According to the “powers that be” who create generational names, I am what is considered to be an older millennial. My understanding of this term means I was young enough to adapt to the newest technologies and still use that ability today; however, it did not play a huge role in my childhood the way it does with the younger millennials and the generations following. There are two things that I would consider to be my first digital encounter as they happen to occur roughly at the same time.
I was around the age of 13 or 14 when my family got a PC, if I remember correctly it was a cream color Compaq. It was one of the newer models due to the monitor being a full color monitor instead of the black background with green type. It also had a CD-Rom drive as well as a diskette compartment. It was set up in what we called the TV room. It was set up there because of space and having easy access to use the phone line that connected to the computer. I was considered lucky, that I was able to create my own screen name and have my own email account. However, the rule was my parents had to have the password since parental controls were not how they are today. The other rule was I could only be online when an adult was home, which seemed to be a common rule amongst most of my friends who had a family computer. I remember being excited the first few times of logging into the internet as the screeching and whooshing sounds the dial-up connection made as it was connecting to the internet. Once connected, it was even more exciting hearing those famous AOL words “you’ve got mail” sound off and wondering what mail I had received. I sometimes have to remind myself of those times when I get frustrated when my Wi-Fi is slow today. Even though it as in the TV room, my parents were not checking over my shoulder when I was on the internet so I had a tiny bit of privacy. It was understood though they could come by at any time to check and they had the password so there was not much hiding. Plus, with it being still relatively new there were not as many sites as there are today. The other reason my parents made the rule of one of them being home while I was on the internet was to limit internet usage because the connection charges would be on the phone bill, similar to long distance/international charges, or at least that’s what they told me.
The other digital experience took place at school during computer class and yes that is the name of the class. We were taught how operate a computer and to type properly using the homes keys and placement of fingers correctly without having to look at the keyboard. The most exciting thing about that class was on Fridays the reward for doing well that week was spending the class period playing The Oregon Trail. In the U.S. most people in the older millennial generation this is a computer games we all have a fond memory of playing. It still amazes me that in the following 4-5 years the online computer gaming community expanded rather quickly due to the internet connection of DSL becoming readily available. Add another 5 years to that and started having phones that had internet connection before data plans were created. It will be interesting to see how many new technologies will be made available in the next 10 years or if it’s starting to plateau.
- AOL Image: https://www.networkworld.com/article/2923072/a-requiem-for-aol-looking-back-on-the-webs-first-big-company.html
- The Oregon Trail Image: https://twitter.com/oregontrail/status/1031587080110059520/photo/1