Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Mom and Dad Get a Computer

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Mom and Dad Get a Computer

Article excerpt

THE machines sat on the table for 30 minutes before she noticed. We talked about our trip, happenings at church. Then she walked into the living room and saw the screen and the printer. She put her hand to her forehead to hide a tear or two.

My mother had just been given her first computer.

High technology moves so fast that we think of newness and future generations. We forget, sometimes, that technology can flow to older generations, too.

For years, my mother talked of getting a computer. My father belittled the idea. And I, too, wondered what she would do with it. Her proposed uses never seemed very convincing. When she talked about computerizing recipes, all I could think of was flour getting stuck between the keys.

A software program changed my mind. My mother could really use Concord, a religious study aid put out by the church that publishes this newspaper. When the church cut the price nearly in half, I knew it was only a matter of time.

What kind of computer does one get for one's parents? My mother is always on the move. My father, an artist type, would want a nice color screen. Surprisingly, this meant getting these first-time users a notebook computer, and the most expensive kind - one with a color, active-matrix display. I gulped hard and settled on a Toshiba T4500C. It's not every day one buys one's parents their first computer.

The Toshiba is fairly advanced: an Intel 486SX chip, four megabytes of random-access memory, and a 120-megabyte hard drive powered by a new generation nickel-metal-hydride battery. (Sorry, Apple PowerBook fans. My mother had always talked of owning an IBM-compatible machine.) When the Toshiba came - along with a simple Panasonic dot-matrix printer - I thought the hard decisions were over. Wrong! Software questions would prove far harder.

We arrived on Sunday afternoon and were scheduled to leave early Tuesday. With less than 48 hours, I suddenly had to decide what crucial skills I should teach my parents. Stick with DOS or introduce Windows? …

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