The Chip and the Writer
by Michael Mullen
The chip has changed the world. This small square of silicon, etched with memory, has transformed all our lives. Those who developed the chip and the computers, built about chips, are still alive. Many of them are middle-aged men. They created the White Revolution.
We will never return to the old times. They are gone forever. I belong to the old times and the new times.
My first typewriter I purchased for £12. it was timber-framed, had faulty keys and the ribbons never held stiff on the spools. My first novels were produced on this machine. they had to be rewritten and retyped again and again. Then came the second typewriter. Good but light and that passed into oblivion. It was replaced by a large unwieldy typewriter that weighed a ton and I sold it off to someone for scrap.
The reason I sold it is very simple. The chip was taking over the world of writing. Mister Alan sugar invented the first Amstrad word processor which was within the financial budget of financially limited writers. He set us free and we made him a millionaire many times over. no longer did we sit before a small stubborn machine. We sat before a screen and sculpted our work in light. It was sheer magic.
Everyone moved into the word processor market. Prices fell and megabytes went up and hard disc memory was extended to a great range and soon a small library could be held in a computer.
They gave us spell checkers and a thesaurus and all types of fonts and we became desk top publishers.
Then I became linked to the world. If you write historical novels you must be linked to the world. Where I once travelled to London to forage through book shops in search of material now I bring the libraries to me. I do not surf the Internet. I sail to its islands and bring home treasures which I print out. Information comes down the Silk Road of the telephone wire.
In fact it was at Jazybee-internet services at Westport that I was first converted to the cause of the Internet. I asked them to search out material on the Romanovs for me. What had taken me a year to assemble could be assembled in a day. On that day I knew the world had changed. There is no going back. Once the book was created then people never returned to the manuscript. And when the tractor was invented the day of the horse as a working animal had come to an end.
Knowledge is necessary and knowledge is power. The Internet is not a complex thing. It can be complex if you wish to know how the innards work. A car is complicated if you open the engine and try to take it asunder. But if you can drive a car you can be a passenger on the Internet.
For a writer it is an absolute necessity. Communication is necessary and will soon be everyone's reality. If Castlebar became a cyber town then it would be worth more to us than we could ever imagine. It would give us power and with power you can control your own destiny.
I have come a long way from the £12 typewriter.
Born in Castlebar, Michael Mullen has taught in Mauritius and Dublin and now teaches in Glenisland, Castlebar. He is the author of over 14 novels and numerous short stories and articles.