So here I am obsessing over the iPhone coming to Canada. Wondering whether I should wait for the official release from Rogers or to ask an American friend to ship me one that I can jailbreak. As if I need another tech gadget, another way to get online.
Reality check time – Computers are finally (legally) available in Cuba. They went on sale there last Friday. But Internet access will still be unavailable to the home user. Here’s the Washington Post’s take on the story.
And here’s a vid from the BBC:
Now I should tackle some serious questions, like “why tower PCs and not more energy efficient cheapo laptops instead?” or “will these new economic freedoms to buy computers or cellphones in Cuba ultimately lead to unforseen political consequences?”
But no. Cuz this story made me nostalgic — it made me recall the very first PC I ever owned. It was an Apple II clone that I built with the help of my dad when I was about 10 years old. My science teacher in grade school was selling kits with all the parts and we assembled it in the science labs at school on a Saturday morning. Looked a lot like these shots.
(source: Apple II History)
I spent hours and hours playing with this thing. At first I had no internet BBS access, so I remember trading those 5.25″ floppies with my geek friends at school to get the latest games and such (A cracked version of Castle Wolfenstein took something like 10 floppies – man, installing that was a pain). I learned to make simple little proggys in Basic. I learned about hexadecimal codes and how to make simple graphics and animations. I can still picture that classic green-on-black display.
I didn’t do much homework with it. Actually, because of this thing, I did a lot less homework generally. Watched a lot less TV too. So you get some good with the bad.
This little machine had a hugely formative impact on me. While I didn’t end up being a real ‘geek’ — I took anthropology and literature at University, not computer science — I have always found ways to indulge my inclinations and tendencies in this direction. And ever since my introduction to the Apple II, I’ve always spent waaay too much time interacting with the computer, rather than, uh, people and life and stuff like that.
This little toy set off a chain of events that culminated in the post you are reading now. I’m sure the Cubans are ready for this, but is their government?