A brief history of my computers

You have to understand what computers were like in 1982. You either had to spend as much money as you would buying a crappy used car, or you got something that was a glorified calculator.

I was making about $12,000 a year at the time, so I chose the calculator. My first computer was a Timex-Sinclair 1000, with an expansion module that brought the memory up to 16K and a Panasonic tape recorder connected to it. Graphics, such as they were, were blocks in black and white. I typed in most of the programs I used. I fed the output to my black-and-white TV set. It was amazing and wonderful.

One of the first games I actually bought was an adventure game by the clever name of ‘Adventure.’ The first time I loaded it into my computer, typed a command and had the computer respond was as though the heavens had opened. The computer was talking to me! It wasn’t, of course; it was a simple database that was feeding back data based on what I typed, but I didn’t know the difference at the time.

I moved on from there to a Commodore 64, and then I got a disc drive that held a whopping 256K of data. I began playing Infocom adventure games and again felt like a monkey discovering fire.

From there, it was a Sanyo PC (which ran MS-DOS but was not IBM compatible), then a PC clone I built from parts, and ever since then, my main computer has been an ever-evolving Frankenputer. My current machine is a dual-booting Windows and Linux Mint rig, with an AMD Ryzen 5 3600 processor and two SSDs (one of which holds a terabyte and looks like a small stick of gum). It’s got 16 gigabytes of memory (my first hard drive held 10 megabytes; now my memory holds roughly 1,600 times that! ) and about a terabyte and a half of storage overall. A computer like this would have taken up an entire heavily air-conditioned floor when I was younger, and I haven’t even gotten to the video card yet.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I’ve been playing with these things for nearly 40 years. It seems like I picked them up for the first time a couple of years ago. And the more powerful they get, the more transparent they become — they’re tools that do things now, not ‘PCs’ that need constant hand-holding. And it’s still fun to geek out on them as electronic toys.


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