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How Computers Transformed Baby Boomers

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the horrible-cyborgs dept.

The Internet 182

theodp writes "Newsweek's Steven Levy takes a look at how the baby boomer generation formed our tech landscape. Many of the realities boomers grew up with are today's metaphors, including cut-and-paste, the origin of which the 56-year-old Levy had to explain to 20-something Google employees. Levy cites two texts as crucial in pushing the boomers' vision toward power-to-the-people computing — Ted Nelson's Computer Lib/Dream Machines, which inspired Mitch Kapor, and the January 1975 Popular Electronics, which got Bill Gates jazzed. You kids might want to check out Dad's bookshelf — used copies of Computer Lib are going for $130-$225 at Amazon."

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I've got a copy (3, Interesting)

SiliconEntity (448450) | about 7 years ago | (#20627429)

I had no idea that CL/DM was selling for so much. I just checked my shelf, I bought a copy for $18.95 in 1992 at the local university bookstore - the sticker's still on it.

I wonder why it's so expensive? The book is terrible, virtually unreadable. Ted Nelson is a nutcase by all reports. Look at the repeated failures of his Xanadu idea.

I guess I should probably sell it; it has no value to me and $150-200 would be pretty nice.

I've got history. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20627691)

"I wonder why it's so expensive? The book is terrible, virtually unreadable"

History is expensive.

"Ted Nelson is a nutcase by all reports."

So is a certain zealot.

"Look at the repeated failures of his Xanadu idea."

The price one pays for being too far ahead. At least it's inspiring some people out there.

Re:I've got history. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20629149)

"Ted Nelson is a nutcase by all reports."

So is a certain zealot.
Richard Stallman's architecture paper on Emacs that was printed and reprinted in the 80's was a brilliant work, much more brilliant than any of his code ever was. Microsoft stole it wholesale for their application scripting capabilities in Microsoft Windows.

I have no idea who Ted Nelson is. Should I care?

Re:I've got a copy (4, Insightful)

Svartalf (2997) | about 7 years ago | (#20627833)

It has less to do with him being a nutcase and more to do with the stuff he was rambling on about
being well ahead of it's time. Heh... Some nutcase-you're using the same stuff he's talking about
in that flip-flop book to make the post calling him a nutball- it's just not the full monty as it
were. Hyper-G was closer, much closer, but they made a mistake in making the reference implementation
proprietary, whereas NCSA made the first HTTP server effectively open source and the child of that
implementation is the #1 web server right at the moment.

Old Computer Books Sell Well (1, Interesting)

yintercept (517362) | about 7 years ago | (#20628197)

Unless the writer has access to the sales history, it shouldn't have said that the books are going at going at $150-200. The books are simply listed at that price.

The big prices show something that is true of a large number of computer books. When the books are out of print they can shoot way up in price. Often you will find some poor schmuck having to support a legacy program and they are willing to spend a good deal of money on used books.

If you happen to have computer books for older versions of software that you no longer need, you can often sell the used book for more than you bought it.

One way of playing the Amazon used book game is to list all of the out of print books you are willing to part with at a price some 25% higher than the going sale price. You wait, and every once in a while a book will sell and you will ge money for more computer books.

Re:I've got a copy (1)

LaBocha (1114571) | about 7 years ago | (#20628623)

Ever heard of MAYA? Most Advanced Yet Acceptable. Thats a line you should consider always.

Re:I've got a copy (1)

Pathetic Coward (33033) | about 7 years ago | (#20628907)

Demonstrating the workings of market economics combined with the Slashdot effect, the price of CL/DM suddenly dropped to $5.

Re:I've got a copy (2, Funny)

Cuppa 'Joe' Black (1000483) | about 7 years ago | (#20629213)

"I wonder why it's so expensive?"

Because scarcity is like heroin to booksellers. We are cutthroat savages every last one of us.

Scrollbars (5, Funny)

jesser (77961) | about 7 years ago | (#20627431)

Did baby boomers use scrolls [squarefree.com] , too?

Re:Scrollbars (3, Funny)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | about 7 years ago | (#20627493)

Only the ones with rich parents. The rest of us had to make do with clay tablets.

Re:Scrollbars (3, Funny)

creimer (824291) | about 7 years ago | (#20627527)

Yeah, if you're middle class. The rest of us had to draw on cave walls. :P

lucky you! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20628565)

You had nice comfy caves! We had to make do with the overhead shade of traveling mammoths, and plait their hair into crude runes which others had to read whilst avoiding getting trampled! And it was in the snow, all the time, and dammit if they didn't look for every hill to climb they could find!

Re:Scrollbars (3, Informative)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | about 7 years ago | (#20627637)

Oh, yes. Old-fashioned typewriters had cylinders to wrap paper around, and the typewriter users had to roll the paper around by hand.

Re:Scrollbars (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 7 years ago | (#20627649)

I remember overhead projectors with scrolls. One could scribble away on a continuous roll of plastic instead of making separate slides.

They're still in use... (1)

Z80xxc! (1111479) | about 7 years ago | (#20627963)

I know, it's sad, but they still use those in high schools.

Re:Scrollbars (2, Funny)

darkmeridian (119044) | about 7 years ago | (#20628263)

Forget scrolls. I misread the summary as "which got Bill Gates jizzed" and almost puked. I was thinking how pathetic life was before Internet porn.

As a member of "GenX" let me say ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20627463)

I can hardly wait until the Boomers die.
Christ what a narcissistic, infantile, self-important, hypocritical generation!!

