The Media Guru
Sep 25, 2008



My_Old_PC

Yeah, it's exactly a decade ago that I got my first PC. At that time I certainly didn't have a camera, so the above photo was taken 4 years ago when both the PC & the camera were working. Now join me for a little nostalgic journey along memory lane...

The Beginning 

win98logo

In August 98, Windows 98 had just been released. & the Windows piracy problem was making headlines - even in Mauritius. Many computer shops had been caught selling counterfeit copies of Windows - the counterfeit being nothing more than a copy of the cd & the manual without the hologram (there was no activation at that time!).

So there was this one computer shop which was selling original Windows 98 & the best specs at the best affordable price! Hence for a sum of around Rs 40,000 here's what I got:
- Intel Celeron 300 – 300Mhz (Covington 250nm – 0 KiB of L2-cache!)
- 32MB SDRAM
- 3.2GB Hard Disk
- 2MB PCI Graphic Card
- 14" SVGA Monitor
- 104 keys A4 Keyboard + Mouse
- Multimedia Kit - 32x CD-Rom Drive; Yamaha 16-bit Sound Card; Aiwa Stereo Speakers.
- Canon BJC-250 Printer
- 56K Fax Modem (Rs 2400!!!)

A configuration that you won't even find in a smartphone today. & to think that this was high-end 10 years ago! Moore's Law still standing firm.
I don't think you'll ever find a 56K modem today at that price - but at that time there was no ADSL & dial-up was the global norm.

Hardware

Win95

The rule of world states that everyone starts off as a noob - & I was no different. But in a certain way, I was an "experienced" noob because I had previously used a Windows 95 computer for a few months. My experience consisted mainly of gaming (PacMan, Solitaire & an unknown game which I forgot) & of having an uncanny ability of breaking that computer every time I touched it! The number of times it was sent for repairs is almost comparable to infinity... Usually that meant me fiddling with the settings (device manager!) or installing apps that corrupted Windows. But I once did mess-up the BIOS! (How would I have had known what was the BIOS at that time?)

So the switch to my own PC meant that I knew something about what not to do. However, this time, it wasn't me who was (primarily) responsible for the frequent breakdowns. The computer itself was faulty! For no apparent reason it would refuse to boot-up! That meant repairs every few months. Sometimes a good bang would do the job & at other times reconnecting the cables did it – my most used trick was re-connecting the printer’s serial cable, but I have no idea how this would work?!? I never managed to know what really the problem was, but most probably the hardware wasn't great...

Troubleshooting Windows… 

Windows_98_BSOD

Or was it the Windows 98? Fortunately I didn't have frequent BSODs, but "This program has preformed an illegal operation & will be shut down" error was a terrible nightmare!

win98error_msg

It was the most dreaded errors of all time. The error message wasn't very helpful - it gave you some hex codes which were totally meaningless! At that time, the Googlian culture of searching for anything on the Internet wasn't there - you could only turn to computer technicians! & what in hell’s name was invalid page default??? 

n00bs pwn 1337s!

win98se_My_Computer

A few weeks after the purchase, someone gave some floppy disks to check out. Using CD-ROMs was a breeze, you just insert the disc & it will Autorun by itself. But unfortunately that didn't work with floppys. I tried various ways to make the floppys work, checking the Computer settings, restarting & all that - but in the end, I had to admit defeat that my floppy drive just wasn't recognising them! Why?
It was much later that I found out by reading the Windows 98 Manual that you had to go to My Computer & double-click on the Floppy Disk icon to access it. How stupid of me!!!

Volume

One day, my speakers stopped working suddenly. Because it was still under warranty we took it to be replaced. But there weren't any problem with those speakers. So logically it must instead be a problem with Windows or the sound card, so the PC was taken for repairs. It turned out that I had muted the system volume...

Connect to

On a certain occasion, I deleted the Dial-Up connection settings & when I re-installed it, the computer couldn't connect to Internet. When the Telecom Plus technicians came, they found out that I had put my own telephone number for the dial-up instead of 3121212!

