A ride on the nostalgia wave - Computers

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Chipps

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This is going to end up slightly biographical because I'm going to be writing straight from my memory.

Circa '93

When I was a wee lad I remember spending hours and hours on a computer. I have no idea what in the world I was doing, but I remember it. I remember the faint glow of the screen. We used to have the computer in the basement where we lived, in the mid-west USA - it was always dark down there, so the screen glowed. This was probably a good thing, because looking at the old technology through the lens of today, those computer monitors didn't really work all that well. I honestly can't say that I actually used the computer for much other than looking at it and probably typing random things into the prompt. I have to assume that the computer was running on MS-DOS or some other version of DOS at the time. I don't think my family could afford an Apple computer, but I can't remember what kind of computer it even was. I can remember only three things about it. It used the larger 5 1/4 floppy disks and I played two games on it, Ghostbusters and Pitfall. I have to assume that this is where my technolust and drive to play video games for the rest of my life came from.

After this, my family got a beige white box. I'll just call it this because it was one of those unbranded computers from the early 90s that came from your local electronics shop. This was probably at or around 1995 because I distinctly remember that the computer ran on Win95. It was glorious. We had games like: The incredible Machine, POD, Doom. I would also play games like Neopets and flash games. We also had some other weird software like a Dinosaur safari ride that went through the different time periods of the past. I can't quite remember what the point of the game was, but I remember not being able to beat it or figure out how to make it to the end. That will end up being a repeating theme in my life when it comes to video games... never really beating many of them but spending the majority of my life actually playing.

Some funny things about this beige computer, once we ended up booting it into safe mode and for months my parents couldn't figure out how to get it to boot back into normal operation. I remember booting or going back into DOS and not knowing how to get out of it. I think this was the point when I finally understood that the prompt was looking for something specific unlike the computer from earlier in my life that I don't think I understood at all. I was still clueless. But, despite all this, I spend hundreds of hours if not thousands of ours on that computer, surfing the internet (AOL internet) and exploring whatever it could do.

It didn't end there. We got Win98 in '98 and that was much faster and smoother of an experience. At this point though, the beige white box was starting to slow down, it was overfull with files and probably had a bunch of viruses and other things on it from surfing the internet at the time. It never ran quite the same again, but we kept on using it. Win XP came and went and we still just had the beige white box. My brother at this time was old enough that he wanted to play games and use the computer as well, so I got less time to use it overall.
Then came Christmas 2005. My parents divorced earlier, so this time my father bought my brother and I (and my mother, probably) a computer. It was a dell computer. It ran Windows XP. Holy **** was it fast. Let me tell you. When you go from using a 10yr old computer in the early 90s to a brand new computer in the mid 2000's, it's like upgrading from a rusted out corolla to a McLaren. This was fast baby. So fast. I must say, It probably was also the fact that we got cable internet here and we were on 56k dialup before this. But the funny thing is we were probably getting like 500k download. I only say this because about 6 years later we "upgraded" our internet speed to 10MB and it was fast. That same year before the upgrade our entire house got a bandwidth of 1MB. I know this because we had two computers and we would start two downloads at one time and it would always add up to about 1MB in total download speed. Such a bummer at the time because justin.tv had just came out and I was trying to watch streams in 480p!!!!
Sorry for the aside, but when I was about 16-17 years old I finally built my own computer. It was something else - had a solid steel case with a huge handle and a big fat dragon right on the front. It was gloriously stupid.

my first computer was the year the core-duo came out. It was one of, if not the first 64bit CPU that was released. I remember distinctly that some software wouldn't run correctly because they used the clock from the CPU and it would be executing instructions too quickly for the software which would make it freeze up. How did I fix this? I started to run 3-5 programs in the background to take up clock cycles... it usually fixed the problem. Looking back on it, this is probably the most time specific thing in my life where a huge shift in technology happened where the world was just not ready for it yet. I don't think i've experienced much like this nowadays, except maybe the BIG.little architecture that they are developing with now. Ngl, I actually think that big.little architecture for CPU design is super smart - more dynamic than the past. I used to mod everything about my windows XP install that I could. More like a ricer customizer than a power user. I never became a true power user. I just know more about computers than the average person and I'm okay with that. I at least know how to build them and diagnose my own issues - which, later in life has become a good skill to have to be able to trouble shoot problems with a good method.

I also remember looking at hard drives that they just released a 1TB hard drive. The thing was like 400-500 USD$ and I wanted it. I ended up with a 500gb (cause honestly, who needed a 1TB HDD in 2005) and spent the rest of the budget on things that actually mattered for the computer.

I had this computer for a number of years. I rebuilt the computer in that case 2 more times and I even gave the case to a friend so he could build a computer when I finally got myself the stealthy black sleeper case that I've had for over a decade at this point. ( I just don't see the point in getting a new case if everything fits, which it usually does in full-atx). Nothing really special going on now, as computers have become more and more generic over time.

Now, I have a mini-pc for play and work and a laptop to do stuff like this on and travel with. I use Fedora on my laptop because I'm trying to escape the technological madness that is going on today. It no longer is about the love of technology, it's a mandatory requirement (at least it feels that way in the USA) and everything has just become mundane.

And that's where you find yourself on Agoraroad. I haven't been to a place like this since the early days of the internet. I want to keep going but I have to take a break here. Maybe I need to focus on each time period a little closer, but that is probably better for a blog.

I am only posting this, hoping to bring back some nostalgia and see if anyone had a similar experience to myself growing up in the early 90s and then into the 2000s.

All the love, all the power,
--Chipps
 
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I didn't get my first computer until 1996. I was 18, and it was a secondhand IBM PS/ValuePoint that a local supermarket was getting rid of. They sold it to me for $50 and threw in a desk and a dot matrix printer. This computer didn't have anything on it but PC-DOS. With no internet at home I'd take a box of floppies to the college computer lab, download tools (and a DOS port of a little game called Angband) and then bring them home to install.

It was at college that I got exposed to UNIX; one of the labs was full of SPARCstations running SunOS, and one of the instructors was a graybeard who would give out copies of Slackware on CD if you brought him a blank CD to burn. I didn't have the nerve to ask until 1998, so that was my "year of the Linux Desktop".
 

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