My old IBM PCjr (shown in this photo) came with two keyboards; the original “chicklet” keyboard, which was a nightmare for non-touch-typists, and a regular keyboard with actual letters printed on the keys for normal people. Both were infrared — a keyboard cable cost an extra $25. Since the only way the system would fit on my desk was to have it angled in the corner, and the IR beam of the keyboard was directional, the keyboard had to be angled too, in order to work, which did weird things to my back if I used it for too long.
The chicklet keyboard became Ryan’s keyboard — for a while, it allowed me to use the computer without his “help,” because he was content to sit on the floor beside me and pound on (and drool into) his own keyboard. But it didn’t take him long to figure out that my keyboard was making things happen, while his just went clickety-click, and that was the end of my ability to fly solo on the computer, at least while he was awake!
I wrote him some little programs that made things happen when he pressed keys, and later one that helped him learn his alphabet, and then some logic games. When Risa got big enough to want to participate, I even came up with a two-person joystick game with little green worms that crawled around the screen chomping apples and leaving little apple cores behind. When Rustin came along, though, there was no choice but to get a second computer, because the PCjr couldn’t handle 3 joysticks.
These days, Ryan is a senior Web developer for Yahoo! Search. I like to take some of the credit for that, but in reality I think he would have discovered computers whether I had been a geek or not. Some things are just meant to be. 🙂