I'm a Member of The Oregon Trail Generation
OTG: Those born in the demographic grey area that was the end of Generation X / beginning of the Millennial Generation. Characterized as growing up while personal computers and the internet were being introduced as everyday technology, learning as the technology developed. Some of my tech memories, in chronological order with approximate dates:
- •Clunky Camcorder (1987)I seem to recall that the video camera my family had required that the VCR be lugged along with it. There was a detachable nylon shoulder strap for the VCR for this purpose.
- •Mimeograph Machine (1988)The one we had in our elementary school was in a small room behind the stage. Teachers would sometimes have a student go with them to make the "dittos", which sounds like something that would be sketchy now. I remember the quizzes and handouts with that warm inky/minty chemical smell.
- •Tandy 1000 (1989)We had a Tandy 1000 at home. It was all command-line typing. My favorite games were "Kingdom of Kroz" and "Gold Rush!" My mom was anti video games so we didn't have Atari or Nintendo like some of my friends but we were allowed computer games for whatever reason. We later switched to Apple and never went back.
- •Encyclopedia Brittanica (1989)My mother spent who knows how much money to get our family a beautiful set of navy blue with gold trim encyclopedias. I used it all the time but the only specific word I remember reading about was "marijuana".
- •5th Grade Computer Lab (1991)Ours was in a portable trailer classroom. 25 Apple clunkers in the loveliest beige. We did indeed play The Oregon Trail, with bright green command-line entry. We also used some typing program to hone our home row skills.
- •Middle School Computer Lab (1992)The middle school I attended was brand new and my class was the first to go all the way through the grades. There was a computer on a cart in each classroom. There was also a full computer lab with brand new Apples. I remember word processing and playing the original Sim City. Some of the boys would get to play "Flight Simulator". John P. and Jeff M. made an animated cartoon about a vulture and worked on it after school.
- •Phones were attached to the wall!We waited by the phone for our teen crushes to call, like the generations before us. My senior year, I knew one girl in my high school with a cell phone and I wondered why she thought she was so important she needed to be reachable at school.
- •Dial-up, sweet dial-up. (1996)I think my family got dial-up service when I was 15 or 16. We all had a shared e-mail address so my friends would write "For Summer" in the subject line. I printed out my emails to save them.
- •Tamagotchi (1998)My English teacher was enthralled with Tamagotchi. I think her niece was an early adopter of such technology fads. I remember senior year she came back to our study hall after her lunch break, having finally purchased one. I thought it sounded crazy and not necessarily fun. I never got one.
- •College Computer Loans (1999)I was fortunate enough to be able to apply for a computer loan when I started college. I chose a 2nd generation iMac. It was blue and I named it "Dumpling". My brother, resident tech guy, had always named our family's computers after food. I almost got the laptop version but eventually decided it was weird to need to bring a computer places other than my house.
- •iPod (2001)I remember the conversation in which my brother, tech dude that he is, told me about this soon-to-be-released Apple product that held so many MP3s on it. It sounded crazy awesome!
- •Texting! (2003)I got a cell phone that could text. I thought it seemed decadent, but I had just graduated college and was taking a cross country trip and I wanted to be able to keep in touch with family and friends in different time zones. Most people I knew who had phones didn't necessarily have texting capability, so I texted just a few times in that whole month on the road.
- •TheFacebook (2004)My brother again got me to sign up for this new social network site for college students. This was a year after I had graduated but you could sign up with your University email address, which I still had. I started groups in our network called "I'm Covered in Bees!" (For Eddie Izzard fans) and "Morphine Addicts" (For fans of the band Morphine).