Technology History

How long have information technologies, like computers or cell phones, played a significant role in your life? In what ways? How important were/are they to you?

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Respondent 1

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J: So how long have technologies, like say computers or cell phones been an important part of your life?

I: Umb, well, I got my first cell phone when I was a… sophomore. And then I entered like the online database thing like this—like Facebook—just this past summer.

J: Okay, well let’s go back to that – when you first –when you were four you said? [I misheard sophomore as four]

I: What?

J: When you got your first computer

I: Oooh, when I got my first computer.  Well okay, we had our personal computer for as long as I can remember, so… but we got internet when I was maybe… six I think? And that was cable… I don’t think it matters…we never had dail-up

J: So you guys actually –that does matter a little bit—you guys went straight to cable?

I: Yeah

J: What was your experience growing up with it? Was it an important thing?

I: Well, I didn’t think, I didn’t really see it as anything that other people didn’t have or anything or a special thing, I just… took it as it was.  Everyone I knew had it and so I was okay.

J: So was it a little different because you had cable instead of having dail-up?

I: Umb, I remember people complaining about it being slow and stuff like that.  I did download a lot of music. 

J: Okay

I: [laughs] that was very quick.  For some people it would take a day to download a song, it would take me 6 seconds. [laugh] So… that was…

J: Kinda like bragging rights?  Do you think it shaped how you used the web at all?

I: No, I mean that’s all I was used to. I never used really dial-up, and my school and stuff like that, they never, I don’t think they had dial-up.  It was something faster.

J: Yeah, okay. Then what about, the whole—do you remember getting a cell phone?

I: Okay sophomore year, I begged my parents for it, umb… everyone else had a cell phone… and I also begged for texting, that was a big thing, I think kinda.  Umb… yeah I think it really, really helped my social life I guess.  I mean I never really hung out with people outside the school before that year, so… there was a better connection, otherwise I’d have to talk on my house phone, and that woulda—my parents woulda been like “get off the house phone” or something like that…

J: You guys didn’t have to deal with the modem taking up the phone line

I: Yeah, exactly, that’s, oh yeah, that’s what I [meant before]

J: So you would say, internet communication technologies, er I mean information communication technologies like these generally, historically, played a big role in your life?

I: Umb, I think so yeah, definitely for my social life, that’s probably the biggest effect.  I mean I used AIM and stuff on the internet, umb… what else did I use – emails, stuff like that.  My first email address was 5th grade, that’s probably when I got AIM.

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Respondent 2

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J: Okay, so opening it up, how have computers, kinda historically, played a role in your life, like when you were growing up?

I: Well, I was in 5th grade when my mom got the first computer for the house, after that I thought maybe… [recording too quiet, even after boosting and cleaning out hiss] and looking up stuff, just cause I had… like my cousin would play games on the computer…

J: So you said about 5th grade, did you get a computer with internet?

I: Yeah

J: So was it like a modem, or was it broadband, or do you remember?

I: Oh, well, I don’t remember if it was connected to the phone line, but we could talk on the phone while we was on the computer… cause we had two lines.

J: And then did you guys ever switch over to broadband or are you still…?

I: We still have that phone line… but my mom was actually doing something with the phone she was telling me about but I don’t know what she did

J: So maybe you’ve switched over to broadband now, obviously you go to college it’s a little different.  So what was it like when you were growing up, was it an important thing?

I: Yeah at school we had lab like lab or whatever, once a week, we used to go and do things on the computers for like, an hour, and that kinda time at school.  I got a computer at home, and it wasn’t a big deal anymore, you know the computer wasn’t exciting at school, cause I had one at home, but after I got one at home I was on it every day, all day, for the first year.

J: Did you begin to associate it with work a little bit?

I: I started to want to type everything, it was like not mandatory in school, but like I still had to learn how to type earlier, because I wanted to type everything that I write because my hand writing sucks. [laugh]

J: Okay, so when, what about cell phones, where have those fallen?

