We got our first computer in the late 1980s, when the boys were just about old enough to start playing with a computer. It was a Sinclair Spectrum ZX, which attached to the television. Christopher didn't have much interest in it, but Number One Son and I loved it. We bought a few games for it, but mostly we programmed our own. In those days you could get books out of the library which gave you the programming for various games. Remember the old Ping Pong game?
Well, I followed the programming details from a library book and created our own. And we had great fun with it as I remember. I also moved on to programming my own little programs, and was highly delighted with myself when I completed something.
When Number One Son was 12 we bought our first PC, a very timely purchase as it coincided with him developing ME, an illness which kept him confined to the house for several years, and playing on the computer was one of the few activities he could pursue. We loved that PC and the games we bought for it - Lemmings, Humans, Tetris, Sim City, Pushover, all brilliant games that kept us entertained for hours. Oliver and I even managed to fit a sound card to that PC, all by ourselves. It took us all day, but we were triumphant.
As the years went by we upgraded our PCs to bigger and better machines, with supposedly bigger and better games, though I still even now hanker for those original games. But for the life of me I can't remember exactly when we first got the internet. It was doubtless at the urging of our sons, as I couldn't see much point in having it at the time (I say 'I', since Christopher left all of the computing decisions to me, he had no real interest or understanding). But get it we did, and the boys embraced it wholeheartedly.
And slowly I came to depend on the internet too. I could not function easily as a quilter without it, as I purchase so much of my tools, notions and fabric online - cheaper and a wider choice. I have found so much inspiration from others through blogging, and got loads of patterns and ideas from free online sites.
Would I enjoy quilting so much if I wasn't able to see what other people have been up to, and to share photographs of my own efforts? I'm not sure that I would.
When I was working full time I did my weekly shopping online too, though now I don't bother. But I still buy many things online that I can't find in our local shops. And I use the internet for research into items that we plan to buy.
The internet is my encyclopaedia of choice, though it has to be approached with care and understanding of bias.
And of course having access to email is absolutely essential these days. Yesterday I was in a shop and overheard a conversation between an elderly customer and a sales assistant who was helping her to sign up to the loyalty card. She was asked for her email address and when she admitted that she didn't have one the assistant said that he'd have to make one up for her as he could proceed without one.
I think the greatest boon of the internet however has been for Christopher, my computer phobic husband. Without it he wouldn't be able to work largely from home. Nowadays he travels to London for just three days a month. I love having him around the house, and being able to get out and about at times other than the weekend.
But I HATE his Blackberry; it means that he's never off duty, and we can't even go out for lunch without him checking up on what's happening at the office, and replying to emails. I swear I'm going to start hiding it when we go out, or on holiday!
Love it or hate it, I can't imagine life without the internet.