The ex­cite­ment of a new PC in 2002

Jan­uary 14th, 2002. Pho­to­graph by Frank Miller

The Irish Times Magazine - - THE TIMES WE LIVED IN - Pub­lished:

It’s one of our favourite top­ics here at this col­umn: “new” tech­nol­ogy. Be­cause in­evitably, when you look back, it looks an­cient. This pho­to­graph, taken in 2002, shows the Calder fam­ily – mother Erica and her sons Cian, then four, and Tom, 13 months – clearly de­lighted with the new com­puter which had just ar­rived at their Dublin home.

To our jaun­diced eyes, of course, the Dell might as well be an an­tique, to be cat­a­logued along­side a piece of Ge­orge III sil­ver or a Chip­pen­dale chair. ( In­deed, maybe one day that squat break­front screen and frieze of vin­tage but­tons will prob­a­bly be cov­eted by col­lec­tors.)

On closer in­spec­tion, how­ever, it turns out that far from be­ing be­hind the times, Ms Calder was in fact well ahead of them. As the ac­com­pa­ny­ing ar­ti­cle in­formed our read­ers, she had re­ceived a new com­puter for Christ­mas – but was hav­ing trou­ble dis­pos­ing of the old one.

“She knew it would be im­pos­si­ble to sell since its age ( eight years) meant it was pos­i­tively a fos­sil in these hi- tech times when to­day’s new­est model is to­mor­row’s an­tique,” our re­porter ex­plained. The sim­plest way to get rid of it would have been to shove it in the wheelie bin, but Ms Calder’s keen aware­ness of the en­vi­ron­ment meant she could not even con­tem­plate that.

“I do think that how each one of us lives has an im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment,” she told The Ir­ish Times. “I don’t like the idea of in­cin­er­a­tion and we can’t just keep on dump­ing our waste.”

That was fight­ing talk for 2002. A decade and a half later, we’re still dump­ing our waste at a fright­en­ing rate – de­spite what we now know about the en­vi­ron­men­tal threat posed to fu­ture gen­er­a­tions by un­man­aged land­fill from the past.

So now, look­ing back from the view­point of 2018, what do we see? Not a bock­ety old com­puter but a young mother, try­ing to do the right thing by her chil­dren: and those two gor­geous kids, full of cu­rios­ity and in­no­cence. And will they get the eco- fu­ture they de­serve?

There’s not a com­puter on the planet which can an­swer that one.

Ar­minta Wal­lace

Archive pho­tographs and other

Ir­ish Times images can be pur­chased from irish­times. com/ pho­to­s­ales

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