It seems like everyone is using computers nowadays. Everywhere you turn, there they are. It's weird thinking back to the days when computers were a novelty and only a few people actually owned one...
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I can remember being in junior high school and getting to use my first computer. They had one Apple II computer up in the library for people to learn with. There was a game they had for it, Oregon Trail or something, that we could play and learn how to use the computer. When I got to high school, we had a small computer room with some Apple II computers and Commodore 64s (and later Commodore 128s). I convinced my mother to get me a computer and, at the advice of my computer teacher, she got me a Commodore 64 as well. It was a good computer at the time and I plugged it into a portable color TV we had around. It seems weird thinking back to a computer with no hard drive and only 64k of memory. This computer actually lasted me through college with some software called Geos that created a Windows 3.1-like environment. (Not that I had any exposure to Win 3.1 yet anyway.) In college, I got to learn more computers, working on the school's VMS/VAX mainframe. I remember trading ID files, text files that told about you, since there were no web pages to check out back then. (It's weird thinking of the internet back when it was just inter-college communication. I feel old!) Around 1991 or 1992, some friends and I checked out IRC for the first time, getting bored with the old relay@cornellc chat. My interests in computers kept growing.
Once I started working after college, I was able to save up enough money to buy a 486DX33 computer. It had 4meg of RAM, a 420meg hard drive, a 14.4 modem and Windows 3.1 and I thought it was great. Hell, it was one step down from the top of the line at the time! Well, as time has gone on and my computer now is a lot more powerful, thought being a couple years old will probably be looking at an upgrade soon. I'm not sure what I would make of this computer if I could have seen it at any of those previous steps. Though, as my computers have grown, so have I in my interest in them and knowledge of them. Who knows where they will take me in the future.
While I was living in Amherst with a couple of my friends, one of them introduced me to Linux. I had had some access to UNIX shells before but not a lot of heavy, steady exposure. My friend was learning how to install Slackware Linux and I got to see how a lot of it would go (as well as hear him swear a lot. ;) ). He gave me a copy of Slackware that he downloaded so that I could try it, but it wasn't until number of months later when I got a new computer that I decided to try. My friend had gotten me a job working at a local ISP with him and they allowed us to run our own servers to learn from. I took my old computer into work and (much to my friend's chagrin) installed Red Hat 5.2 on it. I figured that I had access to his Slackware machine so I would try something different on mine. I was a good learning experience having that there until my boss told me I had to take it home. (Even though the assistant system administrator said it was okay.) The computer was later upgraded to Red Hat 6.2 and added to my internal network for a while. I need to upgrade it again and get it hooked back in so I can play with a lot more stuff. The experience I got with the server, though, was enough to get my a job as a network engineer at a local ISP until it got bought out. Who knows where I will go from here.
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