Fruit-based technology

Whilst discussing computers and mobile phones with a good friend of mine the other day, she referred to ‘those fruit-based ones’. It didn’t take too long for me to realise that she was of course referring to suppliers such as Apple, Blackberry and Orange. I recalled an extremely funny sketch by Ronnie Corbett, which reminded me of the power of advertising, as well as how much we take for granted. Imagine, if you will, an English-speaking person who has been out of contact from what we refer to as ‘civilisation’ for a number of years – marooned on a desert island perhaps. They would have absolutely no idea of the real meaning, much less the humour, behind the sketch that you can see here: My Blackberry Is Not Working.

A number of people have voiced their opinions to me over the merits, and otherwise, of certain fruit-based products. For a great many years I have used the Windows-based computers – I have also used a variety of mobile phones. At one time I found myself carrying a mobile phone as well as a rather bulky Psion Organizer – happily, the modern mobiles incorporate all of the Organizer functions, plus the phone and much more besides! Naturally, there is still a place for paper and pen in the form of diaries and notebooks – although I could perhaps point out at this point that the latest Filofax are quite bulky!

We have come a long way since the early Personal Computers (PC’s) like the ones I first used back in the early 1990’s, and even further from my very first computer which was purchased in 1981 and which was a Sinclair ZX81. We are now used to computer hard drives and external storage devices with capacities in Gigabytes (Gb) and Terabytes (Tb), but that Sinclair ZX81 had no ‘hard drive’ to store data – programs and data were loaded from and saved onto a cassette tape, by converting the data into sound. Also the ‘memory’ on that computer, known as Random Access Memory (RAM) was not measured in Tb, Gb or even Megabytes (Mb), but in Kilobytes (Kb) it had just 1Kb or 1024 bytes! If you consider that when typing words on a computer, each letter, space and carriage return takes up one byte, that little computer allowed for barely 1,000 letters! There was an additional ‘RAM pack’ with a capacity of 16Kb, but the data stored in it and the 1Kb of main memory was irretrievably lost if power to the computer was lost. In addition, the 16Kb RAM pack could be knocked or disturbed if the computer was moved, which could also result in a loss of data! Things did improve though, as the Sinclair Spectrum with a 48k memory appeared the following year, but it wasn’t until 1987 that the Sinclair Spectrum +3, with an integral disk drive enabling programs and data to be stored on floppy disk, came along. I used a +3 model right up until 1993, when I purchased my first PC!

picture of a Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k computer

Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k model

Nowadays my computers and mobile are a mixture of both Windows and Apple products, which is essential for the training courses I run for both types of product. I do wonder what ‘fruity’ name will be used next, though!


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