I: Umb…  cell phones – uh, I was kinda jealous of all of my friends because they – first they had pagers then they had cell phones

J: Pagers, okay that’s a little unusual

I: Yeah, like, a long time ago, so I think it was around the same time in 5th grade when we got a cell phone, cause my mom, I guess, my mom wanted to get one and wouldn’t leave home without it, but not that long after that I paid my own cell phone, and I finally got my own PDA now

J: Yeah I know you were talking about that, you got me excited – I send out these emails and you’re the first one to respond

I: Yeah I know that’s why I like it, I can be goin to class and there can be an email like ‘class is canceled’ and I can go back home and let everybody else figure it out [laughter]

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Respondent 3

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J: So, I’d like to start from the top.  I’d like to know what your experience with technology has been growing up.  If you can remember back to your childhood, if you grew up with computers in the household, if you had a cell phone, what technology has been like for you?

I: I think I used my first computer in 4th grade?  At that time I didn’t know anything about it; that much.  And now it’s really easy for me, I was really interested – I don’t know how I learned it, it just came to me.

J: So there was no specific class or training or anything?

I: No, and I didn’t have any cell phones until 8th grade I think.  I watched a lot of TV.  TV was my primary technology.

J: Did you use the phone much?

I: No, I just called my friends sometimes. Now I use it a lot more often.

J: Would you say it was an important –not just the phone, all of these technologies, where all of them important to you growing up?

I: I think the TV was a lot.  Not so much as now.  It’s not like I can’t live without it.  If I didn’t have it then I would have gone outside and played.

J: Think back to the computer thing, did you have one at home or at school?

I: I had a home computer because my dad had to use the computer, but I didn’t use that one a lot because my dad wouldn’t let me touch it unless I really needed to use it.  So I used the computer from the public library a lot.  I first used a computer because I had to do a research paper. That was the first time using the internet—I got so much lost, I had to ask the librarian about how to use it.

J: About how old where you?

I: That was 4th grade.

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Respondent 4

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J: so I guess to begin I’d like to know a little bit about how computers and cell phones and other information communication devices have played a role in your life in the past, so like if you grew up with a computer, when you got a cell phone, stuff like that.

I:Um, I remember being 4 or 5 and I think that’s when my family got our first computer. And um back then it was just pretty much I drew pictures on paint and used things like Encarta, which people don’t even know like what that is anymore because of things like Wikipedia online.

J:I actually do remember, but yes.

I:But um, yeah I used a computer when I was pretty young and it’s prolly because of my dad because he works with computers in his job. He’s an engineer. So he’s, he was all about me getting into computers young, and fourth grade I wanna say, yeah when I was in fourth grade, AOL like was getting really big so, only a couple people that I knew had AOL so even if I did get online, I only had 1 or 2 friends to talk to, so the internet wasn’t really important to me until prolly middle school. And we just I don’t know I guess in middle school it started to be, get bigger because then people used it for research projects and that kind of thing in school.

J: So when did the process of your technology of connection, like, did you start out with modem and then go to DSL line?

I:oh yeah, definitely. We had a modem for, I wanna say up until high school so like 5 years or so. It was it was pretty horrible. I think that’s what turned me off to the internet in the first place.

J:really? That’s because you had to dial up and deal with all the…

I:it was, it was more of a hassle that a convenience, so uh, yeah but once we got wireless internet, I never looked back, I guess its just now that its easy its something that I always want to use.

J:ok. So what about um cell phone then, did you get one at a young age, or still don’t have one, or where do you fall in that?

I:Oh, um in middle school, we had an extra cell phone, I think my brother was in high school when I was in middle school so, um, somehow, we had this extra cell phone that either my dad use it or my dad has a company owned cell phone, so if I went somewhere like, to, like a dance or something that was gonna end late, my parents would give me the community cell phone to take with me, and eventually, probably when I was a freshman in high school, I got my own and have had my own since then.

J:ok, um, so let’s see here, would you say that these things were important, then, growing up, I know you kinda described them but…

I:um, na, not really I don’t think anything would, I don’t think the internet or cell phones got important for what my school wanted, um it became more important for school, so it wasn’t really, I wasn’t big on talking on the phone or talking online or anything like that.

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Respondent 5

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J: So, go ahead and tell me a little bit about yourself in terms of your history of technology, if you’ve grown up with computers or cell phones.

I:Well the first time my family got a computer, internet or anything, I think I was in 3rd or 4th grade, and by 5th grade the biggest thing to do online was instant messaging and it was really slow and we had dial-up.

