Four decades of connection

I was born in Cardiff on November 11, 1973. It was the same year that Motorola showcased the first mobile phone, although I was ten by the time the first handset was commercially available. I’m not sure either of these things really concerned me, but for the record it was also the year that Ethernet was developed, in case you’d care to know?

By that time, I’d moved to the Isle of Wight. I moved there in 1979, the year the Commodore PET was released here in the UK. For a (then) astronomic £914 you could get yourself a whole 32KB of RAM. It was also the year that the compact disk was invented, but I don’t really think I cared. I was settling in to a new school and making new friends. Life is tough when you’re six, you know?

I was still there in 1990, when Microsoft released Windows 3.0 to take on the dominance of Macintosh and IBM. In 1991 when the first website was made publicly accessible by the clever chaps at CERN. And 1992 when IBM introduced the ThinkPad. But I was more interested in sex, drugs and rock and roll. I was a six former god dammit and I was ready to shape the world.

In 1993 I was living in France. That was the year that the IBM Simon was launched, arguably the world’s first smart phone it combined a phone with a pager AND a fax. It was also the year that the first Pentium processor was released by Intel. I’m not sure I noticed. I was too busy falling in love and reading poetry. These things take time to do properly.

I got married in 1995. The first Playstation was launched that year. I had other things on my mind. Hutchinson communications were launching this brand called, “Orange” and Sun Microsystems announces this thing called Java. I was more interested in coffee. It is important to get your priorities right.

When I was making friends, we hung out, we played, we talked. When we partied, we arranged things by phone, or letter, so we had to plan things well in advance. When I was falling in love, we braved the cold winter evenings to find a phone box at an allotted time. We hand wrote letters and we accepted silence.

On Saturday night, I got to spend an evening with friends and family to celebrate my birthday. It was a collection of the old and new. People there that had been with me throughout my life, people who I had grown up with, played with, drunk with, fallen in love with, cried with and married. And people who I’ve met more recently, that I’ve felt a connection to, that are close to my heart. We’ve got to know each other through so many different ways.

Whilst I’ve been growing up, technology has been too. And in the same way that it has become more consumer focused, I’d like to think I’m also a more sophisticated, more complicated, but ultimately more user-friendly version of my former self.

Yet still some basic facts remain.

The thing that connects my school friends, to my professional friends, to my social friends, to my family is mutual respect, love, understanding. It is true connection. It isn’t about the means or the reason, it isn’t about the timing or the technology. It is about the people.

I’m incredibly blessed to have such amazing friends, family and colleagues. People who interest, challenge and care for each other. And people who care for me.

So as I start my 41st year, as I write this blog on my MacBook Pro, using WordPress on broadband, before publicising it on Twitter and LinkedIn, I want to say an old-fashioned thank you. Thank you for being you, for those that were there and those that weren’t, for those that I speak to once a day and those that I speak to once a year. Life is nothing without people, life is nothing without connection. Both old and new.

18 comments

  1. Doug Shaw · November 11, 2013

    ‘We hand wrote letters and we accepted silence’. Poetic beauty – I love it! Happy Birthday Neil.

    • Neil · December 1, 2013

      Thanks Doug (belatedly)!

  2. Johanna Ratcliffe · November 11, 2013

    Big birthday wishes Neil! Does this mean instead of 40 bumps you get to send 40 tweets?!
    Johanna

    • Neil · December 1, 2013

      I’m nowhere near the 40 a day these days….I leave that to others…..

  3. Rchilli Parser · November 11, 2013

    It isn’t about the means or the reason, it isn’t about the timing or the technology. It is about the people. liked it !

  4. rchilliparser · November 11, 2013

    It isn’t about the means or the reason, it isn’t about the timing or the technology. It is about the people- liked it !

    • Neil · December 1, 2013

      And again 🙂

  5. Henry · November 11, 2013

    Many happy returns, Neil. May your blessings continue and grow.

    • Neil · December 1, 2013

      Thanks Henry. I’m lucky to know so many great people.

  6. Chris Underwood (@JedisMaster) · November 11, 2013

    Happy Birthday Neil – have a great day !

  7. stelmat72 · November 11, 2013

    Happy birthday Neil. Enjoy your special day.

    • Neil · December 1, 2013

      Thank you. That’s kind.

  8. Bina Briggs · November 11, 2013

    It’s always about the people and the impressions they leave on your heart, mind and soul! It’s been a pleasure meeting you. Many Happy Returns of the Day! x

    • Neil · December 1, 2013

      Thanks Bina. You’re always so nice. It should be sold in a bottle.

  9. Omotunde · November 12, 2013

    Hope you had a good birthday. What a truly well written piece. Really nice.

    • Neil · December 1, 2013

      Thank you! I do my best 🙂

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