! Here I am going crazy trying to keep my mind on my studies … and another television is brought in??? Looking back on it, that TV was the ONLY thing that had a plug!

I got a phone call from Dave asking if I had the evening free. I said I did, and that night changed my life as I knew it, forever! It was DOTP … Day of the Plugs! Finally, all the black boxes were to be assembled. The mating process was about to begin.

Dave came in carrying a plastic bag and dumped out a mess of wires. It looked like an octopus had blown up! “”Here you go!” he said.

“What!!! You want ME to hook it all up??? You have GOT to be kidding!!”

He wasn’t. He told me that all the wires and the components were explained, diagrammed and labeled ‘In English.’ … (Some consolation!)

Well, it went something like this … The black wire goes in the launching pad drive and the other end goes into the typewriter, then the printer, which by the way, did not have one A, B, or C key to print with. When that is done, it all gets plugged into the power strip. I still have no idea where the TV got plugged in and that was the only thing that had a plug! Not bad. Hooked up and ready to go!

First turn on the disk drive, then the printer, and the TV and the keyboard last … except to turn it off … then it is the keyboard first, then the printer and the TV and disk drive and don’t use it in the rain or feed it after midnight!

No Problem!!!

Oh, sweet memories …

My how the world of computers has changed …

My life is SO simple now …

My son grew up and became a computer tech …


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