And they never ... shut ... the ... fuck ... up.
What winners the two Boomers Presidents have been?

Re:As a member of "GenX" let me say ... (2, Funny)

Shaitan Apistos (1104613) | about 7 years ago | (#20627501)

I can't wait until they all go on medicare/social security so I can pick up a second job to pay for it.

Re:As a member of "GenX" let me say ... (0, Flamebait)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 7 years ago | (#20627639)

Vote for Clinton or Edwards in 2008 and that's exactly what will end up happening.

Univeral Healthcare my ass! Second job enslavement, here we come!

Re:As a member of "GenX" let me say ... (1)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | about 7 years ago | (#20628797)

Vote for a Republican OR a Democrat in 2008 and if you're under 50, your ass will be in Iran and Iraq getting blown up by IEDs.

And believe me, MILITARY health care sucks worse than civilian health care. Ask any vet.

Re:As a member of "GenX" let me say ... (1)

Brother Dysk (939885) | about 7 years ago | (#20629373)

And believe me, MILITARY health care sucks worse than civilian health care. Ask any vet.

If vets [reference.com] are involved, I'll choose to believe you...

Agreed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20627747)

I was so pissed during one of Bush's SoU addresses when the Dems clapped about stopping SocSec reform.
That is why I supported Tsongas way back when. Both Dems & Reps have been telling us for years (decades?) now how fucked SocSec and the other entitlements are and now we finally had someone willing to do something about it (someone how was using Dem ideas too) ... and they blocked it!!!

Fuckers!!!
Obviously they love their own power more than they love this country.

The "for the children" arguments are almost always BS, but here was an issue clearly for the children.
SocSec: How much do you want to steal from your grandkids.

You know, I just figured it out. Blue states have the lowest birthrates (~1.3). They are not stealing from their grandkids because they don't/won't have any.

As a member of "Visionless" let me say ... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20627793)

"I can't wait until they all go on medicare/social security so I can pick up a second job to pay for it."

Spoken as someone with limited vision. The health care industry is going to explode. Plus a lot of them will have disposable income. You can either get your slice, or wait for overseas/immigrants to get it first.

Re:As a member of "GenX" let me say ... (1)

phedre (1125345) | about 7 years ago | (#20627839)

For some of us that will mean a third job, not a second job.

Re:As a member of the "old guy" generation. (1)

cdsjeff (599277) | about 7 years ago | (#20627917)

get a grip.

Re:As a member of "GenX" let me say ... (2, Interesting)

Seumas (6865) | about 7 years ago | (#20628051)

Someone has recently been playing around with the generation age-frames, because almost ten years ago, baby boomers were between 50 and 60 already. Now, baby boomers include anyone who is 42 to 64. That's right. 42 is a baby boomer, apparently (shouldn't that be generation X?). I'm also now defined as a "generation Xer" even though five years ago, I was considered several years too young.

Re:As a member of "GenX" let me say ... (2, Funny)

m0nkyman (7101) | about 7 years ago | (#20628269)

That's cause Baby Boomers lie about their age, and us Gen-X'ers are starting to too. ;) I'm the same age I was ten years ago, honest. :)

Re:As a member of "GenX" let me say ... (1)

Wansu (846) | about 7 years ago | (#20628893)



Now, baby boomers include anyone who is 42 to 64.

I always heard the post WWII baby boom occurred between 1945 and 1960. Some people have tried to extend it to the mid sixties but you're the first I've heard trying to extend it back into the early 40s. I have older cousins who were born then. They have as different a mindset from those of us who grew up in the 60s as the people who were born in the 60s.

Re:As a member of "GenX" let me say ... (1)

jbengt (874751) | about 7 years ago | (#20629057)

Baby Boomers are often defined as those born from 1946 thru 1964,
which roughly correlates to an increase in the number of births that occurred after the end of World War II
http://geography.about.com/od/populationgeography/a/babyboom_2.htm/ [about.com]

Re:As a member of "GenX" let me say ... (1)

kramulous (977841) | about 7 years ago | (#20629893)

A couple of years ago, I was a generation X, but now apparently I'm generation Y!??

I guess I do come under the umbrella that I'm a digital native (Played with my first computer (at home) at the age of 5 - Dad would pinch one from the school he taught at for the weekends).

What significant social event happened around 1965? Is it that generation X is classified as 'post moon landing'? (Yes, I understand a few years difference, but old enough to understand?)

Re:As a member of "GenX" let me say ... (1)

pokerdad (1124121) | about 7 years ago | (#20630037)

I'm also now defined as a "generation Xer" even though five years ago, I was considered several years too young.

When I first read about "generation X" (actually in the Time issue pictured in the Wiki page for gen X), I was too young for it, but by the time the term "generation Y" came around I was reclassified as a gen X.

In fact according to the Wiki article, in its earliest uses Gen X reffered just to those born 1960 - 1965, whereas now it commonly includes 1961 - 1981.

Re:As a member of "GenX" let me say ... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20628373)

One thing for us GenX'ers to look forward to in regards to boomers is that they will ultimately die in great numbers ;P

I am sick and tired of boomers self-righteous attitude, and tendency to claim everything created or invented as their own. More and more I am beginning to think that us GenXer's are unfortunately raising children to act exactly like their grandparents. Curiously, I find I have more in common with those of "The Greatest Generation" in terms of values.

Re:As a member of "GenX" let me say ... (1)

jbengt (874751) | about 7 years ago | (#20629105)

Who modded this AC insightful?
Baby Boomers (of which I am one, and about which you know nothing) are not a homogenous group to be lumped together in your stereotypingm and have not claimed to created or invented everything, at least not any more than any other cohort has.

