I quite like this student-made advert for the Computing degree, particularly the way the typewriter (used by ‘Gran’) evolves into a computer operated with the assistance of a bearded man. But hey – I wrote my dissertation on a typewriter older than the one in the video, but I’m not a grandparent (as far as I know.) From my perspective, this evolution has happened in one generation, not three…
After I retired the typewriter, my own PC evolution (with various employers) took me to a ZX Spectrum, an Amstrad, then an early Mac that looked like a toaster. I had a later Mac at work for a while, which was a fun device (I recall the joys of adding sounds to actions – making it say ‘I’m sorry Dave, I can’t do that’ (as spoken by out-of-control computer HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey), instead of giving an annoying bleep to tell me that clicking on something wouldn’t work, or screaming ‘And I’ll get your little dog too!’ (as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz) as files were deleted – this was heady pre-internet amusement… happy days.
Then Windows became vaguely functional, and I was lured away from Macs into the pallid world of PC adulthood: beige boxes, 8-character filenames, DOS commands… working on my old typewriter sometimes seemed like a lost golden age.
But that was then. Computing is good now that it actually works to the point where the user doesn’t need to think too much about it – the infrastructure of business, culture, social networks – what could be more exciting to study?