Shoot your old computers

I’m a big computer nut. I’ve had one (or more) since around 1982 when I first got a Commodore 64. I was never able to afford the newer 128 (really, what I mean is that I could never talk Mom and Dad into getting one for me).

I had the C64 when I was a senior in high school and actually did some of my first writing on that machine. Granted, I probably logged more hours playing games on the machine than writing, but the games of the time were very limited.

There was a War Between the States game (that would be Civil War to those above the Mason-Dixon line) that kept me occupied for hours. If you’ve ever seen an old battle map from the time, you’d see that the units are represented with line rectangles and then arrows show the direction of movement. That’s what this game did. Ah, if we could but re-fight that war.

But I digress.

When I got to college, the computer lab was filled with the Tandy machines and I was immediately enamored. I’d seen them at Radio Shack and knew what they could do. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford one and so my C64 followed me everywhere, even through graduation. I’m not complaining about the C64, it was a very loyal computer—I wrote many term papers, comic books and short stories on it.

But by the time graduation came around, personal computers were beginning to really work into mainstream America. Since my chosen profession was writing, I did some research and found that most respectable publishers were using Apples.

So I bought a used MacIntosh—a Mac Classic—from a publisher to whom I had sold several stories. It was to their benefit also—they wanted me to start sending in my stories on disk, rather than page after page of dot-matrix printed paper. It worked out incredibly well for me—it was a lot cheaper to send a floppy disk than to send a stack of paper.

After a few years of writing on that Mac, I upgraded to an LCII, still a Mac, but a bigger hard drive and a faster computer. It was a good thing, because after about a year, the old Mac wasn’t worth anything but a doorstop.

It was around this time, too, that I noticed a growing competition between PCs and Macs. This was PCs before Windoze. Still, nearly everyone in the entertainment industry—in which I was working—used Macs. But Chris Ulm, the editor in chief at Malibu Entertainment, told me that the PCs had some cool games, games you couldn’t get on a Mac.

So I went and bought a PC for the sole purpose of playing games.

I discovered he was right.

Macs still seemed to be the more powerful machines when it came to graphics (film industry uses Macs, also), but the game makers didn’t make Mac versions. It was at this point we became a two computer household.

A few years later, my Mac was once again outdated and I upgraded. A couple of years after that, my PC was outdated (ie., the new games didn’t work on it) and so I upgraded. Just after that, I discovered Brittany was actually pretty adept at using at computer, so I bought a used one for her. Not long after that, BJ decided she needed one at home, so we got her a PC (her office was exclusively PC and she wanted to be compatible with her office). Then Brett came along and we decided he wasn’t too young to get him started on one.

So, in the span of just barely twenty years, I’ve gone through at least six computers. That’s an average of a little over three years per computer.

I once had a computer geek friend of mine tell me that hard drives have a 100% failure rate. It took me a while to digest that before realizing he was right.

So, I’ve come to the conclusion that computer years must be like dog years…sometimes we even have to shoot them when they get old.

1 Comment

Filed under Columns, writing

One response to “Shoot your old computers

  1. Kenneth Renshaw

    Hi, Roland. I still have my Commodore 64 and Plus 4 computers, and I think they still work. I was reading that, 2 years later, in 1984, a ONE MEG computer cost a thousand dollars. How things change!-at that rate I carry around a half a million dollars worth of PDA everywhere I go! Be nice if gas, food, etc. went down in price like memory! I understand that there is more computer under the hood of a new car than was onboard the Apollo 11 going to the moon. Tell BJ and the kids HI.

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