Re:As a member of "GenX" let me say ... (3, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | about 7 years ago | (#20627535)

Christ what a narcissistic, infantile, self-important, hypocritical generation!!

I had the same thought while reading that article.

Where does Steven Levy think transistors came from? Or electricity, or math?

Re:As a member of "GenX" let me say ... (2, Insightful)

ahfoo (223186) | about 7 years ago | (#20627661)

Amen to that. To me it has always been simple. It's about games.
            If you grew up loving video games, you're part of the computer generation. If you grew up before the rise of coin operated video arcade games, like my boomer parents, then you're sort of perpetually outside of it.
            This is an clear way to see how computing works in society because it's not age based. As it happens, historically this aligns pretty well with the population segment referred to as Gen-X. But it's not exclusive of those boomers who might have been on the forefront. Of course from their peers perspectives, these people would have been seen as nerdish freaks. And this is why they call Gen-X people nerds even though it's actually mainstream to be a computer junky in that age segment.
            And there's a really good reason why this divide exists. If you grew up thinking computers meant games and fun and even a hint of danger and taboo then you're naturally attracted to them just like toys. This didn't really happen for most boomers. That's not to say there isn't a significant minority, but not a huge percentage of the population. My parents think it's sick to spend all day on the PC and yet for people in my own generation and younger this is the place to be.
          And using Bill Gates as an example of anything in tech is lame. The guy is a shake down artist. Who cares what inspired him to do anything. Why pay attention to such a money grubbing loser.

Re:As a member of "GenX" let me say ... (2, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | about 7 years ago | (#20627949)

Umm, "Gen-X" didn't invent transistors any more than baby boomers did. I'm not sure why you think you're agreeing with me.

And Bill Gates has contributed far more to computing than any dozen gamerzzz have.

Re:As a member of "GenX" let me say ... (1)

ahfoo (223186) | about 7 years ago | (#20628165)

Mmkay Smithers. Yes, we all appreciate the enormous contributions of the wonderful Mr. Burns. Sheesh.

        But I can go back old school as far as you can. I happen to have done extensive research on the economic implications of punch card based lace machines in the eighteenth century. You wanna get old-school bitch?

        The point is, although modern computational techniques clearly can trace their lineage to the eighteenth century, the eighteenth century is not when computers took over the world and neither is the nineteen fifties or the sixties or the seventies or even the early eighties. All those eras had elements of computing but none of them was defined by computing. It's in the nineties that computers took over the world and that is the time of the post coin-op 8-bit computer games slowly turning into home consoles and PCs that coincides with Gen-X, not the boomers.

        And you can love Big Bear Bill all you want, the dude is a bankah gangstah. Maybe he's ya big poppa, but that's doesn't mean he's contributed shit to computing.

Re:As a member of "GenX" let me say ... (1)

Tony (765) | about 7 years ago | (#20628749)

He's also done far more to hurt computing than all the gamerzzz combined. So what?

Re:As a member of "GenX" let me say ... (2, Insightful)

Gnostic Ronin (980129) | about 7 years ago | (#20627915)

I'll have to add my Amen, Hallelujah, and all of that too. I'm sick of Baby Boomers thinking that they and they alone are responsible for modern technology, culture, and political thought. I'd give far greater credit to the WW2 generation for creating most of the things that baby boomer steal credit for.

The WW2 generation created the basis for modern computing. The first computer was built in 1946 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ENIAC [wikipedia.org] (Eniac), long before the Baby Boomers even existed. While I might concede that a few Baby Boomers may have been in utero at this point, they weren't responsible for computer design. Even the Eniac project was based on much earlier work by Charles Babbage.

Boomers may share part of the credit (or blame, depending) for the Hippy Counterculture, but even then, so much of the pop music was based on older styles like Jazz and R&B that Boomers can really only claim credit for a remix and a slight extension of older styles. The original stuff -- maybe the drugs and free love, but that's about it.

And as far as Vietnam, I suspect the withdrawl had more to do with a broken and demoralized millitary than any protests going on. Maybe I'm cynical, but I really don't think the government was impressed by Woodstock or teach-ins.

I know I'm exagerating a little bit, but for God's sake, can we have one milestone pass without hearing how the whiney little baby boomers are responsible for modern society? Can we have a discussion about Iraq that doesn't go back to Vietnam? I won't call you infantile, but you aren't the lynchpin of Western Society. You turned America into a Consumerist State, but that's about the only lasting impact the Boomers have.

Re:As a member of "GenX" let me say ... (3, Funny)

foreverpuppy (1034476) | about 7 years ago | (#20628195)

If only there was a way to harness the boomers' power of nostalgia and put it to good use. Like banks of boomers chasing after 12" GI Joes, or copies of "The Big Chill" on treadmills running generators.

Baby Boomers & middle age (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20628495)

I love when Boomers describe themselves as "middle-age".

Middle-age?!?

You are 60! How many people do you know that live to 120?
At 35, _I_ am middle-age (based on an average lifespan of 77)

Damn right, the "Me Generation"

Re:Baby Boomers & middle age (1)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | about 7 years ago | (#20628831)

Ahem.

Given expected technology development, 120 is the least I'll live to - IF I don't die before, say, 80.

Anybody under 40 will have an indefinite life span. Anybody between 40 and 60 has to play the odds - the older you are the less likely you'll make it without a cryonic contract or excellent health care. Anybody over 60 today needs a cryonic contract because it's very unlikely they'll make it unless they are already in excellent health and can afford excellent health care.

