My mother, as my family has known for some time, is a bit of a pack rat. Quite possibly a borderline hoarder. That fact became even more apparent after my wife and I had our first daughter a little more than seven years ago. That's when toys I played with as a young child started reappearing at their house for the new grandkid. Toys that I had outgrown long before we moved to that new house when I was 11 or 12, and where my parents have lived for the two dozen years since.

So it wasn't that much of a surprise last week when my bother appeared at my house, manila folder in hand. Its contents: The invoice from the computer they had built for me for my freshman year of college at the University of Florida. In 1997. Pack rat, indeed.

You gotta love these specs, though:

  • IBM/Cyrix 200+ 6x86 CPU. That's 200 MHz.
  • 16 megabytes of RAM. Megabytes, folks.
  • ATI 3D Pro Turbo video card with 4MB of RAM.
  • Seagate 2.5 gigabyte hard drive. (Most expensive part on the list, at $259.)
  • 33.6k modem with full freaking duplex and speakerphone.
  • SoundBlaster 16 3D sound card.
  • 15-inch Optiquest monitor. (With VGA resolution, if I recall correctly.)
  • And Windows 95.

Those were good times. How did those computers even work? (Also: Whoa, I am old.)

The price, however, is almost embarrassing, now that I think about it. $1,500, including all the unnecessary bundled software. That was the last time I had someone build me a machine, however, until I bought my first laptop in December 2009 when I started this job.

A few other thoughts on the week that was:

  • It's tough to tell just how inauspicious a launch the Moto X endured. We'll find out this week just how close to Motorola's boast of "Have your custom Moto X in 4 days" phones actually start arriving. But having to hedge things so quickly isn't a good sign.
  • Now that our Moto X review is finally shipped, what's next? Pebble, perhaps.
  • The folks who think I (or anyone else for that matter) shouldn't like the Moto X because of its specs are funny. You like what you like. I'll like what I like. Cool?
  • Speaking of the Pebble, after wearing it for two weeks, I took a couple days off. I didn't really miss the notifications being able to see what time it is by looking at my wrist) — but I did miss using it as a trusted Bluetooth device with the Moto X.
  • Look for a Pebble giveaway this week, by the way.
  • It's been really cool seeing the designs everyone is coming up with. Be sure to share yours.
  • Metallica's "... And Justice for All" album is 25 years old. Oy. (I'd link to it, but guess whose music isn't available in Google Play.)
  • We got version 1.4 of the Android Central App out the door last week. (And a couple bugfixes have followed it.) Still plenty of work to be done, but we're making great progress.
  • Good to see Google update its developer policies and give apps with spammy notifications the boot for good. But, frankly, we as users should have already done that by now, too. 
  • If you haven't guessed where CyanogenMod is heading with all this strategic positioning ... well, it's gonna be cool to see. (And it's gonna be fun to watch the freak-out.) Change is good. Growth is good. 
  • A week before we head off to Germany for IFA. Clock's ticking.

So let's get back to work.


Reader comments

From the Editor's Desk: What I wielded in 1997


Freshman year of college computer, given to me by my uncle, in 1991:

IBM 8088 processor
64k memory
10 mb hard drive
DOS 3.1
Word perfect (only text commands - remember all those Alt, Ctrl, and Function key commmds?)

Monochrome 10 in. monitor.

Before that, I got a Brother word processor in h.s., but used a type writer my first two years.

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I can remember having all these templates/overlays for each program.

And relying on them or memorizing keyboard shortcuts.

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First computer was a Timex Sinclair 1000 (with the 64K Ram upgrade), hooked up to an old B&W TV, and an tape recorder as a floppy disk drive.

Then I got an 8088 (4Mhz) with 2mB of *expanded* RAM (the kind that lived on a ISA card) and a 10mB harddrive with a CGA display (4-colors, and black counted as one of them).

Then, I built my first computer: a 386 25Mhz. Even wired a "Turbo" button into the case, so that I could still play the "old" games that ran too fast (LOL).

I still remember going over to my buddy's house after school to play Doom on his 486 50Mhz with 8mB of RAM, and we thought that was the smokinest machine *ever*.

