You want to see something truly scary? This is an image from the 1984 yearbook at my school showcasing the leading lights – should that be LEDs perhaps? – of the (then new) Computer Club. The bright-eyed young chap on the left rear has recently captained the Academy’s first ever team in an inter-school computer quiz and beat the opposing team captain in a sudden death playoff, so you see it wasn’t just playing Manic Miner and Elite, although I bet I could have kicked hs butt at those too. Yes, that gurning grin belongs to me. Bloody scary isn’t it? Go on, you all have a good laugh, I don’t mind; just remember you all have scary images like this from your past hidden away too!
My mate Gordon is right next to me (these days we still prop up bars together) and there are my mates Malcolm and Bobby – we all still hang out together to this day and have contributed to the wealth of many of Scotland’s finest curry house owners over the years.
The Evil Herr Thatchler was in Downing Street and a mentally challenged warmonger was in the Oval Office, while we worried about terrorist attacks and anyone with a certain ethnic accent was suspected by the police who were always looking for more powers to deal with them.
I think at that point in time I had my Sinclair Spectrum with its mighty 48K memory; before that was my Texas Instruments 99/4a – 16K in 1981, very impressive! My mobile phone has many times this memory today… 6 years after this pic I would have moved on through my old Atari ST (wow, a built in floppy drive!!!! Hi-tech!) to a PC (30MB of real hard drive – astonishing… Now my portable USB drive has 512MB and I gave up counting the gigabytes in my laptop’s system, it is just silly). It’s the mid 80s and I’m reading something new called cyberpunk by a guy called William Gibson – he talks of a digital, networked future…
And on PC 6 years after this picture I would be introduced to the very basic internet and email (no web yet, pretty much all text based) of 1991. And one day I write a pastiche of a news item for a laugh and to let off steam and I email it to some friends around the world under the banner The Woolamaloo Gazette, born of sarcasm… It is later in the 90s and I’m hosting an author event with Bill Gibson, listening to his wonderful slow drawl and I’m plugging into that digital web myself.
2005; my long hair is long gone but the Woolamaloo Gazette is still there, now written on a dinky little laptop smaller than they keyboard of my old TI from 1981; I’ve lost a job because of my sarcasm and web access and got a much better one; now I’m being interviewed on freedom of expression on the web for CNN. It is indeed a funny old world…
An increasingly right wing nutter is in 10 Downing Street and a mentally challenged monkey is in the Oval Office and we are worried about terrorist outrages and the police are demanding more powers to deal with them while anyone from a certain ethnic background was suspected… Guess some things don’t change much… I’m still reading Bill Gibson.