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My Uncle’s Computer, Amiga, and 3D - Do You Get it?

People make fun of what they don’t understand. It’s true!

I read a post today about an old computer called the Commodore Amiga, and I started to think of my old high school, and a whole flood of "Revenge of the Nerds" flashbacks came flowing in my head. Even on the Simpsons, Lisa remarks about the inverse relationship between intelligence and bully attacks. It’s so true!

While my problems were solved with a lot of martial arts training and fast running legs, I had the misfortune of choosing computers as a personal hobby. When others looked forward to the next hockey game or bought car and motor magazines, I was dreaming up my next upgrade and game download.

My first computer was a Commodore Vic-20 which had a whopping 3.5KB (yes, KILOBYTES, not MEGABYTES). My uncle then passed on his TRS-80 Model I. It was actually older than my Vic-20. Black and white screen, no sound, 64 graphic pixels across ? but it was mine, and I liked it!

However, I had big dreams. The latest talk on the street was about the Commodore Amiga. 256 colors on the screen with 320 X 200 pixels, a dedicated sound and graphics chip, and most importantly, promises of stellar games.

My dreams would be later crushed when my mother gave word that my uncle was giving me his computer.

The machine was more like a car than a computer. It had the specs of a computer, yes - 64KB of RAM, CGA four color graphics, no sound card, and an amber (bright orange) single color monitor. However, it also turned on like a car - literally! The power switch was a key that you had to turn to get the machine working, and boy did it work! Never again did I come across a computer that you can hear revving up!

At first, I was disappointed because I could never buy that Amiga without hurting my uncle’s feelings, but even though the computer was old and out of date, I was enamored by it.

The thing that you can do with a PC, even in those days, was take it apart. Three of my friends, also addicts of the circuitry and silicon fetish, came over that day and helped me disassemble it because we wanted to see what was inside.

Imagine my mother’s horror when she came home and found her brother’s gift spread in pieces across her kitchen table, with her teen-aged son saying "don’t worry Mom, we’ll put it back together later!"

We did put it back together, and I was never more grateful for the gift my uncle gave. After that night, I completely forgot about the Amiga, and developed a whole new appreciation for the building fun of home computers. My uncle’s computer was something I could understand.

It’s true what I said about the perception of computers and the people who enjoy computers in pop culture. Growing up, if you understood them, you were a nerd or a geek and were somehow socially off and unacceptable. Fortunately, I think that changed.

My high school days were prior to Windows ’95, and text based MSDOS was the operating system of choice. I can’t prove it, but I think the perception that computers were nerdy quickly evaporated once Microsoft was able to enable them in a way the masses could easily understand. I can’t help but wonder if Bill’s motivation behind Windows was less to do with money, and more to do with saving computer enthusiasts everywhere from the dire need for martial arts and fast running feet?

Do people still get attacked in school for liking computers? I don’t know, but it doesn’t sound as socially likely today than when I went to school.

Now, where does stereoscopic 3D fit in all this?

Don’t worry, I don’t think any of our members are going to get attacked in the street for wearing a Head Mounted Display or polarized glasses, though please don’t wear that in the street. However, like the computer industry in general, the S-3D industry is facing the same issues and concerns of ease of use, public education, and mass adoption.

These challenges translate to false statements about frames per second, comments about red/blue glasses, misunderstanding game settings and depth perception, and even what S-3D is!

Our industry will blast over this hump the same way our sister computer industry did, and the next year will be very telling. For now, enjoy your games in S-3D, and smile sheepishly, because like the geeks of the past, we know our impending future is more promising than anyone could ever imagine.

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