I remember the first time I played on a Pentium 200 in a Circuit City, and was jealous of how much faster it seemed that my Pentium 133 ;)

And, now, the quad-core i7 and SSD in my PC at work makes my dual-core 2.3Ghz i5 laptop with 6gB of RAM at home feel slow.

Amazing how far computers have come, in a relatively short span of time.

If you were a freshman (college) in 1997, you my friend, are still wet behind the ears...Oh, and a 2.5GB hard drive in 1997 was top of the line, just like that video card with 4MB of RAM and 200Mhz (Pentium) chip.

The Cyrix was hardly a Pentium... that floating point thing kept it a tad slower, but good bang for the buck. And that HDD was EPIC for '97!

I remember Cyrix CPU's would tend to run hotter than Intel and if not kept cool enough would start to flake out. At the time the company I worked for had so many issues with them that we went back to Intel. Cost a little more, but a lot more reliable and durable. :)

I had a $3,000 dollar dell in 97 that had a P2 266mhz cpu.. it was the fastest cpu at the time.

I also had 6mb canopus Pure3d gfx card.

was ballin.

1997 was one of the best years ever. I got my first desktop that year...similar specs with a 233 MHz proc and a 4 GB drive. Ironically, that's barely enough to power handheld computers nowadays. Amazing.

Phil,you are still young. I can remember my first Texas Instruments computer. Now there was a computer. In those days the old chess champions still beat the main frames. Spassky, Fisher, Petrosian, man those were the days:)

I remember those TI door neighbor had one...thought is was the coolest thing

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Not my first desktop (can't remember that one) but I remember my first "laptop" It only weighed 200lbs

The Compaq II 286 Portable Computer

My first computer was a Texas Instrument TI-99. It came with the Y-cable RF adapter to connect to the back of the TV (the TV had VHF and UHF connectors).
My first IBM compatible computer was a V-tech 386SX-25 (25MHZ!), 2MB of RAM and a 100MB hard drive. Video-wise, it had on-board video with 256KB of memory. It sold with Windows 3.1 and MS-DOS 5.0

Be thankful guys, my smartphone now can outpace my laptop by 3X. 2006 laptop.

Think my first computer experience was a 300mhz, 16MB RAM. Windows 95 era.

I'm only in my mid 20's but I've had every computer imaginable to use growing up. Started on a 286 IBM running windows 1.0 that was later upgraded to 2.0 some how? Then I got my 386 that ran windows 3.11 for the longest time? Then I started diving into specs more so I wanted the best so in 1995 I found a 486+ DX4 that was clocked at 133mhz and ended up running windows 95 on it. My next rig after that was a AMD setup one of the old K6 series clocked at 266mhz, cant remember memory all to much but I had rage 3d etc it was a screaming setup. This was later succeeded by the k7 at 533mhz and then k8 running 1.2ghz... Technology changed fast but slow in comparison to today's smartphones, it amazes me how fast phones have scaled in the last 3 - 4 years. It took that period for pcs 10+ years.

In 97 I was 6 years old! And you all are talking about computers by then haha. I didn't even get my first cell phone until 2005.

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Fall of 1985 got an Apple 2C entering college. Actually got a modem to go with it to interface with George Mason's computers from home, but for the life of me I can't remember what for! Lol
First "real" computer was 1994 Dell with first generation Pentium cpu, 60 mhz, 8 mb Ram and a 1x cd rom Win 3.1. Cost = $2300.00. Built my first system about a year or so later with a Cyrux cpu. And this Note 2 probably would still outperform ALL my computers combined if they could be wired together!

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ahhhh. Playing Half-Life on a Pentium machine with an ATI GPU. Those were the days..
Now we have GPUs that can push 3+ TFlops and more than 200GB/s of memory bandwidth. It's incredible how much technology has advanced.

Yeah, technology has improved dramatically. It's kinda scary, how fast we've reached this point.

I just wonder... Will we ever reach a technological plateau?

