'the before tag'

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Mark Vergeer
Mark Vergeer's picture
Joined: 01/16/2006

What did you do before YouTube?
What did you do before the Internet?
What did you do before computers?
What did you do before video games?

These questions were asked by Marlinlee ( http://www.youtube.com/user/marlinlee )
I actually tried answering all those questions and it became a whole epistle. Read more below. But what would YOUR answers be? Reply below!

Before Youtube?
Before Youtube I hardly watched any online video. And during the first years of Youtube the picture quality was too atrocious for me to even be active on it. I participated on various internet forums focusing in gaming and older computer systems and consoles. I was a lurker for a long time on the http://www.retrogamingradio.com website and forum. And when the website http://www.armchairarcade.com was created I became a very active member and co-editor of that site which was in the early naughties. I was on the internet quite early on - even before the official WWW. I was at University in the late 80s / early 90s and I actually worked as the professor's assistant in teaching SQL, Internet, ICT to medical students while at the same time taking the class myself - kind of weird but I needed to take the class for my Medical degree.

What did I do before the Internet?
Well I was an active point in the Fidonet, a network of Bulletin Board systems which formed an international network of computers where a form of email existed and programs/files could be shared and downloaded. Kermit was the communication program you just had to use and some used a special multitasking DOS environment. When the Universities started to link up and it was possible to ftp to finland and other places I was often found in the computerlab ftp-ing to ftp.funet.fi which had an awesome load of files on the older 16 and 8 systems as well as the emerging Linux. I remember downloading a homebrew version of streetfighter using photographed original arcade graphics from a Californian University ftp server. I remember that this game was VERY good and that there was an update to the graphics at one point. It took forever to download. I did have a SLIP connection over a 56k modem to the VAX server where I could remotely control my terminal window and save the files on my user disk space. Then I would either download them to my system through my modem or I would go to Uni and have a stack of disks with me where I would transfer and compress all the stuff with ARJ (a well known archiving and compression utility back in the day). I rememeber the first emulators started to appear on the PC. Miha Peternel had an excellent C64 emulator out, Marcel de Kogel was working on a port of Marat Fayzullin's fmsx MSX emulator to various platforms. There was also an early Colecovision emulator. I was programming my system in Basic, Turbo Pascal and C using a mixture of Dos, Windows and the emerging Linux. My medical studies went smooth and I was very into the information technology. I always had my C64, MSX, Spectrum systems with me at University and continued to use them and program on them. Did some personal cracking and demo programming on the C64 but never became one of the well known figures.

What did I do before computers?
I was heavily into reading, music, creating art, friends so I guess that saves me from being a complete estranged nerd. I played Volleyball at quite a decent level. Did own a windsurf board and was out on the water a lot. Also did quite some sailing in a friend's boat. I was always a social person going out with friends hanging out at their place. I was also heavily into movies. But most of these things still play a huge role in my life. Before I had a computer I would sit and think out these programs. Seated behind a typewriter I would create listings (basic, asm) and typed them into the typewriter - only because my handwriting was atrocious and this way I was sure I or a friend were able to decipher what I'd written down. I used to experiment writing small basic program listings before I even ever touched a computer but I had read a book on them in the library and found it intriguing that it was possible to tell a machine what to do and make it reproduce it over and over again. The fact that you could do it in either something that looked a little like English was just mind boggling. But assambly/machine code was even more interesting, especially because you were actually controlling the hardware directly. Sadly access to computers was not possible for some time and I just continued to think of all sorts of programs to write. Even dabbled at AI after I read something about it. So you can say that I developed programming skills with graph paper, a stack of A4 paper and an old typewriter and a whole shitload of books from the library. You cannot believe how thrilled I was when one day the library had a sponsored exhibition of various systems. The librarians had already noticed my fascination for the systems and asked me to help them with the exhibit. I did and as the highschool also got a computerlab (TRS-80 machines) I sneaked as a junior. I was scolded because only the last 2 years were allowed in but as I started to show my abilities and programs I got to stay. I quickly learned and even ended up programming an oscilloscope program on the C64 when the science teacher couldn't get the interface and the bare system to work - they didn't buy any program and just had schematics and a crude manual for the interface. They even had to explain me how an oscilloscope worked as that was a little too advanced for the grade I was in at the time. LOL. Of course at the library I was exposed to so many machines and I was able to operate them all - still know a lot of the quirks on how to load/execute programs and what have you.

