I’m not usually one to accept a blog challenge, but I regularly read Lorelle on WordPress, which has weekly blog challenges. This week’s challenge — “to blog about your computer setup as it was ‘then’ in the early days of your computer life, and how it is now, in your modern technology life” — really fired off my memory neurons (nostalgions?).
While I may have learned to type on my mom’s old Remington, I really learned to write on computers. Here’s a list of all my machines to date:
- Texas Instruments TI-994A — Yes, I am that old. It had a 12-inch b&w TV and a Radio Shack tape player as a drive. (I still have the tape player somewhere, it was indestructible.) Couldn’t afford a keyboard cover, so I used the styrofoam packing lid that it was shipped in. Greatest accomplishment: writing the Twilight Zone theme on it and getting my first round of applause from geeks.
- Apple //e — Instead of the original Mac because I wanted to a) do programming and b) be able to pop the lid to add new cards. Still my favorite machine of all time. The final configuration included: ProDOS, that six-ton motorized tilt-screen monitor with the color/green switch, the dual floppy drive box, Epson FX-80 dot-matrix printer with a Grappler graphics card (who remembers “flip the eighth bit dip switch?”), 2800 baud Hayes-compatible modem (remember when that meant something?) a ProFile hard drive scrounged from someone’s Lisa (two 2.5mb platters, took five minutes to run a self-check), and a side-mounted cooling fan with a master power switch that I labeled “Power Trip.” And it was, baby, it was. Greatest accomplishment: getting permission from my high school principal to turn in my homework on dot-matrix printout — the first student in my school to be allowed to do so. Oh, and the joys of Terminal Mode (the original IM).
- Brother Word Processor/Typewriter — I still have that beast. Seven-line LCD screen, plus proprietary software. Greatest accomplishment: all my college papers as I traveled the country doing internships and independent studies.
- IBM PS-2 — Yes, a real genuine Piece o’ Shit Two. Got it for $20 from my then-girlfriend. Had an internal modem that occasionally needed to be removed and “go on walkabout” to drain static buildups. That’s where I began my lust affair with WordPerfect 5.1. Greatest accomplishment: I wrote my thesis on that damn thing.
- Toshiba Satellite — A work laptop that I ended up buying for $50 when they were getting rid of them. Small, rugged, indestructible, mil-spec, battle-ready little machine. Finally gave up the ghost from sheer exhaustion, but what a trooper. Greatest accomplishment: my first laptop, the end of the affair with WP 5.1. It is better to have loved and lost.
- Fujitsu LifeBook — Because I was too cheap to spring for a Mac laptop, but man what a workhorse. Wore the keys smooth on that one, it really became my first “companion” computer. Greatest accomplishment: I launched my freelance writing career on it.
- Apple 12″ iBook G3 — Back to my Mac. I still remember the day it arrived and the thrill of opening it and turning it on for the first time. Aqua, baby! Unfortunately, it was one of those that had the fatal motherboard error, and when that thing started falling apart it really fell apart. Greatest accomplishment: reminded me how much fun computers were again. Wrote my first novel on it.
- Apple 12″ Aluminum PowerBook G4 — The. Perfect. Computer. Period. Running Tiger, it was the unbeatable machine. Paired with an Apple aluminum external keyboard and an external monitor, and Kensington Slimblade trackball mouse, it’s a damn fine desktop machine too. I’ve been pleased to discover that there are a lot of diehard 12″ Al PB fans out there, and to listen to us wax poetic about our machines you’d think we were discussing the Hermes 3000. It is destined to be one of the iconic (and collectible) computers. With the advent of Intel chips and Leopard, it’s definitely living on borrowed time now, but I will never part with it. Greatest accomplishment: just existing.
- My next machine — When I got the PowerBook, I swore that my next machine wouldn’t have a keyboard. I guess what I really want is a big 12-inch iPod Touch. I thought that Apple would have given us that by now. But depending on what’s for sale in the App Store when it opens for business this Friday, maybe I already own my next portable computer. Which means, iMac anyone? 😀
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