A list of my first computers


I talk about some of the machines I grew up with, but I don’t think I’ve ever compiled an actual list of them. It was a bit of a bittersweet exercise, given most of these no longer exist. My parents probably saved me from hoarding a ton of this stuff, though I miss it.

I’m sure you’ve got your own list; contact me if you compile one :).

The 1990s

  1. A whitebox 486-SX. I think it ran MS-DOS 5.x, then Windows 3.0, then MS-DOS 6.0 with 3.1. Was recycled when the hard drive died (much to my chagrin), but I did harvest the 5.25-inch floppy drive and ISA Sound Blaster 32 card.

  2. A whitebox Pentium 133 when we moved to Singapore. Was the first computer I used the Internet on, thanks to its external K56Flex modem. Was recycled when a power surge took it out. Years later I found someone on eBay selling the same bezel for the otherwise unremarkable chassis this machine was built in. No idea what I’ll use it for, but naturally I bought it.

  3. A DIY Pentium 200 MHz tower. This was the first computer I ever built myself from parts as a kid, and she still runs to this day! She now even includes the aforementioned parts from that first machine.

  4. An HP Brio BAx. 450 MHz Pentium III. This was our first “branded” computer we got at a tradeshow in Singapore. First ATX machine with PS/2 ports and USB… and the first I bricked with a BIOS update. Long taken to recycling.

  5. A Blueberry iMac DV. The recording studio my sister and I worked had them, and I’d been fascinated by Mac OS from the computers at school. Such an icon of the 1990s. I still have her, but she doesn’t boot.

The 2000s

  1. NTSC Commodore 16, 64, and Plus/4, parents bought from eBay for my 18th birthday. The 64 was sent to the Geekorium after he generously donated his PAL Commodore 128 to me a few years ago.

  2. An AMD Athlon XP tower I built from parts to play PC games on, mostly Age of Empires, Worms II, and Need For Speed. Didn’t know much about graphics, so don’t even remember what GPU I bought for her. My first experience with a burntout CPU when I realised I didn’t attach the heatsink properly. Was recycled.

  3. A Sony Vaio PCG-C1VM [sic] subnotebook. While attempting to upgrade her hard drive, I slipped with a knife (long story) and sliced a part of my hand open. I still have the scar! Needless to say, I recycled her and shouted good riddance, you piece of schmidt!

  4. An iBook G3, dual-USB port version. Probably my favourite laptop ever. Mac OS X barely ran on the iMac DV, but was beautiful on this machine. I did all my high school library studies on it. Also the first computer I booted NetBSD and FreeBSD on.

  5. PowerMac G5, parents bought for my graduation and when I started uni. Produced the first episodes of my silly, long-running podcast on her. Was such a fun machine to tinker with. Ended up selling her on eBay to fund my first MacBook Pro.

  6. ThinkPad X40 and X61, picked up from eBay for peanuts. I ran Fedora on them, because Wi-Fi was a bit flaky on FreeBSD. These were my coffee shop and library study computers. Absolute tanks. Ended up donating them, but I miss them.

  7. MacBook Pro 1,1, the first Intel Mac released. People forget that this generation used the 32-bit Core Duo CPU. Was a beta tester for the first Parallels Desktop virtualisation software on her, and was also set to triple-boot Solaris and FreeBSD.

  8. Toshiba Libretto 70CT, a tiny laptop I’d always wanted as a kid, picked up on eBay for peanuts.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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