My Computing History

13 May 2024 | ~5 minute read

I read a post from Robb Knight recently about his computing origin story. It was an interesting post, so I thought I'd add my own computing history to the mix.

My computing history is probably quite typical of someone of my vintage (nearly 40), but I'll go through it anyway. Because, you know, nostalgia.

I'll try keep this brief, but there's a lot to get through, so without further ado...

~1995 - Amiga 600

My first computer (that wasn't a games console) was an Amiga 600. I wanted a "real" computer, ever since playing with the BBC Micros in school. I just found them fascinating.

So one Christmas, my grandparents got me a second-hand Amiga 600, with hundreds of games, from my granddad's friend in work. I absolutely loved it.

Amiga 600

The feeling of flipping through box after box of 3.5" floppy disks was so satisfying.

I remember games such as Sensible Soccer, Cannon Fodder, and of course, Monkey Island. Unfortunately, my Amiga 600 met an untimely death when I decided to open it up and poke around with a screwdriver, while it was plugged in. 🫣

~1997 Amiga 1200

A year or so after my 600 had "somehow" died, my granddad bought me an Amiga 1200 off the same friend from work. I already had a tonne of games, but started enjoying Amiga Workbench more, especially the synthesised voice that sounded just like Stephen Hawking.

Mike Quirk smells of poo

-- Probably the most common thing my Amiga "said" (Mike is my brother)

Amiga 1200

It was at this point that I got more into the computing side of things. I use to write a daily journal and saved it on floppy disk as I didn't have a hard drive in my Amiga.

~1999 - Compaq DeskPro 2000

After a few years of happy Amiga ownership (and not blowing the 1200 up), I wanted to upgrade to a Windows based computer. Grandparents came to the rescue again and bought me a reconditioned corporate desktop.

Compaq DeskPro 2000

How do I know it was a reconditioned corporate desktop? Because it still had the Barclays Bank asset tag on the front. 🙃

With a massive 8MB RAM, 600MB hard drive and Pentium I processor, it was brilliant. I ended upgrading the OS to Windows 98, but I ran out of space on the HDD, so had to compress the OS to gain more storage. Fun times!

~2001 - Custom P4 desktop

By this point, I'd finished high school and was in college studying ICT, so I needed something with a bit more power. I was now working part time, so my grandparents and I both chipped in for a new machine for me.

This was my first brand new machine. It was a custom built jobby from a local computer shop, Lightning Computers (RIP). This was a major upgrade, sporting an 800MHz Pentium 3, a 10GB hard drive and a massive 32MB RAM.

Vintage ATX case

This was all housed in a generic ATX case, but it had a purple "swish" on the front, and purple buttons. I thought it was cool AF. I kept the 14" CRT monitor from the Compaq, but that was fine.

A few months after buying this machine, Windows XP was released. But to my horror, the minimum requirement was 64MB RAM. So I saved up, upgraded the RAM and bought a pirated copy of XP from my mate in school for £4.

I remember the first time I booted Windows XP up, with that "green hill" background and blue tool bar. Wow, it's was amazing! I'm still convinced that XP was the best version of Windows they ever released.

~2004 - Dell Dimension 8400

By this point I'd finished college and was working full time. So I decided to treat myself and buy a new computer. I got myself a top of the line Dell Dimension 8400.

It had a 3.4GHz P4 CPU, a gig of RAM, a dedicated graphics card and a 160GB hard drive. As well as the computer, I decided to go the whole hog and bought it with a 17" CRT monitor. Computers back then were all beige, but this one was dark grey. It was cool AF. Even the monitor was dark grey!

Dell Dimension 8400

~2006 laptop years

I joined the Army in 2005, so was travelling around a lot. During this time I switched from desktop to laptop, as it was easier for me. Although I did still have my trusty Dell at home.

Over the years I had a number of laptops. I don't remember most of the models, or their specs, so here's a high level summary:

~2021 - hello Apple

In 2021 I bought myself an M1 Macbook Air, and I gave my X1 Carbon to my wife.

I still have the Macbook -- in fact, I'm writing this very post on it now -- and my wife is still running the X1 Carbon. Considering that laptop is now 10 years old, that's impressive.

I'm very happy with the Macbook and I can't see myself moving from the Apple ecosystem any time soon. The performance is incredible and this thing is still going strong after nearly 3 years of ownership.

From a second-hand Amiga 600, to an incredibly powerful laptop that's at the leading edge of technology, it's certainly been an interesting ~30 years.

Here's to the next 30 years...

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