Monday, October 25, 2010

A little computer history....

Probably of very little interest to anyone but me, but what the hell....

I think I got my first computer around autumn 1995 - over a £1000 from a local PC company in Dudley. A Windows 95 machine with no internet. Relatively high spec as I recall, but not certain of the exact specs. I also paid out full price for a copy of Office 95 Professional. I must have been mad, but for some reason I decided I needed Access to learn databases.

I spent hours pouring through the Windows manual and the Office 95 manual working out how to use it. Learnt how to use Access by making a huge database of my comic collection at the time, all beautifully cross referenced and organised. Now I don't have comics, and I dont have Access. But back then it was a real big deal.

Second computer was a Windows 98 machine, and again I have no real idea when I bought it, but it had Internet which puts it at sometime before Molly was born in 1999 - only because we remember using the Internet to search for what to do about colic!

Again the machine cost over £1000 for a relatively high spec, and again I paid out for Office 97 Pro. Oh, how things have changed. You wont find me doing that anymore. Either a copy of Office 2003 or go Open Office. Even at school we still use or licensed version of Office 2000. There's very little chance of us upgrading to MS Office 2007 - cost mostly but also because both I and the ICT co-ordinator like the idea of teaching our children how to do things with computers, not how to become slaves to Microsoft applications.

And the third computer came along in January 2003. Again fairly pricey, but the spec was pretty good for those days: Windows XP, 2.9Ghz, 120GB hard disk, 512MB RAM upgraded to 2GB after 6 years. I shocked me when I looked back just how long I'd had the machine. It's no wonder it's on it's last legs really.

After that came the idea of mini computers. I'd been thinking about them for a long time and was obviously way, way ahead of my time. Got myself a Palm m550 and foldaway keyboard in 2003, long, long before the era of smartphones. It was used as an organiser and a way to write when out and about. Not really ideal for either to be honest, but the best of what was around at the time.

But what I really wanted was something small and with a full, fixed keyboard to carry round with me and write on. Ironically, I was still ahead of the game, as the only really small mini-laptops at that time (2006/7) we're highly specialised and bloody expensive. Even more ironically, the eventual solution was something I first saw when working in a secondary in Birmingham around 1997.

Enter the Toshiba Libretto:

Bought in 2007 from ebay, costing about £100. It's still upstairs, the battery's shot, but it's still working, this beautiful little machine (about size of a hardback book). Perfect for carrying around with me, doing writing for the FPI blog, and this blog - granted the keyboard is tiny and too fiddly, but it was a lovely thing.

But I could have just waited a few months and the first wave of netbooks would have come along. My timing wasn't great, but at least I got to play with the Libretto, very probably my favourite piece of computing kit I've ever had.

November 2008: Along comes the Asus EeeePC, which is what I'm writing this on right now.

A perfect little machine, allowing me to write anywhere, not too heavy, wi-fi enabled to surf in front of the TV. It's so much better than the Libretto ever was, running Windows XP, pretty fast, not much memory, but I like to run it stripped down anyway. Only really needs a text editor and the Internet to get everything done.

And now we're onto the fourth desktop machine in my series of computers. that makes six computers, four operating systems, probably the best part of £5000. No doubt I'll be on here sometime soon with pictures and moaning about the fuss of Windows 7.

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