C U L8tr
Believe it or not, it all started with a red Big Chief tablet and a big fat pencil. Someone handed us the pencil and tablet and pointing at a chart across the top of the blackboard said, "This is how you make an 'a' and an 'A.'"
One day -- I'm not sure when it happened -- we graduated from big fat pencils and Big Chief tablets to yellow No. 2 pencils and wide sheets of paper with broken lines sandwiched between unbroken lines meant to guide our little hands as we learned the upper and lower case letters of the alphabet. These larger sheets of paper were, at times, displayed across the bottom of the tray that held the chalk at the bottom of the blackboard (which may also have been green).
Soon our letters became words and our words became sentences and our sentences became paragraphs.
Later, we were introduced to loose leaf notebooks and their reams of white, blue-lined paper featuring pre-punched holes. Around this time we also learned about ink pens -- most likely the little clear ones that a certain television spokesperson used to shoot out of a gun and into a piece of wood to show how strong they were. (And they only cost 19 cents. What a deal.) Even later, the notebooks were joined by spiral notebooks, which could be substituted for loose-leaf notebooks depending upon the application (yet a word we didn't use so frequently back then). They were bound on the left side of the paper, just past the vertical pre-printed red margin line, by a long wire "spiral" that made using the notebooks extremely uncomfortable for those who wrote with their left-hands. The wires also made it messy when you pulled the paper out of the notebook, but we won't get into that.
In time we were introduced to "college ruled" filler paper so we could cram more words on each page. Along with college ruled paper came "theme" books -- "tablets" of notebook paper with pre-punched holes that were not loose-leaf. Rather, they were bound at the left side -- just past the vertical pre-printed red margin line -- and the pages were perforated for ease of extraction. These may or may not have been more comfortable for lefties, one can never be sure. And who can forget those fancy yellow tablets, lovingly referred to as "legal pads?"
One day we turned around and someone was clickety-clacking away on some strange electronic device called an automatic typewriter. They were fast, clean and streamlined and at times even corrected mistakes automatically. From there it wasn't long before we were looking at little black screens with monotype letters -- either amber or green -- that definitely needed the standard "back arrow" they all came with. They were usually tied to large computers called "main frames" that took up an entire room and printed information onto boxes full of pin-fed paper through the magic of "chains" type.
It wasn't a long stride from there to personal, desktop computers. After all, who couldn't use a "personal" computer? Well ... most of us, that's who.
We went from small screens and large keyboards (the apparatus that replaced the typewriter) to large screens and small keyboards, from monochrome monitors (the place where we could read what we wrote) to full color screens and we really took off from there.
Our desktop personal computers became laptop personal computers and then we were introduced to hand-held devices to track our calendars, meetings and important contact information.
Then they went and took the telephone off the wall, put it in our hands and included the functions of personal desktop and laptop computers in our phones and programmed (another word we used in a completely different way years ago) them to allow us to talk to one another without really talking to one another. Then they taught them how to let us see each other while we were talking on the device (can you say George Jetson?).
It has been a long time since the Big Chief tablet and the big fat pencil. Yet, we apparently have come full circle: we need someone to teach us to put letters together to make words that make sentences that make sense.
How terribly sad.
BBFN ... C U L8tr.