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It used to take awhile to become outdated. Now it seems obsolescence isn’t just planned, it’s in a hurry. Joan Tornow has this Perspective.

Last week, my computer froze solid, displaying an alarming pattern of a zillion rectangles. The pattern had its charms – resembling something one might see at a museum of modern art. But this colorful array eclipsed all the icons, rendering the computer inoperable except for the off switch.

When I phoned the support line, the agent said it sounded like the graphics card was failing, so she referred me to a service center. Okay! Relieved that a cure was in sight, I dialed the service center. But when the clerk looked up the serial number, there was an ominous silence. My anxiety grew when she announced there was a problem.

Gazing dolefully at my frozen screen, I braced myself for bad news.

She proceeded to inform me that they no longer service vintage computers. Vintage? The word ‘vintage’ struck me as a hippie word, applied to long, patterned dresses with oversized buttons. I myself sail right past vintage shops en route to those sleek futuristic silver-and-white computer stores. I pride myself on keeping up with the times.


“How old is it?” I asked, nervously twisting the string of 50s beads I was wearing. Okay, I do occasionally shop vintage, but it’s rare.

“It was built in 2011,” she said. She made it sound like it was a relic – something found in the attic, covered in cobwebs, sitting next to a butter churn. My laptop was only seven years old and still felt shiny new. But it turns out a computer is considered vintage after just five years.

Five years?! So, that’s the way it’s going to be?

I said my good byes, hung up the phone, and switched off my laptop. I would forget about doing any writing today. I had a better plan. I would play with my little grandson. He recently turned five. You know, vintage.

With a Perspective, I’m Joan Tornow.

Joan Tornow is a nonfiction author and essayist. She lives in San Jose.