Of course, once Transhumans come in, you're all fucked.

Re:Baby Boomers & middle age (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20629103)

We all have an indefinite lifespan ... unless your birth certificate came with an expiration date.

as a boomer let me say (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20628891)

The war (Nam) ended when sufficiently large numbers of returning, blooded combat veterans came back and joined the ranks of the protesters, because they realized they had been scammed and had been taken advantage of so a few fatcats could get rich off the stupid war. The powers that be realized they were a year or two max away from serious revolt from guys who would have enjoyed wasting them. And it got to be pretty hard for the clueless pro war people to argue with "protesters" when the entire front ranks were all returned combat vets at a lot of the latter demonstrations. The stupid pigs really couldn't argue with that, and the pigs bosses knew they had pushed their luck and made their billions, so they decided to end it, that and the vietnamese were just damn tough dudes. Build a bigger bomb, they would dig deeper, etc.

It was the same with racial civil rights, no matter laws passed, it took the PTB guys to finally realize that they could quite easily lose control of their major cities and cash cows at any time and there wasn't much to stop it, so they finally relented and then we had real efforts towards enforcing civil rights at all levels of government, whereas before it was quite iffy and random. Again, a lot of returned black and brown combat vets made this threat a reality.

In both cases, rhetoric helped a lot, peaceful protest helped a lot, all sorts of normal politicing helped a lot, but violence and the actual perceived threat of violence is what got things moving-same as it has in most other situations similar down through history. People with huge amounts of power never allow that power to be lost without fighting hard to retain it, and only give up when they realize that retention is just more dangerous. Why some civilizations wait longer than others to rebel against tyranny though-can't answer that, but will say they do a pretty good job in the schools and news media now to keep people cowed/pacified in advance, for example, they have most people accepting random roadblocks, whereas a few decades ago that would have never worked. People accept "security cameras" everywhere, and just the word "security" when used by government is now enough to squash any investigations into serious corruption or wrongdoing. And really, forced drugging? A generation raised as children addicted to drugs the swine give them as "medicine" and they believe that???? That's a clue right there some of the ways they control people.

  With that said, sure a lot of bad came from my generation, hell ya, but a lot of good as well. I can think of a lot of bad from the preceding generation to mine (blind trust in government-total, blind trust in corporations-total), etc, along with the good, the tech advances and sense of civility and pride, etc.

    Boomers have been not much better or worse, we just have a demographic of having large numbers, that's mostly it. Right now in the younger generations I see bad and good, the worst I see now though is the "don't give a fuck about anything at all" mindset and general apathy about things, there's not much in the way of any sort of "spirit" if I can use that term. Little passion for things. There's a lot of pretty smart younger folks, but not seeing passion for the important things in life, just a bland acceptance as if there is a normal birthright-which there isn't. All your life you have to fight for things, to keep from getting ripped off and abused by the powerful people around you. About the closest I can see for passion there is P2P file trading.

It's a start I guess, but you'll have to come to grips with yo9ur generations sense of values as well, we had abbie hoffman and timothy leary and jimi hendrix-you have paris hilton, britney spears and...who's your main political guys? Oh ya, they don't exist yet in x or y, still having to fall back on the older guys! Why is that again?

    Consumerism is quite bad and stupid,agreed.. so..why dont ya'all just stop and do something better? We'd sure like to see it, if you can drop your iPods and drag yourselves away from WoW long enough to take a look at the real world crumbing around you right now. If you want to make it better..than do so, nothing stopping you besides apathy.

glass houses

Re:As a member of "GenX" let me say ... (2, Insightful)

iphayd (170761) | about 7 years ago | (#20629157)

Umm, please check your facts.

- ENIAC was not the first (digital) computer. The Atanasoff-Berry Computer [wikipedia.org] (ABC) was, as it was built in 1941.
- Consumerism was not solely a baby boomer trait, but started in the late 1800's with Ivory soap and took hold in the early 20th century.

I don't have enough knowledge of Vietnam to confirm or deny your accusation, so I won't.
As with all generations, the boomer have a lasting impact on the future generations of humanity. At the very least, they conceived and taught the next generation.

Re:As a member of "GenX" let me say ... (1)

mikael (484) | about 7 years ago | (#20629315)

And as far as Vietnam, I suspect the withdrawl had more to do with a broken and demoralized millitary than any protests going on. Maybe I'm cynical, but I really don't think the government was impressed by Woodstock or teach-ins.


The Kent State shootings [wikipedia.org] certainly didn't seem to help. Going by the worldwidee shock that was expressed after the Virginia Tech shootings, I can only imagine what the shock must have been back thirty years. From wikipedia, over eight million students at high schools and colleges went on strike.

The title is reversed... Sheesh, editors. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20627545)

The story is how BABY BOOMERS SHAPED COMPUTERS. The summary makes no sense with the current title.

Re:The title is reversed... Sheesh, editors. (3, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 7 years ago | (#20627683)

I don't know, after the cyborg revolution the computers will need something to feed on, and what better than old people, the same people who invented computers to begin with?

Re:The title is reversed... Sheesh, editors. (1)

Tyr_7BE (461429) | about 7 years ago | (#20629093)

Buried for inaccuracy.

This Just In-- (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20627549)

Apparently the Boomers were responsible for everything, including all technology! Nevermind that your parents don't know the first thing about computers.

Re:This Just In-- (1)

Shaitan Apistos (1104613) | about 7 years ago | (#20627597)

Speak for yourself, my parents know the first TWO things. The power button turns it on, and unplugging it turns it off.

