Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thursday 13: Microchip Memory Lane

I'm not sure what got me pondering the various computers and electronic games devices we have had over the years, but once I started thinking about them it turned into a list. So, does anyone remember any of these?

1. Pong ... yes, two little paddles and a ball, bouncing around the TV screen. The height of electronic excitement in its day.

2. Sinclair ZX Spectrum ... (this was Tevye's, but I'm shamelessly including it in my list to make up the numbers!). One of the very first home computers, that required programming to make it do anything. Tevye and programming do not go together, so the Spectrum was not a success. He doesn't remember ever buying any software for it, so the poor thing sat unloved and unused.

3. Amstrad 1512 ... my first ever computer, bought when I started a degree course in 1989. The 512 figure was to indicate the whopping 512k of RAM. These machines revolutionised the home computer market in the UK, because they were genuinely usable. I wrote all my essays for three years on my Amstrad, using a cheap word processing program.

4. 286 Computer ... I think 286 was the processor speed? (386 and 486 machines were bigger and better). If I remember rightly this one was not a Windows machine, but it did run Word Perfect. Again, it did the job - I wrote my doctoral thesis on it - and I think it was the first computer I used online, paying £10 a month to an ISP for 10 hours of internet time.

5. Olivetti Quaderno ... I loved this machine. So much so, that I still have it. Although the keyboard is shot, I can't bring myself to throw it away. The Quaderno was a tiny computer, way ahead of its time - so much so that it never really found a niche in the market and I bought mine half-price around the time I started as a doctoral student. It had 20Mb of storage (I think), ran Word Perfect, had a full keyboard, synced with my desktop computer, and had four hours battery life. With a spare battery pack, I could work all day in a library or archive taking notes. It was small enough and light enough to fit in a handbag - not much bigger than my iPad. This at a time when laptops were large, clunky, and expensive.

6. A.N.Other Computer ... about which I can remember nothing, except that it was my first Windows machine, running Windows 95.

7. Sega Gamegear ... given to Angel by my brother, who acquired it from a friend who bought it in the States. Probably out of date by the time we got it, as no new games were available in the UK. Still, it kept Angel happy with the handful of games that came with it.

8. Handspring Visor PDA ... similar to a Palm, and something I used a lot for a while to keep track of my life. Ideal for a list lover! Angel like mine so much she bought herself a used one on eBay.

9. Handspring Treo  ... a PDA upgrade, mine was the only Treo model that was not also a phone. I chose it because it had a small but usable QWERTY keyboard. I still have a strong preference for little QWERTY keyboards over standard phone keypads.

10. Compaq Presario ... this desktop computer ran Windows Millenium and I was happy with it for quite some time, until it got too slooooowwwwww.

11. Playstation2 ... we are not big gamers here, but we enjoyed our Playstation and it still gets plugged in occasionally if Angel fancies playing one of her old games.

12. Creative Zen MP3 player ... did what it said on the tin. Played MP3s.

13. Assorted laptops ... when the old Presario reached the point of driving us crackers, we decided to switch from a desktop to a laptop. We learned the hard way that cheap laptops do not cope well with heavy use from four people. Within 18 months we had returned three laptops that developed faults while still under warranty - one Compaq, one Toshiba and one HP. After that we gave up and switched to Macs.

These days we have an iMac, a MacBook (both 2006 models, but swinging along nicely since their memory boosts and software upgrades, apart from a thin blue line down the iMac screen and some insulating tape holding the laptop charger lead together), an iPad, assorted iPods - I have a first generation iTouch, Angel has a Nano, and Star a shuffle - and a Wii.

1 comment:

Faith said...

Oh my gosh, this is so timely. My husband and 11 yo having been going down memory lane on about hand held game devices, if you can believe it. But you wouldn't there'd be so much history there but there is! It's amazing.

I've got to show this to them. They would totally relate!