My first Desktop Computer

With the Apple Macintosh turning 25 in the last week, I’ve been pondering my personal computing history over the last few days. This is something I plan on writing up one day (hopefully with the help of Dad), but as a taste, here’s some brief comments…

I was lucky during my high school years in the late 80’s and very early 90’s in that both my school and our home had Apple computers. Following the likes of the Macintosh, IIe and IIGS, I had a crash course in using UNIX based systems when I headed off to Canterbury University in 1993. During my MSc years (1996-97) I purchased my first computer from a friend – a Toshiba laptop running Windows 95 – which I still own today and which still runs!

And so to my first desktop. As I approached the end of my MSc Thesis in ’97, I purchased a customised rig from Lowes Technology Services in Christchurch. As a quick aside, I thankfully received delivery of my system shortly before Lowes went bust along with around 8 or 9 other Chch retailers at the end of ’97 and early ’98.

The customisation options I settled on are detailed in this quotation – dated 5 September 1997,

Click for a large image and note the hefty prices in there! (also available as a PDF via my SkyDrive)

That $2478 price tag (adding in an extra parallel port) doesn’t include a monitor – I paid $1000+ separately for a Viewsonic 17GA, which only made it to the scrap heap (in still working condition) last year!

The core system specs as noted in the quote were,

– Intel Pentium 200 MMX
– Pentium PCI mainboard with Intel Triton TX chipset
– 32MB 10ns DRAM
– 4MB S3 ViRGE DX 3D PCI video card
– 3200MB (3.2GB) Quantum Fireball ST UltraDMA/33 IDE HDD
– 24X Samsung CD-ROM drive
– Creative Labs Sound Blaster16 sound card, with FM radio tuner!

That PC got me through my thesis write-up and then moved with me to Wellington in early 1998. It served me very well through to 2001 when I replaced it with a PIII-866 – my second desktop and first DIY assembled PC, but I’ll save that story for another day.

Hello Windows 7

Windows 7 is the next Microsoft Operating System (scheduled for release later this year) and is now available for testing as a public beta. I grabbed it yesterday and now have it running in a virtual machine on my Vista PC.

So far, I like what I see. The most noticeable change from Vista right away is the behaviour of the taskbar and quick launch toolbar which have been combined into one. In default mode, the buttons next to the Start Menu can now represent both shortcuts and running programs, which is kind of what macs do and not something I’m fond of. I think this will confuse a lot of people, but it can be changed easily if you don’t like it.

So, what does it look like? Pretty much like Vista really, with some changes to the UI in places (for the better). Here’s some little screenshots as a teaser – although not quite as fancy as they could be as the glassy aero user interface isn’t available inside a VM.

Default desktop:

Click through for the rest of the set…

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