The New Tech: Getting’ Digi Wit’ It

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Before I get into the story for today I want to join the ranks of people that are wishing Fanboy Rampage farewell. I always liked that site; content wise, Graeme was tireless in sniffing out the absurdities in the comic community. The comments section, however…

People getting upset because someone’s ridiculously fanboyish outlook on comics doesn’t jive with their own ridiculously fanboyish outlook on comics. You know what it’s like? It’s like going into a chess club and finding the more dominant male beating up on the little chess-tikes. He may feel like the big man but he’s still in the fucking chess club.

_______________________

A testament to the fact that my parents would get me anything I wanted or I felt I needed is that I had a computer when I was eight-years-old. This was around 1986 or so, not many kids my age had a computer, I don’t think. My parents told me it was second hand (although I don’t think that’s true anymore, more on that later), we got it from my Uncle Joe who purchased a Macintosh and passed his IIc on for a discounted price. With it came a nice collection of games including Beach Head, one of the King’s Quest games and this awesome game that, as I remember it, involved a pig using a blow-dart to shoot down a wolf’s balloons. I fucking loved that game.

This shit was the whole spread – it had the computer itself, a printer, an external floppy drive and a nice box of 3M floppies to start me off with (5.25”, of course). When we started taking computer classes in school I learned about the wonderful world of logo and basic programming and my computer became more than just an expensive game-playing device – whenever you typed “My name is [name]” at the prompt it responded, “Go fuck yourself, [name]”.

I used it for reports, too, obviously. There was some basic word processing program that came for the IIc that I used for school papers. The printer would jam every other page and I would have to realign the paper with the punch-hole feeder thing-a-ma-bob (“reset my scribe” as the IIc instruction manual referred to it) so I can’t say that it made homework any easier.

As much as I liked to make my parents think it was an educational tool, the computer was all about the games. All my friends had Commodore 64s which were basically expensive Atari’s and I was actually jealous of them. They had access to games like Goonies and whereas Beach Head was cool – it sure as fuck wasn’t Goonies. My only saving grace was King’s Quest and I made sure to get every new version the week it came out.

There were some weak games as well, obviously. I got the computer with this Star Trek game that was about twenty floppies long and was all text input. You need to be a trekkie of the highest order to play it and know the layout of the enterprise. This was every game when I turned it on:

>Klingons attacking, what will you do?

>Fire torpedo

>You need to be on deck to fire torpedo.

>Go to deck

> Does not compute

>Go to elevator

>What floor?

>5

>You are in the kitchen. Klingons attacking, what will you do?

>Fire torpedo

>You need to be on deck to fire torpedo

>Make grilled cheese sandwich

>Does not compute. You received a direct hit. You are dead.

It was like a “Choose your own Adventure” but without the adventure or options to choose from. If you didn’t know what level the deck was or the name of the person that was supposed to route your energy shields you were fucked. It might have come with an instruction manual that had detailed maps and commands but I sure as fuck wasn’t going to read it.

I also had this game based on The Mist that was also text input. I never lasted more than three prompts with that game it was so hard.

>You are in the cabin. The mist is coming

>Leave cabin

>You are in the woods, the mist is coming

>Run

>You are dead

Every fucking time. Stay in the cabin, you’re dead. Scream for help, you’re dead. Open the fridge, you’re dead. Worst fucking game ever based off of a Steven King short story.

It got to the point that there were only so many text input games a boy can play so I convinced my parents I really needed a PC (or, as the cool “hacker” kids called it, an “IBM Clone”) to do my homework effectively. So we went as a family to Radio Shack and purchased a Tandy. I’m pretty sure my father got it on a newly acquired Radio Shack credit card and I’m pretty sure he’s still paying it off.

The Tandy was nice – it allowed me to get games like Alone in the Dark and Star Wars: X-Wing. Of course there was a real word processor, as well, now in Microsoft Works. I used to use the Spreadsheet application to keep track of the value of my Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane comics.

With the Tandy we started getting the more high-tech accessories like the modem. My boy Max was the first of us to get the modem – this was before the ISP days. His modem dialed into a solitary server that had a couple of message boards on it and some text based games. There was an 800-number printed on the modem box. But with our modem we signed up for AOL and entered the wonderful world of pretending to be 22 years old and rocking a horse-cock and using Persian Kitty to find porno pictures that took several minutes to load, only to find out it’s really a picture of a guy shitting on a girl’s forehead only to have my mom walk into the room while I was looking at it.

And then I was off to college. My dad surprised me with a laptop – once again supplied by my Uncle Joe – so that the Tandy can stay in Brooklyn. My parents were more forward with the source of the laptop this time, honest-to-god telling me that Uncle Joe knew a guy that got it when it “fell off a truck”. Uncle Joe’s “off the truck” connection now leads me to believe my Apple IIc also “fell off a truck”.

People joke about the “falling off a truck” think but growing up in my neighborhood so much of our shit fell off of trucks. We used to have this sketchy guy come into our video store when I was working with this cardboard box filled with video games, systems, VCRs, etc that fell off of the back of a truck. We’d take the games at ten bucks a pop and exchange them for forty Geoffrey Dollars at Toys R’ Us to get the games we wanted. Shit falling off a truck wasn’t just an overused cliché in mobster movies when I was growing up; it was an integral part of our economy.

Anyway, the laptop lasted me all through college. Upon graduation I purchased my own computer. Three years ago I bought one for my sister, it’s like the cycle of life or some shit.

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