a less nerderrific computer history

April 2, 2013 | 37 Comments

steve and shannon wearing toques and goofy looks.

Steve has a nerderrific computer history. His family bought their first computer when he was six years old in 1981. It was a TI994a and hooked up to a cassette player and the TV. Bonkers! I told him he should write about it. I’ll make him; I promise.

My computer history (is less interesting)

  1. (1985ish) My family had an Atari. The games I remember are Pitfall, Pac-Man, Pong and Breakout.
  2. (1990-1993) I don’t remember any more computers until I took typing and accounting in High School. I’m thinking my memory must be playing tricks on me because surely my Elementary and Junior High had computers?! Was Calgary lollygagging?
  3. (1993/94) After graduation I went to a Bible School for a year (Baptist Leadership Training School—like the sandwich, but with more Jesus). Computers. Nope. Don’t remember any.
  4. (1994) After BLTS, I got a job working for Karen. Karen had a consulting firm and hired me to input trucking freight info slip thingies. A computer was involved.
  5. (1996) Karen eventually brought her roommate Flora on board and started a Christian magazine we named Beyond. I taught myself Quark and Photoshop because I was mostly in charge of design and layout. This is my first memory of having my own email address and discovering what computers were capable of.

Dear Beyond Magazine

Beyond was a great rag. It was full of killer content. Besides being smart, funny and creative, Karen and Flora are also ridiculously talented writers. Why the magazine wasn’t wildly successful is… beyond me.

After the first issue of Beyond went live (with my glorious layout and design—photo booth pictures were involved), we got a letter from a reader. That reader was Aaron Leighton, a crazy-talented, soon-to-be ACAD graduate. His letter praised the content of the magazine and tenderly trashed my beloved, amateur design. Oh my heart.

Karen hired Aaron and his mega-talented friend, Janine Vangool. Isn’t that the best job-snagging story? Janine and Aaron were a killer pair and designed the shit out of the following 15 magazine issues, until Beyond’s death. They have both gone on to do amazing, beautifully creative projects. I feel lucky to have their goodness in my history books.

But back to me

While listening to Steve’s computer timeline I couldn’t help but compare my lack of exposure to computers or drive/know-how to teach myself. Most of what Steve knows is self-taught. And it’s a fucking lot, you guys. Steve and his brother Michael are capital S Smart. Michael is the reason they bought that computer when Steve was six. Michael specifically asked for a computer that had the capability for gaming and programming. HE WAS ELEVEN.

It wasn’t until I plotted my computer timeline that I remembered teaching myself Photoshop and Quark. I got so choked up I could barely finish the story. “Oh my god—that’s so fun to remember, Steve!” So I can be brilliant and self-led too, friends. I mean, I have been this whole time. Sure, my design turned out to be an embarrassment to the magazine—but it got us Aaron and Janine! And imagine what I could have accomplished had I realized what a little go-getter I am. Good grief: I’m a poster child for self-sabotage.


I introduced Steve to Google and Facebook (a couple little projects on the webs).

In summary

I am awesome. Thanks for noticing.

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