In 1996, teachers received an offer: attend a computer workshop and get a computer for your classroom.
Incredibly, only a dozen teachers showed for the first round of offers. It was a mixed bunch in terms of experience with a computer. We met in the small, but cozy, library classroom. Our Macintosh LC500 computers awaited us. Directed to sit at any one we liked, that computer would become ours after the training.
While I owned a Powerbook for personal use, the colleague who sat next to me did not have much experience with a computer. Nevertheless, everyone was excited--including the man who sat right next to me.
Ralph had logged over thirty-five years of teaching math to middle school students and was going strong for forty. Time paused forever in the early 60s for Ralph. His Roy Orbison black frames and slick black hair complimented the white short-sleeved dress shirt. It was like his own superhero uniform--he wore this combination every day with charcoal slacks.
He arrived first to school every morning. He put the coffee on. No one else was allowed. During a heavy snowstorm he called me at home and asked me if I wanted to make some extra money plowing snow. Even though we had the day off, I declined. He would needle me relentlessly about passing up a chance to make a few extra dollars.
The workshop started right after school. Our leader directed us to turn on the computers and helped a few of the teachers who sat near the front of the space. As I pressed the inconspicuous power button, I saw Ralph look at the left side of his computer and then the right side.
Most screens blinked to life with the signature Apple tone. Ralph stared at a blank screen.
"I repeat, Computer on."
Note: While "Ralph" is a fictional name--this is a true story.