From BASIC Coding To Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI): A Technology Journey Almost 40 Years In The Making For My 12-Year-Old Self.
The exhilaration of time travel might just be possible when one indulges in a bit of nostalgia, especially when it whirls you back to a time when a 12-year-old was wide-eyed at the burgeoning relationship between mankind and computers. Picture this – the year was 1984 or maybe 1985? A time when artificial intelligence (AI) was nothing more than a figment of sci-fi enthusiasts’ imagination. Yet, fast forward almost four decades, and here we are where the technology dreams of my 12-year-old self have manifested into reality, stretching far beyond the wild corridors of my childhood imagination.
Our home resonated with the future with the arrival of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, an awe-inspiring gadget that was nothing short of being state-of-the-art technology in Kenya and across the globe during that era. This piece of technology, arriving during the festive season, was no less than a Christmas miracle, akin to a prized possession dispatched straight from Santa’s advanced tech laboratory.
Sure, gaming cassettes were like luxury goods, considering their exorbitant prices and the complexities involved in acquiring them from the UK. But, the heart of our adventure was not centered around these cassettes. Instead, it was the fascinating journey my older brother and I embarked upon, navigating through the intricate maze of technology, at a time when the internet was not a household term and floppy disks and hard drives were unheard of.
Our weekends morphed into vibrant labs of exploration, where we were engrossed in the BASIC code manuals, decrypting them with an enthusiasm that bordered on reverence. It was not just a task, but a thrilling adventure that unraveled the mysteries of gaming possibilities within the Spectrum, transforming mere lines of codes into tailor-made experiences, saving precious shillings in the process.
However, not all memories were golden. The frequent power outages courtesy of Kenya Power were the proverbial dark clouds, often wiping away hours of painstaking effort in a blink when they happened. The lack of Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) technology back then only amplified our woes, making us restart our coding adventures from the very beginning, time and again.
In those early days, my naive attempts to converse with the Spectrum in plain English were perhaps a testament to a child’s unbridled imagination. A reflection of an innocent belief that computers should be able to comprehend and reciprocate human emotions and language.
Now, as it turns out, almost 40 years later, it seems the universe has conspired to turn those childhood fantasies into tangible realities. Generative AI platforms like ChatGPT have metamorphosed the digital landscape, enabling a seamless conversation between humans and computers, and creating an environment where tasks are executed with a remarkable semblance to human understanding.
Looking back, it’s surreal to realize that we’ve traversed a journey that began with meticulous manual BASIC coding, evolving into a sophisticated and almost magical interaction with Generative AI platforms. A technology adventure close to 40 years in the making has come full circle, allowing the 12-year-old in me to break into a jubilant dance, a dance celebrating the marvels of technology and the fulfillment of dreams that seemed impossible all those years ago!