Strolling down Memory Lane - in IT

Discussion in 'Coffee Lounge' started by Les, 26th Aug, 2005.

  1. Les

    Les Member

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    G'day all,

    An earlier thread started to take me down a rather marvellous road. I've seen so much come and go in IT - but even remembering some of it can be a task.....

    So, for those with a memory or two to share (of IT and its advances, vagaries, war stories, etc.....) - let's HEAR 'em. By having our own thread, those with absolutely no interest in IT can choose to avoid it.


    For me, one of the gems I heard in MY early days was this:- (in ~1970)

    "Computers haven't reached the Model T stage yet. With the invention of the automobile, cars started as expensive items, gradually reducing in price - until the Model T - then the price started rising again." - Unknown

    I'd love to remember the name for attribution - but it's a while back, so, sorry !! But the staggering thing to me, is that now, 35 years later, we are STILL not at the Model T stage !!!


    I remember being one of the first technicians to be repairing the first electronic calculators - they were as big as a typewriter, and had neon tubes showing the numbers (called nixie tubes) - the biggest I recall had 14 nixie tubes (for REALLY big calculations :D ). Most of today's calculators peak at 8.


    OK all you IT "nerds" - let's hear some of your war stories, wins, losses, funny stories, and muses re the IT industry.....

    Regards,
     
  2. geoffw

    geoffw Untitled

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    I started to learn computing at high school in 1970. It wasn't a class- it was an extra curricular activity.

    Programs were written by punching holes out of perforated cards with a bent paper clip. We wrote the program, with any associated date, and sent the programs down to Melbourne (from Shepparton) to be compiled- a one week turnaround.

    The teacher was generally only a page or two ahead of us. We worked out together how a few of these things worked.

    A few years later, he was in my lecture at uni. He was a Labor candidate in an extremely strong Country Party area, and then an overseas worker for Care Australia.

    I think he made some better career choices than me :D

    Computing became my career after uni for another 25+ years (until Subway).

    I've always enjoyed the challenges, the problem solving type of activity, and the work.

    But I'm also glad I've moved away.
     
  3. Macca

    Macca Member

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    Hi all,

    This is a "what if" story.

    When I was 19, in 1969, after doing various exams I was offered a job as a trainee computer programmer with a subs of BHP.

    I was interested in the job BUT it was only at the final interview they told me that I had to move to Sydney to do the uni part.

    Also part of the deal, was that I had to work for BHP for 7 years after graduation.

    As I had recently become engaged, I didn't like moving away from my new found amorous adventures and I hated Sydney, so I said no :(

    Instead I got a job selling furniture :D :D

    I sometimes wonder how life altering that decision was.................
     
  4. grubar30

    grubar30 Member

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    Holy lord.....and I thought I was special working with 386's.....
     
  5. Les

    Les Member

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    G'day Macca,

    Your signature
    reminded me of a quote that applied to me for many years - and that quote was
    As a computer technician for many years, I admired the "Murphy-ism" of that quote. In a way, it's aligned with Rolf's admission - "often wrong, never in doubt" :D

    But, for me, it's been a path that I've enjoyed for nearly 4 decades. And, hell, if you are not enjoying what you're doing, why are you doing it??

    I've gotta go with Geoff with this too:-
    relating to the IT industry. It's been a hoot, a challenge, a huge learning curve, and a working life for this little black duck...

    Regards,
     
  6. michaelg

    michaelg Member

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    Hi,

    I guess for me, my time in IT could be summed up as being in the right place at the right time.

    Left high school in '88 got a job in State Rail as a general assistance filling fridges in milk bars (ie goal was to spend a year working to decide what to do).

    In November the Government decided to privatise, I was asked if I wanted redundancy or another job. I ask for "something in computers".

    So I applied and got a job as a trainee computer operator in State Rail.

    Learning on the job from printers, to tape jockey to mainframe operator I learnt Unisys mainframes.

    The State Rail started talking about outsourcing so I when looking elsewhere.

    In '95 Cathay Pacific was hiring...Unisys Operators. I applied and got the job. And enjoyed the benefits of working for an airline.

    Then in '98 Cathay Pacific outsourced to IBM and went across along with the rest of the hardware. So I got into IBM via a back door.

    Since '95 I've been working in the same building since IBM took over the building from Cathay.

