Each week on Randy Seaver’s Genea-musings blog he has a post for Saturday night Genealogy fun. Because of the time difference, I have called my series Sunday Afternoon Genealogy Fun. This week’s mission was:
1) I am a slave to my computer – how about you. What is your computer history – what have you used, when did you get it, what did you do on it, etc.
* Tell us in your own blog post about your computer history, or in a comment on this post, or in posts on Facebook or Google+.
My first experience with computers was when I started my first full time job in 1982. I was working for a Life Insurance company, T & G, in Collins St (Melbourne). Although the computers had a keyboard and monitor like a desktop computer, there was no hard drive – all the computers were linked to the computer mainframe, which was in a separate building in St Kilda Road.
The first computer I owned was I think a Tandy computer that used cassette tapes. I then had a Commodore 64, which used the large floppy discs. I mainly used these computers for games, although I did do a little bit of word processing on them, although I mainly used an electric typewriter.
It wasn’t until 1996, that I started using a Windows computer. I had been out of the workforce for a few years to look after my two young children, so I did a computer course at the TAFE in Fitzroy to learn to use the Microsoft Office suite. The discs for the programs were included with the textbooks for the course. Since I was able to breeze through the course, I started transcribing my family history notes into Microsoft Word while waiting for the rest of the class to catch up. Then in Christmas 1996, my step-brother gave me a Windows computer, and I continued to transcribe all my family history notes into Word. At that stage, I had about 5 or 6 Lever Arch folders of family history notes, and I had one Word file for each folder. Each of these files filled one floppy disc. At that stage I was using an old style printer – one of the sort where you had to tear off the strips on the side with the holes for the printer teeth.
In 1999, I bought a Compaq Presario 386, with Windows 98. This computer came with a single floppy disc drive, and CD ROM drive. This computer was the first computer I had that was able to connect to the internet. I think this computer came with Lotus Smart Suite (since I still have those CDs), so for many years I used both Lotus and Microsoft. In 1999, I also bought my first family tree software, Family Tree Maker, Version 7. I also bought a Canon Bubble-jet printer and a Canon flatbed scanner.
I later updated Family Tree Maker to version V7.5 and then V10. At some stage, I also upgraded to Office 2000.
Around 2002, I upgraded my computer, but I can’t remember the specifics, although it was another desktop computer. This computer also came with both a floppy disc and CD drive, although this CD drive was writable, so I was now able to back up my work on CD. Around the same time, I also upgraded to a multifunction HP printer. It was around this time that I switched to RootsMagic (version 2) as my family tree program.
In 2006, my computer died, and it was then that I decided to switch to a laptop computer. I have pretty much updated to a new laptop about every 2 years since then. I can’t remember much about the first couple of laptops, although I think I was using Windows XP. Around 2009 I bought one with Windows Vista. Around this time, I also switched to Legacy as my family tree program. Around 2008, I decided to try the newer version of Family Tree Maker (2008), and upgraded RootsMagic to Version 4. Since then, I have upgraded all three programs to the latest versions. I continued to use Office 2000, until about 2007 or 2008, when my boss from work gave me Office 2003.
In 2011, I bought an Emachines Intel Core laptop with Windows 7, as my Vista was too slow for the Facebook games, although I kept the Vista as a backup.
In 2013, the Windows 7 started playing up after I cleaned it while it was still on (always remember to turn your computer off before you clean it!), so I had to buy a new laptop, which came with Windows 8. With each new computer, I have updated to more RAM and faster CPUs. In 2014, I decided to upgrade to from Office 2003 to Office 365. The Windows 7 had come with a trial version of Office 2007, but, since I am a fast typist, I found having to take my hands off the keyboard to use the mouse to access the menus frustrating, so I stuck with Office 2003 as long as possible. When I heard Microsoft was discontinuing support for Office 2003, I decided it was time to switch to Office 365. Although it was frustrating at first, having to use the mouse, rather than use the keyboard, I quickly realised that the newer versions of Office are actually better overall.
In February this year, I had get another new laptop, an Asus Intel Pentium which also came with Windows 8. My daughter had dropped my backup computer (the Vista), and smashed the screen, and then she did the same thing about a month later with my main laptop. I have now upgraded to Windows 10 and Office 2016.
My computers have been primarily for the family history, although I have also used them at times for work as well. As I mentioned, I originally started work for a Life Insurance company. Over my working career I have also worked as a Collections Clerk, Insurance clerk in Company Superannuation, and after taking a number of years maternity leave, I returned to work as a data entry operator in a payroll department, and gradually took on more payroll duties. I also did a computerised accounting course in 1999, and I completed the Cert IV in Bookkeeping earlier this year, so I also have some experience in bookkeeping and accounting as well. As a result, I have used a number of different payroll and accounting software programs.
Since moving to Numurkah in 2011, I haven’t been working. I spend a significant time of my day on the computer, and most of that is genealogy related – answering genealogy related emails, reading blogs, working on posts for my own blog, researching, and organising my research.