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This is among the weirdest/funnest artifacts I have: Inside The Personal Computer, a pop-up book about “the wondrous world of personal computers.”It’s a “sensational new book teaches you everything you need to know.”And it taught me allot
And it’s from 1984.
The first section explains the computer as a whole – as it was back then. I wonder what was the model for this generic machine. One of the TRS-80s?
You need to insert a disk to get it “running.” It works just as well and with as much grace as I remember actual 5¼" floppy disks.
The keyboard is an entry point to talk about codes. (For the record, I HAD THIS IDEA FIRST FOR MY BOOK.)
Alas, you can’t actually press the M key – you have to pull on a tab to get it depressed. It makes for this odd feeling that *you’re the program in this scenario.*
The bit / light switch toggle is interesting in that you can definitely sense you’re scraping a LOT of paper inside – the whole page bends a bit as you’re doing it. Electricity is hard work!
At first I thought there was nothing interactive about the next section on chips… not counting the weird little “port” you can just take out. Wait, is that supposed to be a cartridge?
But then I discovered a flap you can raise, although it’s still not that interesting. Instead of showing you top of the chip and letting you peer inside, this shows you inside the chip and gives you… more text. Zzzzzz
The next page is more like it! You can peer inside the floppy drive…
…or slide the head to reveal the magnetic medium, or even flip open a whole disk to see its structure.
This is interesting in that it really is just a floppy disk enclosure, at seemingly 1:1 scale, just made out of cardboard.
The next spread has the most interesting visual… a piece of string you can drag to simulate the electron beam inside a CRT forming pixels as it travels to the right.
And there’s also a little rotator that tells you about the exciting world of software.
The last spread, with the dot-matrix printer is pretty cute, although the message feels a bit creepy? You can drag it over for a bit of closure.
GOODBYE, HUMAN. YOU WILL LEARN TO HATE ME AS WE GROW OLDER TOGETHER_
That’s it! I’m oddly fascinated by it.
Today, it feels like one clumsy artifact talking about another clumsy artifact. But how did it feel in 1984? The home computers were pretty high tech then, of course, but I imagine this book must have been awkward from day one?
I just realized that this book is 3D, so I can also look at the backs of machines. The red cables and power switches did not disappoint.
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