Prehistoric Technology / Regina Coyula

The so-called digital natives are those born after 1970. Not only am I not a digital native, but I must wait for citizenship because I was born much earlier and come from a disconnected planet. In Cuba that date must run with generosity to the late ’80s because of the Blockade and the Imperialist Threat (and rumor has it also because of our former Sister, which bet the future entirely on socialism and not on the technological revolution).

But all mixed together, we Cubans in general came to familiarize ourselves (from afar) with personal computers from the ’90s: before that, some demigods called “micro operators” were the only ones with access to those machines of the dark green screens, there were some who experienced a Caribbean television as a screen.

My first encounter was in 1987, a NEC with a floppy disc reader. As the micro operator of the NEC of my account was my “team” and in the interim I married and went on maternity leave, I learned the management of the exclusive apparatus and when Ana Gladys was absent, Regina took command, most royal at the helm of an ocean liner. In addition, in this office of the micro, the air conditioning never failed, as it was said that the machine could not live without it.

Ana Gladys and I could have a conversation in front of anyone, others would think we were speaking another language: “The command is control-alt-M” (or it seems, but I’ve already forgotten MS DOS), “I left the program on the floppy,” what do I know, things like that.

At that time I did not need to study anything, I learned the commands by heart, and printed for my colleagues some precious theses with an academic program; not forgetting the variety of sources that came later.

A clever technician working in Copextel put together a Frankenstein. It was 1994 and the boy did not charge me, preferring to climb on a raft in the summer of that year. An XT with the text editor Wordstar or Wordperfect that my husband, the poet Alcides, didn’t touch for fear of the electricity.

It wasn’t until 1995 that we bought, secondhand, a 486. With Windows cam happiness. I convinced the poet that a PC was much better for his work. With more fear than conviction, he clung to his old Underwood, claiming not to know that symbiosis with mechanical apparatus, but as the immortal Stevenson said: Technology is technology, and I managed to convince him to step forward, to modernity. He is not a seasoned user, but he bangs on the keys and his drafts are flawless, an argument that was like a coup de grace to decide it.

As in this world of technology obsolescence is relentless , the 486 did not break, but it was incompatible with many peripherals, and in 2004, through the son of a friend (ooops … also today in exile), we bought a Compaq Pentium 3! brand new in its box and continued with the magnificent Magnavox SVGA monitor we “settled” for the 486. Alcides worked with him until four months ago he lost his memory (not Alcides, he enjoys an excellent memory) , and I have a friend from Miami engaging in archeology to see if he can retrieve it, because here the old RAM is more expensive than if it were new. I would prefer it not appear, so Alcides doesn’t regress to Windows 95.

Faced with the possibility of being left without work, I connected the keyboard and monitor (of the LCD) to a tiny Lenovo that I won in a contest on Twitter. At first , this was a disaster, because jumping from Windows 95 to Windows 7 for him was a leap of faith, but he has grown accustomed, and sometimes whole days pass without hearing that deep Rrregina … when the PC locks up.

The Internet has been an experience apart: familiarizing myself with browsers, optimizing the little connection time, getting into social networking, dealing with the downloading and installation of software. Much studying of booklets, manuals and tutorials, the years do not go for nothing; now I challenge myself to learn how to make a webpage from WordPress. In the end, more than curiosity, I think what keeps me studying like a madwoman is the fear of losing my memory, not just the RAM.

7 October 2013