1978: my parents unwittingly name their first child after the Joint Academic Network.
1981: I get my first joystick blisters from playing Bug Attack. My parents thoughtfully provide a second player for all those two-player games, in the shape of my sister.
1982: I appear on the front cover of Windfall Magazine. This is only the start of an endless round of public appearances: on Radio 1, opening computer shows, charity galas, etc. (Okay, I lied about the charity galas.)
1983: my sister and I appear on Newsnight as 'computer kids': I demonstrate my BASIC skills, she demonstrates that Apple's UI is so easy a babe in nappies can use it.
1984: I scare politicians with my computing skills. [Whizz kid Janet, 5, scares off politicians]
1986?: my parents acquire a Macintosh computer. The revolutionary graphical user interface reminds me of the Lisa.
1987: awed by my skilful handling of 'Granny's Garden', my primary school teachers start to use me as their first port of call for tech support. I tell them to hit SHIFT-BREAK.
1988: I send my first email (using my dad's account) to Duncan Langford's daughter (using her dad's account). The Langfords turn out to be lovely in 'real life', despite being people off the internet.
1989: my friend Julie and I wonder "what happens if we type in the password we saw Mr Mercer typing?" and discover that we can access any file on our high school's Econet. We get a stern lecture on the evils of "hacking" from our maths teacher.
c. 1990: I join the Junior
Publicity Stunt Editorial Board of Let's Compute! -- a jolly home computing magazine for kids, published by Europress (then Database Publications), launched just in time for the death of the 8-bit computer.
1991: my friend Sylvia introduces me to the delights of DOS and Windows 3.1 as we try to circumvent the age-limiting security measures of 'Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards'. The revolutionary graphical user interface reminds me of the early days of Macintosh.
1996: I go to university and discover Unix. The powerful user interface reminds me of BASIC (until I realise what it can really do).
I learn about boundaries by testing them. (In retrospect, trying to ytalk root was probably unnecessary.)
1997: I discover Usenet. All my subsequent academic tutors are asked to take this into consideration.
I am initiated into the mysteries of Linux, eventually managing to install RedHat 6 on a 486 which has had a CD drive sellotaped in where the 5.25" floppy drive used to be. I feel a strange mixture of pride and shame as I look from my hermetically sealed Mac SE/30 to the heap of trailing wires which has taken its place.
I am delighted to be identified as 'pemb0471' at a newsgroup meet (by anat0010 and hert0145).
1998: awed by my skilful handling of Windows NT, my peers start to use me as their first port of call for tech support. I tell them to hit Ctrl-Alt-Del.
I encounter IRC for the first time. Within six months my typing speed has increased to 90wpm, as I refuse to accept that realtime textual conversation necessitates talking more slowly than usual.
1999: my first Actual Paid Job teaches me a valuable lesson: the computer 'experts' are the ones who can read the manual faster than you.
I start visiting Cambridge on a regular or at least frequent basis, and discover that dangerous liaisons with sysadmins can result in free shell accounts and superuser privileges.
2000: I graduate from Oxford as the second-highest-volume poster to ox.* newsgroups, and take a job with Chadwyck-Healey, where I learn to annotate third-generation photocopies of 16th-century texts with SGML markup by hand in red pen (so they can be shipped to the Philippines for keying), and process the resulting data using a combination of FoxEdit macros and C routines for DOS which were written in 1994. Faced with a choice between insanity and awk, I learn Perl.
2002: I get my first weblog, and broadcast a hastily-composed triolet to the world.
2004: I become one-quarter of firstname.lastname@example.org and finally get a CRSid of my own.
2006: I get accounts on facebook, MySpace, flickr, Pickle, twitter, and all the rounded corners I can eat. I deny that the approaching "big three-zero" is anything to do with embracing all these young people's technologies.
I discover that all my 800K Mac disks are unreadable by anything except contemporary hardware, and drive 90 miles in a 14-year-old car to my parents' house to borrow their old beige G3 Mac. This is called 'progress'.
I return to Oxford to work for Oxford University Computing Services, where I spent most of my undergraduate years.
2007: I get a Second Life, but hang on to my now-obsolete First Life in the hope that the new life will eventually achieve some kind of backwards-compatibility.