8 — Technology then and now

| May 19, 2015 | Reply

I’m writing this inside the Kerrville Festivals office, a couple of days before the music begins for the 2015 Folk Festival, and on my own laptop computer. This office has finally made it into the 21st Century. That became more apparent than ever when a volunteer crew leader said over coffee, “I actually emailed the office from down in the meadow and they got the email.” Amazing!

It was, probably, 1982 that we got a word processor in the KFF office. Quite an advantage over the old typewriter that producer Rod Kennedy used to crank out his newsletters, which we sorted labels by hand and mailed out in bulk. And he would type out his paragraphs for the brochures and programs for the printer on that typewriter. Granted, it was an electric one, not the older pound-the-keyboard type.

Then came the word processor. A miracle worker it was. I always worried for its continued good health, because when Rod would get frustrated, he’d pick it up about a foot off the desk and drop it. But, it maintained. Must have been made of sturdy stock!

Still, we were keeping the mailing lists by hand, typed out on Avery labels; and keeping incoming call information on yellow legal pads, divided into 3” columns, with an ‘X’ drawn through each message once it was answered. Bookkeeping kept the old-fashioned way, pencil, more yellow legal pads, and ledgers.

1984 Kaypro 4

1984 Kaypro 4

Then, 1984, the Kaypro computer came out. We were among the first to purchase one, financed with my Jeep as collateral. (I had purchased that AMC Jeep from Ray Tate. Flew to Chicago where he lived (director of the Old Town School of Music) at the time, and drove it back, taking days by driving on the service roads because of intense snow and ice most of the way. I loved that Jeep.)

Rod stayed with the word processor and I used the Kaypro, learning all sorts of uses for it — starting with the re-entering of that multi-thousand name mailing list in a way that the labels could be sorted for bulk mailing — in less than 3 days — just imagine! It was even the forerunner of the laptop computer. It could be boxed up and carried like a heavy suitcase.

That was long before cell phones, too. We had three landline phones, although then they were simply called ‘telephones’. And we had one pay phone right outside the office, kept busy most daylight hours, but when the music started, nothing else mattered.

The Kaypro was still in use after I left the festival, but the bank repossessed the Jeep. It was an OK thing, I guess, because it’s transmission completely cratered only a week after the bank found a new owner. Probably all that salt they use on icy roads in Chicago… but that’s just a totally un-educated guess.

Now, inside this office, I am counting six in-house computers, there’s one in the volunteer staff check-in area (staff central), and there’s  separate WiFi systems all over the ranch. Talk about going hi-tech!

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