Computers Are Fun and Useful

I was just listening to an episode of All Consuming podcast, where John Gruber was the guest. They asked him about the genesis for his love of computers, which got me thinking about my own love of computers, which goes back 30 years. I was a child of the ’80s, which was when television, film, music, and print media (indeed, the peak of print media) collided with the rise of personal computing.

I had exposure to computers in elementary school (1985-1991), but only ever for entertainment. If you were done with your classwork, you could go play a computer game. I played a lot of Oregon Trail on the school’s Apple IIs, but those experiences never really unlocked a true passion for computing within me. I never went home and asked my parents for a computer to satiate my Oregon Trail needs. If I wanted to game at home, I had a Sega Master System!

It was my computer exposure in later years of school which really made the mark. In 1993, or 7th grade, our computer lab was fully equipped with Macintosh computers. We had already learned to type, but now it was time to make the computers work for us: enter HyperCard.

My mind was officially blown. Something clicked, and I understood why computers were fun, and useful, and important. I created HyperCard stacks (truly, the precursor to the web) which were educational. I created stacks which were useful. I created joke stacks which were only funny to me. I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life using computers.

I can’t recall who needs attribution for this, but I once read someone describe their love of computers as “pushing bits around inside of a computer in ways that are only interesting to other computer enthusiasts.” That probably sums up own love of computers. I love to tinker, inside and out. I moved from HyperCard to web design. I dabble in JavaScript, PHP, and Python. I buy digital advertising in my day job, and fret over the implications of privacy policies. I’ll spend hours building a script to automate a task which will only save me a few minutes a year. I build my own gaming computers after carefully shopping for each component, and I’d rather spend hours in front of my machines that around most other people.

Computers, be it a desktop computer or mobile device, are never boring. You can finish a game, like Oregon Trail, but you can never finish tinkering. I love computers.