Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 10th Aug 2018 00:06 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

Long before phone addiction panic gripped the masses and before screen time became a facet of our wellness and digital detoxes, there was one good and wise piece of technology that served our families. Maybe it was in the family room or in the kitchen. It could have been a Mac or PC. Chances are it had a totally mesmerizing screensaver. It was the shared family desktop.

I can still see the Dell I grew up using as clear as day, like I just connected to NetZero yesterday. It sat in my eldest sister’s room, which was just off the kitchen. Depending on when you peeked into the room, you might have found my dad playing Solitaire, my sister downloading songs from Napster, or me playing Wheel of Fortune or writing my name in Microsoft Paint. The rules for using the family desktop were pretty simple: homework trumped games; Dad trumped all. Like the other shared equipment in our house, its usefulness was focused and direct: it was a tool that the whole family used, and it was our portal to the wild, weird, wonderful internet. As such, we adored it.

This describes my parental home perfectly, except that our first computer was way earlier than the Napster days - we got our first computer in 1990 or 1991 - and that my brothers and I were way more adept at using the computer than my parents were. Still, this brings back some very old memories.

Order by: Score:
No shared PC, no!
by DeepThought on Fri 10th Aug 2018 06:59 UTC
DeepThought
Member since:
2010-07-17

In my family, I was the first who had computer (ZX81, 1986). And for sure no one was allowed to even touch it.
The following years came a Schneider CPC464 and an Atari ST. And still touching it was equal to becoming killed!

I cannot remember of any friend were it has been different. There has been no shared computer in no family . And when PCs became cheaper, there was no need to do so.

Edited 2018-08-10 07:01 UTC

Reply Score: 5

same here
by cybergorf on Fri 10th Aug 2018 11:24 UTC in reply to "No shared PC, no!"
cybergorf Member since:
2008-06-30

Started with a C64 as a kid probably in 85 Datasette ... later Floppy ... some hacker module to inspect the RAM
Switched to the glorious Amiga; first the 500 than the 3000

My parents had no clue or about computers and no interest in it - so it was my computer ... and yes I got addicted ... and it paid out!

Reply Score: 1

RE: No shared PC, no!
by SaschaW on Fri 10th Aug 2018 21:45 UTC in reply to "No shared PC, no!"
SaschaW Member since:
2007-07-19

I started with a Schneider/Amstrad CPC464. At that time my parents believed a computer could start a nuclear world war like in the movie War Games.

Reply Score: 2

A parent's perspective
by BlueofRainbow on Fri 10th Aug 2018 14:15 UTC
BlueofRainbow
Member since:
2009-01-06

Very likely the majority of the comments will be from users who grew up in a family with a shared computer.

From a parent's perspective, this made economic senses. And with a shared computer model, it was easier to bring only one notebook on family trips as all knew the rules-of-use. With Windows XP, it became easy to set-up the User Accounts (with limited rights) and one Administrative Account for installations and maintenance.

Reply Score: 2

RE: A parent's perspective
by zima on Mon 13th Aug 2018 09:50 UTC in reply to "A parent's perspective"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

I think this was before widespread adoption of notebooks...

Reply Score: 2

Economics
by bolomkxxviii on Fri 10th Aug 2018 14:31 UTC
bolomkxxviii
Member since:
2006-05-19

In the very early 90's halfway decent computers cost around $2,000. Good ones cost more. $2,000 was a LOT of money in the early 90's. It isn't chump change today. Kids with their smartphones today really can't comprehend how different things are from when their parents grew up.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Economics
by zima on Mon 13th Aug 2018 09:47 UTC in reply to "Economics"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Kids with their smartphones today really can't comprehend how different things are from when their parents grew up.

Yeah, I walked to school uphill both ways! ;)

(that said, I bought my first computer, C64, with my own money (though for some reason I still needed a permission, which was hard to come by, to spend that much... :/ ) in 1992; by then it was relatively inexpensive, ~$70 IIRC; and so it was only mine...)

