I just had to reinstall my OS ’cause my C: drive was getting very old, loud and slow. It was a SATA (the first gen), and I replaced it with an SSD. It made me think about the part technology, namely the home computer, has played in my life. I’m sure many of similar age will be able to identify!
My father was ever a lover of gizmo-gadgets. He always had to have the latest technology in the house. Therefore our house was always covered in useless tech, but here and there he got it right. When we had our first green-screened computer in the house with MS DOS on it, and my mother complained it was just another toy and clutter, I clearly remember him saying, “In 10 years there’ll be one of these in every house!” We rolled our eyes, “Yeah, right, dad. It’s just one of your toys.”
The first computer I remember in our home was the Commodore 64. Even at the age of 3 I could operate it! I knew how to run some of my basic games, mostly from mimicking what my older siblings wrote. I played Color Me and Yaarg’s Revenge (was that what it was called?) and I remember them very fondly.
We always had at least one computer in the house. I always knew the basics, though, mostly from spying on my brother and father’s work on them. You see, for some reason my family was under the impression that as a girl I would not be interested, or perhaps that I would not understand it. So all my attempts and learning and being a part were rebuffed. While my father taught my brother programming, I was to help my mother in the kitchen. I didn’t quite realize that was the case until later in my life, of course.
I played a lot of older games, too, like Bubble Bobble and Zeliard. I walked home from school one day with my neighbor, and I clearly remember excitedly telling her about this new thing called a Sound Blaster, and how if something came from the left of the screen, that speaker would play louder! I was blown away. The transition is vivid in my mind. I remember using Norton Commander, all in black and green, and then my father got our one computer a color monitor, the first CGA, and Norton Commander was blue! I was blown away.
So the years stepped on. I learned to love computer entertainment and the programs and games that came and went. I became an expert in the few games we managed to obtain in those times; Iron Man Offroad, Worms, Snoopy, The Settlers (Or Serf City as it was called back then)… Mostly games that didn’t require a whole lot of English reading, since I couldn’t read or write it (it’s not my first language).
We didn’t have any consoles in the house. “You can do nothing on a console but play games.” My father would sternly say as my brother and I begged him for a Game Gear or a Super Nintendo, “On the computer you can also learn and write.” So until the PS2 I never had a console, not handheld or TV-connected. The only reason I convinced him to get the PS2 was that I was old enough to work in the summer and pay for half, and it was also a DVD player when DVDs were just getting going. I very fondly remember the days where my father, usually stern and a bit distant from me, sat and watched me play Metal Gear Solid and MGS2. Or when he would try to play Gran Turismo with me, and try to control the car by tilting the controller left and right. I’ve yet to have him try the Wii.
I would watch my brother play Serf City and thought it looked like a really fun game. “Teach me!” I begged him. I must have been 11 or so. “It’s too complicated for you.” Was his answer, “You wouldn’t get it.”
In his defense, he did try to teach a 10 year-old me logic gates, and I totally didn’t get it.
Next time he saw me play the computer, however, I wa
s well into a session of the game, playing it and learning it. I remember how his brows shot up- not only that I’d managed to load it through DOS on my own, but that I was as far into the game as I was. It was a moment of pride for me, and maybe I got a bit of respect from my brother that day.
I would listen in dinner conversations about technology, and I would mimic and listen when they were building or repairing the computers at home. Before long, I had weaseled myself into the conversations and was right there helping build and repair them, and not just being volunteered to load the 11 diskettes it took to install the old Windows.
There was a new game coming out, I recall, Ultima 7. We loved the Ultima series, but there was no way the “games” computer could run it, after all, it had only 2mgs of RAM. My father’s, being the most powerful computer in the house, had 4mgs, so we had to beg him to allow us to install it on his. Ultima 7 was practically the game I learned English for. I loved watching my brother play it, but I could not follow the plot, and he quickly grew tired and explaining every single dialog to me. So I would sit there and try to scrounge together enough understanding to play, and little by little I learned to read enough to play it. You could say that I could learn to read Ye-Olden English before I could read modern!
So at the beginning of this week, when I was upgrading my computer, I was struck by the advance of it all. I had just bought a 128gig SSD and replaced my 200gig SATA. It’s ok, though, ’cause my second HDD is a SATA2 1tb. I mean, a terabyte! Think about it! The SSD (Solid State Drive, for those who might be unfamiliar with the term) is smaller than a diskette. Smaller. Than. a. diskette.
Fundamentally, home computer technology blows me away. It’s an amazing thing that we take for granted every day. I can speak with my family, half-way across the globe with video chat! Like how they did in old sci-fi books and movies. Our cellphones are more powerful that those computers I used to play those old games on!
And after all that, I was really nervous and uncomfortable that my OS had to be installed on a drive that isn’t C, and that neither the SSD nor my SATA had Slave/Master jumpers.
I’m getting old.
Thanks for reading, and please do share your tech stories in the comments below!