Grandaddy’s computer

So, back in 1998 or 1999 or whenever it was, I was absolutely thunderstruck when I opened up my email one afternoon and there was a message from my parents, who would have been almost octos then! Say what? We (my brother and I) had been kind of picking at them to get a computer but we expected that one of us (oh, probably The Engineer since I have always been a wee bit of a black sheep-type person1) would be involved in the purchase.

Nope. The Commander went out and bought her own big old IBM-compatible PC2 and got some tech whiz guy to set it up for her. I can’t say that The Comm was ever a power computer user but she was tenacious and she managed email, web surfing, and MS Word with aplomb for many years.

Grandroobly? Well, one of my fav-o-rite stories about him was the time I had to [once again] take my loverly old POC to the Chrysler dealer up there in the yooperland to get something obnoxious fixed. We were also tasked with a booze run. We dropped off the POC and I rode with Grandroobly to Glen’s where we found the required items. When we got to the checkout lane, Grandroobly asked, “Did your mother give you any money?” Me [a bit nonplussed]: “Noooo…” [I have my own money.] “I’m just gonna swipe my debit card.” [Er, like I always do…] Grandroobly: “Oh.” And then when we got next to the swiper, he moved well away over by the exit as if expecting the swiper to blow up or whatever…

I’m not sure why my dad was so reticent about computers but I suspect it began when he was a bank executive and his bank had to make the transition from the old fashioned hand-written ledgers to computerized transactions. That was in the late 1970s or so and I remember that being an absolutely tortuous transition.

By the time The Comm bought her first computer, I think that my dad’s world and mindscape were shrinking enough that he didn’t have the confidence to dive in to learning a new technical skill. I think that at a certain point most of us get to the point where we are more concerned with keeping up with what we can normally do than learning new skills. Sad but true. That day at Glen’s I was a 40-something with absolutely no fear of using a computer or a plastic card swiper. I did a double-take at a few things my dad did or said that day. It was my first glimpse into his somewhat near future and (urp) my someday future, or a version thereof.

Computers have been the tools of my trade throughout my adult life. But the photooo shows the “computer” that my dad used when he was a pilot and flight instructor back in WWII. I have no idea how to work this thing. I *think* it’s something like a slide rule in the round? The GG and the Mean Old Grunchie Old Grinchie both seem to have some idea of how it works. Not me. It seems that this computer is what Grandroobly had to use to make the various calculations required to keep a B29 bomber in the air3. Knowing my dad, I’m sure he was an expert at making calculations with it.

1 In the last weeks of The Comm’s life, I mentioned to various social workers and hospice folks that I was really *not* the fave child. That’s not *exactly* true and I know it. We all love our children equally but differently. It’s just that I know that if my brother had still been around and *he* had said something like, “Mom, you need to stop driving and move to assisted living”, she would probably have done it without too much fight. Thank the gods that the social workers and hospice folks seemed to understand what I was saying and were able to laugh with me and even The Comm when she was free of pain enough to participate.

2We used to call them that, I think. I just say “Windows musheen” now. (I hope I remember to schlep my Windows musheen to work tomorrow. It is sitting open and hopefully drying out some more.)

3Also not sure if this was actually used in the B29 or if it was just a training tool. I do know that the computers of that age were so big that most planes could probably not get off the ground…

One Response to “Grandaddy’s computer”

  1. Sam Says:

    I have a circular slide rule around here somewhere, and it resembles your dad’s pilot-computer.