    That reminds of the old email that went around, "you know you worked in the '90s when you work at the same desk for a different company" that was oh so true!

    MichaelG
     
  7. alwayscurious

    alwayscurious Member

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    My first computer..

    Hi, I am not as experienced as some here:

    My first computer experience was with "Oscar" an XT machine - It had a dos prompt with a menu. I was about 14 and I figured out how to bring up a game that was on the machine, and start playing it.

    Unfortunatley I couldn't figure out how to exit the game, and was at my dad's work and he got into trouble - and the flow on effect meant that I did too!

    Dad ended up buying this computer and using it for AGES with Word Perfect 5.1. I did much of my school assignments on it.


    My first personal computer was bought in 1995. I travelled to Brisbane from Maroochydore on the bus as a high school student, with $1000 (in cash) shoved into my sock.

    I met a guy my dad knew through his work and bought a 486 with 80Meg harddrive and 4Meg Ram second hand.

    It even had a 2600 Modem - which was advanced at that stage!

    Some friends came around and helped me delete all the kiddy games and we learned how to use the thing.

    An interesting thing was that the guy I bought the PC off lived in a converted double decker bus with his wife and 5 kids and had a garden shed full of PC's. His bus was networked and had at least 6 PC's.

    Some interesting characters in the IT world.

    Anyway that's what got me going in PC's. I still am in the IT world, having worked as a consultant for PwC, then IBM then local consulting mobs and now for a bank.

    The PC's just get bigger and more expensive!
     
  8. Bargain Hunter

    Bargain Hunter You start with 1. Dufus.

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    MichaelG,

    After four and a half years I left BHDC on Friday. Shame we didn't catch up while I worked there.... :eek:
     
  9. asy

    asy Member

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    AC, I love the fact that you bought a computer off someone you didn't know, and it was unreformatted! hehe

    I"m not in the IT industry, as you all know, but, as a rep in the late '80's I loved Techie stuff, I put a CB in my car and talked the Manager into putting CB's into the other company cars so we could all talk during the day if we needed to... Saved us driving around finding a working phone booth :eek:

    Also, I remember my very first ever computer... a Laptop... I was so cool! It was an Amstrad, and had both size floppy disks in it!!! (no internal memory...)... Laugh as you may... But it was cool. Had a 7" LCD screen and all! Ran DOS. hehe

    We had 'computer science' as a subject in year 11 and 12 ('85 and '86) but I wasn't allowed to do it because it was a 'play subject' and 'would never lead anywhere'.. (gotta love parents). Still, I had a full subject load of 7 subjects, and still did the CS on the quiet by just joining the class and doing the work, but not being on the class list. (Luckilly the teacher was my Physics teacher, so he was really nice). We had Punch Cards and all. (Easy way to stuff someone up? accidentally drop their punch cards before they've had a chance to number them! hehe) Learned to programme in BASIC.

    So there's my rememberings. I love computers, but I'm still too scared to open one and play with it's innards.. But then that's what Andy's for.. ;)

    asy :D
     
  10. geoffw

    geoffw Untitled

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    So you've got an Andyman?
     
  11. asy

    asy Member

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    Well, no walk down memory lane would be complete without photos...

    Here's a pic of the amstrad: AMSTRAD LAPTOP

    Still, you know it's a sad day when your computer turns up on www.obsoletecomputermuseum.org :(

    Oh, and an important fact, mine was white, not brown... But yes, it ran on 10x"C" batterries... hehe

    Notice the weight? 22lbs !!! That's 10kg! Just a little more than the current laptops!

    asy :D
     
  12. ani

    ani Member

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  13. Sim

    Sim Administrator Staff Member

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    Year 6 in primary school (1983) - we had to do a major project on a topic of personal interest. I remember most the boys doing projects on cars or trucks, most the girls doing projects on cats, dogs, or horses. But what did I do ? Of course, I did a project on computers.

    We didn't have any computers in the school at that stage (they got their first computer the year after I left for high school). My teacher helped me write a letter to the Angle Park Computing Centre - facility run by the South Australian Education Department, requesting information that I could use to write about computers.

    It seems they had done this kind of thing before, because within a week or so, I had received a very large package in the mail filled with a heap of information about computers, their history, what all the parts were and how they worked, they included an 8" floppy disk, a strip of magnetic tape, some RAM modules (1K I think), some punch cards, and a lot of other fascinating things. One of my favourite bits was some artwork done by printing out characters on the printer (golf-ball I suspect), such that the various letters formed a picture with light and dark shade. Difficult to describe - but it looked fantastic. Unfortunately I think the picture was of a kitten, but it did sit on my bedroom wall for the next 7 years until I left home !

    My favourite bit was the instructions they sent on how to program those punch cards and send them back to the computing center to be processed - the program I was executing generated a calendar, with more of that printer art! This time, the picture was one of the characters from the Wizard of Id.

    You can see some examples of what I mean here: http://www.threedee.com/jcm/aaa/

    I wrote and wrote and wrote for the assignment, and when I submitted it, the bound report (bound with curtain hooks !) was nearly an inch thick (mostly because of all the bits I had stuck in - the floppy disk, the punch cards, the ram modules, etc).

    I got an A++ for that report!!

    At the end of the following year (year 7), as we all got ready to go to high school, one of the things we did to fill in those last days of school term was to think about each of our fellow students and write what we thought they would end up doing once they finished high school. Some of the kids were easy - we knew who would be the vet, who would be the doctor, who would be the pharmacist, although we were a bit too young to work out who would end up dead at the age of 20 after a drug-induced altercation with his dealer (that became obvious later in high school).

    Naturally, I fit into the easy category - almost every student identified that I would end up working with computers. It seemed my fate was sealed.

    I still remember a friend of the family was a bank manager for the Commonwealth Bank. They must have been upgrading some of the old teletype machines and he was able to take one home - it was a unit about 1m tall, on wheels, and had a clunky typewriter keyboard and a golf-ball printer. You fed it punch cards to boot it and then program it. One set of cards he had was for a game that printed out on the paper, you typed your instructions and it responded back on the paper. The game was called - "Wumpus" !! Remember this ?

    "I feel a draft"
    "move north"
    "I feel a draft, I smell a wumpus"
    "shoot east"
    "you killed a wumpus! I feel a draft"
    "move west"
    "you fell down a bottomless pit. Game over"

    ... I used to spend hours playing that. All with no screen - just printouts on continuous feed paper!

    I didn't get into computers straight away at high school - year 8s weren't allowed to use them. But my dad was a primary school teacher at my previous school and they had just taken delivery of some Commodore 64 computers - complete with monitor, printer, and 1541 floppy drive ! Many of my friends had C64's or similar by this time, but none of them had floppy drives, suffering with tape drives instead.

    We got to take the computer home on weekends, and I discovered one of the disks had a game on it - Impossible Mission "stay a while, stay foreveeeeeeeeeeeer" ! It took me a while, but I eventually mastered the game and got all the way through.

    I learned to program the computer - BASIC of course, nothing fancy, but very satisfying making the computer do funny things on the screen. I also tried typing in the programs at the back of the computer magazines, but got bored with that pretty quickly.

    At high school we had a computing day where we were able to play with the Apple IIe machines in the lab. We tried a few things, one of them was a flight simulator, which I thought was really cool, but the popular game was an adventure game where you had to solve the puzzle by giving the computer instructions and trying not to get eaten by werewolves. Might have been called Transylvania.

    The other computing lab had some Commodore 64s in them and we learned how to program using turtle - creating graphics on the screen !

    Eventually the computers were upgraded to Amiga 500, and by year 12 I was running the lunchtime computing lab at school. There were some PCs around, but I didn't know how to use them, and they weren't generally available to the students anyway.

    At home, we bought our first computer - an Amiga 500 and I did a lot of stuff with that.

    I left home in 1991 - moving to Adelaide to start uni. The computer systems engineering course started by using the PCs to program in Pascal. This was my first real exposure to PCs.

    Later that year, the parents of my new girlfriend bought her a new computer to do word processing for her uni assignments. I helped them decide on what to choose, and we got a newly released 386SX-25 with 2MB RAM and a 40MB HDD. I later upgraded that machine of hers to 4MB ! It ran Windows 3.1 and MS Word v2.0.

    The following year I bought my own computer. 486DX-30 with 16MB RAM and a 250MB HDD - far bigger and more powerful than any of my friends had. The year after I upgraded parts of it to make a 486DX2-80 with 32MB RAM and a 540MB HDD, and then I got a modem so that I could connect in to uni and do work remotely! 14.4k - lightning fast.

