Oh the memories this brought back! My first computer was an Atari that my parents bought sometime in the early 80s. 1982 at a guess. They never used it. My brother played games on it. I played games but I wrote programs too. There was an Atari magazine that had games in it, but it was just the code. You had to type the code into the computer, complete with line numbers, and hope you made no errors & you would get to play a text based came if you got it right. I don't think I ever got one right but while entering the code I began to figure out just what command combinations produced what results. My very first ever computer program was for a school schedule. You entered your grade & depending on it you could choose classes for 2-4 of your 8 class periods. Then it would generate random schedules, complete with teacher names (and getting to choose only certain teacher for certain classes was the real challenge for me). Sometimes you got lucky & it assigned you 4 periods of lunch :). It even drew lines around the schedule & between the classes. HIGH TECH STUFF.
We got computers in my high school in 1984. TRS-80s that had to be all connected together & only one person at a time could send information over the wires. We each had a floppy that held our work because there were no hard drives (NO HARD DRIVES!). I recreated my school schedule program on it for class with a few refinements & got an A.
In college I use the university Apple's & discovered local BBSs. I remember chatting about a lot of books and playing RPGs online on them. Then in 1991, DH bought his first comptuer, a 256. It cost $1100. I remember because his Discover card only had a $1000 limit. We were living together then & I paid for a Prodigy membership. Prodigy was one of the first nationwide BBS, not quite the internet today, but a starting point. I was never offline again. I later added a CompuServe account & then an AOL account. I'm not sure when the nationwide BBS experience that was AOL/Prodigy/Compuserve became the WWW as we know it. I remember researching things online but it wasn't IE based with www.something.com names. It was more like telnet. You had to connect to the site, often with user names & passwords, sometimes manually dialing in. Then suddenly there was IE and http:// stuff and email that could be sent outside AOL or Prodigy (or maybe the email came before IE...I think maybe it did). There were listserves, and webrings and html! It was pretty incredible.
And now I feel old. When I was in high school (and in college for that matter) & a paper had to be written you looked stuff up in the encyclopedia at home or you went to the library and flipped through the card catelog looking for relevant books, or you sat at a big noisy machine & looked though the microfish at scanned newspapers or scanned old documents. You didn't just google Margaret of Anjou and start cutting and pasting notes. Hard to believe nowadays.