Monday, July 18, 2011

Memories Of An Old Friend.

1988 - I was an awkward and thin little 7 year old, who was in the midst of the first steps that would come to mark various important roads I would grow to walk. Already a new house was becoming a home to me, which included a much different life then what I was used to. Couple that with a new school and a single cousin as my only fellow classmate I was familiar with, life for me was, well, incredibly rough. And then, my customary yearly pilgrimage to Louisville and the Child Evaluation Center, to be tested and analyzed for any marked improvement or further understanding. 

This time, however, Dr. Weisskopf would introduce me to a delightful notion. Setting in his office he regaled me with the concept of his own personal computer, that not only was an amazing device on it's own... but could also use phone lines to talk to other computers. Instantly my young mind became fascinated, and much to my wonderment the good doc offered to have pc magazines and catalog sent to me in the mail to feed my curiosity. It was also then that one of the only things ever promised to me to aid in my education was actually followed through on and as if by magic I became a blessed owner of a brand new IBM PS/2 Model 25.
The thing was amazing. It had a 8Mhz 8086 CPU with 640Kb of memory, and oh my word, it came running DOS 4.0. For years I spent a set amount of time after school playing on it to help master little things like weekly spelling words, basic math, and so much more. Before long I was digging through encyclopedias to learn anything I could and tinkering on my computer.

For me my model 25 was more than just a learning aid, it became a treasured tool and friend that helped me become so much more than I was. It allowed me to reach in and harness a passion and drive I didn't know was there to help me figure out a way to learn and grow, especially when I was struggling so much to keep up with other students in 'regular classes.'

My fascination with my old computer never wavered though, even as new machines came out. And once I decided to go back to college for computers I almost instantly turned my new knowledge back upon my old companion.

The old horse had been setting in storage for years, and only 5 years ago I dug it out and plugged it in and what do you think happened? Shock and awe. It booted, the only wear age and weather had wrought was little more than some damage to the floppy drive's magnetic heads. But, being a talented scrounger I managed to come up with an almost 20 year old replacement drive while working for my college. Sadly my dear old friend has once more been placed in storage, a shed actually, and I am sure the last 5 years have more than likely been less than kind. Something inside makes me still believe my trusted Model 25 would still hum if I gave it the chance, and I have always said as the kids get older and I can get some space to I was going to restore the old PC out of nostalgia and enjoyment. They don't make them like that anymore. But, unfortunately these days I just don't have the room to set it back up, although, secretly I must confess a guilty desire to try and find some way to do so without upsetting my wife(and protecting it from my midgets).

Of all the computers I have ever had the pleasure to own, I think my Model 25 has lasted the longest, ran the truest, and just been the best one of them all. I never had to reformat it, it never crashed on me, and there was just something about it that endeared itself to me. Enough so that it sparked a deep and lasting love of electronics and computers. To this day the mere thought of an 8086 or an old circuit board riddled with chips and such just fascinates me and ignites a curiosity and wonder I can't put to words. It was, and still is, simply mesmerizing. 

Ever think about your first computer or tech that helped shape you/held a special place for you? Sometimes it's such simple things that set us on the way to becoming what we grow to be.