    Some of the guys at uni got me interested in OS/2 and I became involved with the OS/2 User Group of South Australia - eventually becoming secretary and then vice president!

    I'll post about my IT career later.
     
  14. Les

    Les Member

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    My first challenge....

    was the NCR 315-100 It was a batch processing computer - first of the "second generation" (it used transistors instead of valves). The training course was NINE MONTHS in London - boy, was THAT hard to take for a 20-year -old :D (I had a BALL !!!! - but I had to sign a bond that I would continue working for the Co. for two years afterward - tough times, eh :cool: )

    The 315 could be manually programmed via the front panel. But the "norm" was to press a "Load" button that initiated a punch card feed and read - and it read the "Boot" card - which started everything up.

    I generated my own special Boot card - used once a year - that mysteriously got switched with the real card at the appropriate time.....
    Then I'd get lost while the operator went nuts trying to boot the machine on the 1st April - all hell would break loose as the Card Reader would chatter away, looking for more cards, the main tape drive would take off, and the printer would print one line and go into "Error" thus powering it down. Usually they worked it out within a few goes, and went and sourced a new "Boot" card. I soon learned which operators were worth their salt, and which weren't...

    I wasn't THAT mean - the one line printed ended with the comment "It's April 1st, dummy" ........ So, as long as they could read.....


    But the specs themselves are hard to believe in this day and age. Remember, this was a batch processor that received paper tape from some 40 customers, and produced daily, weekly or monthly reports for them.

    CPU speed ~160kHz (that is NOT MHz, remember...)
    Memory ~16kB (that is NOT MB.....)
    Storage was 5 x Mag tape drives (200 bits per inch - you could SEE the data using "Magnasee")
    - no disks, so no random access !!! When you changed something, you had to rewrite the whole tape.

    Input - punched card reader
    - 1000 char per second paper tape reader
    Output - 110 char p s paper tape punch (Telex)
    - 800 line per minute drum printer

    Looking back, it's hard to imagine just how much was produced from this arrangement. But, in its day, this was cutting edge stuff.

    It was housed in its own special room with the best of air conditioning - the computer occupied 8 tiles of cabinets - and the 16 Kilo bytes of memory took two tiles (one tile - 600mm or 24") There was even a frequency converter in the basement that re-engineered the input power from 50 cycles to 60. No Universal Power Supplies back then.

    Repairs were with a soldering iron, a huge array of spare parts, and significant amounts of TIME !!!

    Regards,
     
  15. perky29

    perky29 Addicted to this

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    No way, I work there too !!! (Yes I know MichaelG quite well !!)
     
  16. kierank

    kierank Member

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    My first experience with IT was the 16 column mark-sensed cards that we used for programming in my first year at Uni in 1974. We marked the column with a HB pencil - the trouble was the some of the pencil lead was removed each time the cards were read by the card reader; so you tended to get a lot of read errors.

    In second year (1975), we used the 80 column punch card. I was also appointed a Uni tutor of first year students at the start of my second year (talk about the blind leading the blind!!). Cripes, that was 30 years ago :eek:

    In third year (1976), we moved to heat sensitive paper for printing. This was great in summer in Queensland - you walked outside and your whole printout went black :mad: :mad:

    That same year, I was appointed a bouncer for the computer lab - my job was to kick a 2nd student off the terminal if a 3rd year couldn't get on (3rd year students had priority). A great way for me to meet 3rd year female students - I could do a favour for them if they did a favour for me ;) ;)
     
  17. thefirstbruce

    thefirstbruce -

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    First Exposure to computing: 1973 when hand held scientific calculators came out. I remember there was a lot of controversy about whether they would stop high school students from learning maths properly. However, they were great for financial and trig, and esp logs and calculus, as you didn't have to have a bunch of tables to keep referring to. I remember by year 11 in sub senior we were using them freely in exams.

    The big guns in those days were around $100. HPs. Anyone who had one of those was seriously into maths. I rememberr the resident maths genius (this in grade 9) had the top end HP with a paper read out. He programmed something into it once, and left it running for over a 3 days 24/7 doing the calculation....the paper just kept jugging out onto the floor..... none of us could keep up with him......it was just him and the teacher and maybe 2 others who could understand what was going on..... He later did a PhD in maths at Uni of Qld.

