In December 1984, I decided to buy my two young boys, ages 9 and 11, a Commodore 64 computer for their Christmas present. I ordered it from the Montgomery Ward's catalog for $300. At that time, $300 was a lot for me to spend on them for presents and I doubt they received anything more except for a few games to go with it. There was no monitor, just a keyboard computer with an external disk drive hooked to a TV. They did enjoy it, but they did not learn much about computers beyond how to play the games.
I, on the other hand, was totally fascinated. I wanted to know how it worked and how to make it work. In less than a month, I added a dot matrix printer to the setup. I bought computer magazines and devoured them from cover to cover. At the time, I worked at a quick stop in our little town and I soon started trading computer programs and computer knowledge with several teenage boys that frequented the little store. And, it was just boys. I do not remember any teenage girls at the time showing any interest in our computer talk.
Helen in Arizona also had a Commodore 64, and we traded programs in the mail, and computer talk on the phone. I think sometime in the next year, the disk drive gave out, and it seems Helen got me a used one at a good price from their newspaper adds. Then, when the computer itself gave out sometime in the next year or so, I upgraded to a Commodore 128, twice as big!
My next upgrade was to a mail order IBM clone from Micron Computers and then a colored ink jet printer. I do not remember just what year that would have been, but likely sometime between 1987 and 1990. The next upgrade was a Packard Bell purchased at Sears in Springdale. I think it cost almost $3000 for the entire package and I think I got a new printer with it. I am not so sure of the price, but I know it was at least $2000. Again, I do not remember the year.
After that, it was an E-machine, or maybe 2, from Best Buy, then in 2005 an HP desktop from Best Buy, in 2011 a HP laptop from Wally World, and in early 2012, a Toshiba laptop from Wally World. It is interesting that the last was by far the most powerful of all and was less expensive than any of the earlier desktop computers. In fact, the 2011 HP laptop cost the same as the first Commodore 64.
Mixed in with all those computer changes, I had a few job changes. First in 1988, a move from store to factory. In 1990, came an advancement to Quality Control. I worked second shift and the person that did the same job as I did on first shift also did computer entry for our department. When he took a clerical job in the front office, at a friend's suggestion, I volunteered to take over his computer work. I have had a succession of jobs since then, but each step up or sideways always involved more and more computer work and less and less real work.
And in 2001, my experiences with that first computer paved the way to my current position in front of a computer screen at work, while so many of the people I worked alongside in 1988 are still battling assembly [or dis-assembly] work on the factory floor.
All because of Christmas in 1984.