My Dad was really into gadgets. And he sometimes paid the price. "Father's Folly" was the name my Mom used to refer to his CB radio — which he adopted way before the "10-4 Good Buddy!" craze. As I recall it reached only a mile or so despite the roof antenna and being on a hill. Later he had a mobile car phone — about the size of a shoe box!
My uncle Gene Palermo was an amateur radio operator, call sign K9TBA. He'd visit our house and sit in his car talking to the world. It caught my attention and Dad noticed. A friend of his at work was into ham radio and agreed to teach me Morse Code and electronics to get a license. It didn't last long. I wasn't ready. But years later I was. My call sign is KA8UHL but I'm not currently active on the air.
I was enthralled around 1975 when I got my first Sears handheld electronic calculator with tiny red numbers. Never was simple arithmetic so much fun! 5 + 5 = 10. 5 x 5 = 25. Wow!
The life changer for me came later with the Apple IIe computer (also written as "Apple //e). I had just started work in 1983 at Tremont West, a local community development corporation in Cleveland, when the agency received a free donation from Apple Computer. It had no hard drive, no WYSIWYG, and only a 5¼" floppy drive — but no matter. Who knew of anything better? Not me, anyway. I just started playing with it, working with it, and learned. I've never attended even a single workshop on computers.
I've been an admitted Apple Fanboy ever since. I find most harsh critics of Mac have had little or no real experience using one. By contrast, most Mac enthusiasts have clocked countless hours using Windows. At the office I work on a Windows machine 40 hours a week and know my way around the system fairly well. This familiarity makes me all the more convinced the Mac platform is infinitely superior to Windows — even as I find Apple, the company, frequently exasperating. For the life of me I can't fathom why some people think Windows is superior, but then I remember when the Big Debate was Ford versus Chevy. Ford supposedly stood for "Fix Or Repair Daily."
Anyway, check out this fun video promoting the powerful new features brought to personal computing by the Apple IIe — including a whopping 64K of RAM! What couldn't you do with that? A very young Steve Jobs appears in this video comparing 1983's Apple IIe with the original version he and Steve Wozniak ("Woz") developed in 1976.