Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I just started another book, IWOZ, by Steve Wozniak, the inventor of the Apple I and II computers.  And that reminded me of how Amalie and I came to be computer users.

It must have been some time in the early 80’s.  Amalie was a speech therapist, and often had to type up reports about her students.  She and I had talked off and on about getting one of those “new-fangled gadgets”, but really didn’t see the need.  We had an IBM Selectric typewriter that served us quite well, for we were both good typists.

Then one day she came home with several multi-page reports to type.  She threw paper into the typewriter, banged out her reports, and then gave them to me to proof read.  I’m a good proofreader.  I’d mark the pages to move this paragraph here, change that wording to this, and correct the spelling there -- like that.  Then she would retype the whole thing all over again.

When she had the same kind of project the following week, I said “Now I know why we could use a computer.  It’s so easy to make these changes without having to redo the entire thing.  The only reason I knew that was because the outfit I worked for at the time had just installed computers.

That turned out to be timely because her school district was just then installing Apple computers, and the choice of brand was obvious.  We were mainly interested in Word Processing, but I quickly found some of the other things this gadget could do -- like graphics.  There were no color printers at the time, but we didn’t care.  That first Apple had all of 40 megabytes of RAM, which I thought was tremendous, but that machine filled up so fast, it made my head swim.  We upgraded a few times until finally in the early 90’s we bought our first Mac.

By then I was handicapped and could not use my left hand.  So I had told the Mac salesman that I needed a program that would switch the keyboard for right-handed typing.  By George, he found such a program that puts the most used keys under my right hand!  To give you an idea, on the standard keyboard, the keys on the second row from the top are

On my keyboard, the same keys are

It really got to be funny.  I’d sit down to the computer to type something after Amalie had finished typing (I can switch back and forth between the two systems), and if I were to type, for instance
    Hello, there, Charlie

it would come out
    Hg66t jhgygv Lhfy6bg

I’d forgotten to make the switch,
or as that previous line might look on the qwerty board
B/k 8ty.tjjgn jt 7f;g jhg umbjlh.

Well, you get the idea.  Time for other fun.

These are presumably actual comments made on students' report cards by teachers in the New York City public school system. All teachers were reprimanded.

Your son sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them.

 The student has a 'full six-pack' but lacks the plastic thing to hold it all together.

 This child has been working with glue too much.

When your daughter's IQ reaches 50, she should sell.


  1. So there was an App for that! Cool!

  2. And if Amalie forgot to make the switch, I bet her reports looked pretty funny, too.