My First experience with computers
When I joined the University of Nairobi -School of Education, I was so green in matters technology. However, I boasted my first encounter with a computer back in high school while in form two. As I recall, the machines were bulky and run Windows 96. I do not know what some of us who think Windows Xp is outdated would call that!
Well before I proceed, let me remind you that very few schools had those machines in our country. I do not have to say we received local tourists who came-not to touch or operate them-but just to see the famous gadgets. Every aspect that has something to do with a computer was celebrated-just the way we celebrated- new iPhone release by over talking about it. That is exactly what we did with computers those days.
The computer fame and the ‘holy’ room
The laboratory was some sort of holy place because we removed our shoes and left them at the door, wherever we entered it. The room received special treatment. The computer lab prefect was the most saved of all-and to date-almost two decades later, I remember him. Secondly, the principal’s office had no carpet, but our computers lived in a room that was covered in polythene ‘carpet’. How comes they were so much a priority? I was so curious! I guess that is how I came to love computers.
Then, there was no internet or better put- we had no access to the internet. But, who needed internet? The laden machines had already given us enough fame within and beyond the village that hoisted us.
The disloyal IBM ‘engines’
The machines were never loyal as we expected of them. They could not pay back the respect we accorded them because in most of our classes, they became unresponsive and our computer teacher, a soft-spoken lady, nagged us to leave the forsaken machines alone.
I was always a sad but excited man because the desktops chose to hang whenever madam would prepare to give us some golden tips on the differences between numeric and the alphanumeric keypad or other important things about a computer.
Personally, I felt that the they failed because one of us did not act on the opportune moment by pressing the right buttons behind or below the protruding bottoms or the meter tall Central Processing Units-(though the learned fellows bellowed CPU’s in city’s accent in reference to the same). Nobody was ever sure!
So wherever one became irresponsive within my reach, I would be the last man standing as I struggled to touch it here and there. While my seatmates migrated and overcrowded on the nearest IBM machine, I would proceed with the activity-plugging things in and out-until the teacher noticed and called out my name and politely requested me to mind my own business.
The doer of anything, everything
Nobody would ever imagine what could be wrong with a machine whose most astounding attribute was ability to do everything. Computers could talk, take photos, print, send fax messages, email and know where people were. They could fly aeroplanes, open and close doors in Nairobi (as we were told), cook, hatch chicken from eggs, carry out surgery and some could cook.
What exactly could a computer not do? Nothing! –This is the news that spread in our district when the secret sneaked into the village through one of the parents. The computer, as we were told, needed only a person to operate them- and so I was there, building the foundation of doing everything using a computer after successful schooling.
Importance of using the index finger in typing
The machines were amazingly built with manufacturer-installed typing tutor and that is what taught me how to type with my eight fingers. Earlier on, my typing corresponded with a person who was angry at the keys so they were pointing at them with the right hand’s first finger. The left hand was not left idle. Its duty during this ritual was to elevate the keyboard at an angle of 45 or so degrees while my neck craned downwards as my eyes struggled to distinguish the damn keys written in pairs of Arabic and Alphanumeric numbers. At the peak of the energy-intensive-exercise, my mouth would sweat and drops of the fluid would land on the keyboard.
Wherever this happened, I intervened by dropping the gadget at hand and fetching from my side pocket that extended far below the knee-where my what-you-call-handkerchief would be lying in absolute slumber. I would use it on my lips then repeat the typing process until the bell rang.
The end of ecstasy
Whenever things worked, at the end of the lesson, we saved our work-mostly some bunch of words on a diskette-(This was another special thing) before the bell rang. The bell was such a nasty interruption of the ecstatic moment. I hated it with a passion. It marked the end of the orgasmic happiness and beginning of other boring emotions.
After leaving the computer room, memories of the computer lessons replayed in my mind until the following day, because the lesson was mostly in the afternoon. To date, I owe all I can do on a computer to my high school teacher and the IBM machines. I mean everything. That is why I will dedicate this piece to her.
Dear teacher, wherever you are, your student is now a passionate blogger. He is now in post university school of life. Please pass my greetings to family and friends. Tell them I love computers and I miss your lessons!
Disclaimer: This is a personal account minced with humour and flavoured with a few fixes here and there! Although, some parts may be true, not all. Consumer is advised.