Last week I decided it was time for Ben to have his first computer. He has his first game system, and his first pair of skates, but if he’s my son, he should start learning how to use a computer. I was pleased when he took right to it.
*Geek Content Follows*
In the late sixties, a man named Douglas Engelbart dreamt up a connected computer system, navigated with a pointing device that came to be called the mouse. His original invention had an array of buttons. Its fabled that by the time the mouse became commonplace, it was an almost religious debate over how many buttons it should have. The Xerox ALTO had 3 buttons, but Steve Jobs insisted fervently that there should be only one. Even today, with Apple’s new high-tech multi-touch mouse, the default behaviour is to treat all clicks as a left click.
It’s a tribute to Dr. Engelbart that our 3-year old intuited the use of the mouse within only a couple seconds, after I put my hand over his and showed him how to point and click. It’s a tribute to Steve Jobs that Ben’s graceless button mashing only ever invokes a left-click operation – no confusing menus for him to get lost in.
See, Ben’s first computer is a Macintosh Performa 6320 – a 14 year-old Mac that I would have killed to have in my room when I was in high school.
*End Geek Content*
I picked up the computer, along with a Mac IIsi, for a grand total of $25 – thanks to a find on Kijiji. They smell horrible (having been owned by a smoker) and were filthy dirty when I brought them home. But I lovingly scrubbed one down, and cleaned up the system software and some extension conflicts, and it’s purring along (and starting to smell better) like it was a brand new computer.
It came with a package called KidWorks 2, which includes a drawing program with cute sound effects. Ben loves it and calls it his “Drawing ‘puter!” I popped in a Patch the Pirate CD (thanks Mom and Dad!) and it started playing right away, and within moments he was happily playing away with classic content on a classic computer — the perfect place for him to start learning. It even has a TV Tuner!