Down Memory Lane: Computers

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By Joyce Caughron Rhodes
Special to the Banner

Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I let my mind drift back in time to another place or trail, down my Memory Lane.  For some reason I started thinking of my typing classes.  I remember this was my very best subject.  I must say, I was good with this, because I spent a lot of time typing.  I didn’t have a typewriter at home, so I would stay after school, while the janitor was cleaning up, and practice typing.  I practiced on trying to increase my speed with less errors.  Then I got the idea of making picture covers of my typing assignments.  The keys I used were not the letter or number keys, but most of all the other symbols.  I really surprised my typing teacher.
One day Mr. Tidwell said to me, “Joyce, you need to trim your fingernails.”  Typing teachers always thought long fingernails would interfere with typing.  I always liked long fingernails and I kept them polished, even in high school.  I asked my teacher, “Why do I need to trim my fingernails?  I’m making straight A’s.”  He smiled and said, “Well, I guess you don’t have to.”  Well, time marches on and eventually, like so many things, typewriters became obsolete, especially with the new age of computers.
I was really interested in the new computer phase.  When they first came out, you had to be nearly rich to afford one, but eventually, the more sold, the cheaper the price.  I decided I would take a computer class at the Dyersburg College.  I thought when I enrolled in the night class, I would be doing something I would love to do.   No! That’s not what happened.  The first quarter consists of learning all about the computer, like it’s purpose, the names of the various parts, how to write a program, etc.  I didn’t realize then, that before you could have the computer do something for you, that you had to write the program, telling it step by step what to do. This his quarter I didn’t even get to use their computers.
Well, when classes started back, I thought, “I guess I’ll take another computer class.  Maybe I’ll get to use their computers this time.”  Using the computer made the classes much more interesting.  Various businesses were beginning to have them installed and this was the thing of the future.  The teacher would assign homework, just like each student owned or had access to a computer.  Of course, this brought on the problem of having to stay longer hours, to work up the assignments.  One day, the instructor made his regular assignments and then made the comment, “I’m going to give each of you a bonus problem.  If you can work this, you will be given 10 extra points.”  He walked by each desk, passing them out, each was different.  His next comment was, “I don’t think you will be able to work them.”  I thought, “He shouldn’t have said that.”  My assignment was to write a program that would sort various numbers, so that the largest number was on top and have them descend to the smallest.  I put in many hours trying to write this program and I still couldn’t to do it.  So, the day of the class, I went very early so I could work on this bonus and dare.  About 30 minutes before class, I hit the ‘enter button’ and the computer whizzed along and to my shock, I had figured it out.  I don’t think the instructor believed me, that I did it myself.  He had me to stand up before the class and explain how I worked it.  He just grinned and said, “You’ve earned 10 extra points.”  I guess the moral of this tale is, “Don’t give up.”

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