Peter and email (and computers)

Some of the first email I ever sent was to Peter, back in college, back in the days when you had to specify the full path from one computer to another of how to reach a recipient.

But I don’t think he was ever all that into email. I think there were periods of years when he had no email access at all.

And at one point, as I mentioned in an entry in my main blog a few years back, he told me that he he only checked mail at home every couple of weeks, and so sometimes he would have as much as ten or twelve pieces of spam to deal with, and that was just too much.

I now see that as part of an odd anti-computer streak in Peter’s personality; see also my recent entry about his use of calculators. Given that he had a lifelong interest in science fiction, given that he made his living for a long time working with and/or programming computers, I was always surprised and a little puzzled that he wasn’t more interested in using them in his daily life.

Writing this entry got me curious, so I went and looked through some old files, and found email from Peter from mid-1988, when he was doing QA at Olivetti. Here’s most of it:

well i finally finished the review of the help files i was doing: 440 bugs plus 230 instances of 1 bug = 670 all told. of course the product has already been released… but i think 670 bugs will grab somebody’s attention enough to do a recycle. i hadn’t read my mail for 10 days because there was one message telling me to stop work on that project, & i diddn wanna. (nice name for a char. in a story: I. Didden Wannah…) so now that i finished i can safely read the mail. i disposed of 270 messages in about half an hour.

anyway, an exciting time is coming up: a) john is coming 7/22 & staying for 16 days!! b) starting 7/23 is Olivetti’s forced vacation: i am OFF WORK until 8/1!!! c) you are coming 8/13? … hooray!! d) i may be going to Japan for two weeks on or about 8/15!!!! to do some QA on a new product! so i’d miss most of your visit. i should find out within a week or so if i’m going.

Addendum: after I wrote most of this entry, I was going through some old files and found about twenty emails from Peter from April ’93 through January ’94; apparently he was writing to me every couple of weeks, sometimes every couple of days, during that period. He had an email account at Western Washington University, where he was in grad school. I’ll go through those notes and extract interesting stuff to post. Anyway, so I’m revising my theory: I think he was happy to send and receive email at times when he had easy access to it at work or school, but I think it wasn’t a priority for him to obtain access when it wasn’t easy.

But that’s really just a guess. Did he email y’all very often? Were there periods of more and less email from him?

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