Mike Gorse (lightvortex) wrote,

a flashback to 1988

Back in 1988, when I was in the 3rd grade, I had an Apple IIE equipped with an Echo II speech synthesizer that I used in the classroom at school. When other students were writing at their desks, I would type on the computer. It was easier than using a Braille writer would have been, both for me (because it was faster) and for my Teacher of the Visually Impaired (because I could print out my work and hand it to the teacher instead of it having to be transcribed from Braille). Anyway, the school was broken into, and several things were stolen, including this computer that I used. It received coverage in the local media (I think that the school Principal had the idea to go to the media, hoping that it would lead to the computer being recovered), and my parents video-taped the media coverage. My father ended up with the video (it is good that he had it, rather than me, or I would have certainly lost it in one of my moves), and now he has digitized it and placed it on Youtube, so it was an interesting flashback for me. I don't remember it all that well, except for various snippets of conversation. I remember hearing about the break-in and feeling glad that my computer wasn't taken--until I was told later that the computer was taken. I was asked to write a list of the disks that were in the filing cabinet (which was also taken), as best as I could remember. I apparently wrote an open letter to the thieves asking them to return the computer, and it ended up on the front page of a local newspaper, although I have no memory of having done this. The media coverage was generally positive but occasionally had misquotations or embellishments (from what I remember, one paper quoted my TVI as saying that it was possible that, without the computer, I would not be able to attend that school, and, when I asked her about that quote, she said that she never said it). There was one day when I had several interviews with television stations, so I guess I got out of doing a bunch of school work that I otherwise would have done on that day. That night, I was allowed to stay up past my normal bed time to wait for one of the news reports. There was another computer with a similar set-up in another room where I occasionally went, so I went down to that room to do my work rather than being able to do it in the classroom as I normally could. That computer was also used by other students, so it couldn't be moved into my classroom. Anyway, there was a happy ending, since the computer was eventually returned by the police, after it was placed in a vacant field with their being anonymously tipped off to its location. The software was never found, although the school had another copy of the word processor that I used, so we didn't lose anything essential. I ended up switching to using a PC shortly after this happened--the Apple IIE wasn't new technology even then and was on the road towards becoming obsolete.



The media coverage led to offers to help. Someone had an Apple II+ (and older Apple II model) that she offered to lend, so I think that we tried to use it but could not get the speech synthesizer or perhaps the word processor to work with it.



It made me realize how much my thought processes have changed since I was a child. I was asked what I thought of the thieves who broke into the school, and my response was that "the people are real bad." Now I wouldn't give a response that was anything like what I said then. Mostly I'd wonder why they did it and hope that they would get help i it was drug-related. I don't know what happened to the people involved. One of them was eighteen at the time, and two of them were seventeen and were presumably treated as juveniles. Now they would be in their early 40's. I haven't ever thought about this until now, but I wonder how their lives have gone. I wonder if they're raising families and have put their teenage escapades behind them. I hope that they have gone on to lead productive lives rather than going on and ending up in prison. They did return the computer following the media coverage. They may have been motivated, at least in part, by a desire for leniency, but I would like to think that they felt some remorse after learning of the significance of what they had taken and decided to return it, and their deciding to do this could have been a step towards re-evaluating the trajectories of their lives, for all that I know.

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