We had an early pong clone in the 70s and when my parents got me an Odyssey2/Videopac for my birthday I just wished it had been a computer but was happy playing the games and got very interested in them as well.

When my parents got me a C64 I was over the moon. I think I disappeared off of the social radar for a couple of weeks but quickly emerged and manage to balance out a healthy social life, get good grades and tinker with all those computers. I just loved the sheer diversity of the systems. Especially the Apple II - which was far out of my reach - was amazing because of the way you needed to access the hardware in order to get things moving.
I think my social interests got the better of me - I am a shrink now - so I never got too involved into computers to actually become one of these programmers churning out game after game. But sometimes looking back I could have been one as their stories seem so very similar to mine.

With the PC the diversity kind of went away. The various operating systems emerging (Linux, Sun, BeOS, QNX etc) were a good replacement for the similar grey boxes PCs sort of became. The emerging consoles - being very different and sometimes very similar (Coleco, Ti99, MSX, Sega Master System) were also pulling...

Life before videogames? Well being exposed to video-games at an early age they've always been an integral part of the things we used to do to entertain ourselves. But I found myself reading a book on the couch/bed/treebranch/rooftop just as much and even more. Playing boardgames and later on dungeons and dragons in high-school. Watched a ton of Bollywood movies growing up with my brother and Satish H. - the kid next door. I continued to do that in between the get togethers we had when we swapped C90 tapes with Spectrum, C60 tapes with fastloading C64 programs, later on disk nibbled 5.25" 1541 floppies running fast hack'm. I find Youtube and the communication possibilities on the Internet have a more 'addictive' appeal...

Joined: 01/21/2009
What did you do before

What did you do before YouTube?

I dont think i have ever been much of a TV watcher (except sci fi, but honestly the last TV series i can rember really having to watch was BUCK RODGERS (was that like 82ish?)). I have watched some shows on DVD (and recently was hooked on LOST,why I have no idea, its just hte old joke "how do you keep an Idiot in suspense? I will tell you tomorrow". They never resolve anything. As for Computer videos, I have always watched them (demo's started that in the old "scene" for hackers/crackers and people who just did awsome stuff with home PC's.

What did you do before the Internet?

PC addict, game addict, summer outside addict, car addict.. One of the reasons I didnt watch much tv, always outside or in front of a PC or Console. My how times have changed!

What did you do before computers?

Thats a hard one, up till about the age of 10ish I did what all kids do, terrorize my parents, ride bike, etc.. But at about 10 Pong was in the home, and I was addicted, not a Computer per say, but the start.. I never looked back.

What did you do before video games

I grew up with um. basicly they where around as soon as I could use and understand um (almost, unfortnatly I'm just old enough to have had a couple years without um.. but being young) Outside when it was warm and cartoons when it wasnt...

Joined: 05/20/2006
What a thrill it used to be

What a thrill it used to be to drop in a quarter to play Moon Patrol, or go out to the movies, or buy a new record, or send an email. 8 year olds do all these things on an iPod touch now... available at all times in their pocket. What are they going to find exciting in the future? I don't know.

Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Joined: 01/16/2006
I was always exposed to

I was always exposed to videogames. Even at the earliest age I can remember, I had PONG and arcade games (my dad would hold me up in one hand so I could hit the fire button while he worked the joystick). After that, we had a VIC-20, and it was pretty much games, games, games, ever since. So in short the only thing before games and computers was a womb! And I think even that had Dig Dug.


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