Weekly writing challenge: Mail it in

The Internet has changed a lot since I was in elementary school. Back then computers were these cool things that we used to play games.

My first computer was a small rectangular Mac that was only in black and white. We used it to play CD-ROMs. My favourite was Treehouse where you got to wander around this tree house and do various games. There were cute animals and cool tasks. We still have the disk somewhere in my basement. I wonder if it would work.

Then there was a bulky Mac that was composed of a large cube on a rectangular base. This brought with it the wonders of colour screens. We played even more advanced games like Where in the World is Carmen San Diego, Math for the Real World (despite the title this one was fun, you did math to make money so your band make a music video and go on tour) and Mario Teaches Typing (this one was not exceedingly fun, but it did pay off later in life). Email was not even a part of the picture yet. The Internet was mostly useful so that I could get cool pictures of bands I liked. I would download them — yes this was what downloading meant to me for a long time — and save them endlessly in folders on my hard drive. This was what teenagers had before Tumblr and Pinterest.

Then there were the colourful and so so cool iMac. I wanted one of these machines so badly. We had them at my elementary school and would play a bug game instead of working on assignments, and on days when it was cold enough to stay inside during lunch. These were the greatest. I think this is about the moment when Apple started to design things that were the epitome of cool, things we didn’t even know we wanted until Apple made them.

My mom eventually bought a laptop. It was post iMac and iBook, and was mostly used for playing various Sim games. Our favourite was Sim Farm until the Sims came out and we played that like crazy until all the expansion packs ate up her hard drive and we had to delete it.

It is somewhere about here that email actually became a part of computer usage, as opposed to this vague term that parents threw around but didn’t really mean a whole lot. As we shifted towards the later years of junior high — about the time when Franz Ferdinand were still making good music — we got our first email accounts with regrettable names. They were childish or ridiculous or contained far too many underscores. Everybody had at least one. I can name at least three (but won’t). These accounts were on Hotmail. Back when we thought that this was the height of communication.

Then Gmail appeared and some of us resisted. I decided to keep my old Hotmail and get a Gmail under a new name. The process of switching from one email to another was a pain even back then. Then Gmail took over. You could archive and search. Overall Hotmail had nothing on it and we moved on.

Now I have two email accounts and I check them every time I go on my computer. They are an integral part of my daily life. I use them for just about everything from communicating with family and friends, applying for jobs, to asks profs questions.

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