The Next Step or a Step Back?


I have not always been an Apple Computer nerd.  I’m not sure how my brain got off onto this recent computer reminiscence but I think today will be the last day of it.  Anyway, after my brief love/hate affair with a Kaypro the CP/M computer I was invited to a movie showing of 2001 A Space Odyssey. Peggy and I went and because it was a pre-release showing there were door prizes.  When told to look under my seat I found there a coupon good for a FREE Apple IIC computer.  That was all it took to convert me to a new way of thinking that has stuck with me for most of my adult life.

But there were moments when I was un-faithful to my computer love. I strayed.  It was a “mistake” I tell myself, but fact of the matter is it was a conscious choice — straying is never an accident, it’s always a choice.

I had been publishing a small journal and when Steve Jobs came out with his latest and greatest invention — having left APPLE to do so — I was awestruck by the NEXT computer, and NeXTstep as a programming language and environment.

This was elegant beyond anything I’d seen as a young-ish adult and I was in lust.  We actually purchased a system — at a price I’m embarrassed even to think about today — but I loved working on that machine.  All the hassles that early computers had taken me through didn’t exist with the Next.  Life was easy.  Life was good.  But it was life with UNIX and UNIX without someone to translate for you is a bear to deal with.  It’s a wonderful environment — indeed even the Apple I use today is not much more than a UNIX computer ported to a different environment. And ROOT is still the master of all whom it surveys.

But the Next was the first real attempt at a friendly Unix atmosphere.  You can see much of what we recognize as modern computing on the sample screens.  And because UNIX had been around in much less friendly forms for a long time one program that made my publishing life infinitely easier was also available on that platform.

A little (well, not LITTLE — it was a humongous program) program called Framemaker changed my life forever.  Now owned by Adobe this LARGE document software for collaborative publication made all the feeble attempts at typesetting and layout seem like bad dreams and I could not wait to get to work each morning.

FrameMaker

The current look of FrameMaker isn’t all that different from what it was in the early 1990’s

None of this has any current importance.  The thought are all just the ramblings of a retiree who had a lot of fun bringing words to people.  From the point of picking out articles to be published, through editing and corrections, on to printing and distribution the written word has been a part of my life for a long, long time and it’s a part that — perhaps — I don’t talk about a lot.

Peg and I typeset and printed our own wedding invitations on an old hand operated C&P printing press.  We set the type by ourselves.  We ordered the paper.  We did it ourselves!  Cuz that’s just the kind of people we are.

A more complicated world means that people don’t get the opportunities to do some of the things that people used to be able to do.  If you know someone in the business it’s not so easy to “borrow” the use of their machine when it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and you need a pH.D to turn the machine on.  But back in our day people could buy an old letterpress for a few hundred buck and have a hobby.  Sometimes you could even get the lead type for free from a print shop that was closing — just to save them the work of moving it to the junk yard to be melted down!  A lot of those “fun” experiences aren’t possible now.  But anyone can turn on their computer and to fancy graphics with their pictures using free software.

You know…

It’s all the same really….

But it’s not the same, at all….

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