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17958 Hughes, David Ralph
The Committment

This is John: wanna chat? (1979 recounted in 89)

   128:9) Dave Hughes                          22-MAR-89  11:52

         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:


         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.


        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.


         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.

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