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January 11, 2007


Mausi treated herself to a late Christmas present yesterday - an LCD screen for her computer. The difference to the old CRT one is spectacular. It sent Mausi thinking how much technology has leapt forward during the last twenty years when Mausi encountered her first Personal Computer at University.

When studying for her doctorate Mausi's supervising professor didn't believe in the necessity of personal computers for his graduate students. He blandly refused to buy them one. So Mausi and five of her colleagues pooled their money and bought one themselves - an Apple IIe! Great machine - you could almost watch it doing calculations but it served its purpose very well. Compared to today the small screen was a nightmare of course - alien green letters on black. Mausi and her colleagues even had a word processor programme for it which was very user unfriendly compared to modern ones but much more convenient than a typewriter when it came to writing publications because you could easily alter passages of text. Embedding photos or graphics into the text was of course an unheard of technology back then.

At about the same time the nature of and first applications for liquid crystals were researched and examined in another group at the same institute. From what Mausi saw of liquid crystals at that time she would never have dreamt that she would live to see them turned into something as useful as such a state-of-the-art LCD computer screen. Mausi still remembers her father using one of the first laptops with an LCD screen - blue letters on a sand coloured/whitish background. About 10 lines would find room on the entire screen and you could easily type faster than the letters would appear.

Nothing compared to this one - where even computer games involving the most elaborate 3-D graphic displays work like magic. Mind you, it's not that Mausi and her colleagues didn't have fun with their old Apple during their lunch break or after finishing their experiments when they were too exhausted to think straight but had to wait for the pumps of their experimental set-ups to cool down before going home. Among their favourite games were Taxman (much like Pacman) and Loadrunner. Simple graphics but great fun. Then they had one where the hero would go on a treasure hunt in a pyramid, open chests and things like that and had to fight various monsters at the same time. With computer mice still awaiting invention the controls on the keyboard were rather difficult to work and all but two of Mausi's colleagues would get their fingers hopelessly entangled in the effort.

Ahh - those were the days! At least you had no difficulties in telling the difference between a computer game and reality.

Posted by Mausi at January 11, 2007 09:16 PM

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