Monday, October 26, 2009

ADAM and the forbidden fruit!

December 6, 1983 Tuesday

Dear Ophelia,
"Rascal died about a week ago. I just found out. I'm so sad. He was such a pal. Barbara had her baby, David Kelly. Rascal had epilepsy. If they didn't put him to sleep, he would have been a vegetable.

I hate Scott. Now I like Pat except he is going with somebody. Scott is a diphead. I also like Kevin. Well, I gotta go. Bye Ophelia. Sorry I can't write long. Your friend, Jennifer."


December 10, 1983 Saturday

Dear Ophelia,
"I like Scott now but not as a boyfriend. I'm on the plane right now to California. I said goodbye to the animals and to Mom and Jeff. I can't wait to get to California. I feel kind of uneasy though. I haven't seen California in 9 months. I'll write when I get to California. Right now we're over British Columbia, Canada.

I landed. Yaaaa! I'm glad to see Dan and Dad again. Your friend, Jennifer."

Jennifer had moved to Alaska the previous March. Her brother, Daniel, visited her over the summer in Alaska but she did not go back to California to see her dad. So it had been nine months since she'd seen her father and nine months since he'd seen his daughter! So sad.

Parents--girls like Jennifer beg you to live near each other after a divorce whenever possible! All the time apart made Jennifer insecure. She shouldn't feel nervous about going home? Foster City had been her personal kingdom. She owned that town! Now she was just a visitor. She was a guest in her own house.

Before she moved to Alaska, she had worried about moving back in with her mom too. She wondered if her mom wanted her around or not. She had visited her mom as a guest, but hadn't lived with her for three years. Children aren't born insecure. It's not natural...

December 27, 1983

Dear Ophelia,
"I have to catch you up on what's been happening. I got my contacts and I can wear them as long as I want. They cost around $235.00. I'm so, so happy to have them.

We went skiing at Caesars. It is a very expensive hotel. We skied at Heavenly--a mountain. We only got to ski one day because of the weather. The swimming pool was really neat. It had caves and a waterfall (indoor pool). It also had a little island. Daniel and I ordered from room service, it was really fun. Daniel can drive and he's pretty good.

Daniel driving his dad's Honda Civic

I've had 2 riding lessons, one on Jewel and one on Sundance. I haven't forgotten anything. I hope to have 3 or 4 more lessons. I love horses so much. I feel so good when I ride or when I just tack or untack a horse. I also feel sad because I wish I had a horse.

For Christmas I got a pickle man from Daniel, a book from Lara, a stuffed animal from Ilana. From Dad I got a ski trip, contacts, an alarm clock and best of all ADAM the computer. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!! It has a printer and keyboard and a place to play Coleco games and ADAM games. I already wrote a really neat program for it.

Lara spent the night and we went to Round Table. There is a guy working there that is so cute. He kept smiling at me and sometimes he talked to me. But he is too old for me.

Last night I spent the night at Ilana's.

Here are some things I want to happen to me.
Get a Doberman Pinscher
Get a tan
A really nice haircut
Larger breasts
Not so skinny
More of a figure
Nicer clothes
A horse
More money
More friends
I want to be witty.

I think all of the above can be solved by age. Don't you? I just wrote a long letter to Mom and Jeff about my getting a Doberman. I'll tell you how it goes later.

Well, bye Ophelia. Your friend in need of a lot, Jennifer."

Jennifer probably wanted a Doberman because Ilana had a Doberman. Jennifer liked the idea of having a loyal protector. Ilana's dog, Rex, was not friendly. He was loyal and loving only to his family and mostly just to Ilana's dad. Jennifer wanted a dog like that. A dog that had eyes only for her. Loyalty is, and remains, Jennifer's favorite virtue!

Jennifer's dad took them to South Lake Tahoe, Nevada for their ski trip. They stayed at Caesar's Tahoe on the gambling strip. There is a tram nearby which took them directly to the slopes of Heavenly Ski Resort. Heavenly has great lake views! The weather was either stormy or sunny. Either can ruin a week at Heavenly. The mountain is at a low elevation. The snow doesn't stick for long in sunny Lake Tahoe.

Jennifer and Daniel's favorite memory of that trip is ordering from room service. While their dad was in the shower, Jennifer found the room service menu (uh oh!). She knew her dad would be mad if she ordered a whole meal but she was hungry. Daniel warned her not to do it. Jennifer didn't listen. She called room service and ordered one apple.

