Rasterized, circa 1983

Volume 15, Issue 33; 24 Nov 2012

The earliest digital images of me date back to about 1983 or 1984.

Youth lasts much longer than young people think.

Comtesse Diane

In about 1983 or 1984, I got my second “real job”.

The very first place I ever worked was in the warehouse for Edward R Hamilton, Bookseller (then located in Danbury, CT, now in Falls Village). I mostly picked books from the stacks to fulfill mail orders. These orders were sheets of newsprint, from the last page of the catalog, on which people had written (by hand, more or less legibly) their orders. Orders were accompanied by a money order or a check, an actual, physical piece of paper. The catalog, the order, and the books were all delivered by postal mail. Yes, children, there was life before the internet.

I don't remember if I had to get a “work permit” for my job at Ed Hamilton. I got that job through the husband of a friend of my mother's. But I know that my second job definitely required a work permit.

It was my first, and only, experience in retail. I worked at a computer store on the outskirts of Danbury. I no longer have the faintest recollection of the name of the store. It was some awful pun on bits or bytes, probably. We sold mostly Commodore 64 systems and software. Remember, these were the days when software was distributed on floppy disks (5¼", I'm not that old) in physical boxes sold in brick-and-mortar stores, almost exclusively.

I disliked almost everything about the experience. Basically introverted, I found interaction with customers excruciating. The proprietor was a nasty piece of work, universally despised by his employees and, I bet, most of his customers. That said, it wasn't all bad; I'd have happily played Benjamin to the daily manager's Mrs. Robinson, if I'd been given the chance. And if I'd had the faintest idea about The Graduate.

I have disjoint snatches of memory about my time there: Lotus 123 manuals printed in technicolor shades of red, blue, and green to defeat photocopying; Infocom games, arguments about the merits of the Atari vs the C64, the occasion on which a nefarious individual armed with a razor blade and large cajones managed to shoplift an astonishing number of floppy disks off the shelves, and the first “webcam”. Except it was pre-web so I don't really know what one was expected to do with it.

The staff used it to print a few pictures of ourselves.

Digital photo, circa 1983
Digital photo, circa 1983

By my estimate, that's a one-bit, 36dpi image about 280x232 pixels, almost 8kb uncompressed!

Digital photo, circa 1983
Digital photo, circa 1983

For years, I thought my mom had the only print from that camera, but just tonight I discovered two more in a filing cabinet.

I still plan to scan the one my mom has, I think it's just a little better.