How PCs changed this baby boomer’s life

Here’s something most of us baby boomers can relate to: the transition from the keyboard to the … well, to the keyboard. Humor blogger Perry Block of Havertown, Pennsylvania, was recently reminded during a college reunion that while PCs might have changed his life (and all of ours’), he still hasn’t quite caught up!

As is the case with many of you, PCs changed my life.

typewriter_girlBack in the day when I was in college, there was always someone around — a friend, an acquaintance, someone’s girlfriend — who would be wont to say something like, “Oh, I always wait before the night a term paper is due to start it. Doesn’t matter if it has to be 30 pages or more. Drafts? Nah, I can always type a paper straight out. I usually get an ‘A’ too.”

Contrasted to this statement was my experience of writing a term paper which required more drafts than you’d find in a Bavarian Beer hall during Oktoberfest. Banging away at my manual typewriter with invariably sticking keys, I’d produce a free-form first draft that unleashed half-baked ideas written in third grade language swirling from page to page like a boatload of drunken sailors.

An early computer.

An early computer.

The second draft would assemble the more credible of the ideas into presentable (although ungainly) order and raise the level of writing to middle school remedial. The third? That would finally but laboriously give rise to hopefully coherent content plus a flowery opening, closing, and padding where needed, relevant, and warranted.

But that still wasn’t all. Draft Three could never be submitted for your approval until graced with extensive handwritten adjustments, insertions, cross-outs, and arrows until it came to more closely resemble a bowling scorecard than a term paper.

Done! Usually about five minutes before due.

But then PCs were invented. Though too late for my college compositions and more than a bit beyond that, writing at long last became enjoyable, relatively quick, and Oktoberfest-free.

Perry Block

Perry Block

And so it was at a college reunion a few years ago, I ran into one of those people who once so bedeviled me with their professions of term paper prowess.

“I remember you,” I said. “You were George’s roommate.”

“Yes, I’m Jack.”

“I remember you were always a very fast writer. Once I heard you say you could write a 30 page term paper in one night.”

“Yes, I did have that skill.”

“Well, Jack, now with PCs, I’m a really fast writer too. I venture to say I’m probably… um… almost as fast as you are.”

“Well, that may be true,” said Jack, “if you can check your substantial holdings in the market, play Rise of Empires at the championship level, and write a detailed 30 page legal brief the night before it is due.”

Yes, PCs did change my life.

But damn it, not enough!


  1. Isn’t single threaded tasking a skill worth having, anymore?? We need to pay attention to the details of each thing we are doing rather than speed through several things at once and not do any of them well. Don’t you agree?

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