Holiday Weekend Reading: "Living With A Computer" in 1982

I mentioned yesterday that I used to talk with my friend Steve Banker about the "exciting" new offerings of the nascent computer age. The Victor 9000, the KayPro, the Eagle, the Xerox Star, the TRS Model 100 (the iPad of its day) and so many others. Model 100, which was a wonderful little machine:


I believe that one of the first articles ever in a "real" magazine about these delightful new inventions was my "Living With a Computer," which came out in the Atlantic 28 years ago. The elegant and valuable new site, whose virtues I'll describe more another time, had an updated reference to the article last month. Several people have written asking me about it since then, so for the record the article can be found here. The Processor Technology SOL-20 that is the star of the article looked like this, genuine walnut sides and all (photo from


Considering that every possible aspect of the technology world has changed since the time I wrote the article, I think it actually has aged OK! But judge for yourself. Certainly it has aged better than the author. And the author tries to avoid thinking that the little children he describes in the article as dragging dead cats into the house are now as old as he was when he wrote it.

You could download the article and read it on your iPad, nook, or Kindle. Somehow that seems right.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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