The Computers, The Internet And Me
Everytime I use a computer and connect to the Internet to compose and publish a blog, I cannot avoid recalling my affair with computers and the World Wide Web. When asked of my bragging right as a Senior Citizen, I always say that I belong to around five (5%) percent of my generation who actively use the technology and wonders of the computer in its many current forms. I am currently using a pre-owned Windows laptop in doing my blogs and an inexpensive quad-core Android tablet for my social media activities. For making and receiving calls and messages, our second-child subscribed to a cheap post-paid plan bundled with a mid-end smartphone for my use.
I had my first personal experience when I was a fourth-year college student at the Mapua Institute of Technology in early 1970s. In 1981, I was sent to Texas USA for a technical training on Step-By-Step Auto-Telephony and had a hand on a TRS 80 Radio Shack computer. This was followed by Commodore 64 then Apple III and IBM 8088 Personal Computer that I got to use when I worked in Hong Kong in mid-1980s. It was in 1988 that I asked a programmer to make an inventory control program using DBase III ported in an 8088 IBM PC. Setting up a PC was considered a huge deal and one had to go through all the key motherboard features and consider factors like heat sink/fan assembly, expansion slots etc, before making a decision.
For my family’s use, I bought a second-hand IBM Personal Computer with 8088 processor (see image above) sometime in 1993. Our oldest son upgraded the unit with a 20-MB hard disk drive and with it they self-studied and became proficient with DOS programming. At a young age of 10, our youngest child did an application that I used to keep track of orders in the company that I was working for at that time. It was also this time that I learned WordStar for word processing and Lotus 123 for spreadsheet calculations.
Not long after, I bought a brand-new IBM Cobalt 486 PC with 75-MHz processor in 1994 and I remember it was this unit that our children used to access the Internet to become BBS (Bulletin Board System) regulars. We used a USRobotics 56K/33.6K External Modem to access the Internet with 28.8Kbps dial-up connection using prepaid cards that cost PhP30.00 per hour.
It was also in 1994 that I started using emails for my communications. The service was provided by Edsamail for I had to pay a monthly fee whose amount skips my mind now. If I remember it right, the free Yahoo! Mail came in 1997 while Gmail was in 2004 so I did pay Edsamail for my email service for almost 3 years.
My first personal business engagement with computers and the Internet started in year 2000 when our oldest son convinced me to start an internet cafe (i-cafe) business in the City of Manila. We ran an 8-station i-cafe for more than 2 years using prepaid service to access the web. In 2002, we moved to Catarman, Northern Samar and used a 400Kbps Satellite Internet service for a 12-station i-cafe in a state university campus. I-cafe business was really good then, our earnings supported the college education of our younger children.
In 2004, we moved back to Metro-Manila and using DSL Internet connection, the business grew to a 55-station i-cafe in Marikina City. We were never into gaming in our i-cafe business. We cater to high school and college students for their educational needs by providing them with Internet access at PhP20.00 per hour plus typing, scanning and printing services at affordable costs. We closed our i-cafe business in 2007 when the city’s Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Marikina (PLMar) was relocated in a place where we could not find a space to rent.
My affair with computers and the Internet did not end with the closure of our i-cafe business. I went into blogging in 2009 as part of my advocacy for the i-cafe industry in the Philippines and continue to blog about issues and my actual experiences in the life of a retired senior citizen. These days, I am online most of my waking hours and having fun sharing my thoughts in social media. You, how is your affair with technology? Can you share it with us?