Re:This Just In-- (2, Funny)

Octorian (14086) | about 7 years ago | (#20628981)

I still remember the 90's when that generation would boast how they didn't even know those things, and seemed proud of it.

Generation X (1)

no_pets (881013) | about 7 years ago | (#20628103)

Almost anything that has been built in history, great and small, can excite a few, but until it is adopted by the masses it is nothing.

Of course, computers used to fill entire rooms and governments and businesses adopted them but as I see it, my generation (usually referred to as Generation X) made up a large portion of the early adopters of personal computers and computing devices. We were the first people to buy or build computers that cost more than the car that we drove or would cost several months of our lame salaries to purchase.

We were not the ultra-geeks that dropped out of college to build computer hardware and software, but we were the people, or better yet, the market that helped to allow these garage based businesses to grow into solid, large companies.

When we told our parents (Boomers) of the virtues of personal computers we were mocked, laughed at, or just ignored for a decade or two before these "PC things" caught on.

Re:Generation X (2, Interesting)

dharmadove (1119645) | about 7 years ago | (#20629075)

I'm 51, a boomer and would have to disagree with you totally. Been there, done that. I've been using computers since I was 13 (big iron). Try to take the credit "Gen-X" but that's a joke. I started with an IMSAI, Kim-1, and my first pre built PCs were an Apple-II, TRS-80 and Pet. I've been online since the using ARPNET, Compuserve, email and bbs's since the 70's. Heck, my Dad was using a TRS-80 at home and later a Color Computer by 1982. He was 36 years older than me. Plenty of Apple-II's, TRS-80's, Pets, Atari 400/800's etc. were bought by common folk for a cost SIGNIFICANTLY less than a car before the IBM-5150 came out (the so called "PC"). There was pretty decent market for commodity home computers by then. I've owned ALL of them (and MANY more) since and I am/was not a rich person. Gen X/Y'ers may be reaping the rewards, claming credit but our bucks and acceptance of using technology / science paved the way for your toys...

Re:This Just In-- (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20629039)

AYYYY-Freaking-Men!!! If Baby-Boomers were so tied in with tech, then why is it 99% of the people older than 30 sit there in front of AOL in sheer terror saying "What's going to happen if I click on it? Is it going to explode?"

I've *done* cut-and-paste... (4, Informative)

david.given (6740) | about 7 years ago | (#20627623)

...and it works spectacularly well.

The modern version works like this: you need a photocopier, your source material, a pair of scissors, and a stick of solid glue. Photocopy all your source materials. Cut them up. Stick them onto a blank piece of paper in the order you want. Photocopy. All the seams miraculously vanish, and you end up with an extremely professional-looking end result.

It's a great deal easier than scanning and using a DTP package, it's faster, and it can also produce better results depending on your photocopier and scanner. I wouldn't use it for anything that needed to be stored for long periods of time --- your template is fragile and will fall apart if stored --- but for quickly putting together posters, exam questions (I inherited the technique from my father, who was a teacher), simple fliers, news clipping collections etc, it's first rate.

Don't get glue on the photocopier plate. It'll never come off.

Re:I've *done* cut-and-paste... (1)

0xC2 (896799) | about 7 years ago | (#20627745)

My supervisor at my first real job would edit my hand-written report by "cut and tape", involving 8 inch scissors and a roll of scotch tape. The first editing session was a humbling experience.

Re:I've *done* cut-and-paste... (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | about 7 years ago | (#20627771)

I've also seen this done at my last teaching job. It was easy to spot the less computer savvy teachers, as they'd spend time playing with paper and scissors around the photocopier, while the rest of us would mostly go there to get our printouts. In fact I rarely witnessed any actual pasting, as those used to the idea would simply assemble their work freely floating on the plate. This eliminates the glue issue, but the result is always a little off since you can't directly see your work.

Re:I've *done* cut-and-paste... (2, Informative)

Skadet (528657) | about 7 years ago | (#20627801)

I can't tell if you're being a little snarky or not, but I wanted to add anyway. I worked in a copy center for a number of years, and copy and paste (the manual kind) is more common in non-professional publishing than one might think.

A few tips, while we're at it: don't worry about getting the seams glued down. They'll show up anyway -- lighten the document, or if your copier supports it, decrease the contrast and increase the brightness. If you're working on a relatively recent and well-kept copier, you can simply tape down the edges rather than use glue at all. Make sure your hands are clean, or the tape will lift the dirt right off of them and appear on your paper. Double-sided tape works well, also.

A good technique for storage is to use *removable* tape to lay out your template, make a copy on an *analog* copier (if you can find a good one) to get a real nice, defined master, and keep that (remove your actual masters from the template - removable tape, remember - and store them in a sheet protector to keep them together. Make your photocopies on a newfangled digital printer from your "analog" master.

Working in a copy shop was some of the most fun I had as a youngster. It's surprisingly gratifying to manipulate documents with your hands and instruct the machine to create your finished product.

Oh, and about the glue on the platen -- goo gone works wonders. I've never seen a platen I couldn't clean ;)

Re:I've *done* cut-and-paste... (1)

david.given (6740) | about 7 years ago | (#20628245)

Not at all snarky --- I'm quite serious! The more I use computers, the more I appreciate techniques that don't use them...

