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What was life like before computers?

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We had to play video games by drawing them out on a chalkboard. :-)

We played A LOT of out-of-door games in our childhood--Soccer; baseball; basketball; Tag! you're It; Cowboys & Indians; Cops & Robbers (more or less the same game but with a different name and maybe slightly different rules); Handsup! (sic) (Ditto). we also played many in-doors Board games, such as Chess; Checkers; Monopoly; Snakes & Ladders; Scrabble; ex cetera ex cetera. my daddy left my life.

We read a lot of books, for fun. We also watched TV, those of us who had TV (our family didn't, and how glad I am for that! Saved me so much time which would otherwise be a total waste). We wrote our own homework, with the aid of real, heavy, hardcover books (such as the famous Encyclopedia Britannica, which was then an actual, mega-multi-volume printed book rather than an online website).

We hardly talked on the phone (there were no cellular phones, and the land line phones were considered expensive and used sparingly).

We bought only what we needed, in actual stores or by telephone (there was no Internet without computers, of course). We traveled much less, because many of us didn't own a car, so we used the subway, the train, or a taxi cab (planes were VERY expensive those days. However, I'm too young to have actually traveled by sea just to get from place to place as opposed to pleasure, like the previous generation did).

We sent big packages overseas by sea mail, since airmail was only within our budgets for letters, postcards, aerograms , etc. We sent telegrams for urgent written communications (there were no fax machines yet).

Oh, and High-quality Science Fiction was just emerging out from its Infancy. I remember reading my first Asimov Robot Short Stories, and watching my first Star Trek episode. And the Beetles entirely changed our perspective of Music (the older generation only listened to Classic Music) (Of course, this may be a peculiarity of my own small family & friends' circle. But I'm telling it the way I remember it. If you remember something else, feel more than encouraged to amend this, add and elaborate from your own personal experience).

I always carried a couple of quarters in my pocket in case I needed to call on a pay phone. (There were no cell phones then; as of 2009, a modern cell phone typically has at least a 1 core CPU.)

Many people filled things out "in triplicate" using carbon copy paper and typewriters. Typists had to be extremely careful, because incorrect words had to be "x'd out" and then followed by the correct word -- and if there was no room for the correct word, the entire form had to be re-typed from the beginning.

When people needed more than 3 copies of something -- in particular, when school teachers needed to hand out copies of the same test to every student -- they used a ditto machine, which produced faint purple letters on white paper. Or else they wrote it once in chalk, and students wrote both the question and the answer on relatively blank paper.

Photographs were rare, because every time you pushed the shutter button you irreversibly used up a piece of film. ... say something about the weeks/months that passed between pressing the shutter and seeing what the camera actually captured ... say something about negatives here ... something about 'photoshopped' images ...

We rolled car windows up and down with a manual crank. (As of 2009, most new cars have dozens of CPUs, so the driver can push a button connected to one CPU near him, which sends the "right rear window down" message to a CPU near that window, which turns on the electric motor to roll down the right rear window.)

Before computers, it was pretty easy to figure out how most machines (such as manual-crank car windows) worked. You could "pop the covers" and look at the mechanism linking the various parts and eventually figure it out. I'm pretty sure no one has ever figured out Reed-Solomon coding from disassembling a CD player; it's all hidden inside the CPU.

Before computers (and hence before CNC machines), most machines were built so they would work even when built to relatively loose tolerances. And so it was much easier to repair, adjust, customize, and otherwise improve machines. ... The old joke about Washington's axe ... . Because it costs much less to buy a new integrated circuit than to repair an integrated circuit, this has gradually led to a "disposable society" (Wikipedia: throw-away society) that some people view with sadness.

The few stores that accepted credit cards took an "impression" with a handheld machine that pressed carbon copy paper against the card, similar to stamp seal technology in use for millennia.

I've been told that ever since people started designing spacecraft using computers, no human has ever traveled more than 1 megameter from Earth's surface. Just before people started designing spacecraft with computers, a few humans traveled over 300 megameters from Earth, as part of what some people call "the greatest achievement in human history."

^ In fact, the above information is not correct. Computers - albeit clunky computers, compared to those in our time - were indeed used for the Apollo 11 mission, and the mission would most likely not have been possible without their aid. The Apollo program pioneered, among other things, the use of digital computers, and one of the first Integrated Circuit based computers (The Apollo Guidance Computer) was installed on board every module.

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