By Bill Laye
January 2004

I heard the dreaded seven-beep warning out of my computer a couple of weeks ago, which was the beginning of the end for my three-year-old machine.The call from the shop just confirmed my worst fears – the motherboard (that thing into which all the other gizmos plug) was toast, literally.

Rest in peace, Home Computer No. 2 – a Pentium II-266, and hello No. 3.Yeah, it’ll be nice to have something with a few more bells and whistles, but my impending change of hardware does have me thinking of days gone by with a few fond memories.

The first computer I worked on was a 286-18 – which I had at work. That exposure got me into a 386-40 at home, which I had for more than five years. With a 100 megabyte primary hard drive, a 500 megabyte D-drive, and 16 megabytes of RAM it was was pretty hot for its day.Actually, the kid down the hall I gave it to is still getting some use out of it.My No. 2 was a quantum leap with more than 256 Mb of RAM and 24 gigabytes of hard drive space.

But the new one will be the Starship Enterprise by comparison – with double the RAM and a warp-speed 1.8-gigahertz processor.

While my computer memories go back a ways, Larry Gentleman, a senior vice-president with Grande Prairie-based Global Internet Associates Inc., remembers the days when computers came in build-it-yourself kits.“Just before Apple came out there were all sorts of computers around named after fruits,” Larry, who’s been in the business since the early-’70s, laughed.One of the big companies in those days was called Peach Tree Computing.“They were filled with things you could buy and that was even before (disk-drive) floppies came out, so everything came out on tape,” he said.“So you bought a (cassette) tape and a little kit from Peach Tree Computing.”A four-kilobyte, you read right – four kilobyte, memory card cost $400 – that would get you several gigabytes worth of hard drive space these days, he recalled. Then came Apple, which, with all due respect to IBM users (which includes me), put the home into home computers, forever.The latest and greatest home computer you can buy at any local shop for a couple of grand now has a 2.4-gigahertz Pentium 4 processor.

Larry just laughs when I ask him what’s next.“You just quit trying to guess,” he chuckled.

Revised 2013 by Larry Gentleman