This blog post is a crowdsourced trip down a collective memory lane. A few weeks back I thought it might be fun to ask my colleagues at Voxus how they decided to make a career in tech PR. After all, it’s what we do, day in and day out. We live it. We breathe it. And for the most part, we love it!
As I started to receive feedback, though, an unexpected thing happened. It turns out that many of us have vivid memories of Nintendo gaming consoles. In fact, of the eight people who responded, five of us mentioned Nintendo – without any of us having shared our answers. That’s a pretty phenomenal coincidence. On a bigger scale, it made me wonder how many tech PR people and tech journalists out there owe their careers to Nintendo as well.
So, without further ado, here are the responses from my colleagues, shining a light on their earliest memories of technology.
It would have to be somewhere between mastering Super Mario Bros on NES and a time when I had my own CD player (maybe when I was nine or 10). When the CDs in my player kept getting stuck, I disassembled the whole thing, made a diagram of it and put it back together and fixed it!
My parents bought our first family computer – an Atari ST — around 1987. There was a game called Time Bandit that I LOVED. My parents let me play for hours, because “screen time limits” had not been invented yet. Neither had YouTube, so I made it to a certain level in the game and was never able to go any further (needed some cheats/game help!). Here is the game in action.
Seeing what could be done on a home computer sparked a lifelong interest in technology and a fascination with what would be invented next. At Voxus, sometimes I’m the first to know!
My dad was one of the first systems analysts for Dow Chemical. When I was very young, I liked to visit his office – the mainframe computer occupied an entire floor of a building, up to the ceiling; dozens of people had keypunch jobs, where they punched holes in cards that correlated to data and that were then fed into the monster computer. It looked like the Wizard of Oz before he was unveiled to be just a man. And that’s my earliest recollection of computer technology.
I remember when the Nintendo 64 was first launching. It looked like the most fascinating piece of technology. For the first time, I was exposed to immersive 3D gaming environments and thought that graphics could never get better. Of course, I was wrong. Now some games’ graphics appear indistinguishable from real life. And games really continue to improve their environments with new innovations like virtual reality.
Coming into this field, I was actually more interested in healthcare PR. In fact, I have volunteered as a public policy volunteer for a major healthcare nonprofit, served as a HIV/STI peer counselor at my university’s wellness center, and interned at a Seattle-based community health organization. I wanted to continue down this road toward health communications, but my professional life took a detour.
Working in tech PR does seem like a natural fit. Various technologies play a critical role in healthcare, so I’ve always had tech innovation news on my radar. Now at Voxus, I have a greater appreciation of technology and always look forward to the next app update or hardware launch.
Receiving the original Nintendo for my sixth birthday was my introduction into technology. After that, I was very focused on saving all my allowance money to get every next generation game console: Gameboy, Super Nintendo, Sega, Play Station, etc.
I actually kind of fell into tech PR. I originally studied PR, art and music and held a number of jobs and internships that focused on the arts. However, when it was time to look for a full-time job after college, I quickly realized that I shouldn’t be too picky. So, I took a job with an education technology company and that is where I realized I had a knack for tech. Since it was a small company I not only handled PR, but I was also able to learn and experience many of the other aspects of a growing tech provider. I helped with tech support, I tested software and I also worked directly with company programmers. Experiencing these inner workings gave me a new-found respect for the drive, commitment and struggle it takes to run a successful tech company. That’s when I was hooked.
My first exposure to real tech was with Nintendo. I remember Christmas 1986, I got the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). It had launched earlier in 1985 in some limited markets (not mine), so I could really only read about them or see them in commercials. Like most kids, I was hooked by marketing. Everyone I knew was asking for the system for Christmas. My sister and I were really lucky we had great parents that went out and braved the lines to get one. We got the Deluxe Set, which included the robot (R.O.B.), the light gun, two controllers and the games Gyromite (which you needed R.O.B. to play) and Duck Hunt (which needed the light gun). We also got Super Mario Bros. and Tennis. We played the system for two days straight, and over the rest of the year, all my friends geeked out with the games. I did chores left and right to earn money to buy additional games like Wild Gunman, Excitebike (oh man, building tracks was hours of fun), Hogan’s Alley, Legend of Zelda and others. Eventually, I had all the games. From that point on, I was addicted to video games. Over the next couple years, I had the Texas Instrument TI-99/4A personal computer (basically for gaming) and a Macintosh 2, which introduced me to so many concepts, like an operating system, mouse, floppy disk storage, applications and more. This device became more than fun and games, it offered a tool that could help me learn and study.
My father was at the forefront of technology and the internet, so I was lucky enough to grow up around tech. We had the first desktop computer, the first laptop, the first mobile phone, etc. Playing with these things and learning them was just part of my life and ingrained into my DNA. I was extremely fortunate in that regard. After I got a journalism degree and decided to go into PR, it seemed logical to look into tech PR. Once in a tech PR role, it just all clicked. I loved reading about new technologies and getting to help explain them to others. A perfect match!
I wasn’t allowed to play with video games or various pieces of technology when I was a child. Technology wasn’t very highly regarded in my family. As a kid, I was told to play outside and use my imagination. Long car rides were filled with coloring, crossword puzzles, car games and conversation. I think one of the reasons we never had anything too techy was because my parents couldn’t really afford it. But, who knows?
I do, however, remember playing Donkey Kong and Super Mario Brothers on Super Nintendo at my grandma’s house whenever we’d go visit. My siblings and I would stay up all night playing those games.
I can think of two treasured items that started me on a journey to self-proclaimed geekdom. One was the fabled Nintendo Donkey Kong Game & Watch of 1982. With all of its weird and wonderful noises, that thing drove my parents mad. But it saved my sanity during many road trips! I think it ultimately died one day in my dad’s car, when I left it in the unforgiving Australian sun and the LCD screen got cooked #sad. (On a side note, that’s also what happened to my Steve Austin – $6 Million Man action doll – he melted and I never forgave myself.) My other tech marvel was the Commodore 64 of 1984. It was the epitome of 80s cool, with its tape drive and dot matrix printer.
By today’s standards, these 80s gadgets were crude and clunky devices, yet to me they were miracles of science and design. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that these two things did, in fact, open my eyes to the brave new world of microprocessors, software coding and bad eyesight. I was living the dream. Who could’ve known that the dream would be alive and kicking three decades later.