Computers we’ve owned

Computers we’ve owned

The untimely demise of calcifer II, the server that was bringing you my blog entries, and the quick replacement of it by calcifer III sent me reminiscing about computers past and present.

These are all the computers we’ve owned, not counting the two Psion series 3a and one 3c, nor the phones and other pocket stuff. It’s about 25 years, now, that I first got my hands on a computer. A year earlier, I had an earnest discussion with the boy next door. He badly wanted an Apple II, and I maintained that he would be far happier with a box of watercolor paints and some good brushes, or, failing that, a good book.

Acquired Scrapped Model Memory Notes
1982 1982 Sinclair ZX-Spectrum 16K 16 KB Actually borrowed from my mum’s school: all teachers were supposed to learn about the microcomputer revolution by taking turns with this little beast.
1982 1987 Sinclair ZX-Spectrum 48K 48 KB My very own! Got it because I got 9 out of 10 for English. Coded my first games on it in beta basic.
1987 1994 Spring Circle Super Turbo IBM XT clone (8 Mhz) 640 KB Boring machine for schoolwork, replaced the poor Spectrum that had gotten a broken “J” key from loading to many games too often. We actually put a hard-disk in this thing, all of 20MB big. I got a lovely keyboard with it
that we kept for years.
1990 1996 Packard Bell 386sx 2 MB (later: 4 MB) For
coding morphological analyzers in Turbo Pascal
. Ran Linux later on, but was too underpowered for X11. When it started making a lot of noise despite regular fan cleaning we got rid of it. Still, it was very useful for a very long time.
1995 1998 Tulip PC XT 640 KB Our on-line banking machine: a cast-off from my dad.
1993 Compaq Contura Aero 486sx 4 MB A little laptop. Cute, but the hard disk made an annoying noise and the screen is 640×480 in 16 scales of washed-out gray. Still runs Windows 3.11, although I’ve run ZipSlack on it. Irina and I agreed that this would probably our last computer purchase (together with her Psion Series 3a) because we’d be knee-deep in kids Real Soon and wouldn’t be able to afford more computers until they’d all finished
University. I feel this firmly puts me in the same league as Bill Gates and that chap from IBM, Thomas Watson.
1994 2000? Anonymous 486 clone, bought to replace a borrowed machine. 8 MB Our first Linux machine. I ran X11 on this thing in December 1994. It served us well as our UUCP node from 1994 on, first under dos (Waffle UUCP), then Linux with Taylor UUCP. We went on using UUCP well into the twenty-first century. The borrowed machine was meant for Irina to develop a Lotus Notes application on and was also a 486: that was the first machine we went on the internet with, as soon as Hacktic started in 1993. Named Lamarkis.
1995 Another Sinclair ZX-Spectrum 48K, bought for old-times sake 48 KB A colleague of mine found one for me. But as soon as the thing arrived in our household we got rid of the television set, with the result that I’ve never seen it run.
1995 2000 1 Bull MVME motorola 86000 unix box with two terminals 16 MB Funny machine: double the memory of our main computer, I had hoped it would be useful for hacking. The second terminal was meant for Lamarkis, so we wouldn’t need to take turns reading mail. Turns out that Bull’s Unix
was really crappy and that it was next to impossible to connect the box to the home network, so I got rid of it. It also made a noise like a vacuum cleaner on takeoff and contained the whole payroll database of the Apeldoorn location of Randstad Uitzendbureau. 16 serial ports!
1995 ? Tandy Model 100 portable 16 KB Lovely keyboard, 4 line lcd screen and a disk drive that I almost immediately broke. Pity, it was a very nice and sturdy note taking machine. I’m not sure where it’s now…
1996 2004 PC-Deventer (but otherwise anonymous) 686 64 MB It turned out that we needed a somewhat capable computer for Irina to do her translation work on. This was it. Nice machine. Ran Linux pretty exclusively. This one died during the Great Computer Blight of 2004.
1997 A second PC-Deventer (but otherwise anonymous) 686 64 MB Bought when we got cable internet: this machine is still running, because it contains the Roland Sound Canvas synthesizer with the connector for the keyboard. It runs Windows 95 and BeOS, although we mostly used it for Linux.
1998/1999 Calcifer I: anonymous Paradigit clone tower 512 MB I don’t exactly remember when we bought this machine. It did serve quietly and well as www.valdyas.org for a long time. It broke down when we were in the Hague for the funeral of abbot Father Adrian.
2000 Sinclair Z88, sent us by Charlie Stross 128 KB Charlie Stross, nowadays an SF author, used to be a column hack for computer magazines — even noticing the existence of KOffice. He collected a large amount of junk over the years and was nice enough to send us a coveted Sinclair Z88. We have used it — briefly — for writing text, but connecting it to a Linux machine to get the text somewhere useful was quite hard. And nowadays,
most pc’s don’t have 9 pin serial slots anymore.
2002 2006 Calcifer II: another anonymous Paradigit clone tower 512 MB When calcifer I died, we replaced it with a big tower from Paradigit. I did a lot of Krita hacking on this system and it handled our mail and so on for acges without complaining. Last week we noticed that it kept rebooting itself, and I powered it down to see what was wrong. It never got up again.
2002 2004 Acer Aspire laptop 512 MB Together with Calcifer II, the second PC-Deventer computer got fried, and we bought a laptop for Irina. This was a horribly expensive, horribly badly made laptop that broke within two years. It wouldn’t run for more than half an hour and that only when you kept the bottom completely free. Bwerk.
2003 Apple Powerbook Pismo (G3) 748 MB I wanted to see OS X and I wanted to have something to test PPC builds of Krita on, so when Tryllian went broke I fished this from the trash heap. It still runs faithfully, runs even Pages for Thomas Zander to crib from.
2005 2 Dell Inspiron 5150 laptops 512 MB — the other one later extended to 1 GB Not good machines. Lovely screen, heap of design faults.
2004 2005 1 ancient Dell Latitude laptop (mushroom model) 128 MB Another Tryllian cast-off. This was from our erst-while American branch and a very good computer, or would have been, if the American employee who had it before me hadn’t nicked all the memory that wasn’t soldered on the mainboard. Naomi used it until Tryllian bought me a Thinkpad and I gave her one of the 5150’s after Dell finally repaired it.
2004 Ancient gateway Solo laptop for Menna 384 MB The official Tryllian Architect laptop, this laptop was the envy of the Tryllian developers until it got obsoleted by the march of times. I used it for some time, but after I got my 5150, I got it for free for Menna. It’s running, but the keyboard is loose, and it’s getting really long in the tooth now. It probably dates from 2000.
2004 Another ancient gateway Solo laptop for Rebecca 256 MB My first Tryllian laptop. I bought it for Rebecca and she still runs KDE on it. It’s also 2000 vintage.
2006 calcifer III: Acer Aspire celeron midi-tower 1 GB I swore I would never buy Acer again — but Acer, Packard Bell and HP is all you can get off the shelf in Deventer, it seems. This was the very cheapest computer we were able to find after a lot of searching. We’ve got it for a week now, and it’s still not broken, which must mean that Acer is improving.

That’s… 23 computers, 26 if I count the three psions, 27 if I cound my current work laptop. Slightly more than one computer a year, for a population that’s grown from one to five in 25 years. Eight are currently in use. I do have a feeling that, despite owning car nor dishwasher, television not Jacuzzi, I’m not doing enough in the battle against
global warming.