J:Which dial-up company?

I:AOL, but I don’t know, it was boring, I never really went on a computer when I was little unless I was at school.

J:Was it exciting talking on chat on AIM?

I:Yeah that was fun, before that I would just play computer games.  And then once instant messaging came I was able to talk to my friends and that was really cool, so, I think progressively I started using the computer more.

J:How did internet enter into the picture?  Did your family computer always have internet?

I:Not at first, I think for about 6 months we didn’t have internet and then we got it.

J:How about cell phones?

I:First time I got a cell phone I was a freshman in high school. Ever since then…

J:Was it a big deal?

I:Kind of, everyone always wanted a cell phone because everyone started getting them when I was in 8th grade, and I just wanted one so bad so, I made my mom get me one, and she didn’t want to give me one until I was 16, because that’s when she gave my sister one. I told her all my friends had one so she got one for me.

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Respondent 6

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J: So, starting from the top, how long have information technologies, say, TV, cell phones, and computers, been an important part of your life?

I:Umb, well TV and stuff has probably been important since elementary school.  I, yeah my parents were always pretty careful in the beginning, limiting TV.  I didn’t get a cell phone until later than most kids these days, I don’t know when that is.

J:I’m honestly not sure either, even little kids get toy cell phones now.

I:I think even later than most kids my generation, maybe high school or something. My parents didn’t want me to have videogames until I got an N64, which was later than a lot of people, which was a good idea I guess, looking back.  Let’s see. I’ve always done a lot of computer stuff once I had one.  Like I learned to read through reading on Reader Rabbit and I did math on this dos game. 

J:Reader Rabbit was a computer program then?

I:Yeah. It was actually Reader Rabbit 2, and I played Treasure Mountain and Treasure Master and all that stuff. I actually found a cheat on Treasure Mountain, where if you go in the big cave, there are big rocks and if you go to the third one and you press up you get into a secret room and there’s 5 ducks on a wall and you get 5 coins.  I think it was the first cheat in a video game ever.

J:What about computers in your household then? Did you have a family computer?

I:For most of my life we just had one family computer… well actually maybe not.  I think the main one was in my parent’s room and then when I was little I remember having a computer in my room, a little MS DOS computer, it was  awhile ago.  You just typed a number and it would go to it.

J: So it was before high school?

I:yeah it was in Jr. High, I remember I’d get up really early to use it, and I wrote papers on it too.  So I guess I’ve had a computer in my room for a long time. My parents had a computer and then the kids had a computer that they could use.

J: So what about internet, did you guys have internet?

I:Yeah, we had 56k.

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Respondent 7

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J: Okay, so, I’d like to start off, just to get an idea of a history of your childhood, as it relates to technology stuff.  Take your mind back to when you were growing up and think about the way information technologies played a role in your life, so like computers TV’s and cell phones.  What was it like?

I:Umb, well I mean I’ve always liked TV ever since I was little.  As young as I can remember, I mean in our household we changed our TV a few times.  We used to have this TV that would just turn off, I guess because it was from the 80’s because it was an old brand or something. It would just turn off at random times.  I remember my sister and I would always watch this one show and you know like during the theme song, it would always turn off at the same exact time.
And then I got a cell phone for my 8th grade graduation, because back then it was a big thing to have a cell phone.  Now it’s like my sister has a cell phone, she got one way before me, but I guess it’s like we’re advancing the technologies.  It’s like now younger kids, get cell phones.  So yeah that was my first cell phone.
And then umb, laptop, and I got that when I came to school freshman year, college.

J:Did you guys have a family computer growing up?

I:Yeah we had a desktop computer.  Umb it was, I don’t know, I was like 14.  And now it’s like really slow, my dad has to go get it fixed and everything, because I guess the memory or whatever is not updated.  So like the new Dell computers like that.  My mom just got us a new Dell desktop a few months ago.

J:Do you remember the computer being an important thing growing up?

I:Yeah, in grade school not really, I mainly used the computers at school in the computer lab.  My dad is the main one who used the computer at home.  In high school I started to use the computer a lot more to type papers and do projects and PowerPoints and stuff like that.  As I started to grow up it became more pressing—it was always important in the house period, but for me personally it became more important in my late teenage years.

