Sunday, November 04, 2007

"60 GIG Should Be Enough For Anyone"

As I attempted to open Picasa last night to add a photo to my slideshow, I got an error message that I'd never seen in the year and a half that I've owned this laptop. It warned me that I am just about to run out of disk space.

Excuuuuse me?

Way back in the early 80's, I produced educational films and filmstrips (you're laughing, aren't you?!) for a now-defunct off-shoot of the Walt Disney Company called Walt Disney Educational Media Company (WDEMCO). My first project was a filmstrip called The Research Paper Caper (that's when I fell in love with producing) and after that I managed the production of a multimedia kit called Cheeseburger, This is Your Life (about food origins and nutrition; we were -- pffft! -- ahead of our time) which, as a multi-media kit, consisted of a filmstrip, a comic book, a poster, and audio tapes. (You're still laughing, aren't you?!)

In late 1983, we were told that WDEMCO would be experimenting with a new type of media called Personal Computer Software, and five of us were tasked with making the first educational computer games for kids. I freaked, of course, being the techno-phobe that I was. (Am?) But I jumped into my new role and loved it. I got to design the characters, stories, lessons, and look and feel, while artists and programmers did the rest. (Ah, those were the days!)

The powers that be at Disney in the early 80's had high hopes for this new business and looked forward to seeing our first games (which we produced with a teeny-tiny company called Sierra Online which was located in the teeny-tiny town of Oakhust, California, near Yosemite). We designed the programs for the Atari and Apple II computers, which had a whoppin' 48K memory, 8 colors, a few pixels per square inch, and which ran our software on a 2400 baud audio tape (later upgraded to a 5" floppy disk). I remember the VP telling us that the "art" was unacceptable, since Mickey's ears weren't as smooth and round as they were in "our movies." It took some time and significant adjustments for us all to understand the new media that we were working with -- both its opportunities and its limitations (and, as a company used to the beauty of movies consisting of individually hand-painted cels, there were both).

Disney did adjust, and our little 5-person team eventually became a new division called Disney Interactive.

And now I'm complaining because 60 GIG (how many gazillion times 48K is that?) isn't enough for me! (And hey, why does it show my capacity as only 50-ish? I guess 10-ish are "saved" for behind-the-scenes duties?) I can't even begin to put that into perspective, given what we worked with 23 years ago, except to say that, to salvage a tiny bit of disk space I deleted a CD labeling software program -- all 240 MB of it!

You know, there was a time when, if someone heard you say "I need more memory; I'm running out," they'd consider committing you to an institution! And a few short years from now, people will laugh at the whimpy 160 GIG external drive that will be permanently plugged into my laptop from now on because, well... "I needed more memory; I ran out."

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Anonymous said...

What an interesting career you have! I bet you have more great stories to tell.

In high school, my typing teacher told me I would never make a career of it, so I had better look elsewhere for a job. Now I spend my entire day in front of a keyboard, although not entirely what she had in mind, and there are no typewriters to be found. We've come a long way, baby.

Dixie said...

You know, in a goofy way I sort of miss film strips. I guess you can compare that with my mother missing a phone you have to crank to get the operator.

mks said...

Yes I hear your fear at that message. I too am going to have to consider an external hard drive soon. *quivers* I have to start archiving some of my photos - actually printing some more of them - it scares me in a way to store all of my memories on a hard drive instead of in a photo album. Call me old fashioned.

vailian said...

Nice story, Carol!
When I got my first computer, I waanted a Mac but could only afford an Atari. I spent a LOT of money on it and the hard drive to go with it, a monster machine about the size of a record player (remember those?) which had the unbelievably huge capacity of TWO MEGABYTES!! (Now, of course, 2 MB is the file size of just one picture, compressed, from my digital camera).
I had only about 3 programs to run on the machine (including one game from Sierra), and I was on a first-name basis with each and every file on the machine.
Am now on my 4th external hard drive, the one I bought last week has 500GB of space on it but is not going to be a final answer either.
The major problem for the world's scientists in the next few years is figuring out how to find that picture of your aunt that you took about 10 years ago...

Unknown said...

External Harddrive. Saved my life.
"Research Paper Caper," how did I miss that one?

Carol said...

You missed it because you were probably in PRESCHOOL (or younger!) when it was produced! Ah, what fun that was... a spy theme, complete with all the fun production techniques that accompany it (the dry ice, the trench coat and glasses, the sleuth music)!


Jen said...

Believe it or not, I think I used the Sierra software when teaching. I also used to produce the same kinds of videos and then interactive videos (long story there, lol). It's fun working that kind of thing!

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