I was nine years old when my dad brought a PC to my world in 1995; it was big with an Intel DX2 90Mhz processor, 400 MB of storage, a CRT monitor, and 5.25″ floppy disk. DOS was the primary operating system; I had to study it from a think book and understand how it works before I could use it. You need to type in the command correctly, navigate through the program path to run it. As a kid, Encarta Encyclopedia was my internet; it was a reference that I can rely on in my studies.
Later as I had other PCs around, I built a coaxial network at home connected to a remote location via a dial-up modem. Sharing files was a headache. Also, I had to go through the hardware repair/upgrade cycle for processors, peripherals, and disk drives, as well as software from DOS to Windows 3.1 to 95. One of the cool things was to play a movie; we had to upgrade the VGA card memory so that the video plays smoothly.
Firsts; programming language, password, website
The first programming language I used was BASIC, then Visual Basic, where I practiced solving some fundamental math problems, practicing while developing some accounting applications. In the year 1999 with minimal access and slow connection I started using the Internet, my first online password was my best friend’s first name ‘walid,’ no capital letters, no numbers, no special characters. A year later, I was only 16 when I sold my first website; it was HTML using Microsoft Frontpage and Photoshop.
Now and then; PCs and Smartphones
“A computer on every desk and in every home,” this was Bill Gates’ vision for Microsoft and the PC industry, 40 years later we have a computer in every pocket. Transistors and IC revolution helped boost the development of computers, packing more transistors and ICs in a smaller chip using lower power, hence the performance and portability. Gordon Moor predicted in 1965 that the number of transistors on a chip and semiconductors’ effectiveness doubles every 24 months. Now smartphones can do almost everything; you can play music online while your photos are being backed up to the cloud, and you are playing FIFA with someone from the other end of the world.
People use technology differently; device manufacturers designed different devices form factors to cater to everyone’s needs; As a kid, all I knew was a big stationary desktop computer. In Syria, desktops were affordable and adopted everywhere. Later in college, I got a notebook for my studies, few of us could afford it, after graduation, I used a Windows CE PDA for a while. Now, I have a laptop at work, a convertible laptop/tablet at home, and an Android Note phone in my pocket.
Although technology is supposed to make life easier, yet it is not doing it the right way. Computer development changed people’s behavior and habits over time; I don’t think my younger brother can comprehend that people survived before the internet-connected devices era.