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Musings on family computers

My family had a computer a full 2 or 3 years before anybody else on the block. I remember when we got it as well. Mom and Dad spent foreeevveeerrrr in the computer store in downtown Salt Lake. It was near the end of the year and the day was dark grey and sleety. They kept sending me outside to put quarters in the meter.

We went home and it was dark outside. Dad went to the top of the stairs and yelled for Mark to come upstairs and help; we had things in the car that needed to be unloaded. Mark came up grumbling and angry but when he stepped into the garage and saw the enormous IBM boxes in the back of the car he froze and his eyes got really really big.

I couldn't tell you what the stats were on it. I know it was big and beige and had no hard drive initially. I remember the startup took forever and the WORST thing one could do was simply turn it off without shutting it down. I know that the price tag on it was $5000.00.

For Christmas a few weeks later we each got our OWN floppy disk! WHEEEE! My parents had also thought of us when they bought the computer (which was for a consulting project my dad was doing,) and also bought a disk of games. They were cheap arcade knockoffs but we liked them and spent hours playing until we got so good there was no longer a point to playing. If a game doesn't actually have an END...why do it? We then kept playing trying to find ways to screw up the game. For instance, if you had your character jump off the edge over and over in Donkey Kong it would mess up the levels something fierce... or in Centipede we figured out how to make a cheat trap and leave it sitting for HOURS just racking up points.

My friends didn't really know what to make of our computer. Me and my sibs though, we were typing our papers, each of us semi proficient in Word Perfect before many of our friends had ever touched a typewriter!

Though the years it got various upgrades...one day it aquired a hard drive and even later a modem. The games got more advanced. Infocom games...specifically the "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" game and "Wishbringer," (which still gets quoted in our house,) absorbed many of our hours and made us think things through logically. If the babel fish keeps falling down the grate, what do you do? Hmmm...perhaps I will pu the TOWEL on the grate.

Mark and Suzanne figured out how to use the online bulletin boards which freaked my mother out. Going online...threat or menace? She could really mess with you too...it's like she KNEW when you were online because she would pick up the phone anywhere in the house and it would mess up where you were at plus you'd be in trouble.

She kept taking the phone cord from the back of the computer and I would keep buying new ones. I'm sure there are 5 or 6 phone cords still hidden all over the house.

New computers have since come and gone from that first big beige IBM and I personally have gone through a few computers of my own.

I aquired an old Macintosh performa while working for my cousin. Within a week I was able to make that thing do things I could NEVER get our PC to do, plus with Photoshop I was now converted to the mac. I cut my teeth with that thing, doing "Buzzwords" my very first online strip. It rarely was funny but it was a terrific exercise for me in learning how to best put a strip together as well as learning Photoshop. It had 20 megs of RAM in it and I think a 2 gig hard drive.

I started Battle On! on that computer. After a trip to Canada and back though it wound up dying on me (when the logic board is out, there's not much one can do.) With some hemming and hawing and especially after a year without a personal computer at school I decided I wasn't going to do my last year without one and it turned out to be, hands down, one of the best school decisions I've ever made. That blue and white G3 saved my life as well as many of my fellow classmates. After waiting up to half an hour to see if a gaussian blur would work, only to be told I didn't have enough RAM on my old mac I splurged big time and put in 520 megs of ram. ShaZAM. I was astounded when I did something in Photoshop that would usually take 3 or 4 minutes to happen instantaniously.

We had a project that required the use of a mac and after doing mine, I pushed through as many of my classmates as I could on it (with various degrees of gratitude and ingratitude) so they too could do theirs. BJ and I frantically tried to finish our films on it with me deleting every spare program on it so we could get our films to fit. It took HOURS to render them out. A LOT less time than if we'd had to use the computers in the animation camera room.

When I moved to Seattle I upped the RAM even more and put in a 30 gig hard drive so I could do projects without having to delete everything else. I spent hours and hours in front of it working on Tea for Two. One short scene I spent 18 hours coloring...mostly because, since I am an idiot, her SHOES had 6 different colors.
I finished Tea for Two on my blue and white.

I sold it when I moved to Utah, thinking I was starting a new well paying animation job and I had had my eye on a power book. Though the money was good (and boy I needed it,) and I trusted the person it was going to (another mac afficionado,) I still felt like I was betraying it a little. Like I was ungrateful for all its hard work. I instantly regretted selling it and over the last 3 years have still felt the occassional pang. I like my little ibook but it's really hard to work on for photoshop and other animation and film projects.

Today though I got a call telling me that the computer gigiss had sent had arrived. I went to pick it up and have spent much of the evening putting it together. It's nearly identical to my former blue and white. It doesn't have a CD burner or a DVD drive. It DOES have a zip drive (which totally makes me happy since my old one had a zip drive and I have bunches of old zip disks,) and while it doesn't have as much RAM as my old one, memory is cheap. So will be another hard drive.

I look at it, glowing happily in my other room. For a computer, it now has a second life. It has been pulled from a dark closet and will now be used for various fun projects again. Shorts I want to do, things I want to dedicate to it. It will be my permenant line tester, I will do fun things with Photoshop on it. I wonder what shorts I will complete with it. If I were it, I would be happy.

By today's standards it is a joke. I look at it and yes, I would love a new dual processor G5...but I also think that I made Tea for Two on my last blue and white. It is capable of many, many things. I am grateful for it.

I am trying to think of a name for this resurrected computer. I thought perhaps Bilbo since it has been there and here and there and back here again but it doesn't seem quite right.

Any suggestions?

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
fallenpegasus
Jun. 23rd, 2005 06:56 am (UTC)
It was 1983, and the computer was an *original* IBM PC.

Two 360KB double sided double density 5.25" floppy drives.
256 KB of RAM
4.77 Mhz Intel 8088
80x25 text only green monocrome graphics
deepdvd
Jun. 24th, 2005 05:15 pm (UTC)
full specs
jatg
Jun. 24th, 2005 05:37 pm (UTC)
Re: full specs
Oh man. How utter quaint.
xenologue
Jun. 23rd, 2005 01:13 pm (UTC)

Jeanette,

This post was strangely beautiful... I think it should be the start for a computer ownership meme for all of us. I've been thinking about the computers my family and I have owned.

Lazarus? Is that too sacrilicious? Trying to think of resurrected characters or folks who've visited various cultural versions of the Underworld, or gone away and returned. Gilgamesh is one. Aeneas is too, but that's a crazy weird name. Orpheus... uhm... I should know others but I don't. Ulysses/Odysseus both went on long trips.
gigiss
Jun. 25th, 2005 01:12 pm (UTC)
I was also thinking about "Orpheus", or "Eurydice"...? But Eurydice is an odd one, too – I don't know that I even know how to pronounce it.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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