This Thursday I received the shipment containing my new Dell laptop. So this is the first blog post that I am typing out on a computer bought with my own money. But before I say what my new computer is like, let me put down some thoughts and memories that came flooding back to my mind as I started my new computer for the first time.
Incident #1 (June 1996): Me and my sister found it difficult to pass the time as we waited for the arrival of our first home computer at our house in Allahabad. My father’s company had decided to install a desktop computer at our house for his official work. It was an 80486 machine with a 66MHz processor, 20 MB RAM, 420 MB hard disk, a primitive CD-ROM drive and a sound card and speakers. Nobody in my father’s office had seen a multimedia machine before. I distinctly remember one of his colleagues saying, “20 MB RAM? That’s a waste! What will you do with that much of RAM?” Before you laugh, remember, the best desktops of the day had just 8MB of RAM, at least in India. But that Compaq Presario CDS 720 was probably my favourite computer. I can never forget the hours of fun that I had browsing Encarta, listening to music, drawing on paintbrush, coding in QBASIC and Turbo C++ and playing those old games on MS DOS and Windows 3.1. Movies on DVD? The Internet? Who had heard of those things then?
Incident #2 (November 2003): I was in my third year at IIIT Calcutta and had decided to buy a new computer as the old second-hand Pentium that I was using for programming wasn’t sufficient anymore. My father was paying for it, and I did a lot of market research before finalizing a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 machine with a 40 GB hard disk. All of my friends’ PCs had 128 MB of RAM now. Some of our older lab PCs still had 64MB. But I thought, “I have seen the benchmark grow from 20MB to 128 MB. I’ll plan in advance and get 256 MB of RAM.” And that was that, until I added another 256 MB to that computer to speed it up last year and replaced the 40 GB disk with an 80 GB one. The OS? The one and only Windows XP was the most obvious choice for such a high-end PC, since Windows 98 was obsolete, and Windows 2000 was the “poor man’s XP” anyway.
Incident #3 (Mid-2006): I was working in Hyderabad in an IT company and as a vendor to Microsoft. They were about to release this new OS called Windows Longhorn, which had been renamed to Vista. Some of my friends were actually designing Vista components and doing beta testing. They said this new OS was so heavy that its minimum requirement was 512 MB of RAM. It didn’t run properly on 512 MB though, and the best of their computers with 1 GB of RAM were the ones which handled Vista efficiently. That was the first time I heard of 1 GB RAM on desktops. Later in 2007 our own office desktops were upgraded to 1 GB RAM machines. 160 GB hard drives were becoming common. Intel’s Dual Core processors were considered state-of-the-art.
The present (December 2008): My new Dell laptop has an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz processor, 3 GB of RAM, a 320 GB hard disk and runs Windows Vista. I am a little sad because I felt 4 GB RAM was becoming a little too costly for me and went for 3 GB instead. I am also concerned about my hard disk space; I have seen how quickly my 80 GB disk filled up. 320 GB is just four times that amount. How long can it last? Terabyte external hard disks are available here; maybe I will get one sometime later. And to think that the computers in my school that were responsible for creating the love of computer science that I have today had 640 KB of RAM and no hard disk!
I suddenly feel I have been around for too long.