Submitter: I think this was probably a fantastic middle school book in 1982. What makes it awful now is that my students have never even heard of the terms that make up the punchlines. Also, the illustrations of computers with massive CPUs and pin-feed printers are unrecognizable to our students. My favorite joke requires knowledge of both old pop culture and obsolete technology: “What’s a computer’s favorite Ella Fitzgerald number? A-Diskette, A-Daskette.” I just read it to a group of 8th grade boys and received only blank stares.
Holly: Several of these jokes got by me too. Or they are just dumb. Like, “Why did the computer cross the road? It had the chicken’s number.” Ummm…ok? Maybe that makes sense in some sort of computer-ese I don’t speak.
Funny that technology has come so far that “How do you telephone from a computer?” is now just a legitimate question (quick answer: Skype), rather than a punny joke to be answered with a reference to pay phones….
I was 14 in 1982, and I can assure you that most of my peers would not have recognized Ella Fitzgerald’s name even then. Nor Gina Lollobrigida, nor the “Sing Along With Mitch” reference. So I guess this book was aimed at adults at the time?
I was going to make the same point. I was 14 a decade earlier and the jokes would have been pushing it for my cohort.
USSR-related jokes really haven’t aged well. It’s unfortunate because they were so omnipresent back in the day — the Russian scenes in the musical Stop the World I Want To Get Off, for instance, seem so alien now they might as well be set on Mars (and I’m old enough to at least remember the Cold War).
17 in 1982 here, and thank goodness for The Flintstones who gave us “Gina Lollobrickada” and “Hum Along with Herman” which was inspired with “Sing Along with Mitch” (although I probably wasn’t aware of the original TV show name).
Having worked with computers for over 50 years, I can’t think of any time period in which these jokes would be considered funny, even for 8th graders.
I knew a fellow high school student online back in the 2000s who told us about a book of computer jokes he got stuck reading from boredom in detention. These are entertaining to me because they require a little thinking, and some background knowledge (“A printout from Russia!”).
The Gina Lollidigita joke is DEFINITELY outdated these days, I actually find the Russkie joke a bit offensive although I am NOT even an actual Russian, and unless I’m missing something, I find most of the other jokes to be LAME! This book probably should not have been written in the first place!
Sad but true fact — when I was in elementary school in the early 80’s we spent valuable class time learning that goofy “COM-PUT-OR” typeface that the chapter headings are in. The teachers solemnly informed us that we HAD to know this, because it was how all forms would have to be filled out, all tests taken, and all checks written once the computer revolution came.
Ah, school in the 80’s. So much time spent on so little usefulness. But, hey, they also taught us to play the recorder, the ukulele, and the glockenspiel, so, you know, I’ve got that to fall back on if my career as a Computer-Form-Filler-Outer doesn’t take off like they said it would…
Do you mean they actually made you learn how to write in that font? Hilarious! My elementary school in the 70s was all about learning the metric system, which we would absolutely, definitely have to know in the next few years. And we all know how that turned out in America, don’t we?
Yep. There we were with our little No. 2 Trustys (beloved pencil of all of Gen X) trying to hand write this ridiculous typeface as if our future lives depended on it. They also made us learn to write like digital clocks. Not sure what reasoning they gave us for that one, but I’m the only member of my family who can read the weird error codes on the cable box display, so it was at least partially useful.
I am speechless! I would love to know what big-wig in your school system thought that was necessary, and why. So funny.
I also feel gypped because despite being GenX myself, I have no idea what a Trusty pencil is.
Personally, Trustys were my most hated pencil, so in my opinion you’re not missing anything. Rather than the regular wooden pencil they were a wood-something composite that if I remember correctly you could bend and shape if you heated it. However, they didn’t write or erase worth a flip.
Whoops, sorry, S! I meant to reply to Thalia’s comment.
I had completely forgotten about bending Trustys! I never dared, but I did stick one in a Baggie with a cotton ball that had some vanilla extract on it as an experiment. It worked, and for that whole year I was the bomb for having pencils that smelled like cookies, lol.
Were those the pencils that would break at the tip and take the ENTIRE TIP off, not just the “lead” part of it? I despized those things, and still think they were bad.
It was a public school, but tried to be very progressive and leading edge, so there was a lot of headscratch-worthy curriculum. For instance, there was that whole-school assembly when Mummenshanz (sp?) performed… Weird, weird little school.
Trusty pencils were the same as Empire pencils, if you ever had those. When worn down the lead would ’round over’ and be even better to write with than when they were sharp. They made nice dark lines, almost like a 4b drawing pencil, if you’re familiar. If someone loaned you their Trusty, you knew you just made Bestie status, lol.
From the descriptions (yours and others), I think I am among the Trusty/Empire pencil haters, actually. Your school stories continue to amaze and delight! Where did you grow up?
I am still annoyed/angry about that.
That “COM-PUT-OR” font was never used for real-world documents; it showed up in publications like these to make them look “hi-techy”. It’s based on the MICR (magnetic ink character recognition) font still printed on the bottom of cheques, which consists of the digits 0-9 plus a few special symbols. As the name implies, these were intended to be read with magnetic scanners (hence the “blobby” appearance) since optical character recognition technology at the time (early 1960s) was not up to the task.
That’s what I thought, too. I was just wondering what Molly meant in her comment about having to learn that typeface in elementary school. It’s not difficult to read it (and only used as a novelty, as you pointed out), so I couldn’t imagine what they were learning, exactly!
The typeface is called Westminster.
I once had a kid’s joke book about computers when I was a teenager. It has some real winners such as “Why did the computer buy ice cream cones for all the neighborhood kids? It was being USER FRIENDLY.”
“Why did the computer buy some shades? To cover it’s Windows!!”
Heh, I only got the “Sing Along With Mitch” joke because my dad’s told me about that show! Definitely a weeder in 99.9% of today’s libraries. (Though if the condition is good, I could see it selling quickly in the book sale.)
Such memories… My parents had bought me this very book.
I read it once, snorted at a couple of the puns, and stuck it somewhere in the far recesses of my bookshelf to collect dust.
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