Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Brief History of Me and Computers

A short trip down digital memory lane, courtesy Batgirl Claus getting her son Sebastian a refurbished Mac laptop for the holiday, which got me thinking... I've had a lot of computers in my life!

1983 - 1986 
Apple IIe and "dumb" terminals
My parents got an Apple IIe for the household. Around the same time, I learned to program in BASIC, courtesy of our high school computer program (which involved a room of terminals which connected to a mainframe across the street I never saw). This was a magic time, one filled with several different text based D&D-style adventure games I wrote (and various other programs assigned by the school). On the IIe, I also played Sir Tech's Wizardry, Digdug, did my first writing with a wordprocessor called Bankstreet Writer, and played with the Koala pad, which was sort of a precursor to the mouse (and a drawing pad, to boot).

I'd be remiss not to mention the Commodore 64 owned by my friend Brett during this period. Many hours playing Ultima and some video game emulating the Hunt for Red October...

1986 - 1990
Macintosh Plus
College was an oddly computer-lite period of my life, save for a few times I accessed the computer lab in the library to write a paper. They had Mac Pluses, and I was enthralled by the 'point n click' elegance of it.


Macintosh Classic
Variety of PCs using Windows 3.0
The time had come--I wanted my own computer. My pal Monte had a Mac Classic and printer he wanted to sell. This was when I really learned how to experiment on an operating system to learn all its in and outs.
But in 1992, I started work at NeXstar (originally Nexagen) Biopharmaceuticals. One aspect of my job required spending a lot of time on a variety of PCs hooked up to DNA synthesis machines. Which was, honestly, far more computer than was required, but they were convenient for input. Right around 1992 was when the internet was really getting going, and ALL these computers were hooked straight into it. Which meant that during my free time (and nights and weekends) I immersed myself in MUDs and MUSHes (and learned a fair bit about coding C-style languages in the process).

Macintosh Performa 6300
TSR hired me (supposedly to code MUDs and MUSHes, branded for D&D), but nope. I stayed on to write D&D the old fashioned way, and used the Mac Performa to do it.

Gateway PC computer GP6-350 pentium II 
Wizards bought TSR in 1997! The first computer they started me out with was a ... I don't recall, sadly. Some sort of Mac I'm imagining. But probably the reason I don't recall is that I'd decided it was high time I buy another home computer, one with the chops to play "real" games. Which meant it was time to buy a PC. I chose a Gateway with 3 gigs of hard drive space! This cost a cool 3 grand. But I got a lot of enjoyment out of it.

iBook 300 Tangerine Clamshell
Then those beautiful iBook clamshells came out, and I HAD to have one. And I did. My first lap-top, and still the one I love the most--it was ergonomically perfect. It had a retractable handle!  (I still have this computer, actually, though it's stored away for some future project when I retrofit it with modern hardware.)

iBook G3 Snow
I can't recall why the clamshell wasn't cutting it anymore. I may have become a crazed computer buyer, or maybe the comercials got me. Maybe it was the firewire, and I needed better hardware to make movies? Maybe the jump to OS X. That might be it. But it wasn't enough, because a year later, I gave it away to a friend (who I believe still uses it today to serve music for his home theatre system).

Powerbook G4 Aluminum 17 inch
I'd definitely drank the Kool-aide. I was so enamored of the concept of this machine that I PRE-ORDERED it. I'd never done that before. I even shot a short film to commemorate the unboxing! However, this computer lasted me 5 full years, when the hard drive gave out. I sold it for a few hundred dollars, remarkable given that it didn't work.

Macbook Pro 15 inch
I loved me some Powerbook, so even though they changed the name, I bought a replacement when my previous one gave it. I used it myself for 5 years, and it is still being used in this household, being almost daily fought over by Batgirl's kids ;-). But in 2012, I wanted something more modern, and more portable

2012 - to present
Macbook Pro 13 inch
The screen's smaller than my 17 inch, but I have a 2nd monitor set up from the home office where I do most my work. Right now, though I have it set up next to Batgirl's 17 inch Macbook pro unibody, and it looks a bit tiny. But it still gets the job done. I'm hoping for 5 years of solid service like the last 2 (though as I say, the last macbook is still going!)