Adam Kalsey kindly invited me to participate in a distributed writing project called Newly Digital: A distributed anthology of early computing experience. Adam has coordinated a group of writers who are posting about an early computing experience.
My First Computer
Christmas morning, 1993 – the Garrity family tears through a pile of gifts and revels in a sea of wrapping paper (I have a large family). After we were through exchanging our gifts, my parents lead us into the dining room. Right there on the dining room table, all setup, sat a fantastic new Packard Bell 20Mhz 486sx, with 2MB of RAM and a 100MB hard drive. It had a 3.5” disk drive and a 5-1/4” floppy (actually floppy) drive. It was pre-CD-ROM.
The bright colors of Windows 3.1 amazed us. We played solitaire all morning. The animation that played when you won Solitaire delighted us. My father still gauges the power of a new computer by how fast it renders the solitaire victory animation.
It had a Turbo button (after a few months, I figured out that green meant slow and yellow meant fast).
A couple of years later, we upgraded from 2MB to 6MB of RAM. Four megabytes of RAM cost $400. $100 per megabyte. It now costs about $0.20/megabyte. The PS/2 keyboard from that old Packard Bell was still used every day at my parents’ house until I bought them a new keyboard this past Christmas. That keyboard lived through 9 years, three computers, and three operating systems.
On that old 486 I discovered the web and designed my first website for-pay.
I paid $45.95 US for an early beta version of Windows 95 (then codenamed “Chicago” or “Windows 4.0”). It came on 37 floppy disks (honestly).
When did you get your first computer? I’m not looking to see who had the oldest computer – I’m more interested in what made your first computer memorable.
Other participants in the Newly Digital project: