Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tech-Nostalgia (Part I)

Sometime in 1992, back in Doha, I was sitting at home, doing my Homework like a normal 7 year old, and my Dad pulls into the driveway. My big bro (12 years old at the time) sprints out and jumps up and down. Dad's got a smile on his face as he gets out and opens the trunk.

Inside, there were 2 big heavy white boxes. I was still trying to figure out what was going on. The excitement was clearly showing on everyone.

I had not much to look forward at that time. There was just that State-run TV that showed 30 minutes of cartoons a day, and otherwise, I was just a kid who sat at home, reading some of the children's books that were lying around.

So we bring the boxes inside, Mom gets a cloth to wipe clean a table we had to put it on. As we unboxed the containers - I saw what looked like a small TV, and a big white metal box. It was a sight to behold at the time: Like some contraption that came from the future. My brother was busy glancing at the manual, and we placed all the equipment one-by-one on the table. After frenzied searching in the manual, we figured out what needs to be plugged into what. So finally, when everything was in place, we said a small prayer and plugged it in to the wall socket and pushed the power switch.

This, my friends was my first contact with a computer. It was an 80286 IBM-Compatible PC manufactured by a Taiwanese company called MiTAC. The specifications (as I remember) were:

  • 80286 Intel processor Clocked at 12 MHz
  • 4 MB RAM
  • 40 MB HDD
  • Colour Monitor attached to a VGA Graphics Adapter
  • Standard PC-AT 101-key Keyboard

So, we waited in awe as the Computer fired up, Saw many rolling digits (which I know know is the BIOS), and finally this prompt showed up:

C:\>

That’s when we knew that the beast was alive, and ready to take input. So, my brother and I sit on the table, all excited, and type:

C:\>HI

We saw some lights flash, we were scared out of our wits, as the computer took some time to process what we just typed. And then, all of a sudden, the computer spouted out:

Bad command or Filename

OK. The computer was talking back to us, but didn’t make much sense. I thought I'd try to introduce myself. I tried typing:

C:\>MY NAME IS SUHAIL

Again, as the computer tried to process it, it then said the same thing:

Bad command or filename

Dad comes in and says... “Boys! don't spoil the computer by typing garbage. I'll get an engineer to help you people use it.”

So, we then switch of the computer, and after a day's wait, my dad brings home a computer engineer from the company, who taught my big bro some fundamentals. He brought a big bag of 5.25" Disks and put them in one by one and typed so many commands as the computer just kept generating screen after screen of text that made no sense to me. Finally, after my begging my brother later when he left, He taught me the first few commands I’ve ever used on a PC:

C:\>CD GAMES

C:\GAMES>CD PRINCE

C:\GAMES\PRINCE>PRINCE

That, my friends was the point where I fell in love with computers and computer games :)

Meanwhile, check out the promotional video for MS-DOS 5 (the OS described above), back when M$ was desperate for the $$$'s here.


5 comments:

Kulbir Saini said...

ohh boy!!! i would say just one word ... "AWESOME" and thrilling at the same time ...

Gopal said...

nice. depiction of command line experience is totally awesome!! :)

HalleY said...

this one was super awesome :)

skp said...

Awesome Buddy !!

Keep it coming, I think you are one of the first adopters of computers :D !

ATH007 said...

man,... awesome ... this was a fun read..