I was watching a young woman pack up her laptop after doing a bit of what appeared to be school work. Alternating between a spiral notebook, she was double checking something on the computer screen with a bit of frenzy. Probably had a class to make on time or catch a bus. Since it was a nice little Macbook Pro, the older white one, I wanted to ask about the size of the screen. I did, after explaining that we're looking for a new computer mostly for my wife, but one compatible with my Macbook. She then took a few unsolicited seconds to tell me how fantastic the little laptop was. She was gushing with praise. I explained that I fully understood and then she added, " This little computer got me through college. I really think you should get one." Sold.
After she scrambled off I began to think about college with a computer. With the exception of some graduate work, and of course everything I do now in working with Education grad students, how wonderful it must have been to go through college with a computer.
Even daring to have this conversation runs the risk of waxing nostalgic about the way it was back in the day. I don't want to do that. I just want t give a little shout out to the portable Remington that cranked out my papers, my take home exams, and my college forms, letters, correspondence, poems, plays, and accompanying envelopes.
The blue plastic writing machine saw me through some tough years. Political assassinations, social upheaval, and unpopular war danced through those keys. Ribbons of prose detailing British and American Literature, Ethnic studies and Social psychology. Historiography, my undergraduate thesis and even the first few years of my teaching career all made possible by that little gem.
Typing a paper was often about the paper, literally. All the choices,the onionskin, the erasable, the color, the non-smudge, and oh the margins!
Of course, after typing, we couldn't save anything. Typing often meant re-typing. In the end, I couldn't even save the little blue workhorse.