A Commentary on Modern Computer Technology

I majored in social work in college and selected medical social work as my career choice after completing college. As a medical social worker I had the privilege of interviewing many older patients who were born and raised during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. I always enjoyed talking to them about their earlier years and many of the changes they witnessed during their lifetime. Many patients would smile as they talked about their lives prior to the invention of the internal combustion engine, electricity, the telephone and airplane. They all expressed such joy over experiencing the technological improvements in their lives, and all were always amazed by the advent of space travel – Especially traveling to the moon.

I, as well, have had the privilege of seeing technology evolve at an incredible rate during my lifetime. I was born in 1948 (You do the math) and am absolutely amazed with the onset and continued development of computer technology over the years. Prior to the release of the microcomputer in 1977, computers were used exclusively by government agencies and businesses that could afford them and had the space to house them. The ENIAC computer which was completed in 1946 occupied about 1,800 square feet and used about 18,000 vacuum tubes, weighing almost 50 tons.

The transistor was invented in 1956, and the first microprocessor was developed in 1971, yet it was not until 1975 when Altair introduced the first “personal computer”, the Altair 8800. The personal computer was soon followed by IBM, Hewlett Packard, Gateway and other companies with the development of mass marketed microcomputers. Ever since, computer technology has grown at an incredible pace and has become commonplace in our lives.

We have now come to the point in our lives where computer technology and become mainstream, and for many a necessity. Many of older generation who fought technology early on, have now embraced it through the encouragement of their children and grandchildren.

About 10 years ago I bought a computer for my dad when he was in his early 80’s. I installed a webcam on his computer so we could video chat and so he could see his grandchildren nearly a thousand miles away. He cherished every minute of it and although he didn’t have a clue how the computer worked, he was amazed with the results. He never became proficient at using the computer, and I can remember providing “tech support” for him over the phone one time because he was not able to access a software program. At one point during the call I asked him to hit the “Enter” key on his keyboard. He responded, “I don’t have an Enter key”, at which point I said, “Dad – EVERYONE has an Enter key”. I finally wised-up and installed a remote connection on his computer. He was always amazed about how I could move the mouse computer on his computer and make changes to his computer from such a distance. My dad has since died, but I can always be grateful for how technology helped me become closer to him during his final years.

Now it’s your turn to help change the lives of your family and friends who have not yet embraced technology. We would love to have you share some of your life changing technology experiences.

Bruce Pinchbeck, Sr.


Additional Resources:

Tech Support Care, presented by Google offers a selection of 30 videos that can talk your parents through the basics of computer technology like cutting and pasting, changing your desktop, setting your screensaver, and many more practical functions. It’s everything you would expect from Google.

LogMeIn – I used LogMeIn for remote access to my dad’s computer. (Update: 02/03/14 – LogMeIn no longer offers a free version.)

DeepFreeze – I used Deep Freeze by Faronics to help prevent my dad from making any damaging (or just plain annoying) changes to the computer system he was using.  Deep Freeze let me automatically restore the computer to the state it was in before any changes were made.  It’s paid software but was well worth the money to prevent frustration for myself and my dad.  I may write up a separate blog post just on this so stay tuned.

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Bruce was co-creator of BJ Pinchbeck's Homework Helper with his son, BJ Pinchbeck in 1996. Bruce was a clinical social worker for much of his career before entering the field of technology.

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