I read with interest a get together of the creators of the venerable BBC micro computer at the science museum. My first forays into computer network support would have been a part time job in a school which had a room of networked computers that all booted off a 10 MB hard drive (oh the sheer size of it).
The same BBC computer was the front end of the Domesday project which many school contributed content to and on completion and publication the school used to hire an appropriate laser disk and computer set-up which was placed in the library for all to access. Via the laser disk we had full motion video and interactivity long before any of us had clapped eyes on or heard about the Internet.
In many ways I.T. support was easier then as we didn’t have virus and worm headaches to worry about although we certainly did have teenage boy hackers even back then who soon learned how to disrupt planned classes with networked messages and other malicious activity.
And What You See Is What You Get
I was never very interested in computers per se. I was more interested in what you could do with them. I was slowly building a business working with video and was fascinated by early crude attempt to capture video stills and even sections of video onto disc for further manipulation and although I never owned a BBC Micro I certainly remember what writing in wordstar was like before the days of wysiwyg word processors and it was a good learning experience.
I was given a pretty free hand to explore the then capabilities and enjoyed the level of creative and technical freedom at a time when computing was in its relative infancy and I was not bogged down with user problems as we only had one dedicated computer room of 27 or so micros and so the main job was essentially to develop uses which was certainly very rewarding and empowering.
Belief in I.T.
The Beeb certainly didn’t have the power of today’s computers but without the distraction of endless upgrade cycles and the Internet it was perhaps easier to stay focussed on the positive aspects of computer aided learning than the belief that would later infect many educational institutions that spending large on computers would automatically push of school exam statistics.