Thu. Jan 19, 2006
A Decade Ago
A decade ago today, Jan. 19, 1996, I opened the box that contained my first computer.
It was a Micron PC with a 100mhz Pentium 1 processor. It standardly came with eight megabytes of RAM, but I’d spent an extra $320 to upgrade it to 16MB (in those days, 256MB of RAM would cost you ten grand at $40 per MB). The contents of the 850MB hard drive could today be fit into the RAM of my current computer, with room left over to run the OS.
I was certain I was going to break it, and totally clueless. When I first hooked it up, and was amazed that it even booted properly, I opened up Wordpad just because there wasn’t much else on it at that time. And I immediately became convinced they’d sent me a defective keyboard, because when I typed “Reid” it came out “rEID.” Seriously, I was mad … how was I supposed to use my new computer with a defective keyboard? Then I saw that little green glowing light under the words “CAPS LOCK.”
Yep, a decade ago today, I was the definition of clueless newbie.
A decade ago on Feb. 14, I got my first “real” Internet connection, with a company then called Mindspring, now morphed into Earthlink (I’d used Prodigy the few weeks before that).
Back then I was “fotodude,” because usernames could only have eight letters. I mostly used the software provided by my ISP on the seven floppy disks in the install package. There was Netscape 1.2 for the web (now with tables!), Eudora Light for e-mail, and this thing called Free Agent for Usenet, where I spent a good deal of time in those early days. And I did all of this at a download speed of about 3KB per second, if the wind was blowing right. My ISP was a company with a three legged dog and a dress code that said of you were in a meeting, shoes were a good idea.
A decade ago in March, I went from thinking I would have to hire someone to build my first web site, to thinking maybe I could learn this HTML stuff myself.
A decade ago April 14, I put up my first web site.
A decade ago in July and August, I did my first blogging, though nobody called it that back then.
A decade ago, in hindsight, it was all pretty primitive and ugly. But I revelled in it. And have left the artifacts of those days in place on this site both to keep me humble, and as a reminder that things I once was pretty mediocre at (or worse) can get better.
Sometimes all it takes is ten years.
This has been your Net Grandpa Advisory for this month. More will likely follow later this year.