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History of Computers and Myself

I have had a very long computer history. I have finally decided to write down some dates and information for those who are interested in the history of my use of a computer.

It started shortly after we moved out to Eugene in early 1982 when I was three and a half years old. My parents got a TI-99/4A. We got tons of games and the expansion box for floppy disks, 32k expansion memory and speach synthysis. I played on it but never really used it for much.

Sortly after that we got two NEC v.20 or v.30 basic Erikson machines. One was for my dad's office, the other was for home. They are basicly an 8088 that is a tad bit faster. We actually had color for both of the machines, but again, We didn't do much with them. They did have a 20meg hard drive which was really big at the time.

Around 1st and/or 2nd grade the school I went to had an Apple ][ computer. My teacher had some programs that we would type in to draw pictures on the computer. This included basic for loops and draw grass and point a flower. The graphics were only 40x25 w/ limited colors, but it was more than enough for the basics.

Then sometime in 1987 my dad picked up an ALR 386/20. This was a 32-bit 386 even though it wasn't badged as a SX or DX. The processor had a double sigma on it. It had 2 megs of socketed DRAM. This is also the machine that I really started boarding (calling BBS's) on.

This was also around the time that the school started teaching both typing and logo.

For Christmas of 1988, Sierra On-Line Systems had a crazy 8's deal where they were selling a 2400bps modem for $88.88. My parents got me this over the old 1200bps modem I was using. The old modem would over heat durning the summer and cause phantom line noise. The solution was to put a fan in front of the computer and force air through the computer to keep the tempurature down.

I'm not entirely sure when I started boarding, but I feel that I was boarding for close to a year and a half before I got the 2400bps modem.

I also started getting into QBasic programming around this time. It was great to no longer be limited by line numbers. I wrote my own logo interepter that supported 640x480x16 on EGA graphics.

In June of 1990 I finally saved up enough money to buy my own 486/33DX computer with 130meg HD, 4 megs RAM, 512k SVGA and monitor. This was the summer between my 6th and 7th grade years.

In about a year, I decided to start my own board named The Spaced Out BBS. This name was thought of by Nathan Volesch. I personally started calling it SOB because saying the entire name was a bit long.

Around the time I started high school, I had Jeff Ronne teac me a few basics of C. He taught me how to declare a function and variables. How to operate on the variables, and the basics of printf. After this intorudction, I started using the Borland Turbo C++ 3.0 user's manual to teach myself C++. It wasn't till 1994 that I realized that I didn't like C++ and dropped it in favor of C.

I started using FreeBSD shortly before the end of my sophomore year in high school. I was wanting to convert some PC's over to FreeBSD so that we could have a better ftp/web server instead of a win31 box running a crappy server. I was also the only one able to get the PC's to talk IP back at our school. I spent a lot of time understaning packet drivers and all that crap as we needed a free solution, and couldn't go with something like Novell LAN Workplace for DOS. This was also after having some experience with A/UX on an SE/30. It was just too slow.

One of the main reasons I started using a free Unix was because I was looking for a decient C compiler. I was tired of using Turbo C/C++ 3.0 which I'd been using for the past couple years. So I spent the time to find out what OS I wanted to install. I mainly looked at install instructions and looked at three different ones, Slackware Linux, NetBSD, FreeBSD. I immediately dismissed NetBSD because they didn't have enough documentation to do a decient install. After reading about how complicated it would be to get the install floppied for Linux (You had to replicate entire directory hierarchys, and I only had gopher with zmodem at home) I went with FreeBSD.

I did the standard install, set the root password, installed DES, and found out I locked myself out of my system. Reinstalled because I didn't know about booting into single user mode yet. Installed again and did the same thing. Third time was a charm and then I started hanging out on -questions.

General Time line:

First started using a computer.
Started doing some Apple BASIC programming.
Dad bought 386/20
Started doing some QBasic programming
I bought my first computer
Started running SOB
Started on rot360, program to rotate and morf two sets of points
Exposed to Unix, both A/UX on an SE/30 and Unixware on a Pentium
Started using FreeBSD

Copyright © 1999-2002 by John-Mark Gurney.
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