I remember it like it was yesterday. I had to be like 7 or 8 years old, when I had my first personal computer.
A Texas Instruments’ TI-99. My dad had a friend of his come over to set it up. Who would have known a Texas Instrument personal computer would be at me and my brother’s disposal. Right in our bedroom was an electronic gateway that could have radically changed our trajectory.
What I didn’t understand then, that now makes sense was the rarity of a) my dad’s friend being an African American man in the computer field in the early to mid 80s and, b) me being a young African American boy with access to a personal computer.
I didn’t know better, but I kick myself thinking about it. I remember playing with the different basic programs, but it would never stick. The pull of playing football with my friends was more compelling.
Growing up I wanted to be a NFL player. Like “Sweetness”. Walter Payton. You don’t realize the power of images to influence your young mind. For instance, it was the image of Walter Payton wearing his signature Kangaroos that drove me to want to be in the NFL. (I wonder if they still make them.)
That was my dream. Not to be a computer engineer.
Matter fact I don’t think I knew that there were black people that worked with computers at that time. That was not the images and realities I saw or even new existed. Hindsight is definitely 20/20. What’s funny is the main images of Bill Cosby I remember seeing is his famous pudding pop advertising in the EBONY or JET magazines my parents would have around the house.
At that time Bill Cosby was at the height of ‘The Cosby Show” success. He could do no wrong. I had my share of pudding pops in my lifetime, but the real image that I don’t remember ever seeing was this one.
I don’t even remember seeing this in EBONY or JET magazine. It may have been in personal computer trade magazines. Magazines that my parents would have never bought.
Who knows I could have been the next Bill Gates.
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