My first proper experience of a computer was with an Apple II. It was back in 1981 and I was in full time employment for the first time, as an electrical wireman and workshop supervisor for a small Bristol based company called South West Research (now long gone). Our mission was to remove from service all the old Space Invaders coin operated video arcade machines and refit them with new colour monitors*, power supplies and motherboards, and send them back out as Galaxian, Pacman or perhaps Donkey Kong machines. (*Remember, if you can… Space Invaders ran in black and white, on a monochrome monitor with coloured acetate strips across it to give the different colours of the aliens, defensive screens and gunship.) We had a minor win in the great history of the video game. I believe South West Research made the first full colour video game in the world!

The game was called Dambusters, and required the player to fly a Lancaster Bomber through full colour terrain – blue skies with moving clouds replacing the ubiquitous star field on black background that all other games to date had relied on (star fields use less memory to construct, you see). The play field was replete with barrage balloons, anti-aircraft fire and buzzing little fighter planes, all of which had to be negotiated before dropping a carefully placed bouncing bomb against the side of the dam. I had a role in the production of the game in that I drew the fighter planes in 8×8 pixel sprites, on said Apple II computer, as well as creating the wiring loom that connected everything together! Sadly, the development costs and some directorial lifestyle issues lead to the company failing, and my first full time job was interesting but short lived. The fact that I spent so much time looking for rocks without scorpions under them has nothing to do with it at all…

My first personally owned computer was a Sinclair ZX81 and then a ZX Spectrum. I learned BASIC programming and machine code on these, and played with a few earlier haywired elektronic branes too.  But after that it was IBM-PC all the way… I went from MS-DOS2.0 through 6.2, from Windows 3.0 through to Windows 7. Which is where I am today. One of my laptops boots into any of four different versions of DOS and Windows. But today I’m not all Microsoft… I have an iPod touch, and a Google Android tablet. And now I’m flying into terror incognito [sic]. I just bought an iMac.

I bought my current PC in the spring of 2006. It’s mostly a Mesh machine running on an AMD AthlonT 63 4600+ processor. It’s still serviceable, although it needs another of those regular ‘format and reinstall’ days to remove all the crud and bloat it’s picked up. The two monitors are losing brightness and definition. The air fans are noisier than they used to be. One of the hard drives has started to flag up SMART issues and the mouse is dying. It cost me a couple of grand six years ago, but it’s getting tired. Fair do’s; it’s been running for many hours every single day since then. The question was ‘what to do?’…

I could replace the monitors – a couple of twenty inch screens would go about three hundred quid. New fans and a new hard drive perhaps two hundred more. It’s already a bit of a grandfather’s axe  (the meme comes from – “it’s my grandfather’s axe, although the head has been replaced several times, and it’s had a few new shafts over the years”), a bit more fettling… but the processor’s old, so perhaps a new motherboard too… you can see where this is going. It’s nothing more than self justification! I want a new toy! The old machine will be recycles where feasible… the almost good monitor will be a spare at work, the good drives will be resited, the rest of the machine will be rebuilt and passed on. Time for a new machine.

Trouble is… I was rather looking forward to a new PC with Windows 8 on it until I saw one. At least, a pre-release one. It looks like Microsoft have decided to have one operating system for mobile phones, tablets and desktops, and since the mobile phones and desktops have smaller graphic resources they seem to have trimmed the prettiness of Windows 7 and made the whole thing blocky… Now, they may well put the pretty bits back in – certainly there are folk other than me griping out there – but it was the final straw.

It’s coming… for years I’ve been patiently nice to the Apple fanboi’s out there… and now I’m well on my way to becoming one! Made my mate laugh today… told me I’d now have to trade my Google Android tablet for an iPad when it comes back from the fixers. Who knows… but oh that so-useful USB socket. [wink]

4 responses to “iBish”

  1. Jonathan Briggs Avatar
    Jonathan Briggs

    I’ve got an Apple IIe and a IIgs in the garage if you want to go Apple but retro…


  2. Wouldn’t think of it, Jonathan. If you’ve kept them this long they must be very special to you. 🙂

    I have no idea of what lies in my garage…


  3. Tony Faulkner Avatar
    Tony Faulkner

    I know this geeks journey so well. Now if I was buying another computer I would say to hell with the cost and buy a powerful Mac. They are so beautifully designed and a joy to use. (I used to be a dedicated Windows user and sneered at Macs). But I would also run Windows 7 on it using Parallels to access all my old favourite programs. I’ve done this on my 11in Macbook Air and even on that little devil Windows 7 runs like a dream as long as I don’t open too many windows.


  4. Thanks Tony. You’ve clearly beaten the trial ahead of me! 🙂


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