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I don't really think so. I believe we might hit a "plateau" with silicon, but not with technology in general. Fast computers help us build faster computers. And make them smaller. And understand more about the physics of working with non-silicon-based computers.

It was (I think) about two years ago that some students at a university got the first simple quantum computer working. Once we can manufacture quantum computers en-mass, I believe it will change the world, again.

I am both excited and terrified at the future of computing.

Whoa, that's almost exactly the specs of my 1997 machine! I had some small differences: Intel P5-150MHz (non-MMX) and Seagate 1.6GB IDE drive. They also ran out of ATX power supplies, so I got a Supermicro AT instead. But otherwise, remarkably the same!

My first computer in Christmas of 1996:

Intel 166Mhz x86 CPU.
24 megabytes of EDO RAM.
ATI 3D Pro Turbo video card with 4MB of RAM.
2.5 gigabyte hard drive. (unknown manufacturer)
33.6k modem with speakerphone.
SoundBlaster 16 3D sound card.
15-inch Compaq monitor with VGA resolution
Windows 95.

Cost: $2,500 ($3,612 in 2013 dollars) Wow!

I used that computer from Christmas 1996 until Christmas 2002 when my parents finally upgraded to a Dell.

Kids these days don't know how good they have it. lol

No Maiden and no Metallica o_O ... That's sad. I guess here in Belgium we are in luck, we have them in the play store. Maybe you can move to Europe B-)

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Do people really think you shouldn't like the moto x because of the specs? That's really stupid.

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Yes it is. But then remember this is probably a person who discoints the One because it's one OS release behind but couldn't tell you why it matters other than it's not the most recent. The reason people like specs (and benchmarks for that matter) are because they are quantifiable. Experience isn't.

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Like many others in my age i started with the Commodore VC64 so there is not big story.

But the computer i am still running, besides android, is more of a story.
It is an Acorn Risc PC, bought in 1998. Fitted with a DEC StrongARM @233MHz and massive 128 MB of RAM and 2 MB VRAM. But of course there is no Windows, Linux or even Android. It started with RISC OS 3.71 and is currently on RISC OS 6.x.

And this is my everyday email and text machine.

You do not know that machine or OS? Well, sadly not surprising.
But you should know and praise Acorn for developing these little beast called ARM.

Well, OK. Enough History for today.

With a name like that it probably has little squirrels on treadmills running inside it! And the clock runs like an abacus but with nuts!

My first desktop back in the day was a 16k trs80 color computer. No hard drive but I did have a cassette and 4 floppy drives. Those were the days.

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You're a child. My first desktop, a Tandon, 8 mhz, 128 k ram, 10 mb hd. Ran Dos. Used Word Star for word processing. Remember dot commands?

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I've been working with computers since I was 10, in 1980, but I didn't have my own until I could afford to buy it myself, in 1991. That fantastic machine was:

AMD 386/40 MHz on a generic motherboard
Generic S-Video card with 1 Mb RAM
Generic Chinese 14" SVGA monitor, only did 1024x768 interlaced! Had to run 800x600.
Maxtor 213 MB IDE hard drive ($400, amazingly cheap, but "way too big" per my friends)
MediaVision Pro Audio Spectrum 16 soundcard
Generic 2400 bps internal modem (replaced with a Zoom 14.4k internal not long after)

And the biggest-ticket item of them all:

HP LaserJet IIP+ laser printer at $900

Oh, and I eventually bought a USED Sony 1X read CD-ROM drive, which used caddies, from Walnut Creek CD-ROM, an early Internet company that made and sold shareware CDs for folks without Internet access, which was almost everyone. Price? $150 (USED!)

As much as I loved my old rigs in the '90s I'm looking forward to when a phone/phablet/tablet will outperform a laptop/ultrabook/desktop. I'm looking to the convergence of a do-it-all device. Not sure what the form factor will be.

I feel the power potential of a desktop will always be higher as there is more room for cooling and larger components.

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A cell phone will likely never "out perform" a modern workstation, just because of the size difference and cooling, as mentioned.

But it is interesting to note that modern cell phones *already* out perform a high-end laptop from just a few years ago. That's pretty impressive.

Hm... Freshman year...

