Yesterday on TWiG I said something in passing that needs clarification: I mentioned the rumored Nexus 4G’s phone specs are better than the first computer that I ever owned, in 1997 or 8. That made some people feel old. But that 1997 PC wasn’t the first computer I ever used.
My father bought my family’s first and only computer in 1985, an IBM PCjr. I was 9 years old, and it was located in a common area of the house for me and all my siblings to use. My mother grumbled. “Why do we need an expensive, giant typewriter?” I wrote my first BASIC code on that computer, and gamed on it through elementary school. (King’s Quest, anyone?)
Computers weren’t a part of my early teenage life at all. Unsurprisingly, computer classes were not popular in an all-girls Catholic high school in the early 90s, though I did take “keyboarding” class, which is where I learned to touch-type. (Most-used skill EVER.)
In college I was broke and didn’t have a car so I got a job making minimum wage at the campus computer lab help desk, and that’s where my love of computing rekindled. By senior year I’d declared a CS minor (English major) and was managing the student help desk staff of 40 or so. The manager job came with an office that had a door and an IBM mainframe terminal and a PC running OS/2 in it. You know what they say about a room of one’s own. I spent a LOT of time in that room, door closed, sometimes all night, programming homework assignments and hobby projects in Pascal, making web pages, screwing around with various bits of software, and escaping my roommate. Still, I didn’t own a personal computer; instead I toted a pack of floppy disks around in my backpack.
Finally, in 1997, when I got accepted into graduate school for a Computer Information Science degree, my Mom gave me my first Gateway PC as a graduation gift. (“I guess I was wrong about computers after all.”) If I remember correctly, it had
a 1.2 GHz probably way under a 1GHz processor, and maybe 2GB of hard drive space—not nearly as powerful as the Nexus 4G.