Well, this post is kind of very lengthy and a bit nostalgic. The story dates back to somewhere in the late 80’s and the early 90’s I guess. Woow…Ok. its not about Me and Chitra (my wife). Chitra is NOT my first love :D (I always say that to her too)
Ok. Its about me and computers.
When did I first see this device?
…….I think when I was in grade 2!!. May be around 1986-1987.
Where did I see it ?
…… @ a bank!! Karnataka Bank to be precise. My aunt used to work there and it was close to our school. Me and my cousin used to go there if our school left early … and to keep us busy, our aunt would execute some code, which would basically print some numbers on the screen. We would sit and see the numbers scroll up on the screen, …. and that would keep us busy! (feel soo stupid now!). I think it was mostly some COBOL code running on a mainframe … I have no idea about the setup even today.
Anyway, being in grade 2, it did not make any sense to us at that point of time.
Well being a kid, I was kind of very very interested in electronics stuff. Hand-held video games, TV-video games, electronic watches, … anything!.. and computer was no different. It was a BIG electronic device.
The real introduction to computer happened when I was in grade 6 I think. We had an optional computer course/subject in school (Canara High School), and I was more than happy to take that course/subject.
I think this was somewhere in 1991-1992. Our school had 2 computers at that time. Both were IBM compatible PC. The specs were as follows :
- The brand name was Siva. (sterling computers)
- I think it had a 12″ CGA monitor
- A 8086 processor
- 640 kb RAM
- no harddisk
- Two 5.25″ floppy drives
- And a keyboard
- DOS 2.0 (I think. not very sure)
The worst part was, one of the two PCs was always in not-working state. There weren’t many people in mangalore those days with computer knowledge. So, repairs would take ages.
So, we had one computer at our disposal, and 32 people around it.
What did we learn on it ?
I remember learning Logo & Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code (BASIC). Wow………..I still remember the logo turtle :) cute! and the line numbering in Basic :)
Games……oh boy!!!. Most of the time was spent in games. The instructor had somehow managed to get some games on a floppy………… and that was kind of the most awaited event. :)
32*2 = 64 hands on a single keyboard :)…….Just Imagine!!!
What games did we play ?
I remember playing pac-man. Then there was Grand Prix. Someone had renamed the file as maruti.exe !! So, the game was Maruti for us for quite sometime and not Grand Prix!! (btw, Maruti was/is a popular car in India, specially in the early 90’s and even now.) But the most popular game was Digger. One of the most addictive games, and I play it even today :). Then there were other games like Alley Cat, Donkey Kong, HangMan, “Where in the world is carmen sandiago”, space invaders etc.
Those days, the games would fit on one single floppy. Not one game, but many games!. The only exception was the game “Prince of Persia“. This game was totally different from others. It would take one full floppy!!!
I still remember buying 2 floppies for Rs 120 each !!! and storing some games on it! around 20 of them!! I still have those floppies with me, even today. Verbatim :)
After a year or two, we got one more computer at our school, a PC-XT (eXtended Technology). This one had a harddisk too! 20 MB I think, which was HUGE those days. (Please note, its MB)
Then one fine day, my uncle bought a computer for his automobile shop to manage thier inventory. This one was a much powerful computer! It was a PC-AT (Advance technology). The config was :
- It basically had a Intel 286 processor
- It had a math co-processor 287
- 1 MB of RAM
- 40 MB Hard-disk
- 3.5″ and 5.25″ floppy drives
- CGA monitor
- A turbo switch !!! (to make it slower!!)
- Don’t remember the clock speed!. Think it was 16 MHz.
Oh yes, one more thing………. How would one switch on the PC’s those days ?? There was a small lever at the rear end of the cabinet. You had to use it like a electrical circuit breaker! :) fun :)
I still remember one major incident that happened at my uncles office….. Here it goes.. :
The new computer was in office for a month or so. They asked a guy to write some program for their day to day operations. The program was written, and the data entry started. …. and this went on for around a month. In the mean while, I had my floppy with me with all the games on it, and I was just waiting for a chance to try it out on my uncles PC.
I insert the floppy, and issue the following command at the DOS prompt : A:
I get some error message. I think it was something like “General Failure reading drive A:”
I press I (Ignore).
Then I started some game (alley cat I guess)……….
The game went on, played for sometime.
I happily switched off the PC.
It was kind of an achievement!!. And then, the next day, my uncle came home looking for me, asking what I had done. It seemed that there was some virus, and the entire harddisk was wiped off…. All data gone……. back to square one. No back up nothing.
So, in short, that was my introduction to virus. I don’t remember the name of that virus , but…….after that incident, I used to regularly use antivirus software!. Nashshot was one of the most popular antivirus software those days. then there was Central Point Antivirus, and with one version of DOS, there was Microsoft Antivirus too (which was basically Central Point thing).
This incident made me more curious about computers… and I began to explore more of it!
During those days, we did not have windows/GUI. It was all text based. I think when I was in Grade 9, they started a Computer College in our school campus, called the Canara Community College. And they had arranged for some basic classes for the students in the evening. I was one of the students who decided to join it. The first batch, that is.
Some serious stuff this time :
- Word Star 4 : The first word processor that I learnt
- DBase III : The first Database application/package I learnt
- Some basic programming too in DBase III.(by this time we had already done some basic programming in BASIC)
- Also learnt a spreadsheet application called Quattro Pro (It was similar to Lotus 123, excel), but DOS based. It was from Borland.
After I finished my Grade 10 (SSLC), during the vacation, I joined one more course. This time was Corel Ventura (version 4 I think), and it was on a Windows 3.1! I think this was in 1995., and it was fun. It was here where I learnt about the basics of formatting, GUI, designs etc !….
In the mean while, the computer at my uncles office was kind of obsolete, and this time around they bought a more powerful PC, a 486 DX PC with 16 MB of RAM running Windows 3.0. But this one had still a B&W monitor. But the
graphics was better. VGA :)
I think I have spent hundreds of hours in front of the PC those days. (and I continue to do so even today)!
At home, the demand for a PC at home was building up, and I think in 1998 or so, I got a PC at home. I think we spend somewhere around Rs. 45K on this machine.
It was a Pentium machine. (P1)
128 MB RAM!
MMX technology :)
2 GB Hard disk!!!!
14″ color monitor (vintron)
Sound card + CD ROM drive! Woooo…
Then then on, I have kept upgrading my PC from time to time. I think totally around 4 to 5 major upgrades.
From Pentium I, I moved to a 300 MHz Celeron Processor. And then I think a 500 MHz PII. and finally, now a AMD Athlon XP 2000 processor!
Talking about the Internet/mail revolution, My first E-mail account was a Hotmail account. It was way back in 1997. I still use that account!. Those days, hotmail was plain hotmail!. Ie, it wasn’t Microsoft hotmail. We had to go to Cyber cafe to browse. I think we paid around Rs. 90 for 1 hour on the net!.. lol. Today, things have changed drastically! Got a broad band connection, and I am always connected to the net!
I booked my domain name in 1999 I think. There was a company called namezero.com, and they started to offer domain names for free. (they would put a frame of ad on your site!). So, that was when I took this domain!!!. It has been with me ever since then even though namezero does not provide the same free service now!
Times have changed, the hardware is changed, the Internet has changed…….but one thing still remains……….- The love!