Apple //e
4 mHz 6502+
16k mem but added the 32k expansion for 48k
A pair of 5.25" 143k floppy drives
What's a hard drive? Kidding you coild get a 10 meg drive, or pay a ciuple years of tuition. (Incidently my first semester at Purdue was $588 for a full load)

Would someone mind filling me in on the CM changes? I looked on G+ but nothing really jumped out.

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I would like to know as well. I usually pride myself in keeping up with everything android, at least relatively so. I guess the bleach from highlighting my hair is finally affecting my memory.

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Old? I remember being ELATED when 1200 baud modems became available!
Wait... are we actually bragging about being old here???

my first computer an ibm pc with 2 floppy 5 1/4" drives, no hard drive. came with 32k of ram . Bought an expansion card with 640k becuase the salesman said "you are never gonna need more memory than that." Had to buy a color card and an amdek color monitor because ibm did not make a color monitor. also bought an ibm dot matrix printer which was really an epson mx-80 with a ibm label glued over the word epson. total cost was $5000. We've come a long way

Back in the dark ages of 1985, my first computer was the Radio Shack Color computer with instant on. 16mb of ram, worked on a TV in green letters. YA there was not harddrive there was a Radio Shack tape drive and you got to write the programs in basic. My brother built his first which was Fimon a dual screaming tape drive system. You guys are spoiled in 1997.

16MB of ram in 1985? You're about a decade ahead of the curve there lol. I think you mean 16KB of ram.

I remember when I put 64mB of RAM in my Pentium 133, and was showing off to my friends how quickly Netscape launched. LAMO

The first computer I used was an Apple IIe in elementary school back in the 80s. The first computer we as a family owned was a P5 75 mhz 800 GB hard drive (later warranty replaced with a1.2 GB) with 32 meg of RAM (we paid extra for) 3.5 floppy. 4x CD-ROM (NOT bootable so we still needed boot discs) a 14.4 fax modem and Windows For Workgroups 3.1.1 and DOS 6.2.2.

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I feel bad for all the kids these days. They miss out on all the firsts...Wolfenstein, King's Quest, X-Wing! MS Flight Simulator. World of Xeen was 100MB! And Awesome!

BBS, telephone modems, I remember my first 2.4, 9.6 and 14.4.

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That looks like a receipt from the old Tech Advanced computer shop. I remember spending $2000 for a giant tower that couldn't do what my phone does now!

Nice article Phil.

Some off topic queries here.. I can't make a forum post in the photo contest. Is there a time duration before the post actually makes it on the contest thread? Please help!

hey AC has someone to check the forum posts now. My contest entry was reviewed by a person before it appeared on the forum thread.

thats a good way to clear spam i guess. But since i was not aware of this i panicked and made 3-4 forum entries. I hope they will excuse me :) i was not aware of this.

i just remember a littleof the odysee,,and the intelevision,,,then colecho vision. loved the intelevision controller,lol.

We had a Tandy Coco colour 3 computer as a kid. Played some great cartridge games, ran basic and we had a big floppy drive and had a sweet dot matrix printer. In school we used Commadore PET computers which poked along until ontario upgraded everyone with the Icon computers powered with QNX. In college (2000) I had a 800mhz pentium II with 16gb ram, 40gb HD ATI all in wonder. I could render 3D animation and edit SD video on that no problem. 10/100 Ethernet connection was insane. Just blew my mind. Napster was the big thing.

I would have been thrilled with those specs if they had been available when I began college in 1969. Had to settle for a slide rule instead.

All this time.. I finally realized why I read your articles. We both went to UF and apparently around the same time! That invoice also looks like a carbon copy of the PC I built back then.. Except mine had MMX!

My dad brought a kapro home when I was in middle school. I remember I was always using either a word processor (either software or a huge machine that only did word processing) to do reports while other kids still hand writing. Probably whymy handwriting is so atrocious now.

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IMB clone running very early dos.

dir/p/w was my favorite command to tell me all the files in a King's Quest 5 inch floppy. Man takes me back.

