FUN FRIDAY: What is a computer?

Over thirty years ago, a bunch of kids were asked, “What is a computer?” Their answers, equally funny and poignant, are sometimes dated and sometimes incredibly prescient. Many of our customers were the same age as the children in this video… one of the children in this video could even be a customer of ours!

Deep Dive

There’s so much that’s just so 80s-tastic about this video. Start with the interviewer. Do people even have accents like that? Seems to me most regional accents are on their way out. It’s a little jarring to see a woman that age talking as if she were one of today’s 70-year-olds.

But then again, that’s just your entré into the weirdness of this piece. You have to figure that the costume designers of Stranger Things’ first season ran into it. You have to love the tank tops and deep-cut rugby shirts that just shout “my parents voted for Reagan.”

There’s also the obviously forced diversity of the group, something that Sesame Street was known for in its earlier days. Of course it’s the 1980s version of diversity. That means mostly white boys and girls with one black boy and one black girl. Given the 1980s’ portrayal of Asians and LGBTQ+ folks, maybe it’s best they were left out of the group, but still this “diverse” group seems pretty… non-diverse.

The real core of this video is, of course, the computer, with its “chunk, chunk” sounding computer and charmingly simple graphics. The kids really seem to take to this new tech, which is kind of fun in itself.

Take a look…

But before you go…

it’s interesting contrasting the above video with one created about five years ago. This video, entitled “Kids react to Old Computers,” features a group of youngsters encountering pretty much the same equipment thirty years later. Yes, they’re hamming it up. But there’s something kind of fun in the way that 2014’s kids (who could easily be the children of the one in the 1980s video) look at this former miracle machine and dismiss it. If you liked the first video you’ll probably like this one too.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.