This is John: wanna
chat? (1979 recounted in 89)
128:9) Dave Hughes
I suppose I first became *committed* to using, and developing, asynchronous
telecom communications in the 'communities' of which I was a part, 10 years
ago after subscribing to the Source in its first months of existance.
I didn't know what it was exactly, but I knew it
was important. Especially if it gave the same degree of personal'
communications to individuals that microcomputers were giving them 'personal'
computing. Then, one night after exploring the Source in 1979, somewhat
disappointedly seeing just acres of 'data' and 'information' its
management thought I wanted to buy, the words suddenly appeared on my screen:
"THIS IS JON. WANNA CHAT?"
Suprised, understanding it was some live human being out there in electronic
space connected through the Source to me by a silver thread,
I fumbled around finding the chat command. Which I eventually did
while 'Jon' patiently waited on this computer klutz.
We struck up a conversation. He wanted to know what I did with my computer,
that he had an color Apple, and was into 'hi-rez graphics'. His mastery
of the keys, the subject he wanted to talk about, speed of typing,
and confident style told me he was an accomplished computer professional
who had been doing this for a long time. As a 50 year old novice,
I felt even a little intimidated and inadequate with my bargain basement
Radio Shack Model1, an acoustic modem, a computer which had, as far as
I new, no 'rez' at all. I wasn't sure I could hold up my end of the conversation.
I learned he was in Bethesda, Maryland, but when I told him I was in Colorado
he didn't seem very impressed. Then to say *something* useful I said
we had bought our dog from a breeder in Bethesda years ago. With
papers. He didn't seem impressed with that either.
We chatted for about ten minutes when I brightly asked would he like
to discuss graphics sometime with my son Ed who was obviously
heading toward a career in computers. I even felt a little funny offering
young Ed to this obvious professional. He said yes, and I felt grateful
for his generosity.
I asked him when he was normally on the Source. He replied
"NORMALLY ABOUT 8 PM." Then there was a pause as he guessed what
I was thinking.For when I glanced at the clock it was after11 pm at night
in Bethesda. Thus things were not 'normal.'
Then he burst out on the screen with the words that opened the whole electronic
universe to me, in all of its glorious possibilities.
"WELL I AM ONLY 11. MY FATHER IS OUT. I AM DOWNSTAIRS
The words hit me like a thunderclap. Eleven year old JON, reaching
for the stars, discoursing on an absolutely egalitarian basis with
someone 5 times his age, discussing the science of the future. Confidently
cruising the universe from his living room, at night with a personal
electronic car, in his pajamas.
"THIS IS JON. WANNA CHAT?"
Equivalent to "Dr. Livingston, I presume?" or "The Eagle has landed."
But vastly more significant for the future of every individual on
this planet. That's all it took.