I still remember when I bought a 4GB hard drive. Yes, FOUR.... :(

A bunch of employees at CompUSA circled around and admired my new PC just because it had a 4GB hard drive.

These days, if I walk into a computer retailer and say I have a 4GB hard drive, the employees will probably laugh their pants off, or call the cops and have me arrested.

LOL Bunch of old farts here reminiscing about their first PC. ;) Oh, wait I'm one too! :P Except I can't remember the specs anymore of my first. :(

I got all of you beat. The first computer I played with was in 1971. Time sharing on an IBM mainframe running APL, with 3 80K work spaces and interacting with it on an IBM Selectric teletype.

The first one I owned wasn't until 1998, a Gateway 266 P2 with 512MB SDRAM, an Impact sound card, Nvidia 4200 video card, an 8.4GB hard drive, 15 inch SVGA monitor and Windows 95b.

Of course, now, someone will come along who played with punch cards and FORTRAN (so did I, but after the IBM), or punch tapes. I also did BASIC on a teletype in college (same time as the FORTRAN work) in 1978.

I used punch cards in high school back in 1982. The Apple computers were reserved for computer aided drafting classes. We had some TRS-80's also but I don't remember what class they were reserved for. What I do know is that they weren't used for the programming class.
Nope, we had figging punch cards.

You and I must be the same age Phil. I was a freshman at NYU the fall of 1997. Makes me a little depressed because (no offense) you look so much older than I. :-) I worked my tail off that summer to buy myself the nicest desktop I could to bring to school. My build was pretty similar to yours. It was a mini tower compaq with an Intel 200mhz pentium although I upgraded several parts of it. I was a baller and sprung for an extra 16 megabytes of ram for a whopping total of 32. Most importantly I upgraded the integrated graphics to a PCI slot 3dfx Voodoo Rush card with 8mb of ram. I remember it came with a very sweet optimized version of Turok. About a year later the first AGP video cards started coming out and I was so jealous because my machine didn't have a AGP slot. Ha. Those were the days.

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Let's see. First computer i put together (mid-1980s)was an 80286 with a green monochromatic screen and a 5.25-inch floppy drive. It had tractor-fed paper.
In college (1995-97) i used a Macintosh PowerBook with a monochrome screen, 120 megabyte hard drive, 14.4 modem, and a giant roller ball mouse.

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Great post, brings back memories of buying a P5-60 when it first came out my sophomore year. Everyone in the dorm, non-computer folk included, knew what a Pentium was.

So maybe you can say that was the tipping point when "specs mattered".

(and yes, I also remember getting a replacement FedEx'ed to me during the whole floating point bug fiasco)

is my current phone, Samsung Galaxy Note 2,
really more powerful than the computer they
used on the Apollo missions to the moon?
or is that just urban legend?

Not an urban legend at all. Your Note 2 is several orders of magnitude more powerful. On early space missions (Apollo era) the computer they had onboard was not very powerful at all. They would frequently have to read out numbers to mission control, who would have their mainframes do the calculations and read them back to the astronauts, who would them punch the numbers into their computer.

Absolutely amazing how far we've come in just a few decades.

I don't remember the specs of my first computer, but I'm positive it didn't have an internet connection. What the hell did I do with a computer with no internet connection?!?!?

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Processed words. Ran spreadsheets. That's about it. There was no internet, at least not for the public, back in the day (defined here as the mid-80's).

No internet but you could get on BBS's or there was mouse all text commands. Print stuff on tractor fed dot matrix or even a daisy wheel printer

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The first computer I ever saw was at a bank in New Mexico I was a senior in high school (1969) and on spring break we went on a tour of that computer, yes, a tour of that computer. It was upstairs in a grand old bank building, we went at night because that is when they worked it. In a large room that at one time filled itself with spectacled bean counters it sat in the middle inside its environmental sub structure, clean and cold of course. The data was brought in by courier and was processed there. The operators changed out the large stacked platters numerous times at each drive through the shift... Years later I was hired to destroy, literally, a more modern but similar setup in Honolulu that was replaced with several still rather large but much faster "mainframe" computers. The old one was sold to a scrap dealer who only kept the chips because their legs were gold plated. At an airport baggage claim I once saw a Kaypro "portable" computer come tumbling down the conveyor belt. Man, that was painful. That unit, owned by someone not smart enough to take it on board as carry on, was state of the art for a very short time. Hey, it was "portable!" My how times have changed. Notably some Sci-Fi writers completely missed the personal computer, sticking with central mainframes instead, the cloud so to speak. But you can't beat the data mining technology of Orwell's "1984", it has arrived and now will always be with us. Live accordingly.

