The next phase of my computing journey would have been in High School. I am pretty sure this machine was some kind of Pentium, I don’t know a lot of the details beyond that. Like I mentioned last week, some of the specific details get a bit hazy for a bit here, though the next round is decidedly not hazy again.
While the main computer was still technically the family computer, I ended up with one of the older machines in my room at one point as well. There are a few key defining moments of this era in my computing cycle. I got a bit more experience dealing with computer hardware. I bought a 2.5 GB drive for the family PC because I needed more space. Which would lead to some fun because Windows 95/98 didn’t support a drive larger than 2GB. I actually don’t remember if I partitioned it or if it just, had .5GB unused.
I also got a ZIP100 Drive sometime around this time as well. These were like disks, but “huge” at 100MB each. I spent my own money on both of these things. I guess it was sort of the start of my digital hoarding life. I had a lot of disposable income around this time because I started working at McDonald’s at 16. Aside from the $20 each paycheck or two to fill my gas tank, I spent the rest on whatever. Usually VHS movies, CDs, and VHS Anime tapes. Sometimes expensive computer hardware. I had 10 of those ZIP disks and they cost me $100.
The bigger moment of this era was going online.
It was all done with dial-up, so it tied up the phone line and was slow slow slow. My dad worked for the phone company so our internet was through Ameritech, or SBC, or whatever it was called at the time. I had other outlets though, that I could use on my bedroom PC. I remember three specifically. One was some sort of message board for IUPUI, the university, though I was not in college at the time. Another was this dial-in BBS system for the Illinois Education system. My friends and I would post there and use the chat system. It was at that time I learned that things are not always as anonymous as one might think when this dude came to me at school one day and told me to stop talking to his girlfriend over the system.
How did he know that “Bevis” was me?? The world may never know.
I also posted some stories there that are, sadly, lost to time and the ether of the internet.
Lastly was this MUD, or MUCK, I don’t know which it was. I know I could dial in, and it was this text based RPG thing. You could go around town, or go down in a dungeon deeper and deeper. I never really left the town, but I became extremely rich. I found a bug of sorts. I believe the process was something like…
- Go to the inn.
- Murder all of the sleeping player characters
- Take and sell their possessions
- Give the gold to an alt
- Wait a day
- All of the dead PCs would be revived
- Wash, rinse repeat.
After I amassed enough wealth, I had enough money to buy the “fancy room” that had dragon guards. No one was going to be murdering ME in my sleep.
Aside rom these side escapades, there was the “real internet.” I spent a lot of time browsing all sorts of websites about video games and anime. Eventually, I started my own couple of pages on GeoCities as well. At the time using Microsoft Page, an early WYSIWYG editor.
I also downloaded videos and music, though they were hard to find at the time. There was no Spotify or even places to buy wave files at the time. For anything large, it meant starting it before bed, and letting it run for hours to download. There were special programs you could use to pause and resume large downloads.
It was all the start of something amazing and wonderful in this perfect digital world of the Internet.