Software

win98

Windows 98 was fairly stable - it ran most of apps I had & most of the games as well. At that time, I had indeed heard of Linux & I thought that it was just another type of… Windows! LOL

win98_Start_Menu

Windows 98 desktop included Active Desktop, which had a sidebar-like thing called the channel bar, linking to MSN, MSNBC & Discovery Channel. I always thought that one day I would be able to watch Discovery Channel through it...

win98_Start_MenuVista_Start_Menu

This is absolutely amazing! 10 years from then, the Start Menu has hardly changed!

win98se

Windows Media Player was still in its classic version & you couldn't play mp3s on it. Clips were still in MPG or MOV requiring a software called QuickTime from an unknown fruit company Apple, that sold Macintoshes?
& there was also XingMPEG Player which was bundled along with Windows 95/98. I always thought that it was some sort of game because it was called Player...

win98_ie4

Remember Internet Explorer 4? At that time, IE was the underdog since it was facing tough competition from Netscape. But with IE5, WBWI (World Browser War I) was won by Microsoft. & to think at that time these folks never thought about inventing tabs. The problem was that with a dial-up connection, you could only surf with 2 or 3 windows, which didn't clutter the desktop. But with faster connections & more cluttered windows, tabs had to be invented. Necessity is the mother of invention…

PSP5

Among the various software, one of my favs was Jasc Paint Shop 4 which had an unlimited trial. Winzip as well had an unlimited trial – which was really a bug in fact…

Warez

Office97_front

From Day 0, I've always used warez on my PC. What happened was that the technician who came to setup the computer fooled us into buying Office 97 & F-Secure Antivirus at a cheaper price from him. I don't know whether there were cd-burners at that time, but he didn't give us a copy of the cd & just installed it. Little did I know that the Office 97 & the F-Secure were illegal copies - there were no cracks at that time, only serials! & the most stupid thing is that we called him after one year to extend the license of the antivirus...

Office2001to2003

Microsoft Word opened up new possibilities - I can now type with spellchecking, add WordArts, pictures & even charts. But the sub-zero feature was the animated office assistants - As you were typing, the office assistants entertained you through their animations! Links & Rocky (& co)  got better in Office 2000 until they finally disappeared in Office 2003 & never to return in Office 2007. I miss them a lot! (Microsoft, please revive them!) :’(

Games

winmine

Yeah, that was THE BIG THING for a kid like me! In addition to the usual PacMan, Solitaire, FreeCell & Minesweeper, there was only 3 games that really initiated me to gaming at the very beginning.

Ancient_Conquest

First was Ancient Conquest demo. At that time, the only way you could get PC games were by buying those computer magazines which came along with bonus CDs having trial software & games. So we had bought this issue of PC Quest & we didn't really know how to use the cd, so the computer technician browsed around it, installed some software & the Ancient Conquest demo.

Ancient_Conquest_2

That was the first time I encountered Real-Time Strategy (RTS). I found this game more awesome than any FPS. The scenario is classic RTS. You've got a settlement, you gather resources, research upgrades, you expand, you make your own army (navy here) & you fight!

Ancient_Conquest_3

My favourite ships were the Quicklime-thrower & the Fire-thrower. You use the Quicklime-thrower to disable enemy ships by covering them in quicklime(chalk) & then set them on fire using the Fire-thrower! You also had the Temple which granted you special powers like Lightning strike... I do really miss that game!

118264

The first game that I installed by myself was Commandos: Men of Courage demo.

118285

Commandos really fascinated me. One of the early games where AI was quite intelligent & where rushing things was certain death. That was the game that really taught me the virtue of patience & perseverance.

118248

At that time, I didn't know anything about the Save function - & who to save? So everyday I kept trying these 2 demo missions over & over again. You can well imagine what happens when I die & I have to restart the mission... (banging the desk & ripping my hairs off!!!)