We used a dab of solid glue in the middle of each stuck-on section, just to hold it in place. (Pritt-Stick, usually.) That stuff's excellent because you can just pull it apart again to rearrange. We never had any problems with visible seams, but then in those days it was all analog copiers in high-contrast mode, and putting the lid down would flatten the copy sufficiently. When photocopying print, we could usually do three or four generations before degradation started becoming apparent.

Now, for real Old Skool Kopying, you want a Banda [wikipedia.org] . Mmm, that smell...

Re:I've *done* cut-and-paste... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20630057)

you == kinda dumb

Re:I've *done* cut-and-paste... (1)

jhines (82154) | about 7 years ago | (#20628389)

The best paste is rubber cement. The buzz alone was worth it.

From the old hs newspaper days, when everything had to be sent out for typesetting, and then returned for cut up, and pasting for the master, which was shipped back for printing. Computers printed on teletypes or line printers,
Selectrics were the typewriter to have.

Re:I've *done* cut-and-paste... (1)

cprael (215426) | about 7 years ago | (#20628533)

"Glue stick"?

Hell, I think I've still got a hot wax rig and roller in the garage someplace.

And unless you're careful about your assembly, and get the edges right, the seams do NOT miraculously vanish. They're quite visible, actually.

Re:I've *done* cut-and-paste... (1)

nbritton (823086) | about 7 years ago | (#20629897)

This old skool method works well, especially if you have a a scanner and Photoshop.

In other news (3, Funny)

nutshell42 (557890) | about 7 years ago | (#20627709)

Many 19th century inventions invented by 19th century inventors. Film at 11.

I call "B.S." on the "cut-and-paste" example... (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 7 years ago | (#20627719)

...cut-and-paste, the origin of which the 56-year-old Levy had to explain to 20-something Google employees


I call B.S. on this one. Anyone dumb enough not to figure out where "cut and paste" came from doesn't deserve a job (must less a promotion to second grade).

Re:I call "B.S." on the "cut-and-paste" example... (1)

libkarl2 (1010619) | about 7 years ago | (#20627957)

Your right. I know lots of people who earned their B.S. (in CS) without knowing where the term cut-and paste comes from.

Re:I call "B.S." on the "cut-and-paste" example... (4, Interesting)

vic-traill (1038742) | about 7 years ago | (#20628463)

I call B.S. on this one. Anyone dumb enough not to figure out where "cut and paste" came from doesn't deserve a job (must less a promotion to second grade).

Well, I can't speak to 20-something google employees, but when I acquired a 1930's Underwood typewriter a couple of years ago, the 12 year old son of a friend looked at it and asked what it was. I asked him what it looked like, and he replied that it looked something like a keyboard. He didn't know what a typewriter was.

Admittedly the kid is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I suspect that he's reasonably representative of his peer group.

Now that I think about it, the second graders might do better than a 12 year old. They're not heading into that teen recalcitrant thing and their imagination hasn't been spiked yet.

Re:I call "B.S." on the "cut-and-paste" example... (1)

drawfour (791912) | about 7 years ago | (#20628465)

I call "old man" on you. Maybe someone who actually _cares_ where terms come from would take the time to think about what it originally meant. Most people don't give a crap. Including geeks.

Re:I call "B.S." on the "cut-and-paste" example... (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 7 years ago | (#20628581)

Speaking as a 20-something Slashdot reader, I can almost see the scene. It's not that the person would not have been familiar with physical cut and paste operations (at the very least, they'd have done them at school), but a lot of people seem very bad at connecting related things.

My pet peeve is UNIX programmers who don't understand the origin of the fork() system call. You can't properly understand a system unless you understand why it was designed the way it was.

Re:I call "B.S." on the "cut-and-paste" example... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 7 years ago | (#20628589)

Anyone dumb enough not to figure out where "cut and paste" came from doesn't deserve a job (must less a promotion to second grade).

Now the kiddies lick the screen instead of eat paste. Yucky either way.
     

Re:I call "B.S." on the "cut-and-paste" example... (2)

Aladrin (926209) | about 7 years ago | (#20629391)

Or maybe they just stared dumbfounded at him for even suggesting someone might not understand what the words meant, and he just assumed that meant he was smarter than them, instead of the reverse.

Or maybe they were sick of his examples and decided to let him explain everything, all the time, just to see how stupid it got.

Or maybe it just doesn't matter?

Bullshit. (0)

ResidntGeek (772730) | about 7 years ago | (#20627749)

cut-and-paste, the origin of which the 56-year-old Levy had to explain to 20-something Google employees.
Is he trying to claim 20-something Google employees don't know what scissors and glue and typewriters are? That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard.

Re:Bullshit. (1)

teraph (147902) | about 7 years ago | (#20627919)

No, he's not trying to claim that. He said they didn't know the origin of the phrase. He never said they didn't know about the materials involved.

Just because they know what what scissors and glue and typewriters are doesn't mean they've ever had any reason to make the connection between those items and the phrase "cut-and-paste".

Re:Bullshit. (1)

Z80xxc! (1111479) | about 7 years ago | (#20628013)

Even though the "Cut" button usually has scissors on it? OK, so the paste button doesn't have a glue bottle, but it should...

Now click on the button with the elmers glue bottle...
Good! See, it got pasted in right there!

Re:Bullshit. (1)

teraph (147902) | about 7 years ago | (#20628567)

I imagine many would assume that the cut icon is scissors because you are cutting something, not because there used to be an editing task involving cutting and pasting with typewriters.

People may understand what cutting is, and what pasting is -- both physically and electronically -- and still never know that people used to edit typewritten manuscripts using that process. (Or created fliers and quizzes doing the same.)