Reply Score: 3

Pure, unadulterated nostalgia
by r_a_trip on Fri 10th Aug 2018 15:26 UTC
r_a_trip
Member since:
2005-07-06

No, the shared family computer didn't save you from your worst selves. That sharing of the computer was dictated by price, not social considerations. Wallowing in "it was better in the past" is such a bad adviser for the course of future actions.

Those kids, "who can't form whole sentences" and "who are isolated by their screens" are better connected and better socially than us old farts ever were. They have large networks of people checking in and making sure everyone is okay. They are also kinder and more forgiving towards each other.

We just don't see it, because we keep clinging to our antiquated notions that to be truly connected we need to be physically present or at least use a 100% attention demanding voice call. Which we then do once or twice a week (if that) and think we're soooo social. Meanwhile the youngsters are sharing the love 24/7 via text and voice messages and responding at the most convenient time, multiple times an hour.

So yeah, hamper your kids social development, because you lack the vision and the means to tap into the social network (formed by people, not media companies) they already built amongst themselves. I bet they will truly flourish when they are raised as a 90's anachronism.

Reply Score: 11

RE: Pure, unadulterated nostalgia
by DeepThought on Fri 10th Aug 2018 20:38 UTC in reply to "Pure, unadulterated nostalgia"
DeepThought Member since:
2010-07-17

Yepp, copy that (or 99% of it).
Same for shamefull photos (like beeing drunk, or wearing a red nose) published. The kids just don't care if the internet does not forget. Only we old dinosaurs see it as a problem.

But don't take it too idealisic: There are problems coming up with the all-time-onliner's.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Pure, unadulterated nostalgia
by leech on Sat 11th Aug 2018 01:05 UTC in reply to "Pure, unadulterated nostalgia"
leech Member since:
2006-01-10

Wait, this is sarcastic right? Kids are becoming nervous talking to each other face to face because their entire social structure is based around a bright screen.

If there is ever a time when all the cell phones and power goes out, they won't know how to act!

Reply Score: 1

Gargyle Member since:
2015-03-27

Kids are becoming nervous talking to each other face to face because their entire social structure is based around a bright screen.

Until you have proof that screens and digital social networks are to blame for those cases, this is pure conjecture or at most anecdotal.

Edited 2018-08-11 12:07 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE: Pure, unadulterated nostalgia
by Athlander on Sat 11th Aug 2018 06:26 UTC in reply to "Pure, unadulterated nostalgia"
Athlander Member since:
2008-03-10



They are also kinder and more forgiving towards each other.



I don't think this is true.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Pure, unadulterated nostalgia
by grub on Mon 13th Aug 2018 12:32 UTC in reply to "Pure, unadulterated nostalgia"
grub Member since:
2018-08-03

Those kids, "who can't form whole sentences" and "who are isolated by their screens" are better connected and better socially than us old farts ever were. They have large networks of people checking in and making sure everyone is okay. They are also kinder and more forgiving towards each other.

We just don't see it, because we keep clinging to our antiquated notions that to be truly connected we need to be physically present or at least use a 100% attention demanding voice call. Which we then do once or twice a week (if that) and think we're soooo social. Meanwhile the youngsters are sharing the love 24/7 via text and voice messages and responding at the most convenient time, multiple times an hour.

Total bullshit. All those "hyper-connected" teens can only afford to pay maybe like about 3% of their attention to each and every virtual "friend" in their social network. Which is about as good as saying "hi" to a random colleague at work whose name you don't even remember.
It is so because:
1. The number of "virtual friends" is very high and their activity is non-stop 24/7. And attention is a limited resource.
2. Attention of anyone actively engaged in social media is already heavily fragmented and very unstable.
3. Most of the interactions are done while doing something else at the same time.

