The More Things Change…

A fun video of contemporary kiddos attempting to use an old computer with the Windows 95 operating system made the Internet rounds recently, and by “fun” I mean it is now either time for me to die or move into the retirement village.

We bought our first home computer in 1995 just as the Windows 95 revolution launched, and when the gazillion black-and-white spotted boxes from Gateway 2000 (“Computers from Iowa?”) arrived and I successfully operated the crane to extract the computer from said boxes, it came with Windows 3.1 pre-loaded and a Windows 95 upgrade disk. We were cutting edge. We were also semi-stupid, having invested a full month’s pre-tax salary (my wife and I combined) on this contraption: three thousand bucks, which included three-hundred bucks for a (prepare yourself) “color” printer.

Windows 95 was supposedly the best thing ever for humanity although my lack of attention to computer technology pre-1995 made me less than an expert. Windows 95 (I was told) unveiled a revolutionary “Start” button in the lower left-hand corner of the screen, enabling morons like me to just point and click pretty things with advanced terms like “Start.” Sadly, it took me awhile to catch on.

But I did. And it was awesome watching Weezer perform “Buddy Holly” over and over again from the Windows 95 upgrade CD. Although the video quality was less impressive than the television across the room, it was glorious that Weezer performed “Buddy Holly” when I wanted and not at the unpredictable whim of MTV. And Encarta was SO cool. Who cares that I could have bought ten encyclopedia sets for that amount of money—Encarta offered zero paper cuts and (some) actual videos on interesting topics!

Watching today’s teenagers fumble around Windows 95 resurrected words like Netscape and Prodigy from my long-term memory and brought back the image of a telephone cord strung dangerously across our dining room so that we could count down our ten free hours on Compuserve (and not receive any phone calls, which was a service we were actually paying for).

The world has changed significantly in the past two decades, although I’m not entirely sure it has been for better or worse.

What I do know is that has changed, is changing, and will change, and in another couple of decades teenagers will still be laughing about it. So if it’s all the same to you, I suggest that we take ourselves a little less seriously.

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