Small steps for mankind

February 2nd, 2008

GatewayClearing out a filing cabinet today, we came across the documentation for an old Gateway machine. (Remember them? They were the Dell of the time.) It was actually rather a good 66 Mhz Pentium, which I bought in 1994, chiefly to write up my PhD thesis.

Amongst the documentation was an index card on which I’d written the IRQ settings and I/O addresses of all the peripheral cards – the sound card, the modem, the SCSI adaptor, the CD-ROM interface card… all of these settings I’d had to tweak by hand, usually by installing little jumper connectors on the cards themselves. You had to make sure no two devices were using the same settings; I’d disabled the joystick interface on the soundblaster card to reduce the likelihood of his happening. It’s all a procedure for which I feel very little nostalgia.

At the time, I really liked this big, clunky, noisy system, with its 15″ CRT monitor, but it cost me £2260.71 – well over £3000 quid in today’s money. Or, to put it another way, for the same price I could now buy three MacBook Airs.

I guess we have made some progress after all…