Also, most of those "hyper-connected" teens can't even name one third of their "friends" without looking at Facebook friend list.
Most of them can't tell what they were just chatting about with their Facebook friends just 10 minutes ago.
All of their "connections" on social media are highly disposable and not even remotely similar to real-life friends.
What youngsters are sharing is not "love", but rather ego-boosting, carefully crafted, artificial images of themselves.

From my own experience, 2 hours in a bar once every few months makes you much better connected to a person than daily chatting on social media.

So don't try to push this bullshit here, what you're saying is simply not true.

Edited 2018-08-13 12:51 UTC

Reply Score: 2

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Spot on! And as for this notion that these kids are kinder to each other... wow, I want whatever the OP is smoking, because that's sure some potent stuff. I suspect that the OP hasn't ever paid attention to the way these kids are really acting on social media. One mistake does not get forgotten, it gets thrown about again and again and the hate army can jump on you at any time. If you thought kids were cruel to one another in person, pay attention to the constant barrage of subtle barbs and jabs they take on their social media profiles. And woe to you if your opinion differs from the social mob!

Reply Score: 1

No.
by tidux on Fri 10th Aug 2018 16:08 UTC
tidux
Member since:
2011-08-13

Shared PCs were always a bone of contention. Moving to individual PCs was always better. The only way I would do a "shared PC" for a future family of mine is a big fat Linux machine with multiple thin clients.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by kurkosdr
by kurkosdr on Fri 10th Aug 2018 17:34 UTC
kurkosdr
Member since:
2011-04-11

Ahh, memories... Due to a rule in my family home of not having a TV or computer in the two kid bedrooms (so TV time and computer time could be monitored by my parents) the shared computer also had a PlayStation (and later an Xbox) connected to it via a cheap TV tuner card, which made computer time even more precious.

With the exception of summer though, it didn't matter due to this other rule of homework before anything else. Those two rules got me in university basically...

PS: The Xbox also had an ethernet connection to the PC so I could copy games from the Xbox DVD drive (via Evox and later UnleashX) and so I could upload homebrews.

PPS: Our family computer got dismantled and ended up in the attic so the space it occupied could be repurposed.

Edited 2018-08-10 17:50 UTC

Reply Score: 0

RE: Comment by kurkosdr
by quackalist on Sun 12th Aug 2018 00:53 UTC in reply to "Comment by kurkosdr"
quackalist Member since:
2007-08-27

Think you had it tough I hadn't seen a TV till I was nearly 7...oh wait, that's a plus.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by kurkosdr
by zima on Mon 13th Aug 2018 10:02 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by kurkosdr"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

The secret was to be good in school even despite lots of time "wasted" on TV or computer. ;) (@kurkosdr - and despite those and not actively learning much beyond school lessons, I got maximum math score on the highschool-ending exam, opening doors to every uni I'd want)

Reply Score: 3

What shared computer?
by Earl C Pottinger on Sat 11th Aug 2018 00:31 UTC
Earl C Pottinger
Member since:
2008-07-12

My first machine was an electro-mechanical Logix 2000 - my parents had no interest in it.

There was also no interest when I had KIM-1 controlling the robot Steven and I built.

The I got a Pet-2001 and to keep my brothers off it I got the an Atari VCS.

Finally when I got a C64 they noticed I had a machine because of the modem on the phone line all night.

The started to boast about me an computers when I got an Amiga 1000 and hooked up a VT100 terminal, but they spent their time telling their friends I was so smart that I needed two computers!

Finally when I moved to BeOS on a dual CPU machine they go their first computer - but mom insisted on run Windows ME on that all follow up machine.

Finally today I am settled on use Haiku on my machines.

AT NO TIME COULD MY PARENTS EVER EVEN START MY MACHINE MUCH LESS USE THEM.

Reply Score: 4

Ha, my family's first computer...
by leech on Sat 11th Aug 2018 01:06 UTC
leech
Member since:
2006-01-10

Was an Atari 800XL, but it pretty much was shared between me and my brothers. Spent a lot of time hex editing Ultima IV for sure.