118281

118293

I didn't know that at that time, but Commandos was a role-playing game with environment interaction - like blowing up a dam! One of the misconceptions I had was that I thought there must be way to unlock these demos to become full games...

Age_Of_Empires_Rise_of_Rome_Expansion_Trial_2

The 3rd game was the ubiquitous Age of Empires! That was the Rise of Rome Expansion Trial. That was really the most advanced game of its time. The reference for all RTS games to come. The above screen is the first mission.

Age_Of_Empires_Rise_of_Rome_Expansion_Trial

Here's the second mission where you have that huge Carthaginian city & you have to build a Wonder. My preferred unit was the very powerful Phalanx!
It was through AoE that I learnt of cheats & walkthroughs...

Internet

Win98_Connect2

Internet use wasn't widespread at that time. But since you had a modem, getting an Internet connection was quite obvious. The cheapest Internet package was the 10h Discovery at Rs 375.

Yahoo.com - 1998

At first, the Internet was quite useless as surfing was limited to Yahoo! & its linked websites listed on different categories. Compared to now, the Yahoo! portal was quite simple. & its search was powered by something called Googol or Grogle (well it was spelled something like that).

Servihoo.com - 1998

Remember the Servihoo portal?

Microsoft.com - 1998

Microsoft?

Google!

& Google… First let me thank Google for 10 years of services & innovation to humanity (on the Internet & beyond). On the 7th September 1998, Google! Inc was founded. At that time, Google had the ! which they copied directly from Yahoo!

FireShot capture #5 - 'Google!' - web_archive_org_web_19990125084553_alpha_google_com

& here's the original search webpage which can be found on the Internet Archive. At that time, even the founders themselves could never have thought that one day Google will reach such heights. They own the web search, the advertising, the mail, the maps & have their own browser, mobile OS & satellite! Rock on Google! (Read more about Google’s 10th Anniversary on GeekScribes)

designing-google-logo

A few years later, the Discovery package was bumped to 12h & I began to realise the importance of email for registering in forums. I never managed to configure Outlook Express (bow.intnet.mu??), so I still used the default Servihoo mail! My first forum post was a help message on a game forum. Afterwards Google became popular & my internet use exploded. But it was only last year that I got my ADSL connection & the rest is history… :)

Upgrades
I didn't do much big upgrades on the system, but I did bought a scanner, HP Scanjet 3300C (appearing in the first photo at the start of the post) in 2002. Almost one year later, the scanner stopped being detected on my computer & because the warranty was still valid, the scanner was sent to HP France to be replaced. & when I got my brand new scanner, it still didn't work! I googled for the problem & I found out that I had disabled an important background process!

In 2000, 32MB of SDRAM was added to my old PC after being sent for repairs. In 2002, lightning struck the telephone cable which was still connected to my modem & both my modem & sound card fried! While replacing them, I bought a 40GB secondary hard disk which lasted only for a year. It was replaced by a 20GB hard disk which also lasted until 2004.

My_New_PC

The original 3.2GB, which contained Windows, never failed until mid-2004! By that time I had my new PC (the current one – the bunch of wires above!)… & that old PC was scrapped off...

The Future
So it's been more than a decade since I've been using computers. My old PC definitely wasn’t a great experience, but I did learnt a lot & I don’t regret it… How that noob of yesterday came out to be a blogger today is astonishing… but who knows what will happen 10 years from now? Will we even have “PCs” by then??? :)

win98_shutdown

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Anonymous said...

You're getting old..^_^

Anonymous said...

I can totally remember all these. especially Windows 98 when I was working as a PC techician in an internship.

Kurt Avish said...

I am afraid when i see the specification of the old pc :D I can't even think someone ask me to use this now.

"It was much later that I found out by reading the Windows 98 Manual that you had to go to My Computer & double-click on the Floppy Disk icon to access it. How stupid of me!!!"

