Machine love

The Original Cyberpunk shares his digital history in The Ranting Room:

In 1979, I started out with a Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 1 and a program called “Electric Pencil,” I believe. That was soon replaced by an Apple ][+ and a program called “Magic Window,” then “WordHandler,” which was one of those truly great, years ahead of its time, and completely forgotten products. I wrote and sold a lot of fiction using that old Apple ][+ and WordHandler, while simultaneously going through a lengthy succession of other Apples — I believe I have 10 of them up in the loft of the garage — before finally coming to the conclusion that there is nothing as worthless as last year’s Macintosh.

I started out with my Dad’s original IBM PC. He built a small technology empire on the basis of the memory board designs laid out in the appendices, so I have reason to be grateful to that first computer. Unfortunately, the games on that PC were few and far between – what was IBM thinking with giving you those particular three colors, Pink, Cyan and White – and they mostly blew anyhow.

A summer computer course was conducted on TI-99/4As, but there was an Apple II in the back of the room on which we used to play Akallabeth, Castle Wolfenstein and Swashbuckler. I was a pirate from Day One, and assembled a notebook full of floppies even before I had a computer to play them on. The local Radio Shack was great, as they’d let us bring our games in and play them on their display Apple II; they racked up at least one sale as my Dad finally bought me an Apple IIe.

I still love that computer. Some of my favorite memories from high school were down in the basement, playing Wizardry, Autoduel, Ultima III and other games. Getting a second disk drive for Christmas was huge, as it significantly furthered our pirate activities. Elephant Memory Systems! I think Big Chilly still has that yellow poster somewhere, although Chilliette won’t let him put it up in his office.

My parents gave me an original Macintosh when I went off to college. I sold that to Big Chilly’s little brother in favor of a CompuAdd 386/25 once VGA came out, the better to play Wing Commander. After Big Chilly and I quit our jobs to start our computer game company, my Dad bought us a brand new Pentium 90 to inaugurate the auspicious new venture and that was the last computer I bought for years, as our relationship with Intel kept us well-supplied with computers after that.

I scored two 500 MHz Dell laptops from The Perfect Aryan Male, who gave me one for a birthday present and sold me the other one for $200 when his megagargantuan employer went under and left him in charge of shutting down offices around the world and selling off the inventory. But a few years later, I finally broke down and bought a 3.4 GHz laptop with a 256 MB Radeon 9700 when I needed faster 3D performance for a certain technology project on which I’m still working.

Last week’s spill is still rendering my Linux partition inoperable, along with my > key in XP, but I’ve got a new keyboard on order and I’m hoping that will repair things. If not, well, I can always add to the list. And, OC, I have to say that knocking out fiction on the Apple II+ in 2005 isn’t lame at all, it’s MEGA-RETRO!

Hit it baby, one more time.