Any of you that follow me on Twitter or Friendfeed or Brightkite will know that I was not at home yesterday evening.
That means I couldn’t watch Jared W Smith’s Serious Business on UStream.TV
However, I did find time to sneak in a viewing session (in a couple of sections) between working.
Do you remember the 386? It was a 386SX (the crippled CPU version) that I first used to venture onto Windows with. Jared talks about, and demonstrates his in show, and it was an interesting trip down Memory Lane.
My computing history started some years before that though.
I did splurge, and buy a 16K RAM pack extension for it, because even back then (1982), you couldn’t do much with 1K
Programs were installed in one of two ways. You either type the whole lot in from a magazine listing, or you connected a cassette recorder to it, and loaded them in from a data tape.
I had a chess game for mine. There wasn’t enough power for the computer to display the board AND computer your moves at the same time, so while the computer was ‘having its go’ the screen went blank. It was a computer with a similar amount of processing power that was installed on the Lunar Module that had landed on the moon some thirteen years earlier, back in 1969.
Pretty soon, I moved onto a Commodore 64. This was really a useful machine. I had a number of games for this, which considering the power of the machine were really quite entertaining. It was also the first machine that I went online with.
I joined a Commodore based service called Compunet, and purchased a modem, that slotted in the back. It had two speeds 300/300 and 1200/75. The 1200/75 rate was actually quite useful as it allowed faster downloads, and, generally speaking, and even to this day, most users download far more than they wish to upload.
It was dial-up, and long-distance at that, and I used to run up huge phone bills, as I could never resist going online during the day, when the phone rates were a lot higher than after 6 and at weekends.
I could write much about the fun and discovery I had with the C64. About 3 years later, in 1987, I got my first PC. The choices at the time for me, were either a PC, or a Commodore Amiga, and as I was more interested in computing than I was game playing, and as I perceived the PC to be more about professional computing than the Amiga, I went for the PC.
It was an Amstrad PC2086. Specs: 640K Ram, and a 2086 CPU, running at 8Mhz (which was way cooler, than the standard 4.77MHz of the time). It had a 30MB Hard Drive.
It was quite innovative too. It had a 3.5 inch floppy drive, so I could get those smaller discs, which held a whopping 720K of data on. At that time, the 1.44MB drives weren’t on the market. It also had VGA graphics, and I had a 12 inch color monitor. VGA standard was 640 x 480 with 256 colors. Still, after EGA, it really did look quite impressive.
I remember the frst time I downloaded a color photograph. It took 40 minutes.
I was already networking too. I was a member of Fidonet, which was an international network of Amatuer Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) started by Tom Jennings in San Francisco in 1984. My own BBS was “The Beer Garden” with a node number of 2:440/7. If you didn’t want to run a full BBS you could still link to a BBS, and receive email that way.
Typically, sending an international email from say, the UK to Australia and getting a reply, would take 4-5 days.
If you’re interested in the History of Fidonet, you can read more here
Are you new to online shopping? Well, my first experience of it was back in 1993. Sort of. I actually purchased a used computer in response to an advertisment placed on Prestel, which was British Telecoms online network in operation at that time. I called the guy up, and went to look at the machine, as he was only 20 miles away. I had that computer for about 4 years. The pace of technological advancement was not quite as frantic as it is now!
I’d recently got an internet account proper, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, as something called the World Wide Web was being touted as the next biggest thing. I never did join any of the proprietary services such as AOL, or Compuserve, or MSN, none of which were connected to the Internet itself, or even each other at that time.
The 386, had a whopping 85MB Hard Drive, and 8MB RAM. WOW.
My first experiences of the Web were quite underwhelming. There wasn’t really a whole lot to see at first, but of course, it soon caught on.
Now, 16 years later, we have a whole generation out there that have never know life without the Internet, and can’t imagine a world without instant communication.
When I was a teenager, to be able to go out for the day, and take photos, and post them online, and share them with the world before you even got home, was beyond Star Trek fantasy. Now it’s all taken for granted.
Still if you’d like to join Jared and his trip down Memory Lane with his 386 then go check out the latest issue of Serious Business!
Tags: 16k ram pack, 386sx, cassette recorder, chess game, commodore 64, computing history, first computer, lunar module, membrane keyboard, memory lane, processing power, rubber membrane, serious business, sinclair zx, splurge, thirteen years, trip down, twitter, two speeds, yesterday evening