WLOL :D


Commandos: Men of Courage demo.

hey i really enjoyed that too... it was among the oldies i still remember

BTW this article i rate it 5/5 :D Really nice and sbt some memories too.

carrotmadman6 said...

@tushal
Yeah, as from next month, I'll no longer be a teen... :(

@Avish
Thanks! Yeah, noobs rulz! :P

I really love Commandos, I've the whole game series - 1 to 3! :D

Anonymous said...

ah, must be good ole' times. What is the PC been coverted to now?

i still cherish my unisys 386 with 35 mb western digital hdd. and it had a key which could lock the system (a real key with a keyhole) ah, good ole' times.

in a way, your pc is like the first cherry you popped. you won't ever forget it.

just go mild with the warez thingy.

hey, are there any games like commandos released these days? wow and aoe3 doesn't relate @ all to commandos. did you play diablo and starcraft on win9x? what about mk? nfs? what about the good ole' lotus?

enjoy your weekend. happy pc-b-day.

carrotmadman6 said...

@Shah

Unfortunately, the PC is lying around in a box, with the monitor & keyboard given away & having no hard disk, it's quite useless... except I think i'll use the processor to power my next robot! :P

As for the games, I've tried hard to find titles like Commandos, but I never found anything that comes close. :(
Mortal Kombat? Nope, I don't like combat games, but I did play NFS (Porsche Unleashed!! :D
Most of my games was RTS - Command & Conquer (Red Alert 1 & 2, Tiberian Sun), AOE II. Sport games like NHL & Fifa. Midtown Madness! :D
No Diablo, Warcraft & Starcraft coz I didn't even know about them until I got to play Diablo II (Necro FTW!) on my new PC! That was awesome! Afterwards I just got addicted to Blizzard games, Warcraft 3 being my all-time fav game! :D
& I'm now waiting for Diablo III...

Anonymous said...

ah the good ol' days.my 1st computer was something like 32MB RAM n 6 GB HD... at that time i was really a noob...the 1st game i installed was nfs2 in 1999 i guess, n then afterwards i got commandos behind enemy lines...that was hours of fun, but i have not played commandos 2 n 3...at that time also win98 was the most stable OS for like 3 4 yrs..do u remember windows millenium ..then win 2k came then of course xp

i remember once pulling sm button..110V/220V..which burnt my power supply.... today i have my own pc nearly build from my own hands..

dunno wat will happen in the next 10yrs now

carrotmadman6 said...

@Sleepoholic
I would definitely recommend you to try Commandos 2 & 3 - although it's much easier compared to the original.

Windows 98 & stable? Not really for me - maybe bcoz of the hardware?
The funny thing is that I managed to use all versions of Windows at school - 3.1, 95, 98, 2000, Me & XP! :)

Anonymous said...

Nice blog.

Anonymous said...

wow. thanks 4 the nostalgia. i sure miss my old pc now :'(
..but she been replaced by so many afterward.haha!
if i remember well, my first one was a 386 with around 96MB hard drive. (shttt!!!) and a 1.4MB floppy disk was WOW!

lol. anyway thx for this nice blog. u sure did a lot of research for the pics.
bravo

cya

carrotmadman6 said...

@who?

Thanks for the comment! :)

96MB!!! :P

Anonymous said...

yep 96MB
n then later added 122MB one.
n my first 1.06GB hard drive was sooo BIG. LOL!
n to think that now its barely enough for our MP3 players/cellphones..


cya

Yashvin said...

lol des souvenirsssss!

Anonymous said...

During childhood i remember bringing several times my pc to a computer repair shop.it was amazing seeing this work being done i would like just once to work again with these pcs now that i am computer knowledgable.one..our family had bad experience with pcs and when i got my first pc and ms dos games..mortal kombat was the very game i've played.. looks we played similar games according to your photos...command was an interesting but hard game

i dont know but i kinda miss the old windows theme..hey i still have the floppy disk box in the first picture

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