The History of Me: Technology

More in the series chronicling my almost 40 years on this planet. This time, we shall take a look back at the technology that I’ve used. This time, computers. I was going to include other electronics, but it turned out I had more computer-type stuff than I thought.

My first taste of tech came in the shape of a video game console. Not just any game console either my friends, it was a real, live, Atari 2600!

Oh yea. Tank, Pitfall and a few others I don’t remember. It was a lot of fun back in the day, even though the graphics were crap. Yes, even back then we thought the graphics sucked.

But along came teh new hotness.

That’s right boys and girls, we had a ColecoVision in our house. Some great games with it too like Adventure, Donkey Kong Jr. and QBert. It was awesome and I was the most popular kid in the neighborhood.

Shortly thereafter, I got my first computer. I say I but it was for the family. I was, however, the only one that used it. It was, and I hope you are sitting down for this, an Apple IIc!

Shortly after getting this in the mid-80’s, I had a computer class in highschool that also had a whole bunch of Apple II’s. So, it worked out quite well. I was writing BASIC programs and playing LodeRunner like nobody’s business. Plus, it also had AppleWorks installed, including a Spreadsheet app that, as it turns out, I got quite good at using. More on that later.

My first job out of High School was working for a giant Home-Depot type place. During the 9 months I worked there I was cashier, assistant cashier supervisor, worked in the paint department, worked in receiving and, oddly enough, did quite a bit of Data Entry. It was not a fun job and the Data Entry was quite tedious, but it meant I didn’t have to wear an apron that day. I also got to spend the day wandering around the warehouse talking to my friends as I handed out freshly printed signs for items that had price changes. Good times, good times.

Then, I got sucked into working in the restaurant business. Much, much more on this during another post. One of the jobs I ended up with was Kitchen Supervisor. One of my duties as Kitchen Supervisor was doing all of the menu updates and price changes on the REMANCO POS system and computer food cost. The computers we had at the time were ginormous x86 machines that were a tangle of serial cables, expansion cards and dust. It did the job quite well running CP/M. Yes, that is right, CP/M.

Besides checking sales and doing database updates, it also had SC2 installed. SC2 was the successor to SuperCalc, which, oddly enough, was exactly the same as the spreadsheet program I had installed on my first computer. After not much time I was quite a wizard with it, writing custom scripts and programs within it to calculate costs and print inventory sheets.

I moved to Northern California in there someplace too. After the move I acquired an IBM PC XT. 286 processor and, I think, 128K of RAM running DOS6 and Wordperfect 5.1. Even had a dot-matrix printer hooked up to it. Awesome.

I didn’t use this very much, but I still had it. But it was replaced in early ’95 with my first ‘real’ computer, a Dell Dimension. Pentium 75, 4MB of RAM, 4GB hard drive and 4x CDROM drive. It was hot shit, let me tell you. Even hotter after I spent $100 to upgrade the memory to 24MB. You are reading that correctly. 24 MegaBytes.

She was good old computer and worked for many years. But I moved from Northern California. The computer went one way, I went another (probably not more on this in a future post). So, I was without.

My next computer came quite sometime later. I was working for a computer manufacturer in Souther California doing help desk and a little R&D (oh yea, and the website) and I acquired one of their top-of-the-line PC’s. PII 400 with 128MB of RAM running Windows 98. This was a great machine and it served me very well for about 7 years, getting more RAM, larger hard drives and even a CD burner. Heck, It ran Windows 2000 like nobody’s business and I even used it at the car wash office for a few years until it finally gave up the ghost.

After working for the Computer Company, I got my first real POS job. Working on a system called HSI Profit Series (IMO, one of the best POS systems ever created). I was doing full system installations and training all around the United States, including a 2 month stint at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City as lead installer.

After that, I went to work for the largest POSitouch dealer in the United States. I was setting up new systems before they were installed. Eventually I moved up to be the Network/SysAdmin for them plus 4 regional offices. During that time I also designed and built a tower PC that they were able to offer as a lower priced machine for backoffice use. Over 200 of these were eventually built and, from what I understand, many of them are still in service. Heck, I even had one. It was a PII 700 running Windows 2k and 512MB of RAM. That was also a great machine and served me very well. Sadly, it died after a tragic moving accident when it was dropped. At the same time, I was in charge of setting up laptops for all of the employees that needed them. Nothing quite as scary as seeing a pallet of Sony Vaio laptops lemme tell ya.

In that mix, somehow ( 😉 ) there ended up being an IBM ThinkPad. I don’t remember the model. It was a PII 700 that worked and worked and worked and worked. I once used that machine (in Austin, Texas) to image 5 terminals across a network. All the while running off the battery. This machine was the equivalent of the S-10 pickup truck I drove. By far the best computer I have ever go to use.

Then I left that job to work for the car wash. Sadly I had to give up the IBM but it was replaced with a Dell Inspiron. It was a monster machine, desktop replacement, running Windows XP Pro with all the bells and whistles. It served me well until another fatal dropped killed it. Parts were recycled out to fix family computers until only the shell remained.

After the death of PII700, I had a good day at the local casino and was able to pick up my last tower PC. A PowerSpec with a P4 processor, 512MB of RAM running XP Home. Another great machine that got upgrades a plenty! New video card, CD burner, extra hard drive and firewire card. Still a great machine when it runs. Since it’s gotten so dodgy, the parts are going into another computer. Mom’s actually.

After the death of the Inspiron, I picked up another. The machine the lad is currently using actually and it’s another one of the better laptops I have used. A Dell Inspiron again, but much more svelt than the first.

And, finally, I switched to Mac. Which, I don’t need to go into since you all already know the story. Hopefully soon to add another one to my arsenal in the shape of a 20″ or 24″ iMac. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted about that as well.

As the fateful day rapidly approaches, watch for more in the series, including a history of the music I have listened to over the years.

Published by Don

Lead bottle washer at donburnside.com, host at whiteroofradio.com and tech guru for the MotoringFile family of sites.

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1 Comment

  1. Ahhh, the good `ol days of crappy graphics. Good times though. My parents thought it would be cool to go a different route; they bought us Intelevision. Bad idea. We couldn’t trade games with our friends. Now that I think of it, they went Beta when VCRs came out too. Ugh.

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