My First Computer (386 PC running MSDOS 6.0)

[Update: I have posted an article about all the computers I've owned].

Pictured below (in the final year of its existence) is the first computer I ever called my own. Built out of scrap parts my Dad brought home from his office, I managed to build the computer as a 33 Mhz 386, with 2 MB of RAM and a 20 MB hard drive, eventually upgrading it (in stages) to a 66 Mhz 486 with 8 MB of RAM and a 512 MB hard drive!

My First PC - 386 DOS Computer
mmm... SCSI in a PC!

How, you may ask, could a diehard Mac/Apple fanboy start on a 386? Well, it was all about budget, you see. Free is good, especially when you're a little kid with absolutely zero dollars in the bank.

This computer died shortly after this photo was taken, when I was unplugging a connector from the motherboard while the computer was still powered up. Something sparked, I got the largest jolt of my life, and the computer started smoking. Oh well, such is life.

The one thing I really miss about those early days of computing (and using PCs in general ;-) was the physicality and brutality of computing. I would spend about 1/8 of the time using the computer with the lid off, working in the guts. I would constantly upgrade parts inside to make it a lean, mean, computing machine. Heck, I could still draw diagrams of the three different motherboards that were housed inside the case pictured above, and make an accurate diagram of all the components I had installed at one time or another, and how they were connected together.

With the complexity of computers these days, and the miniaturization and virtualization of everything, tinkering is much more limited. But that's just nostalgia talking—I'm kind of glad I haven't shocked myself touching my iMac, iPad or iPhone yet.


Note: This was not the first computer I *used.* That's a post for another day... :-D

The first I owned was a Commodore 64. The first I used was an Altair 8800 with octal input switches.

Then went with an Amiga 500 (of fond memory) for a couple of years.

The first PC I owned was a Packard Bell 386-16 running I believe DOS 5 and later Windows 3.0 and 3.1. First PC I used was IBM XT with dual floppy drives. Lost track of how many PC's I owned after that in which I did a lot of tinkering, but luckily never shocked. Never received a serious shock despite working in Avionics for a number of years where I tested and repaired component parts.

My first Mac was a Aluminum 20" iMac 2007, never used any Apple computer prior to that. Though my Mac family has grown considerably since then.

Weird ain't it. Family all had PCs and I didn't know anybody with a Mac. The iPod first roped me into Apple's orbit and tech podcasts where it seemed everybody used Macs got me interested. Though it was really the Intel Mac with the ability to run Windows that got me to buy an iMac to check it out. At the time I was running both the iMac and a Desktop PC on my desk using synergy to share keyboard and mouse and switching between the two on one monitor. When a couple of months later my PC died (jealousy I suspect) I went total Mac with running Windows as a VM to do work and nothing else.

Someday I'll get a Mac with enough GB of RAM to run a VM full-time, and have Windows 7 + XP + Ubuntu + Mac OS running at once. 16 GB might be close to enough to do that.

My first computer was a Coleco Adam. It never worked. It used a tape drive to load the OS and I found out much later that the Adam had a power supply issue. Some of them would discharge and erase the tape that happened to be in the drive. It must have done this to our OS tape. We were only ever able to play games and use the word processor. A few years later I picked up a used Commodore 64 which was the first computer I had that I was actually able to use.

Re: the tape drive—yikes! I do remember using a cassette drive on an Apple IIe at my grade school, but it never had major problems with the cassettes being erased!

I'm thinking of maybe posting an article on my history with computers—starting with early experiences at home and school, moving on to my two-computers-a-year stage, and completing with my Mac-every-other-year status.