My first computer was an Acer Aspire LC P7510

Intel Pentium MMX 233 Mhz
Modem 33.6 IBM
4 GB hard drive
ATI Radeon chip with 2 MB of dedicated memory
Windows 95

One of the bundled games- was POD, an amazing racing game!

How many of you remember before the Internet getting on a BBS system with your 14.4k modem?

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My dad was a sysadmin for our local bbs. more like 300baud back then though. Every month we would have get togethers and trade games on our C64s.

OK, here's an interesting 1 upmanship for you.

The year is 1984 and the government (I'm in the US Air Force at the time) has just let a big contract to Zenith for a bunch of PCs.

We were allowed to piggyback on this for an employee buy:

Zenith Z-100 running a 5 Mhz 8088 (16/8 bit CPU) and 8085 CPU for running CPM.
The OS was a non PC compatible version of MS-DOS 2.0 called Z-DOS.
It had 64K (yes, that's Kilobytes (not mega or giga))
It had a single floppy drive (you had just enough room for booting the OS and then loading one or two pieces of software). You could then swap in a data disc after boot if necessary. It held 320K of information - TOTAL.
It came with a VGA monitor (640x480, 13 inches). IBM PCs shipped with only a 320x200 monochrome monitor.
The crown jewel software package was from Peachtree and it had word, spreadsheet and database modules. Lotus 123 was available separately (I think around $200).
It was a rather large all in one with minimal upgradability (no expansion card slots).
It had one serial port and one parallel port.
No online capability yet.
It went for the amazing low price of $2,500 (it would be $5440 in 2012 dollars - I would do the math for this year but the year isn't over yet).
I did a RAM upgrade to 192K (3 sets of 8 chips - 64K each) and upgraded the video RAM from 32K to 64K with the old RAM chips - no VRAM yet.
Did a clock speed upgrade that upped the clock speed from 5 MHz to 8 MHz with a manual switch on the back for game compatibility.
Also spend $500 for for my first printer - an OKIDATA 9 Pin Dot Matrix printer with Pin fed paper and a letter quality mode (wasn't up to the daisy wheel quality that was used instead of typewriters or on dedicated Word Processors).
In 1987 I spent $1000 for a hard drive upgrade to 20 Megabyte. Finally sold it in 1988 for $1,000 towards another Zenith military contract machine that was an 80286 with a whole megabyte of RAM (640K main memory and 360K of extended memory in DOS 3.2).
Ah, the good old days. (not mention all my magazine subscriptions to keep up with technology).

Those were cutting edge back then (the cpu is questionable though, I had one but only because I wanted to save some money).

As for myself. I started with a PET that I would use in the local library.
I then got myself a Vic 20, then Commodore 64, had a C-128 for a while but took it back.I had a few other spatterings of other computers back then including TRS-80, Timex Sinclair, a few from the Atari line, and one other that I cannot for the life of me think of the name right now (but it's in storage somewhere).

Stepped out of computers for a while and then came back in with the PC Jr.
Then over to a 8086 based generic. Where I upgraded parts in it as I could going from monochrome to CGA, then EGA, and finally VGA monitors.

I think I've had pretty much every processor released with the exception of a 486 with a math co-processor. I had the 486-sx model and ran a program that fooled programs into thinking it had a co-processor.

The rest is pretty much just regular evolution of sound, video, motherboards, processors, and drive storage solutions.

My first purchased was a 286, not sure of the details other than that. No Internet of course. Then I progressed to a 486 ass kicker!

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Oops, I forgot about the Commodore 64 I bought with a external floppy (5.25) and accessories. I remember coding a phone book program to look up local phone numbers.

