01 March 2006

Modern times. Part three: Enchantment

On my return to England I found, much to my dismay, that the typewriter just wasn't enough. We had to do our work on the computer. So I ventured into the computer room, reignited my Word Perfect knowledge, and became a WP wiz (if there ever was such a thing). I was beginning to enjoy it!

Then I caught someone giggling by the machine. Now, even though I knew the codes for bold and italics by heart by then, I didn't giggle. Not much. So I asked what they were doing?! They told me they were talking to someone on a different machine. In the same room. (Bear in mind this was still in the stone age.) I figured it had to be some kind of telexing... I felt vaguely attracted to it. Then someone told me that only overseas students (I was one!) with a tutor overseas (I hadn't got one...) were allowed to even have a password for this strange kind of mail contact. It was way too expensive for the university if everyone were to do the same. I felt a keener attraction immediately...

An acquaintance helped me create a name ("Mowgli") and a password. He also told me the thing was called "isca" and that the address was a multi-digit number. I had no idea what he was on about, but I did as he said. And suddenly I was giggling by the machine too!

Being there really late (well, actually quite early in the morning), to avoid the inspectors who were out to make sure we didn't waste university money, I found I'd connected with people in the States and Australia, who were supposed to be up at those hours... I was awestruck! Then it turned out my most trusted "isca friend" was in fact in the same room as me. I know that for a fact, as he got up and waved at me... I was confused. Was this telexing within a room, or some kind of magic instant writing contact across the oceans???

As you'll all know, it was both. I stayed in that room and learnt a lot about it. I learnt that sleep was no longer interesting. (In fact, sleep makes me very irritable even these days...)

I learnt that even if I send an Irish Monopoly board game to my isca friend in the States, it doesn't mean he returns an American one. (I'm still waiting!)

But I loved it.

Isca had no images, no colours, just plain writing, black or blue screens with white print. Still, it was like magic. And then I discovered chat rooms... We even convinced some invisible managerial person to make us a Python quote room! Thank goodness we only had 9 hours class every week, and practically no homework!

Now all I've got to do is convince my boss and / or my hubby that blogging through the night makes me a better worker / wife / mum. Easy...


Claire said...

I remember those days and machines too. I'm not a huge fan of IM'ing even now, but it seemed so cool the first time I could type something and get an immediate response. (It improved my typing speed and accuracy quite a bit too ;)

Chloe said...

it does make you a better wife/mum/employee. you've got stories to tell!