Jane Reuter In 1969, Tim Maloney was among the first to buy the latest technological marvel: a calculator. “It was $90, operated on batteries and …
This item is available in full to subscribers.
If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.
Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.
If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.
In 1969, Tim Maloney was among the first to buy the latest
technological marvel: a calculator.
“It was $90, operated on batteries and it was huge,” said
Maloney, 70, of Castle Rock.
Despite the exorbitant cost, Maloney said he had to have
“I just thought, ‘Man! Think of all you can do with it.’ ”
Miniature calculators are now given away as promotional items.
But more than four decades later, Maloney’s passion for technology
His daily life includes an eReader, smart phone and laptop
computer. He checks his bank balance and investments and reads news
from around the world each morning. Maloney, whose lung capacity is
limited due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, regularly
walks the track at the Castle Rock Recreation Center with an oxygen
tank, listening to books on his MP3 player.
He’s even, albeit reluctantly, on Facebook.
“Somehow I got trapped into it,” he said.
The ‘in’ crowd
As a senior, Maloney is far from alone in his passion for
technology. Seniors represent the fastest-growing segment of Web
users. In 2005, only 25 percent of those 65 and over used the
Internet. Today, marketing companies estimate nearly half are
As baby boomers age, that percentage will increase dramatically.
By 2050, one in five Americans will be 60 or older, and many of
them already will be old hands at surfing the Net.
Seniors like 83-year-old Herb Bowman, who walks the halls of
Centennial’s Holly Creek Retirement Community carrying a
leather-bound iPad, are leading the pack.
He bought his first computer in the mid-70s, and his most recent
— the iPad — only a few months ago. Bowman, who used computers
through most of his career, has had a lifelong curiosity about
electronics and technology.
“When I was 7 years old, my parents had a Big Ben alarm clock,
so I took it apart to see how it worked,” he said.
Bowman couldn’t get the clock back together.
“It was during the Depression and my parents didn’t have the
money to replace it. I got in quite a lot of trouble.”
That same inquisitiveness drove him to buy an iPad.
“Initially, it was curiosity,” he said. “And then I found out
it’s a rather handy device. It takes the place of 90 percent of
what I’d use a laptop for.”
He’s also recently upgraded from a cell phone to an iPhone.
Between the two, Bowman says he doesn’t miss much.
Neither do fellow Holly Creek residents Ken and Jan Fuller. Both
in theirs 80s and suffering from macular degeneration, the couple
uses technology to stay abreast of the news, and in touch with
friends and family. Ken Fuller’s computer is equipped with a
Microsoft mouse magnifier that enlarges the display on the computer
The Fullers also have used a Web cam to talk to their
“I think it’s cool,” Jan Fuller said. “Sometimes her husband
will stick his head in and say something, or our grandson. I just
wish I could see it better.”
Helping each other
Jan Fuller admits her knowledge of technology is a pale shadow
of her husband’s. Using a typewriter, she said, seems more
efficient than a computer.
“He’d better stick around to keep me going,” she says, smiling
at her husband.
She’s not unlike many women of her generation. At both Holly
Creek and Vi at Highlands Ranch senior community, residents say men
outnumber women in computer use by a high percentage. It’s not for
lack of interest or intelligence.
“Women didn’t really enter the work force until during World War
II,” said Bill Baum, 86. “They didn’t go into engineering or
mathematics. They’d be a teacher, nurse or secretary.”
That’s part of the reason Baum started Vi Geeks, a four-man,
one-woman team of tech-savvy seniors who lend their know-how to
others. Baum recently launched the Vi Geeks. Like Best Buy’s Geek
Squad, they’re at the ready to help their fellow residents with any
“So far, we’re batting a thousand,” Baum said. “We’ve been able
to fix everybody.”
Baum estimates about 50 percent of the residents at Vi are
computer literate. The residents’ average age, he said, is 80. Most
of them don’t wish to return to life without computers.
“There were no good old days,” Baum said with a laugh. “I don’t
know how we lived without cell phones or computers.”
“You can’t say everything was bad now or then, but I think
things are much better now than when we were children during the
The only downside, Baum said, is that computers and television
have changed the way today’s children play.
“Technology has taken kids inside,” he said. “We played
completely outside. We hear so much today about children having
diabetes and obesity. I don’t remember any obese children.”
“And because we had no television, our imaginations —as we
listened to the radio — were better.”
Those detrimental impacts aside, Baum is happy to live in a
technologically advanced world. To date, he’s resisted buying a
smart phone. Because he spends most of his time at Vi, the standard
cell phone serves him well, he said.
Castle Rock’s Maloney may disagree. His newest acquisition is a
Droid smart phone, which he’s explored with childish delight.
“That’s just been fascinating,” he said. “It is just incredible
the amount of apps. I can just say ‘National Jewish Hospital’ and
it’ll take me right there.”
Now that he’s had it a while, the Droid is slowly becoming “more
like a tool than a play date,” he said. “But it’s something I can’t
Despite his plethora of gadgets, a bound book rests on Maloney’s
bedside table, and newspapers dot his driveway each morning.
“I still do some things the old-fashioned way,” Maloney said. “I
still write my appointments on my calendar.”
That may someday go the way of Maloney’s checkbook, long ago
consigned to a drawer and gathering dust.
Baum, Bowman and Maloney don’t give much thought to statistics
that show lifelong learning, including the use of technological
tools, keeps the aging brain fit. While that may be true, it’s
hardly top of mind for any of them.
“I do it because I want to stay in touch with what’s going on,”
But mostly, he added, because it’s fun.
Other items that may interest you
We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.
The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.