You can't easily imagine how odd it is....

... to see resurrected, on the Atlantic's home page at the moment, an article written at the dawn of the personal computer age, when simple things like not having to hit the return key while typing seemed like miracles.


(Note from the century before: the "return key," like the "carriage return," was something you used when you got to the end of a line of type with a typewriter, so you could move down to the next line. A "typewriter" was...)


In retrospect one thing I should explain about the article is its opening paragraph. My office was then in the basement of our house. I was trying to finish the article on a very hot Washington day, and an unscreened window to our back yard was wide open. Through it my older son -- then 5 years old, now 30 -- called for me to come see the treasure he had just found. It was a long-dead and apparently mummified cat, which he and his friend Nina had discovered under a rock (or someplace) and excitedly hauled over to the window to share with me. For a minute, I thought, Oh no... But at least it gave me an idea of how to begin the article:



I 'd sell my computer before I'd sell my children. But the kids better watch their step. When have the children helped me meet a deadline? When has the computer dragged in a dead cat it found in the back yard?