February 11, 2010

Intrepid-class Computer

The first computer I remember playing with  a lot is a 8088 (an IBM XT if I recall correctly). It was my grandfather's. Yes, my grandfather was into computing before I knew what an OS was. I played Paratrooper, Zaxxon and Alley Cat with a 2-button joystick that my father had from work. I wonder if my grandparents ever grew tired of the sounds of the PC speaker.

My grandfather later switched to a 486 - a Compaq, with a nice VGA screen. The 2-button joystick was replaced by a Logitech Wingman Extreme - the old blue ones, which weighted a ton, and lasted longer than the warranty. I played Crystal Caves, Secret Agent, Major Stryker, Descent II... I think that this computer is still working today - I'll have to check that out.

The first computer me and my brother had was a used 286. We then had a 386 and finally a 486 too. I don't remember the brand, but it was a 486 DX2-66. A monster. Metal frame. Weighted a ton. It would frighten the children. It was also the first computer we upgraded - we added a S3 Trio video vard and a magnificent Sound Blaster AWE64. Tyrian never sounded so good on that computer! We spent a lot of time on this one.

Then came the Pentium era (we briefly had an old 486 tower that didn't last long for some overheating problems - we all do stupid experiments). The first computer that was mine (and not a joint venture with my brother) was a Dell Optiplex GX1, Pentium 166Mhz. I especially recall having a lot of trouble with this one. As it is the first computer I administrated (and the first one I connected to the Internet), needless to say it ended up in a mess. Viruses and all. It was running Windows 98 and it also had for a short time Windows NT4. I downloaded a lot of software, and my anti-virus couldn't take it (so couldn't my RAM).

When the P1 was decommissioned, I had a HP Kayak, Pentium II 233 MHz (which was one of my brother's computers). I didn't have that one for very long, but it worked well. I think it ran Fedora Core 2 for some time. I know that the last thing I installed on it was Xubuntu (and by that time, it was no longer mine). I remember more my Pentium III 600 MHz that I had when I started college. It was named the Excelsior, named after the ship. It was also a rental from my brother so I didn't quite play a lot on the insides of that one. It was running Windows 2000, and if I remember correctly, it also had Ubuntu 5.10 on it.

Finally, in 2006, I bought my very own beast - a Compaq, with a AMD Athlon 3400+, the Intrepid (named after the ship class). I still have it today. And we have been trough rough times together. Video card upgrade, 2 wireless network cards (one died), RAM upgrade, hard drive change (the old one is now a backup drive) and a sound card (a Sound Blaster Live!). It has Windows XP on it, and it had the chance to see a couple of Linux distros installed on it - Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Gentoo. This computer followed me trough college and is, up to now, doing the same thing at university. We have been trough a lot. Successes, failures, moments of joys, moments of sadness...

Today, it is technically obsolete. It does in now way match the power of the machines available on the market. It doesn't play the very latest games. But who cares, really. It gets the job done. In some areas, it is apparent that it lacks firepower, but for 95% of what I need to do with it, it does it damn well (especially on the Linux side). I thought of buying a new one. But the idea of throwing my old beast away makes my heart pinch a bit. It is not the time. Not yet. But I know something - when I get a new computer, I'll be able to say this : It was a fine machine, and it did its time. Chances are, it will not be thrown away. As you probably noticed, computers have a tendency to "go down" in my family.  Somebody will sure find a job for my computer.

Do your old computers bring you back memories? Mine sure do! But with technology evolving so fast, do you think it will still be the case in the following decades? Are people still keeping their computers long enough to remember them? Will I still keep my computers for long periods of time? I wonder...

Click Here!