J:You mentioned it [computers] was used it school, did you have classes about computers, or were they used in every class?

I:Oh, yeah, we like had a computer lab and then there was like two or three computers in every classroom.  And we did have a class –it was like accelerator [sounds like vi-ro].  We had depending on the classroom we had one day a week you could check out the books and if you needed to use the computer for any copies.  So we did like, have a computer in the classroom, just not specifically for learning about computers, but we used it do things.

J:What sorts of things did you learn on the computer?

I:We used to like use games, these typing games, I remember we used to do that to improve our typing.  We like—Word and that Paint-

J:MS Paint?

I:Yeah we used to do that too. And then like math games and stuff, online.  Chess and…

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Respondent 8

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J: Okay, so starting it off what was your experience with computers, technology, cell phones, TV, and stuff growing up?

I:Umb, in my family, technology is not really a huge thing at all. I still don’t have cable at home, I just have regular TV with 9 channels or whatever.  It took my parents forever to get a DVD player.  We just got whatever you call it, DSL, last year.  I didn’t even get a Facebook until this past summer when I started college, and I figured it would be a good way to keep in touch with my old friends and get to know some new people in college.

J:Okay, let’s not get too ahead yet.  We’re thinking back mostly to your childhood and how you grew up.  You mentioned you guys didn’t have cable, did you have a family computer?

I:Not for a while, it wasn’t until probably 4th grade that we actually got a computer.  My dad always had computers for work, because he had a laptop, and that was always nice because with my three sisters we could write papers all at the same time and everything.  There wasn’t a whole lot about technology.  I never had videogames, I never had a playstation or xBox or any of those things.

J:What was it like in school, did you have computer classes?

I:We learned some.  We had a computer lab in my elementary school.  We did do some stuff on there.  That was where I think I first learned everything.  We didn’t have computers in the classroom it was just that one spot.  In junior high we actually had a typing class.  That was the first time I actually became good at typing.

J: So then growing up with all of this stuff, you mentioned you got a computer in 4th grade, did that have a modem, where did the internet enter in to the picture?

I:We started off with dial-up, I remember, and that was always really annoying, because it was really slow, but I didn’t really realize it was really slow until I tried other people’s internets and they had other things and it was just—a lot faster and I realized.  We didn’t get internet until I wanna say—7th grade, because there was no real need for it.  We used the phone instead.

J:Did you guys ever get broadband at home?

I:It went from AOL to DSL, I think.

J:Okay, so I think I didn’t mention this, but another information communication technology is cell phones, when did you got a cell phone?

I:Me and my sisters are triplets, so when we got into high school we got one cell phone, because we usually went together everywhere anyway, and so if it was ever really an issue we used my mom’s cell phone or something. We didn’t get individual cell phones until this year when we all went to different colleges.

J:Did that ever make texting or calling hard because they might call phone and get the other and not know it?

I:Yeah but most people didn’t want a specific one anyway, because we all have the same friends.

J:Would you say that these things, like the cell phones, the computers, were they important growing up?

I:Umb, they became more important as I got older and people used them more.  But as I was growing up I didn’t really have a need for them all.  It was fine just watching TV or playing games or something, because with my sisters we had like friends built in, so, we didn’t need to use them that much.

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Respondent 9

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J: Okay, so I’m gonna start kinda from the top.  I’d like to know about your history with information technology and communication technologies devices – how they played a role in your life.  So think – computers, cell phones, and TV maybe.  How were those in your life?

I:They played a big role, actually.  I don’t really remember when I started to use computers, but when I started I was kinda reluctant to use it, especially the internet.  But it grew on me.  TV, when I was a little kid I loved it.  I used to love to sit like two feet away from the TV and just watch it.

J:How big was the TV? 

I:It wasn’t even that big of a TV, maybe like a 27” But if I were like 15, 20 feet across the room and my chair was like one of these where it had wheels on it, within 10 minutes I’d find myself like 2 feet away, without even knowing I scooted up.

J:was it that you got that into the show?

I:I guess, I have poor eye-sight too, that too is a factor. I used to get up on Saturday mornings, wake up early, Saturday morning cartoons, come home from school, watch TV.

J: So what kind of shows did you watch?

I:Shows for children, like Arthur, Power Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

J:Alright, so then you talked a little bit about the computer thing – you were a little hesitant in the beginning. When was the beginning of the computer stuff, did you guys have a family computer at some point?

I:Yeah we had one…  [silence] what do you mean?

J:How did you use the family computer?  Was it a big deal? Did you avoid it?  How did it play a role in your earlier life?

I:At first basically it was a [very quiet - sounds like pain in my neighborhood] because I didn’t read—write papers or do other stuff. 

J:Did they have computer classes in school or anything?

I:Yeah, they did.  Computer class in school.  We didn’t do much besides maybe learn how to type or play games.

J: Alright, so did you grow up in a rural area, urban area-?


J: So would you say within the surrounding area was technology a big deal, or was it a technologically savvy town, was it a common thing?

I:Not so much. Most people didn’t have the means—if they did have a computer it was a crap computer.

J:Was the internet then easily available in the area?

I:I’m not sure if they had it in libraries at first.  I had the internet at my house, so-

J: So a modem and AOL or?

I:Yeah we started with AOL.

J:Did your family ever make the transition to broadband from that?

I:Yeah we’ve got cable now.

J:Cool.  So most of the time you used to play games – did you talk to friends online like on AIM?  Was most of the stuff important or just recreational?

I:Maybe a little bit of both.  There were the games—you brought up AIM and that helped with socializing I guess—making friends or girls I guess, working with social skills.  I can’t really think of what else.

J: So then there was the cell phone thing, did you get a cell phone in high school?

I:I got a cell phone somewhere midway through high school. Sophomore, junior year.

J:Did a lot of kids have them at that time?

I:Yeah they did. I got it relatively later than other people.  My mom was like ‘You don’t need a cell phone and I’m not paying for it.’ And I ended up cutting a deal with her.

J:Was it a big exciting thing when you got it then?


J:was it kinda like a leash for your parents, or was it more like a talk to your friends all of the time thing, or what?

I:I did talk to my friends a lot more.  I used it whenever I needed to ask them a question or call somebody up.  The leash thing not so much.

J:You’re lucky…

I:Yeah no it was maybe once in a while, but not too much.

J:did it have anything to do with learning to drive?  I assume you learned to drive around 16ish?


J: So was it take the cell phone when you drive somewhere type stuff?

I:I’d always have my cell phone on me anyways.

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Respondent 10

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J: I guess to start it off, how long have information technologies, like say computers or cell phones been important in your life?

I:Since… 8th grade I got a cell phone.  Actually I have a better answer.  In 6th grade, I went to a K though 8 private school, and in 6th grade every middle schooler had to have a laptop, and we used it in every class.

J:What did you use them for?

I:I don’t know, it was stupid.  They would be like, “now we’re going to do a writing assignment.” And instead of writing it on paper we’d type it on our laptop.

J: So as a younger kid it didn’t seem particularly important or fun or anything?

I:I mean it was cool to have your own laptop, but we got made fun of by like all of the other schools in the area, because they thought we were rich. That wasn’t fun.

J:Did your family have a computer at home growing up?

I:I had that laptop, and then in high school we had two computers, upstairs and downstairs, and then I got a laptop this last summer for college.

J: So you’ve had computers around throughout much of your life?


J:Would you say they’ve been important in your daily life?

I:Yeah, I’ve always used computers, I don’t like handwriting.

J:Would you consider yourself a computer savvy person?

I:I should be because I’ve had lessons forever.  I’m not that good.

J:What is a computer lesson, exactly?

I:I took—no we took computer classes up until 6th grade until we got laptops, and then I took a computer class in high school too, where we learned Excel and stuff… but I never got good.  I can do like—I’m better than my parents, I can show them how to do it.

J: So relative to other kids your age, how would you rate yourself?

I:I’m average.

J:You mentioned you got a cell phone in 8th grade, was that normal or a big deal?

I:By that time almost everyone had one.

J: So you were a little late getting one?

I:Yeah I was made I didn’t have one yet.

J:Did it mean more to you then?  Or was it an “it’s about time” thing?

I:I don’t remember really, but I think it was it’s about time. Ever since then I’ve always had one.