Re:Bullshit. (1)

reboot246 (623534) | about 7 years ago | (#20628107)

Many of the people I deal with don't know what "cut and paste" means, because they use the term when what they really mean is "copy and paste". Both operations are handy to use, but are two different things.

Yeah, obvious to us, but not to them.

Generation Y (2, Interesting)

jeremiahbell (522050) | about 7 years ago | (#20628357)

I'm a 24 year-old they called part of generation Y. The funny part about the older generation is they somehow assume that the younger is clueless about something because they've never done it themselves. Cut and Paste is pretty simple, and I have done it, my whole generation did it in school.

And the internet and computers have not changed my simple life all that much from my fathers. Yes, I post on an internet discussion, but: I get up in the morning, get in my EFI ran car, but for the end user its not that much different than a carburetor, and drive to work. At work I'm the desk guy at a shop, Yes I use the computer to do invoices, but I could just as well do it on paper, and then I drive home. My house doesn't greet me, and I still eat regular meals. You could take someone from thirty years ago and dump them right into today and they would have no problem. Go back a hundred years and they might have a problem, considering that my grandfather rode a mule to school (He's 83), but even he can run his DVD player.

Re:Bullshit. (1)

shess (31691) | about 7 years ago | (#20628645)

By "Had to explain", I'm sure the article means "As I was running on and on and on about historical crap, someone threw out an 'insight' to distract me."

-scott [a not-20-something Googler]

Please, please, please, please, please ... reprint (1)

ThirdPrize (938147) | about 7 years ago | (#20627809)

please, please, please, please, please, please, please will someone reprint Computer Lib!!!! I remember hearing about it and Ted Nelson at college but his book is long out of print.

Ralroads and electricity were much bigger (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | about 7 years ago | (#20627831)

Railroads and electricity made much bigger changes in people's lives. Before railroads, most people spent their lives within 50 miles of their birthplace. Before electricity, it was, well, dark at night almost everywhere. Huge amounts of effort went into activities like basic cooking and cleaning clothes.

The changes between 1850 and 1900 were far, far greater than those between 1950 and 2000. In communications, in 1950 we had radio, television, teletype, and telephones. Even newspaper delivery via broadcast radio fax, although that never really caught on. Most important info was getting to its destination fast. Most of the communication things you can do today, you could do in 1950, but more expensively.

Re:Ralroads and electricity were much bigger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20627961)

Sorry, but the argument about change from 1900 to 1950 can just as easily be applied to all the change from 1850 to 1900. Before railroads you could travel, it was just ridiculously expensive. You could keep your house lit at night, it was just ridiculously expensive Railroads and electricity made those things cheaper and more practical, bringing them into the reach of more of the population, just like computers.

Re:Ralroads and electricity were much bigger (1)

Animats (122034) | about 7 years ago | (#20628037)

Before railroads you could travel, it was just ridiculously expensive.

Ever travel a hundred miles on horseback?

Re:Ralroads and electricity were much bigger (1)

JoshHeitzman (1122379) | about 7 years ago | (#20629957)

All long distance land travel was not done by horseback prior to the railroads. Wagons and carriages had been around for a very long time prior to railroads.

Re:Ralroads and electricity were much bigger (1)

Merc248 (1026032) | about 7 years ago | (#20628307)

Eh, I don't know.

I'm a little bit unclear on Marshall McLuhan's media theory (which, in my opinion, is something that all of us should try to understand, since it grants great insight on the characteristics of mediums as it relates to transforming societies), but it seems that the advent of TV was instrumental in transforming our society into the narcissistic society that we have today, which, in my opinion, is as huge of a jump as the jump from printed press to electricity.

You could of course transmit the same information in the 1950's as you could today but on a different, albeit slower, medium; however, the speed increase and other inherent qualities of the medium is EXACTLY the thing that transformed our society! You see, between simple telegraph and telephone, between telephone and computers, we could transmit the same telegraph message across each medium, yet there are great differences in the inherent characteristics of each medium. Thus, I would say that the jump from, say, radio to television, is just as great as telegraph to telephone, or railroad to airplane.

(I'd write more about this but I'm a little lazy; I can explain a little more from what little I do know if you guys want me to)

Sanitation was much bigger. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20628681)

"Railroads and electricity made much bigger changes in people's lives."

I disagree. Sanitation has historically had a much bigger influence than what you listed, from BC to AD.

Movement in the 1850s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20629455)

Your comment about people spending their lives within 50 miles of their birth may be very true in Europe but not so much in the US.
I have been reading some pre-Civil War memoirs/histories and it is stunning how much people moved around. Even bouncing from side-to-side of the continent and this is pre-Panama Canal. They would take a boat to Central America, and then over land to the other ocean, and then another boat. Sea travel seems to be the main means of mass transit, although long horse/stage coast journeys where not scoffed at.

For example: Ohio, New York (university), San Fransisco (multiple jobs), Florida, Philly/DC/Boston (multiple financing trips), Missouri, Kansas, Tennessee through Georgia, up to New York, then back to Ohio for retirement.
Or the New Orleans based guy who spent most of his time around New Orleans, Florida, Cuba, Mexico, various trips to the East Coast (especially DC) for lobbying, and then some work in France.

I thought I moved around a lot, but these people bounced around like pin balls. Of course, you could argue that the people writing memoirs/histories are not average. And no doubt it was easier to not move 50 miles pre-1850, but frequent travel was not unusual.

