Monday, May 07, 2007

A Lifetime in Computers

When I was five years old my father brought home an Apple II GS. It was pretty slick at the time - 16-bit, 4096 colors, a mouse and a user friendly interface. It had no built in hard drive, just a 5.25" floppy drive.

A few years later my family switched to a PC, I believe I was eight or nine at the time. It was a Zeos running on an Intel 386 chip. After a few years we even set it up to a 9600 baud modem and signed up with a Prodigy account. My username was PWXR07E - I used to look at the weather maps, literally in awe of the digital age which had sprung forth.

I believe the hard drive held about 180 megabytes. At the time I remember discussing the enormity of the drive with my buddy Danny Wilansky...could you ever fill something THAT big!?

The machine ran on Windows 3.1 and featured a desktop-like feel. I had a blast playing "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego". Oftentimes one had to switch back to a DOS interface to access certain applications like "Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing".

The next series of machines do not stand out in my mind. They were all PC based...we upgraded to Windows 95. The computers did their job; we switched from Prodigy to AOL at some point. AOL did a good job tricking Americans into believing their service was the only means to connect to the "World Wide Web".

When I reached high school we had access to a cable modem (cable TV came to the Cress household at this time as well). By Senior Year I found my way to Napster...the best and easiest way to share/steal music that has been or ever will be...with the exception of Bittorrent perhaps.

When I went off to College I had a Sony Vaio. I really liked that computer. It was the first time I used Windows XP - a vast improvement over Windows 98/2000. I was able to use it effectively for four years...the trick being to keep it clean and not install a milieu of junk on it. I performed a clean install the day I brought it home; most PC manufacturers load computers up with an excess of useless AOL.

After College I got an HP Pavillion Laptop. It's a huge machine meant to serve as a desktop replacement. Why I decided to replace a desktop with a huge and almost immovable laptop I'll never know. The machine worked well, although the hard drive failed not too long after buying it.

Tired of a laptop screen I purchased a 19" Dell Flat Panel...a year later I sold it and upgraded to a 24" Dell wide screen. The extra screen space has a HUGE impact on productivity.

After three years on the machine I decided it was time for an upgrade. While most consumers find themselves buying computers less often - in large part because they don't use applications which require the type of processing power that comes with newer machines - I was itching to get something faster.

I had purchased more RAM for my HP about a year ago to run Adobe InDesign. I have about 1.3 mb worth now. While the operates well enough it can get slow and will run out of memory when high-draw applications like Adobe Illustrator. And I have a dream...

I want to be able to run all my programs all the time. Even the high demand programs.

Well, after (almost) a lifetime of PC's, I've returned to my Mac roots. I'll tell you all about the switch in my next post.


Blogger Marissa Beck said...

This is an amazing post. You've really captured your own computer-chronology quite well. I, too, was once an avid ACME detective agent. But I secretly asked my family geography questions along the way... I also really liked the Oregon Trail on that Apple 2GS.

It's incredible that we've witnessed the extent to which the computer has virtually transformed itself from ginormous pull-my-back-out-if-I-lift-it to pocket PC.

Looking forward to your Mac post :)

7:44 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Glad you've converted back. I use a MacBook Pro and it serves me well. It's especially an opportune time now, since CS3 just came out!

2:41 AM  

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