For the first several years of my life, there was a single, small black and white TV in the house. It's amazing, in retrospect, how enthralled I could get watching TV on it. There was a production of Taming of the Shrew, in particular, with minimalist props (so people using hobby horses for the travel scenes, type of thing) that I was completely riveted by in the late 1970s. When we got a color TV, the black and white went upstairs, and again, I continued to be willing to watch it. Lots and lots of after school Batman was tremendously exciting -- not having to compete with the adults for the TV was heaven, altho there were still restrictions on what we could watch. One of my first significant garage sale purchases when I had babysitting money was $20 on a "portable" black and white TV, which had a completely tiny screen. When I got my first Real Job (minimum wage at a movie theater), I got a larger, but still very small screen, RCA color TV (and a VCR). I think I may still have the check registers around with the purchases logged. That was back when Fred Meyer would take a check, and I did not yet have a mastercard or visa.
When I was in college, the first Trinitrons came out [<-- ETA: R. points out that Trinitrons have been around longer than I have been alive, and his family had one when I was younger than our son is now. I'm not sure what I'm remembering. He thinks maybe the early XBRs.], and they were the object of unending lust on the part of geeky people like my friends and, honestly, me. They were fabulously expensive (IIRC, $5K or so) and very beautiful. I was doing almost all my coursework on DEC terminals: green text on a black background. There were some workstations around, and when I got out of college, I had one of each of my very own in my cubicle at work.
Windowing systems on computers got around the need for multiple screens to accomplish work as a programmer. Even the DEC terminals supported some kind of windowing system (I know, you're thinking, you are _so_ making that up, but I'm not, and I got really good at switching between the layered windows), and the workstations had a setup recognizable to anyone using a PC or Mac. None of this was new to me in college, since I'd been using the early Macs in high school to do layout for the school's literary arts magazine. It was _so_ nice to not have to deal with lightboxes, but in practice, we had to use the lightboxes anyway for anything involving an image.
I mention all this for a couple reasons. First, I was never one of those people who felt compelled, to have multiple monitors all set up to do debugging. Not my style. (The one exception was when I was trying to isolate a bug that had an impact on the windowing system. A severe impact.) Second, my son can manage to keep 2 iPads busy, and still find time to nag the adults in the room to put something on the TV and to put the iPod in the boombox back on Bottle of Sunshine. Really, this is all about personality.
And third, until people get source linkages right, I _am_ going to be dual screening scholarly works. Which will be the subject of the next post.