#187 Misadventures of an old computer

July 1997:
I got my first PC. Configuration: Pentium 1, 166 MHz, 16 MB RAM, 1.2 GB HDD, FDD, Creative 12x CD ROM, ESS Sound Blaster Sound Card, Running Windows 95.

By the next few months I also got a 9600 bps modem and a VSNL internet shell account. In another few months I was using a 33.6 kbps modem with the VSNL TCP/IP account and browsing the net on IE 3, or 2 not too sure, sometimes used Netscape, chatting on ICQ and YM, listening to music on Winamp, playing DOS games and a few Windows based games.

By the next couple of years I could download music from the internet and fill up the little hard disk that I had. Allan Border Cricket and then Jonty Rhodes Cricket and FPS Doom, Duke Nukem and Blood soon became my favorites. Soon I bought a CD of Cricket 97 and it became the hottest game of the season. I had a proud collection of almost 200 MB of music can you imagine? My source of  entertainment was my computer. It was everything to me.

One day it just crashed. I frantically tried to backup my songs from the DOS that was still working. Do you know how? By splitting songs using song splitter and then putting them on Floppies! That was 2001. The computer was put in the cupboard. And it stayed there for almost forever.

What I did not do with that computer was upgrade its hardware or software in time. But it would not have helped. The computer which cost me Rs 48,000 in 1997 and stopped working in 2001 had become obsolete in those 4 years. Pentium III was in by that time and so was Windows NT.

August 2003
Being almost without a computer for  two years, I was gifted with yet another PC! This time I knew what I wanted, though not really! So I got one: Pentium IV, 2.4 GHz, 128 MB RAM, 40 GB HDD, FDD, 52x Samsung CD Writer, 15 inch digital monitor running Windows XP and it looked good for Rs 40,000. But my misadventures started soon and they had to!

128 MB RAM was never gonna be enough for Windows XP. From somewhere I managed to get a 64 MB RAM. With complete enthusiasm I put that stick on the motherboard. It wont go in, but how the hell it defy my orders? And I switched on the CPU… WOOOOOOF… something blew off. The computer just wont start then.
I soon realised that I had put in an SD RAM in a DDR RAM slot. It should not have fit, it did not, but did I care?

Fortunately, being still in warranty period, I got my mobo repaired for free. It would have cost me anything between 7-10k. Things went on. Soon I added another 128 MB RAM to it and things looked better. Slightly better if not much. Little did I know that Windows XP needed a minimum of 256 MB.

May 2008:
This is what the same computer has gone through in the last 4 years (after 2004).

1. Addition of a UPS.
2. A few formats and fresh Windows installations.
3. A couple of linux installations and deletions.
4. Two changes of SMPS. [This really runs your computer! Ask me how]
5. Few thousand GBs of downloads: movies, songs, softwares, games, almost everything!
6. A final addition of 512 MB DDR RAM stick!
7. Fresh installation of Windows Vortex. [You would not want to know what this is!]
8. A new keyboard since the first one was done away by ANTS!
9. Oh did I tell you that I even painted the sides of my monitor with red and blue water colours?

And for a list of resource intensive applications that worked, if not worked wonders on it:
1. Mozilla Firefox!!!!!
2. Matlab 7.1
3. Adobe Photoshop CS2
4. Corel Draw X3
5. And now Windows Vortex… that is Vista on an XP engine!

And it is working well…

Key points to note so that your computer works well for years to come:

  • Keep it clean, from outside, but more importantly inside. A clean motherboard works much faster.
  • Keep a check on your softwares, OS and accordingly use an appropriate RAM. Obviously a 256 MB RAM would not be enjoyable if you are using Windows XP!
  • Format your computer atleast twice every year! It helps to clean up the useless registry entries that stay when you install and then uninstall any programs.
  • Keep a backup of the installations of your softwares and if possible use the versions that suit your computer configuration the best. You need not use the ‘latest’ versions.
  • Decorate your computer. An old computer looks a bit repelling in its natural beige colours. If you personalise it with stickers and some paint, you will not want to part with it even years later.

If everything else fails to work with you… Do the following:

  • Sell your PC for Rs 200. That is what I did with my first PC. I just gave it to a junk yard.
  • Use your CDs to decorate your car or house by hanging them at the window or wind shields.
  • Break open any floppy disks you have and use your own creativity.
  • Use the CPU cabinet as a stationary box!
  • Sell away your monitor to PC vendor. Old monitors still sell well in India.
  • Break open your keyboard and use the keys to play scrabble.
  • Give the mouse to your cats and dogs to play with :P
  • Keep your UPS for yourself, you would want to use it with any electronic gadgets you have. It is a safety hazard to dispose a UPS without careful considerations.

I soon wish to buy a laptop but my old PC will keep working.

Like mine, I hope your computer does no longer stay as a consumer electronic, but become a Consumer Durable!



4 thoughts on “#187 Misadventures of an old computer

  1. I got my first computer in 2000, and it was an expensive purchase; it cost us 75,000! That’s because we bought the latest configuration available (Pentium III, 128 MB RAM etc.) and a 17″ monitor, which was unheard of back then. If it’s any consolation, the monitor is the only thing that survived from that configuration, and I’m still using it!

  2. Hmm…interesting post…well I got my 1st computer pretty late…after 1st year in IIT and in these short 3 years, I got 3 machines :D. 1st one 3Ghz HT 512MB RAM 80GB HDD, 2nd one 3.06GHz HT 1GB RAM 160GB HDD and 3rd one 1.7GHz Dual Core 1GB RAM 80GB HDD…forgot to mention, 3rd one is lappy :-))

  3. Ha,ha, ha….

    I remember my old computers too – the first one I used actually had 100 MB space – can you imagine!!

    And those were the days when a 7 inch floppy was taken care of more preciously than gold!

    Ha ha ha

    Well, computers have seriously evolved since then, haven’t they!


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