Of course, moving (to the Western frontier especially) is an American tradition.

levy (4, Insightful)

sdedeo (683762) | about 7 years ago | (#20627847)

Steven Levy deserves a lot of credit for his book Hackers, which was the first place to publicly discuss "the hacker ethic [wikipedia.org] ." He really "got" a lot of the things that journalists today still don't get. You can disagree with a lot of what he says, and his "ethic" list is a little goofy, but as a "third" generation hacker (someone who grew up hacking on an Apple ][e), I found his interpretation of what was going on in the golden age deeply insightful. IMO, "computer journalism" has never really produced someone like him again -- today it's all David Pogue type "gadget reviewers" who really don't get what was, and still is, revolutionary about computing and the people involved in it.

WarGames (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20628285)

His book came out in 1984, and Wargames came out in 1983. I think Wargames deserves a lot of credit for bringing a somewhat realistic image of a hacker to the mainstream public.

Re:WarGames (1)

sdedeo (683762) | about 7 years ago | (#20628485)

Though I'm a fan of the film, I think War Games was hardly a realistic portrait of hacking, at least in the traditional sense [wikipedia.org] that Levy was after. At best, some social engineering, and some wardialing (the name comes from the film actually), but these are not really connected to what people were doing at places like MIT and Sillicon Valley.

Time to feed Mr Fusion... (3, Funny)

toby (759) | about 7 years ago | (#20627871)

And hop in the DeLorean... we're going back to 1975 to make sure Popular Electronics never prints that issue...

A Naughty Word (1)

martnik (926891) | about 7 years ago | (#20627983)

Wait... did I read that right? Did Bill Gates say "iPod"? Ooooh... you're on enemy territory now!

And I walked uphill to school both ways (1)

ricklg (162560) | about 7 years ago | (#20628315)

Copiers. What copiers? I started my first engineering job in 1973. Copies were made with carbon paper. If it was really important there was the "Ozlid" process on thermal paper IF you could get the supervisor to approve it. Otherwise I used white out, correction tape, and cut slivers of the previously typed document to make a new version to give back to the secretary (remember them?) to retype. Give it to the secretary more than twice and she let you know what she thought about you, your family, and various barnyard animals you may or may not own (or know).

ASCII Art pr0n! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20628353)

The Computer Lib/Dream Machines [digibarn.com] link contains a naked lady rendered in ASCII art! Woo hoo!!!!

Please slashdot, can we have more stories like this?

Baby Boomers/Bummers - a Useless Generation (0, Troll)

attributor (1095041) | about 7 years ago | (#20628365)

This article is totally bogus -- I don't believe there has been a more useless generation (per capita), than the extremely egotistical Baby Boomers. There are notable exceptions of course, but on average they were egotistical, lazy and left the world a fucked up place. It is the GenX and later that created the hi-tech boom!! Any self-serving claims that they are responsible for the hi-tech or any other scientific boom are ludicrous. It was their parents that won the world war against the Nazis, split the atom, and put the man on the Moon!!! Baby boomers "golden years" (when they were 25-50), were mired in crisis (1960-1985). They considered themselves as progressive, but in fact avoided fighting at any cost no matter how worthy the cause was (either militarily or by simply by applying themselves to achieve a seemingly unobtainable goal -- like space exploration). If the trend they parents achieved was continued, we would be colonizing Mars right now. One might say that the scientific development after their parents retired in the 70s almost totally stopped for 20 years and only started booming when GenXers and later got into the game. Due to their egotism, social system in the West is going to collapse. They will do anything to prolong their lives at the expense of their (very few) children. They were raised in multiple sibling families, and their parents worked very very hard to provide everything for them. As opposed to their parents, Baby boomers, on average, had very few children and were more interested in being stoned throughout their 30s, accumulating wealth and wasting resources only on themselves. I do not believe there was ever a more egotistical and uninspiring generation then the Baby Boomer generation, aka the spoiled brats. Pissed of Gen-Xer

Re:Baby Boomers/Bummers - a Useless Generation (1)

cprael (215426) | about 7 years ago | (#20628595)

Simple reality. Most of the guys who designed PCs from the mid 70s to the early 90s were Boomers. Deal with it. Most of the people who designed the core technologies in the internet were Boomers.

Most of the people who _did_ stuff_ on that platform were Xers. Yep, I are one, right at the front of the wave.

Technologically, you're wrong. Now, in terms of finance and multigenerational ethics [msn.com] I might be more inclned to agree with you.

Re:Baby Boomers/Bummers - a Useless Generation (1)

JoshHeitzman (1122379) | about 7 years ago | (#20629989)

Sure it was tiny % of boomers doing the innovation from the mid 70s to the early 90s, and those individuals well deserve credit for their achievement; however, their entire generation does not.

Re:Baby Boomers/Bummers - a Useless Generation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20628925)

Someone had an unhappy childhood.

Re:Baby Boomers/Bummers - a Useless Generation (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20629153)

How could you not have an unhappy childhood, growing up parented by the generation behind us and surrounded by the current generation?

Not your fathers' boomers (4, Insightful)

UserGoogol (623581) | about 7 years ago | (#20629073)

I feel it should be pointed out that there are Boomers and then there are Boomers. Many of the most influential Baby Boomers for personal computers were born more or less in the mid fifties. They were barely teenagers when Woodstock happened and they became eligible for the draft just around the time America left Vietnam. To call them Baby Boomers isn't exactly wrong, (some demographers call them Generation Jones, but it's all bullshit anyway) but to lump them in with those "damned self-important idealists" as some of the other posters are doing is unfair, since by the time these guys came of age, the idealism had already begun to go the other way.
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