Faithful in life, inseparable in death. *sniff* HP-IL units, ca 1980-2010.
I am not cutting my neckties into tiny pieces, though that might be fun to try if I ever get drunk enough, unlikely as that may be. I am talking about my ties to the past. That seems to be a lot more common in my life lately, and this morning it started again. I took my two last HP-IL units in a plastic bag and carried them with me to the city, there to deliver them at the electric shop.
In Norway (and other Protestant countries, I believe) shops that sell electric products are ordered by law to accept such products for recycling, regardless of whether they have ever sold that particular brand. This came in handy, because I doubt I can find any shop today that remembers to have sold peripherals using the Hewlett-Packard Interface Loop. I am pretty sure they were phased out around the mid 1980es when the personal computer completely changed the marketplace.
I have a long history with Hewlett-Packard. I bought one of the HP-41C programmable calculators when I was just barely grown up. A HP-41 had been used on board the Apollo spacecraft, I believe it was. It was around that time at least. My model was slightly later, but the same excellent quality (and somewhat steep price). These things were built to last for a lifetime. I don’t know whether mine does, as I eventually sold it. Instead I bought a HP-71B alphanumeric calculator. It had a child-sized qwerty keyboard built in, and a 1-line long alphanumeric display. It came with an extremely advanced version of BASIC built in, and you could buy various other modules. I bought a Forth & Assembler module, and had years of fun programming extremely efficient code that I ran on it. I made my own word processor in a hybrid of Forth and assembler, and it generally worked as fast as I could type. True, I ran ahead of it for a short while, but it caught up with me when I had to think, which I did even then.
A word processor is not very useful without storage and printer, and this is where the HP-IL comes in. I had bought a HP-IL module for the 71B, and it came with a small cable. The portable, rechargeable mini-tape drive also came with such a cable. I connected one cable from the HP71B to the tape drive, and the other back the other way. I could then save my writings to tape. (As well as the programs I wrote, of course.) When I wanted to print, I could connect the second cable from the tape station to the mini-printer instead, and its cable to the 71B again. As long as there was a closed loop, the units were all connected and could communicate. I later got a full-size inkjet printer and even a monochrome monitor. You could have up to 30 units, not that I ever had that many. After a while they invented a way to use indirect addressing, so you could have 30×30 units. I doubt this was in much use, for as mentioned, the winds of change came shortly after and ended this beautiful (if somewhat expensive) little world.
I have not had the heart to throw away these until now. By rights they deserved to end in a museum, that is how I felt. But I realize that I am never going to make a museum. So, sad as it may be, it was their time.
The other tie to be cut today was to Nodeland, where I lived for exactly 4 years. Until one month ago, this was my home. Now I am never going to see it again.
You know, this gave me a flashback to the Prince of Egypt animated movie where Moses stands sadly among the falling chunks of ice and fire and sings:
This was my home
All this pain and devastation
How it tortures me inside
All the innocent who suffer
From your stubbornness and pride…
Hopefully it isn’t quite that bad. Apart from that carpet, I think the place should be OK with a little more washing, but I won’t be the one doing that. I’m just paying, and hopefully it will be a few years till next time. Plus, next time I will have less stuff. You hear me? LESS STUFF.
In Buddhism, “attachment” is the big bad wolf that will eat you so you never reach Nirvana. I am starting to see why. If it is this hard to say goodbye to small thing, how will it feel to say goodbye to your world, your body, your family and friends, the beating of your heart? But to the best of my knowledge, that is not on the menu for today. I sincerely hope not. I rather like the approach outlined in one of the older songs among Smith’s Friends: “You make me humble by the small things.”
Speaking of which!!
I overslept my bus stop today. That is a first. Ironically, it may be tied to the previous item, about the old home. Even there, I used to fall asleep on the bus home, but wake up just before we came to my stop. I think I overslept once or twice, but the bus did just go on a loop so I could jump off when it came back down from the hill. But after I moved, I would also fall asleep, but wake up after the number of minutes that had previously taken me home.
Not anymore. I woke up and had no idea how far we had come. I thought at first that we were still not there, but I did not quite recognize how far we were come. Then I saw a sign I remembered from when I moved, when we drove the other way (because the road was better). And I looked at the clock and realized that we had passed my stop. For a short time I considered continuing to Mandal, the nearest large town, and wait for the bus back. But that would be a couple hours wait. Instead, I hopped off at the next stop. Somewhat to my surprise, it still took me just over an hour to walk home, and I walked pretty briskly. Those buses sure drive fast out in the countryside!
Humble by small things, indeed. At least I have not had a donkey speak to me, yet. At least not in a literal sense. But if I need the advice of an ass to cut my old useless ties, so be it.