I was about eight years old. My only experience with computers back then came from playing Oregon Trail on my school’s then-ancient Apple II (pictured).
Oregon Trail educated me on the harsh realities of dysentery and bear attacks facing American pioneers. More importantly, it taught me to love computers (and computer games).
So when my family purchased our first PC around 1990, I was really excited to begin gaming on a whole new level.
But there was a problem with the new computer: I had no idea how to use it.
The Silverleaf Method
I had a feeling, though, that our new PC was more powerful and faster than the school’s old Apple. I suspected this because the computer had a “turbo” button that, when pressed, doubled the number on the case’s digital display, from “33” to “66”.
My tests did indeed show that the PC ran faster in “turbo” mode. Then I wondered: why anybody would ever not use “turbo” mode?
Later, I learned that this number represented processor clock speed: 33 MHz and 66 Mhz, respectively. I figured out how to install games on the computer. Glorious games like Duke Nukem, Mega Man, and a 3-D flight simulation and film creation game called Stunt Island all provided untold hours of fun.
I also toyed with powerful MS-DOS commands like “DELETE”, “ERASE”, and “FORMAT”… oops.
I went through technical manuals to find new ways to exploit my computer’s abilities. Dangerous as it sounds, this was originally my method of learning computers: by breaking them. A lot.
A Better Way to Learn Komputers
Today, it seems like this method of learning computers is alive and well, because clients bring me broken computers all the time. So many, in fact, that I had to begin investigating ways to prevent the unfixable ones from piling up!
First, I looked into e-waste collection services, as well as charities that would accept donations of used computers. They both seemed like good ways to solve my hoarding problem, but I wanted to find a better solution. And then I found K4RK.
Komputers 4 R Kids is a non-profit program that collects, repairs, and refurbishes donated computers. These computers are then distributed to needy children and families. The K4RK program teaches kids how to take broken computers and give them new life, which is essentially what I do on a daily basis!
I instantly felt a connection with the program: not just because we do the same job, but because the idea of helping kids use technology invoked a sense of excitement and wonder I remember feeling as a child learning to use my first computer.
I also think that if I had belonged to a K4RK-like program when I was a kid (and received proper training), I wouldn’t have broken as many computers as I did!
The K4RK Donation Drive
I honestly can’t imagine where I’d be today if my family wasn’t able to afford that brand-new PC with the Intel 80486 66 MHz (turbo) processor. I don’t know how much my first computer cost back in 1990, but I know now that I was lucky to get one.
That’s why I support the K4RK program. It not only teaches kids about computers and helps the environment, but it provides computers for students who are underserved due to economic, language, and cultural barriers. It helps children gain access to essential technology and skills that they couldn’t receive otherwise.
I’ve created a collaboration between K4RK and Silverleaf to help kids and the environment by collecting donations of used computers and e-waste. For extra incentive, I’m also hosting a giveaway where anybody who makes a donation will be entered to win a new Google Nexus 10 tablet!
Please join me in supporting our first ever Komputers 4 R Kids Donation Drive – just click the link to donate. It’s a win-win-win for kids, the environment, and technology!