A little about myself…
So I grew up in the 80’s/90’s and cut my teeth on an old 8088 PC-XT. It ran at 4.75 Mhz, had 640KB of RAM and had two 5.25″ floppy disk drives. Those disks were indeed floppy. I did some of the neat “hacking” things that people did during that time:
- Added 2nd notch to 5.25 disks to get a “free” second side.
- Wrote little programs
- Used Shareware and figured out how to mail out checks.
- Learned the hard way about “computer virii” like: “Pakistani Brain Virus”, “Stoned Virus”, and “Cookie Monster” virii to name a few. Anti-virus software was in the early days and people were thinking about things like polymorphic codes…
- Wolfenstein 3D was a huge hit and amazing.
- RPG games based on AD&D were a huge hit.
- Flight simulation is NOTHING like what people think about these days…
- I used MS-DOS version 1.0 and Windows 1.0 (which was not graphical, but text based)
- I used WordPerfect and Word… both of which were text-only word processors and markup was indicated with color coded characters…
- Dot matrix printers screamed when they printed
- “Internet” and “networking” was in its infancy for the consumer market.
- 1200bps dialup modems were considered speedy. This new fangled 8kbps and even 11kbps modems were on the horizon, to be eclipsed by the 48kbps and then finally, the 56kbps modems. I could tell what speed I connected at based on the modem chatter sounds.
- Software often came in large boxes to house the MASSIVE manuals that came with them… each one resembling a soft cover college text book. This was especially true for operating systems.
- Blowing and spitting into your Nintendo game cartridge was a mysterious experience … as was jamming rolled up magazines to keep the cartridge at just the right angle/height/etc to work….
Okay, so that was perhaps a bit more about the time I grew up in than about myself. I loved to tinker. I loved getting my hands on hardware that let me to hex dumps of a game’s running system memory, performing modifications on save files or in-memory spaces to give myself bonuses/etc. Nothing like a +999 Silver Vorpal Sword to go with your +999 Platinum Full Plate Armor. amiright?
Those early days were filled with near-OCD level of jotting down notes and figuring out patterns on graph paper and mapping out ASCII values so much that at some point, you start to know it by heart. Doing small save file game mods for friends so that their save game file filled with mechs had ridiculous levels of fire power, just for fun.
I loved figuring out and understanding how things worked and how to make things work in ways that I wanted to. This would eventually lead me into a very rewarding, if sometimes stressful, career in systems administration.
But tinkering, learning, understanding, and making things… it’s all part of the process. And now that I’m a parent, I remember all of the resources I made use of to learn. The library reference books, the various computer magazines and journals, the various internet articles.
So this is kind of my way of trying to put some useful stuff on the internet for other folks who might be learning, tinkering, or just trying to figure out WTH is wrong with XYZ device.
Anyways, I’m just another person on the internet who loves tech and had a life immersed in tech, writing about tech. 🙂