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I think it was 1996 or 1997 I got my Panasonic P21 monitor (that sucker was a BEAST!) It was a nice monitor, but the price was certainly NOT nice! ($1800 or so). It was the last CRT monitor I ever had until LCDs became more affordable though.

Soon after that, I got my first CD-R drive as a Christmas present....a 2x Ricoh MP6200S SCSI drive. A few days after that, I got my second one (kind of hard to use a CD-R drive who's tray won't eject). :) Waiting 40 minutes to burn a CD -- praying the dreaded "Buffer Underrun" error didn't occur. Those were the days!

I still find it hard to believe I've had Internet service for 19 years now (started with a $149/year 14.4kbps plan through a local ISP, then worked my way up to a 56k plan before switching to cable in 1999).

1st was Atari 400 for me then the Big Upgrade to Atari 800 with an external cassette drive for a college present

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My father still has my old commodore 64..... Along with stand alone 5 inch floppy drive. Border line hoarder as well. He still thinks he can surf the Internet with it today...

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I remember buying my first computer at Best Buy with a 133MHz CPU, 1.5GB HDD (never going to fill that up right). Not remembering the amount of RAM actually.

Anyway, I spent just under $2500 on it back in 1996.

Oh yeah Windows 95 baby.

It is so amazing to think how things have changed the last 15+ years.

1997 started my mobile addiction with a Nokia 9000i communicator. My first smartphone that even had a data connection. I know the year because I've been a PacBell/Cingular/AT&t ever since as they remind me each bill. Also still the most expensive phone I've owned.

No desktop in those days. I think it was a ThinkPad 560

Would have been a good article to link a point or two on Moore's Law.

In 1997 I was deep into my Linux and home network phase. . .too too many wires and the wife really did not understand ;-)

Computing has gotten a lot better since then!

So have cell phones. . .

Wonderful story, I know for sure that I have my spec sheet from my first 1996 PC with it a Y2K preventative software (I cant believe I was sold on that). The toys reappearing from your past for your kid is priceless. Nostalgia is a wonderful feeling. I would pay tens of thousands dollars (which I dont have) for a notebook with my drawings in it of cars I drew as a kid in 1980's....

This was a good read, thanks for sharing...

Haha.. remembers my first computer,

486 DX2
Floppy disk drive
VGA 14inch screen
Manage to install Windows 95

Good times. I was managed to upgrade hatd drive 16MB later. This was 98 in Sri Lanka and I was one of those lucky kids to have a second hand first computer.

Wow - the old days! Like some above, I started with Punched cards and BASIC; my first business was run from an Amiga 500 and my first PC was a Gateway P166 Sovereign running 95 (a total dog). I still can believe we managed to survive.

Radio Shack TRS-80 Model I. 4K RAM, cassette tape storage. Now, you kids get out of here with your hearing and your eyesight and your fancy bell-bottom jeans!

The first computer I owned was in the spring of 1983, near the end of my sophomore year in high school... A TI99-4a it was... Then a C=64 nearly a year later.

First computer that my family had was a c64 back in 84... I was 10 at the time. We moved on to an Amiga 500 and I remember my dad having a couple of different PCs in highschool, an old Packard Bell and a custom-built tower.

My first computer I bought on my own, was after college in 1995... a refurbed all-in-one Compac Presario 486/33mhz ... probably only had 4 or 8 megs, and I think a 120meg hard drive (if that), on-board graphics... all for $1500. Circuit City was stupid enough to give that much credit to a 20year old. And I was just that stupid enough to sign off on that much credit.

I think I rocked:-

Intel SX-33
4mb RAM
20 gig hard drive
14" monitor

for my first rig.

No soundcard, just beeps to play Doom until I got a Soundblaster knock off 6 months later and a massive jump to 16mb of RAM for Dark Forces.

... And Justice for All is 25 years old... Ouch. That was the first CD I ever bought/owned...

RIP Cliff.

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That PC was about the same spec as the one I built in 1997! Man how many $$$$ have been spent/wasted over the years!

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