Hello Mr. Chips cover

A-Diskette A-Daskette

Hello, Mr. Chips!

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.

mind at play cover

Pac Man Will Ruin You!

Mind at Play
The Psychology of Video Games
Loftus and Loftus

I get the feeling that every time a new technology appears, there will be some speculation on how the end of civilized behavior is now upon us. Television, rock and roll, cell phones, texting, video games have all been identified as something that will ruin the minds of the young. I don’t remember if Pong suffered from all the criticism, but Pac Man definitely had the everyone wondering if this addiction would ruin our children. Since they are now adults, I wonder if anyone will confess to Pac Man ruining their childhoods.

If you are old enough, you will see this pattern repeat itself whenever there is a new breakthrough in technology or art that is different enough to be scary to parents and the rest of the establishment. Rock and Roll, cell phones, violent movies, D and D, and television were all part of ruination of society. This is a common theme here at ALB.

Wang Systems cover

It’s a Wang!

Word Processing on Wang Systems

Submitter: Now stop laughing, Beavis. Wang Computers are a real thing and were moderately successful in the 1980s. However, the company no longer exists, and most offices probably retired their Wangs in the early 1990s. THREE copies of this book were on the shelf at my library in December 2012, hiding in the “Z” (library science) call number.

This is from an academic library outside of North America. Our university was established in 1968, and our current library building was built in the mid-1980’s. Because of the need to build our collection basically from scratch, no one thought much about weeding in the first few decades. During the holiday break, I’ve pulled not only this gem, but also books on dBase, AppleWriter, VisiCalc, Lotus 1-2-3, Quattro Pro, WordStar, and other defunct software that hasn’t been in use for over 15 years.