Using Personal Computers

Lesson number: 

In the 1980's, Bill Gates of Microsoft set forth a very simple but lofty vision for the PC industry. He envisioned the day would come when a computer would sit on every desk in the business world as well as in every home. When PC's first arrived they were both expensive to purchase and somewhat difficult to use. Many baby boomers of the 50 years + vintage today were slow to embrace Bill's vision. Life was just fine without PC's for many individuals and some still cringe at the thought of having to boot up their kid's PC.

I know many baby boomers who still resist the fact that PC's are here to stay. Their number one excuse for not using a PC is they just don't have the time! I usually keep my opinions to myself when hearing that excuse, because I respect others views and opinions. However, I thought in this lesson I would share how PC's have shaped my own value for time during the last couple of decades and had the exact opposite effect on my own life.

I tinkered with the very confusing early versions of computers before they had keyboards and mice, prior to my experience with my first REAL PC which was the Apple 2C circa 1982-83. After attending an evening class at our local high school on this nifty new device by Apple, I became an immediate believer in word processing and spreadsheet use. I was amazed by the power of spreadsheet analysis and proceeded to use them in my business on a daily basis. Because none of my local competitors were attending night school to learn about PC's, becoming proficient at using spreadsheets gave our business a competitive advantage. We were able to analyze our operations better as well as build better relationships with our customers.

Then in 1985, I purchased our first IBM XT for our business as well as one personally for my home. These ancient 10MB hard drive models set us back over $5,000 each including an Epson wide carriage printer. That's about 5 times what a screaming PC setup would cost today, without adjusting for inflation. These were bold investments but paid off handsomely again. I went back to school and learned how to create databases - and productivity and efficiency in our business as well as EXCELLENT customer relations soared like a kite. There is no price you can place on learning the skills to become proficient in planning and budgeting as well as strategic planning and measuring ROI (return on investments) and ROT (return on time).

Each time a new operating system was introduced (Windows 3.x, Windows 95, 98, XP, Vista), I bought a fast new computers to run the new operating system. I kept going back to night school (with my wife and kids) to become proficient in using the new upgrades as well as the Office Suites that accompanied them. I viewed these classes as a great investment of my time and every skill I learned has paid incredible dividends throughout all those years.

Today, I still use all the skills I learned in all those classes in running my websites as well as my consulting business. I learned HTML from my son and I am always creating tools to give my clients and myself a time advantage each day. An added benefit to my interest in PC's was I gave my wife and kids exposure throughout the years to new operating systems and technologies. They have also embraced a comfortable and productive relationship with PC's that will last throughout their lives.

The ironic part of the excuse about not having the time to learn about PC's is that I now have much more free time than most people I come in contact with. This is a result of how I have utilized my time in the past. Each of us has 24 hours in every day. How we plan and invest those hours over the decades will have a great impact on how much free time we will be left with to do as we please later in life.

The goal of this lesson is to entice young people to embrace change and innovation throughout your lifetime. Don't sit on the sidelines and let the world speed ahead without taking advantage of new tools and ideas that are created. Invest in your continuing education and learn new skills that will continually improve your lifestyle. However, this lesson is also for those 50 + vintage readers who still resist using PC's. It's never too late to get started. PC's are so much easier to use today and those night classes are still in session at schools all around your area. Enjoy!