Sunday, August 20, 2017

NUTSHELL

Back in the  1970’s, a member of the Cooley Law School Board of Directors, Jack DesJardins, was invested in a small Lansing company that was manufacturing a device they called a “personal computer.”

Jack was very enthusiastic about the product. He predicted that the day would come when literally everyone would own one. He would talk at length about the miracles that a personal computer would perform.

In those days, Cooley had a device called a ‘computer’ which was as big as a desk. It had a keyboard with which we could input student information; grades, etc.

The only output was a huge sheet of green paper on which all the information about each student was printed on one line.

Jack insisted that his PC’s could do that and much, much more. So I bought a bunch of them. I had one placed on my secretary’s desk, expecting her to giggle with delight. She didn’t. After a day or two, she insisted that I bring back her electric typewriter.

So there we were, proud owners of several PC’s. Unfortunately, nobody knew what to do with them.

Undaunted, I stopped by a store called “Software City.” Not wanting to admit my problem, I told the clerk I was the secretary of a bowling league and wanted a program that would allow me to keep track of bowlers’ names, addresses, scores and averages.

He eagerly brought out a package called “Nutshell.” I told him if he showed me how it worked I would buy it. He did, and I did.

From that day forward, I became what my niece called “a data base junkie.”

I spent countless hours on weekends and evenings typing in the names, addresses and academic records of students. During the day, I spent my time trying to convince the Registrar, Admissions Officer and Comptroller that they could do their jobs on Jack DesJardins’s PC’s using my $200 Nutshell software.

The dawn of the computer age at Cooley Law School wasn’t pretty, but the fact is that Nutshell ultimately morphed into a product called Filemaker which is highly sophisticated and still used, I believe, by Cooley and in many other places.

I am still a junkie.

I use Filemaker for lots of things; the Christmas card list; my personal filing system, and a diary which also serves as a calendar and, as the passing of time dims the memory, as a place to tell myself everything I promise to remember.

Most recently, I have been developing a scoreboard for the game of Golfball. If you want to know what Golfball is, take a look at my blog of July 22nd

Much as the electronic age has made life easier and allowed us to do things that simply were not possible in the age of pencil and paper, there are some drawbacks.

Sometimes, the computer just won’t compute. A week or so ago, my Macbook Pro went down. Not completely, thank God, but I lost contact with the Internet, which is sort of like having your house quarantined in the 1930’s because somebody had chicken pox.

No Internet, No Google. No Wikipedia. No email. Chuck Donnelly, Petoskey’s computer guru, was on vacation. It was like being in jail.

Strangely, I discovered that there is such a thing as life beyond the computer. I played a little golf, spent more time chatting with my wife, and horror of horrors, found myself actually watching television.

Donnelly finally arrived, did his magic, and now I’m back at the keyboard, all psyched up to write a blog. My first instinct is to write about this damned computer and how it has taken over my life.

On the other hand, who really gives a fig? Everybody has a computer, and nobody else is complaining.


Is it possible that this is the real world and everything else is fantasy?

2 comments:

  1. Real or fantasy, no whining from the yacht!

    ReplyDelete
  2. My guru son's tell me that the techniques you now enjoy with such comfort and success are primitive and will soon be replaced with voice operated instructions.
    Now can you just imagine the joy your old secretary would have with these techniques?

    ReplyDelete