The Misadventures of Quinxy truths, lies, and everything in between!

1Dec/153

So many computers, so many years… I miss the magic.

Recently I was waiting for files to be migrated to a new hard drive and couldn't escape a sense of ennui.  Buying a new computer or upgrading an old one just doesn't induce the same excitement it once did, what was once fun now feels largely tedious.  Curious about the nature of the problem, the reason for the shift in my perception, I began to jot down a list of the computers I've owned.  And within a few minutes I had compiled a list of just over 30 computers...  These were my personal, daily-use computers; I didn't include in that count any servers,  computers I bought for others, etc.  And this number also didn't include personal devices, which can require equal amounts of fuss and bother (between smartphones, tablets, and Android sticks I'm sure there have been at least 15).

No wonder I sometimes feel bored with it all, tired of migrating, fixing, backing up, restoring, worrying about...

Still, it was fun to remember some of the good old days, and some of the more exotic computers.  From my earliest days on my Vic-20 and tape drives, up through the Commodore 64, 64c, and 128 and 5 1/4" floppy disks, the Tandy PC-6 (a pocket computer), then into the Amiga 2000 and it's 3.5" drive and ultimately 20 MB hard drive, then through the Amiga's Bridgeboard into the world of IBM clones, to an early Sager laptop, a custom machine I built to be rackmounted in an SKB music case, the brilliantly small Toshiba Libretto, a fantastic custom lunchbox computer, the Sharp Zaurus, the OQO Model 02, and on...  I wonder what it would take for a new computer to blow me away as so many of the aforementioned did.  I wonder if it's even possible, computers don't seem to make leaps and bounds as they once did, they are now just a pleasantly dull churn of improvements.

^ Q

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  1. I don’t know Quincy I have a new wireless HP Officejet Pro Printer and it does it all even prints from my smartphone. The other night it printed something for me and I got such a feeling of gratification I really had a moment with it). Shhhh! Don’t tell anybody lol. Maybe you should get into the peripherals. A lot of ecstasy in there. They say God is in everything lol) I remember you had a Toshiba and persuaded me to get one too. Best machine I’ve ever had tons of viruses later it still runs) Now I am running a Lenovo and it seems solid as a rock. Knock on wood) A lot of ecstasy in there. They say God is in everything lol)
    Hope your well. Always good to hear your thoughts.
    Kristi

  2. I agree, I remember the days of owning an Amiga / Commodore and the excitement I felt while discovering all the things it was capable of, today it is not the same. Maybe it is a lack of the same kinds of marketing and resources? I Remember the days when you ran down to the store and bought a magazine with code in it and you couldn’t wait to try it out 🙂 . I miss those days!

    P.S. I really enjoy your site.

  3. I do remember getting those magazines and retyping pages and pages of code. Hadn’t thought of that in years. 🙂 I think I only did it three or four times (with big programs) because it was just so incredibly tedious and ultimately frustrating because even if I didn’t make a mistake they often did, and I didn’t know BASIC well enough to fix the problems (which were often more than just typos). There were some things like BASIC I struggled to learn and just couldn’t (I was 9 or 10 when I had the Vic-20). I’m not sure if I couldn’t program properly at that age because I lacked the foundational knowledge or whether it was biophysical, could a brain be not “ready” for certain kinds of thinking? I assume it was probably foundational. The most I could do was simple stuff like 10 PRINT “YOU ARE STUPID!”; 20 GOTO 10; But I remember trying and trying to read a programming manual at the time trying to understand how to make games and I could not make myself understand PEEKS and POKES.

    As for why it felt different then, you’re probably right, I remember discovery and awe being important to the sensation. It truly did feel like they could do anything, if only we could figure out how to make them do it. Somehow now, despite our computers being infinitely more powerful and more connected, it feels (to me) like realism set in, that yes, they can do anything (e.g., real AI that can outsmart us and take over the world), but that *I* am not personally going to ever be able to make them do it, some other large company with vast resources (like Google) will; instead I will devote months and years of my life developing good, clever, but not fundamentally revolutionary, software critical to some company’s business (but not to the world at large). They always say that if you love something don’t do it as a profession, and that makes a certain sense. I still maintain a love of what I do, but I can’t deny that doing it for a living does rob it of some of its luster.

    If you haven’t read it and are into that sort of thing, a friend gave me the book Ready Player One and it was a pretty fun nostalgic ride through the 1980s, reminding me of what it felt like coming up during those years.


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