    2.
    Then I had nothing to do with computers until 1982. Unless you count the introduction of faxes. I still remember being blown away when we used to send and receive docs from England. Anyway, in 1982, we were sent along to a computer course, and ended up doing basic for 3 days. Boring as bat sh.t I thought. And I realized I didn't have the natural inclination to be a programmer. In the meantime, I remember my younger brother who was doing Accounting at QIT (now QUT) in Brisbane used to talk a lot about fortran and pascal and other languages. Whenever I looked at the coursework, I just had no interest in it. I'd much rather be surfing or camping or photographing something or sailing. I also got into film in a big way out of school. And was offered a job at channel 7 straight out, but I wanted to be a director, not a gopher camera man shooting the Brissy Rugby League every Sat and Sun. eventually ended up in advertising where you did your apprenticeship for fiilm in those days. It was all super 8 film stock in those days, and I knew I was a bit of a nerd, because I was happy to spend hours after school doing animations frame by frame, and messing with special effects still photography. (I presume a lot of nerds were into film before computers came out).

    3.
    Eventually I did some study back at uni in the late 80s and needed a word processor. I bought an Amstrad desktop that needed a disk to boot off and one to store data on. I got it from a guy off a farm. $700 with a printer. And prayed it didn't break. I used it for the course for 2 years, then sold it straight away for the same price. The one thing that happened in this time is that I lost one too many half completed assignments- 10 hours work down the drain. The last time I let it happen, I vowed to take a methodical approach to understanding computers and fixing them, and really understanding backup procedures. That knowledge has served me well.

    4.
    Eventually, I needed another word processor. And got a Toshiba 1200 or 1600 from an auciton for $150. It was 2 years old and originally sold for $8000. I thought it was Christmas. I also realized these things sold quickly in the trading post for over $800, so that began a period of around 4 years from 1989 going to Brisbane auctions and buying Toshiba notebooks, which I reconditioned and sold. I had one of the biggest collections of Toshiba parts outside of Tower, the Brisbane agent.

    5.
    But then in 1991, I discovered modems.......wholely dooley. wasn't that a revelation. I was still studying and teaching at uni, and they had a Unix mainframe. And I found out I could do email and real time text chat with many friends in the USA, for free. In those days I used to spend over a $1000 a year on phone calls to the US, so it was amazing to watch their words spill on to the screen in real time.

    I marvelled at how I could log into the uni Unix mainframe and use a shell account to browse libraries in the USA, get weather reports from the US Navy, do email with pine, and search what was the beginning of the internet. In those days it was all text based browsing of a string of uni campus databases and libraries.

    6.
    Eventually I became a coms nerd - TCP IP, manual initialization strings, lovely.... Modems were notorious for falling over in those days, and as the graphical browsers came out and the universiities were getting more online, everyone wanted email at home. I worked in conjunction with the uni computer Prentice Centre in my spare time setting up people's modem connections, getting $50 a call out, and most of the time it just took an extra character in the initialization string. I was making more money doing that then my day time job.

    Looking back, it is hard to realize how much we take email and the web for granted now. Email certainly was the killer ap of the century. Or was it spreadsheets and relational databases?

    7.
    By the mid 90s, I had garnered a lot of hardware troubleshooting experience, and everyone wanted me to buy their computer or manage their network. I did this part time for several years, but saw that automation and tech improvement would make a lot of technical knowledge redundant quickly, and burn out a lot of techies trying to keep up with it. I had considered starting up a serious commercial outsource service, but felt there would be a serious rationalization in the industry during the late 90s. Further, every obsessive compulsive asperger's diseased guy I knew thought he was a computer expert.....and these guys would workk for nothing to satiate their obsession, hard to compete with. So I let the computer thing go as a serious enterprise.

    8.
    My background in advertising allowed me to see the potential of the internet and websites. However, I once again felt if you wanted to be successful, you had to consider the world as the market and aim to become market leader. This required start up capital to develop, and serious organization and commitment. I watched so many excited people spend hours starting things up without the right end goal. THey wasted months even years of their lives doing so, only to drown in the wake of people with more money and vision. And yet, if they had got organised and got a bit of capital behind them, they could have become a Peter Norton or a David Merson (founder of Mincom).

    9.
    Anyway, time rolled on and I realized I was better off specializing in a field that doesn't turn over its knowledge base every 15 months.