Twenty minutes later, much to her dad's surprise, a waiter came with a cart on wheels. There was a covered tray on the cart and a flower in a vase and silverware and white linens. Jen and Dan giggled while their confused father signed for the cart. Jen lifted the lid on the tray and there it was--one shiny, red apple. She couldn't believe her eyes.

Her dad couldn't believe the bill. After tip and a room service charge, the apple was like $15! Her dad was angry but defeated. After how much he paid for that apple, he couldn't throw it away. He let Jennifer eat it. To this day, Jen and Dan and her dad laugh about that shiny, red, fifteen dollar apple!

(One can't help but make a biblical comment here--what is it about the apple that is so darn tempting???)

The indoor pool at Caesars!

Caesars is not really an expensive hotel--but it impressed the heck out of Jen and Dan!

The view out of their hotel window of South Lake Tahoe in 1983

Jennifer and Daniel opened their presents in Foster City. Here's a photo of them gathered around their Dad's version of a Christmas tree!

Christmas 1983. Foster City, California

The ADAM computer was one of the first home computers. It was supposed to be a huge seller. With 80K of memory and a $600 price tag, it was considered an amazing deal! It came with Basic (a word processor program) and one game. It did not come with a monitor, you had to hook it up to your TV. ADAM was not reliable however. Word got out about that and the computer never took off in store sales. ADAM was discontinued in 1985 and was bankrupt by 1988.

Wow, high speed tape storage! Stunning!

The box it came in! ADAM included a letter-quality printer

Jen and Dan playing with their new ADAM!! (the pickle man is sitting on Jennifer's shoulder)

Leave it to Jennifer's dad, the honorary Vulcan, to own one of the first home computers. Her father liked to own the top of the line in everything he purchased. He had camping food designed for the astronauts to eat in space, he had new ski gear every year made from all the latest, man-made fabrics, he had the latest in home computer technology and cutting edge (literally) skis. He's a true gadget man!

Here is her father's desk in approximately 1976. See the telephone hand set plugged into the modem? See the ream of computer paper in the printer/computer? Jennifer's dad worked from home via modem in 1976!!

The satellite office for Jennifer's dad!

Jennifer's father also gave Jennifer her first calculator and digital watch in first grade. She snuck them into her desk and used the calculator to do her math. She never learned her multiplication tables and she didn't know how to read a clock until she taught herself in high school.

Why learn math when your calculator already knows it? Why read the clock when the time is blinking on your wrist? Technology allows us to stand on the shoulders' of giants! Sometimes, though, skipping steps isn't wise. While Jennifer knew how great her calculator was at math, she knew she wasn't great at math. She stopped sneaking her calculator into her desk as she got older (and the teachers got wise to calculators). Once she got behind in math, it was hard for her to catch up. It became her worst subject in school.

Jennifer's generation saw the birth of accessible, affordable, personal technology and life in the United States will never be the same. Now it is hard to find a person who is not "plugged in" or wearing an antenna on their head.

Do you remember your first home computer?

Technology Introduced in 1983
Cellular Phone Service
Affordable Family PC's
PC clones
Microsoft Word
Lotus 1-2-3
MIDI (musical instrument digital interface)


  1. Jen: I posted this from "Post A Comment" on your blog. Here is my comment from October 5. There are lots more.

    Jen: I have been to Lake Louise in British Columbia many times, but never heard of Lake Louise in Alaska. I googled it and sure enough there is one. The photo is beautiful. I have been to Alaska 3times. The first time was for 8 weeks in an RV in 2001. We visited Valdez and took a whale watching cruise to a glacier on the Kenai Peninsula. It was beautiful. We also visited all the ports the cruise ships visit as well as Sitka, Anchorage, Homer and the entire Kenai Peninsula, and Fairbanks. It was a fabulous trip and we fell in love with Alaska and the Alaska Marine Highway. We took the ferry home from Skagway to Bellingham, WA, which cost us a fortune because of the 34 foot motorhome, but it saved us about 5000 miles of driving home. On that trip we put about 15,000 miles on our RV, by far our biggest trip so far. We went back the following year for 4 weeks again on the ferry but without the RV from Bellingham with stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Wrangell, Petersburg, Haines, and Skagway. Two years later we did that trip again for 4 weeks. My boys have great memories of Alaska and the ferry, which is a great way to see the wildlife close up. We saw Orca whales, eagles, bears, and lots of moose.

    I am really enjoying your blogs and the photos. Great job.

  2. Wow, I really enjoyed this post. Any chance I can use your photo and name for a blog post of mine?


  3. BASIC was actually a programming language not a word processor. But it sounds like you may have known that somewhere along the line seeing as you wrote a program yourself as a kid.


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