Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Jerry and computers

One of Jerry's quirks was a deeply ingrained revulsion towards the use of computers. It was a wonderfully illogical prejudice. He used many complex electronic devices in his research, and hundreds of gadgets with embedded microchips without any qualms, but to use a "computer" was, to him, anathema.

It could be quite frustrating. We all knew that using a computer would have made it possible for him to read and communicate more easily. He would not budge.

When faced with an open laptop, he would go into a little bit of theater, playing a saint being confronted by the devil. This was a role that he relished, but, since many of his children and grandchildren were involved in high tech, tended to limit conversations.

He loved gadgets. I remember him being delighted with my MP3 player at one Thanksgiving dinner, right up to the point where I explained that I loaded the files on from my computer. I remember thinking at the time that it was like the aborigines in Gamow's "One, Two, Three, Infinity" who went blank when trying to deal with more numbers than they had fingers.

It was an act, of course, sort of a practical joke that got out of hand and became a programmatic response but he got used to enjoying the frustration that it created in those around him.

But that was Jerry for you. There was nothing more amusing to him than taking an indefensible position and making it impregnable.

1 comment:

  1. What's even funnier about this is that Maggie's always been such an early and enthusiastic adopter of computers - I remember using her Mac in 1984 (with Jerry looking on in bemused and I suspect largely contrived contempt)