    Apart from being roped into fix computer problems occasionally, and a stint as General/IT Manager with a start up of 15 staff, I now feel computer hardware and OSs haven't changed that much in the last 5 years. And am happy to treat the things as commodities. I don't treat them with kid gloves nor get attached like I used to. If they fail, I make a quick decision to throw them out if their parts can't be salvaged. I am also big on buyng computers only with a 3 or more year on site warranty. Sure you can buy cheap stuff from down the road, but I don't want the hassle of going back to the store to get a cheap and nasty cd player replaced. The hours you can burn up with non standard non quality brand name components is just not worth it.

    The last really nerdy thing I did was in 2002 in the USA. Some friends and I made a couple of wireless antennas out of wire and old paper towel rolls, and alfoil, and a few metal rods, based on instructions off the net, stuck the things on the roof, and got great connectivity.


    11.
    ANyway, what is in stall for the future? I have eased off on my original excitment for IT. IT has reached a functional plateau for me. The next big thing will depend on the government getting their stuff together so we can get some serious broadband infrastructure in Oz. And I somehow think that will be about 3-5 years off. When it does come in, and Telstra know this, POTs will be dead, and VOIP will be where it's at. Long distance wireless and mobile interconnectivity will also grow. Hence why I am involved with a company called Tekserv for rolling out telecommunications infrastructure.


    Well time for a coffee.....

    It's been interesting reading everyone's stories. Keep them coming. I would loved to have been in Silicon Valley in the early 90s. Must have been buzzing.....
     
  18. alwayscurious

    alwayscurious Member

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    Real Geeks

    would have noticed the last post had no "10" .

    Heheh.

    Love these stories.

    Speaking of Boot Cards Les - I made my own boot disk for the School Computers - it was Dos with an autoexec.bat / config.sys to boot me straight into "Test Drive" which offerred hours of entertainment.

    I used to finish regularly - and sometimes there was even BUGS on the screen. :)

    Computers are great. I use a laptop now and don't fiddle with the innards. I tried to "run a business" at uni, by buying $1000 worth (2 pallet loads) of junk.

    I turned it into $2000 pretty quick by building four decent 486 machines and selling them for $500 each. But soon got tired of whinges 6 months later "my screen is not working any more" and wanting me to repair it for free. :(

    It was second hand - no warranty implied! (or so I thought) It was a valuable lesson in dealing with customers and showed me quick what I didn't want to do for a job and that was sell second hand computers.

    I used to spend HOURS trying to get dodgy hard drives to boot, swapping jumper pins over, making IDE drives talk, making SCSI drives talk sigh sigh. Heave sigh. Rub eyes.. I think I heard it "spin up" Nope, it's still dead. Ahh, those were not the days. Still I learned from it, and had a bit of fun when it all came together and worked and I sold one.

    some of those machines lasted 7 YEARS, after being second hand in the first place. I think they were Osbourne..

    ASY - it is funny that I bought a PC without a formatted hard drive.
    I bought a laptop in hongkers from a cash strapped expat (amazing how many people get into $ trouble in HK!!)

    It had all his personal details still on it, including bank stuff. Lucky I am an nice bloke and deleted it..

    You hear stories about people buying Memory sticks with stuff on them, and old hard drives etc.

    Cheers
    AC
     
  19. quiggles

    quiggles Member

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    O'Connor, ACT
    My story here is pretty short. Always interested in IT, eventually started buying computers when the 286 came out. Internet, Fidonet in the 80's, started to get ****ed off at work in the 90's. I was a power user, not a techie. So I went to Uni part time, did a masters in computing and started to look to change jobs. Bang! The Govt outsourced computing and half the IT jobs in canberra and 3/4 of the knowledge vanished. I think we've largely recovered from that monumental stuff-up. But a new career? Forget it!

    I build my own computers, but only for fun. I buy one bit at a time and install it in an existing computer, to replace an aging bit. Each bit costs less than $300 (my only rule). Usually I have a screamingly fast machine and an OK machine.

    This year I also bought a laptop, which I was too chicken to try and build.

    I'm essentially a hobbyist.
     
  20. thefirstbruce

    thefirstbruce -

    Joined:
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    Actually quiggles, you raise a good point. I have been wondering when notebooks will become commodified and generic enough to be a build it yourself affair, with standardized components that can be upgraded. The first guys to do that will capture a lot of market share IMHO.