About me: PC Hardware history

I will try and keep this relevant to the site…If you are going to listen to anything I have to say on these pages, then you need to know a bit about me. Specifically my techy knowledge. Too many sites out there tout VERY bad information and advice, but this is normally because they haven’t got a clue what they are talking about…and any idiot can register a website and give out advice!

IBM XT

I got my first computer at the age of 10. Actually, my parents gave the computer to my brother, my sister and myself. However, I was the only one interested in it. This was 1990 and I was living in South Africa. It was an IBM XT, with a 4.77mhz 8086 processor. It had 2 floppy drives (360kb, 5¼ inch), no harddrive, and 512kb RAM. It came with a monochrome monitor. I pulled it apart within a day just to see how it worked…my dad then pulled out the belt to see how that worked…

386 SX 33

My next pc was a 386 SX 33. The SX stood for SUCKS (not really, but this was the crappiest of the 386’s…oh how I longed for a 386 DX40!). The computer came with a 40mb MFM harddrive, 4mb RAM, a 1.2mb Floppy drive and a 1.44mb stiffy drive (because one disk was floppy,a nd the other stiff…God knows why people call 3.5″ disks floppies). It had an EGA monitor. This meant it had 16 colors. I also had a mouse, and best of all a Midi card (so I could listen to sounds that are worse than ringtones). I used DOS 6.22 on this PC. I remember once installing Windows 3.1 which I borrowed from a friend (it was on about 19 stiffy disks). The installation took 4 hours! I remember being so excited with this fancy new operating system. But when it finally installed, it was so deathly slow I ended up having to reformat my PC, and put trusty DOS back on. I did have my first blue screen of death (BSOD) though! I left Windows alone for the next couple of years.

Pentium 200 MMX

This was the first PC I bought myself, and I loved it. It had the 200mhz MMX Intel processor, 32 MB Ram, 250MB harddrive, CD-ROM (this was a luxury back then!), and a VGA monitor. Unfortunately I couldn’t afford a 3d card (like a Riva TNT, or 3DFX). I was working for a computer shop at this time (around 1997), building and supporting all the computers.  I had a couple of mates who were in the trade too. Their boss was really cool, and allowed them to use the shop after hours and weekend for mini LAN tournaments. These were good times! There were 4-5 of us, all connected up using a small hub. We were always stocked up with pizza, coffee, and fizzy drinks (no redbull yet…). The games we would play were Need For Speed 1 and 2, Warcraft, Starcraft, Doom and most importantly Quake 2.

HP P2 Laptop & Pentium 4 1.6 PC

I moved to the UK towards the end of 2000, to pursue bigger and brighter things in the IT world. With my first pay check, I bought a brand new Laptop (I was living in a house share at the time, so a PC was out of the question)! I was over the moon with my new toy. The day it arrived, I remember opening it carefully, and marvelling in the splendour of my first laptop. I made myself a cup of coffee and sat down with my laptop to boot it up for the first time. Within 10 seconds of booting into Windows, I bumped my cup of coffee all over the laptop! I almost had a heart attack! I quickly pulled out the battery (good tip for getting anything electronic wet, like cellphones etc….pull out the battery straight away!!). I pulled off all the keys on the keyboard as quickly as I could (don’t ever do this!!!), dried it all up, and set about trying to get the keys back in the laptop…4 hours later (why the hell does the Enter key have to be so damn complicated!!) I had the pc booted up again, and a huge sigh of relief from me! The laptop was cool, but even better was having the internet! You see, in South Africa at the time internet was something you dialed up to, got your emails, then logged off. Or you hijacked (borrowed) someones account and spent LOADS of money on phone bills while using IRC till 4am.  I wanted more!! And I got it, unlimited dialup!! Oooh…ahhh!! I was in heaven! I am an info junkie, I love learning about new things, and you have unlimited learning potential on the internet! Plus I could use IRC till…well, it never got switched off!

Once I moved into a proper flat, I sold the laptop, and bought a Pentium 4 1.6 from Fujitsu computers. (19″ monitor –I had never had bigger than a 14″ monitor before!–512mb RAM, 40GB hard drive) It was expensive…but wow it was impressive. I remember getting Star Wars: The Phantom Menace with the PC. The graphics were amazing. I finally had a 3d card (If I remember correctly if was a Geforce 3 Ti500). I remember playing Quake 3 on this pc and being blown away by the graphics.

First tast of AMD : Duron 800

I went on to buy an AMD Duron as a second PC. It wasn’t high spec, but I was using it as a terminal pretty much so my girlfriend could use a PC while I was on the other one. I never like AMD before this, and always stuck with Intel. This is mainly due to my years repairing and building PC’s…AMD had a really bad track record. When an AMD over heated, it would pretty much melt, and you could say bye bye to your chip, and most of the time your motherboard too! Intel had a failsafe, so if it started getting too hot, it would just stall…not good if you are in the middle of something, but at least you aren’t replacing hardware! Plus, AMD would never run as quick as Intel.

Even though the Duron was a budget chip, I was still very impressed with it. It ran flawlessly, never crashing. It was pretty nippy too.

Back to Intel : Pentium 4 2.4b

I returned to intel for my next PC (to replace the 1.6ghz P4). At the end of it’s life the config was : 2gb RAM, 500GB Hard drive, 21″ CRT (I still think CRT is the way to go for superior refresh rate), Windows 2000, Geforce 6800 and the Sound Blaster Live 24bit.  This was my primary machine for about 2 years.  Not much more to say on this one.

And back to AMD : AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200

I decided to go back to AMD, not because I prefer it to Intel now, but because it showed the best value for money. This machine is my interim machine. The one that will hold me over until I get my next machine…which will be my dream machine. No hold barred on that one. I am getting ahead of myself though. I upgraded to this CPU because I wanted to move on to Vista (I have been using Windows 2000 since 2001. I preferred it to XP). I still work in the IT world, so I have to keep myself up to date on new technologies. I have pretty much the same hardware in my pc now that I used to have in my P4 2.4, except of course for an AMD CPU and compatible motherboard. I will do a seperate article for my dream machine…look out for that in the coming months!

Conclusion

Well, I kinda doubt reading through all this would have changed your mind either way about taking my advice. It was good to go down memory lane though!

 

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