Reply Score: 2

Heartwarming :)
by uridium on Sat 11th Aug 2018 07:36 UTC
uridium
Member since:
2009-08-20

Heart warming tale. Similar with us. Just dad and I in the family and we went:
MicroBee -> C64 -> Amiga500 + 8088 PC -> Amiga3000 -> Amiga1200T.

Lots of assembler, text editing for his work, assignments for me and learned C there for TAFE.

Reply Score: 2

friendcomputer
by feamatar on Sat 11th Aug 2018 10:52 UTC
feamatar
Member since:
2014-02-25

In my memories the friendship that resonates not the family.

In working class families usually parents didn't care about computers, it was there for the kids for education or just simply for gaming as the other kids already head one.

The fun thing was that every year a different kid got a computer, it was interesting to see how the rigs evolved. First one guy had a C64, next year the other guy got his brothers 486, next year other guy got the P1, then the following year a guy got a Celeron, then the following year another guy got a stronger Celeron. Then the guy who had the P1 got a P4.

And we all met at each others places for some fun time, and by 2000 almost everyone had a computer, and finally I joined the club at the end of 2001 with my Duron.

Reply Score: 1

RE: friendcomputer
by zima on Mon 13th Aug 2018 09:51 UTC in reply to "friendcomputer"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

finally I joined the club at the end of 2001 with my Duron

My first PC-compatible was a Duron 600 in 2000. ;) (modem included, so it kinda ended up being much more expensive than the upfront cost of the machine ;) )

Reply Score: 2

Broader view?
by SonicMetalMan on Sat 11th Aug 2018 13:48 UTC
SonicMetalMan
Member since:
2009-05-25

Though I think the writer is nearly spot-on I think I have a broader view of the tech explosion having grown up in the 70's. We had no PC's or personal electronics, Hell even TV with more than a few channels was hard to come by. As kids we all interacted out of friendship and necessity since we had no other means of interaction other than landline telephones.

I saw the beginnings of the PC revolution as a young unmarried adult, so the family desktop was never a thing for me. I migrated at-will from a TI 99/4A to an Amiga 500 to a first-gen Compaq Portable. They were all stand-alone devices not connected to anything other than my imagination. During the 80's I learned BASIC and fortran in an effort to expand my little world.

Flash forward a bit to the early 90's. As PC's became more powerful and modem connectivity became a thing, I started spending more time exploring the outside world and less time growing my own.

Consider the analogy of the family desktop as a timeshare mainframe from the 60's. You had to maximize your timeslice in the early days which kept idle time to a minimum. Idle time on the connected home PC meant it could be used for less exemplary purposes, yes I'll say it, Little Johnny scouring through the dark underbelly of the BBS's or internet.

I believe a significant portion of youth today are largely socially crippled by their devices and internet. Their world view is almost entirely influenced by Twitter and Snapchat, and to a lesser extent Instagram and Facebook. Be engaged in your children's lives and keep open dialog about what they see and read online and how it makes them feel.

The family desktop may be gone but we can still use the lessons learned by monitoring access so we can try to keep our kids pointed in the right direction.

For the Love of God please don't put smartphones in the hands of 10-12 year olds without parental controls.

Reply Score: 0

Not still the case?
by rlees on Sat 11th Aug 2018 15:26 UTC
rlees
Member since:
2011-01-02

Doesn't everyone still =have= a family PC? The form factor still makes a lot of sense, especially if someone in the family is a PC gamer (the indisputable, yes INDISPUTABLE, best way to game). Sure there is lots of justification for a laptop but if/when we get one I'm sure the preference would still be to do homework, etc. on the bigscreen PC.

Not that the hobby computing and tinkering happens on our PC - we've got arduino's and raspberry's for that.

I understand everyone's sentimentality for what they had when we were growing up - but is there really anything about where we are today to cause much lamentation?

Reply Score: 0