Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ten Years On

I realized the other day that I've been a computer user and have been online for ten years now.

I'd wanted a computer as soon as personal computers were introduced, but because they were quite expensive at first, I was never able to afford one. If I remember correctly, the first IBM PCs back in the 80s cost a staggering six thousand dollars, with their monochromatic monitors and laughably paltry hard drives.

Fortunately, the trend has been that as computers have grown more sophisticated over the years, they've also become more affordable at the same time.

Still, for a long time, the price of a computer put them out of my reach. My first technological advance up from a typewriter was a word processor with a monochrome monitor, which I got in 1992. I think I paid something like four hundred bucks for it. As I remember, it had only one font on it, and you had two choices as to font size, 10 and 12, using the old typewriter terms of "pitch". Some word processors also provided 15 "pitch" as well.

The main value of this kind of word processor was that one could get their text perfect before committing it to paper. Storage was available on floppy disks, but each disk took only about ten to twelve pages of single spaced lines.

When a buddy of mine got one of the original Pentium computers, a Compaq Presario, in 1995, my desire to get one of my own only increased.

Finally, in 1998, after getting my inheritance after a two and a half year delay, I got my first computer. It was a 2 gig (count 'em -- two!) Gateway Pentium II. I had to pay two grand for it and I thought I was really uptown.

I signed up with a local dialup internet provider for 29.95 a month. That was back in the days of limited hours of service -- that thirty bucks was for only 150 hours of time per MONTH. Any time over that, and I'd have been paying a dollar an hour. Fortunately, they soon went to unlimited service. I can't imagine trying to keep within 150 hours a month now.

When I first went online, I was big into Yahoo chat rooms, which was in the days before advertising bots had taken it over and back when you couldn't use swear words in a chat room. For instance, if you typed "blow job", Yahoo rendered that as "puppy"! To this day, I can't hear the word puppy without snickering a bit.

I started with Windows 95, Internet Explorer 3, Eudora Lite email, and Word 97. I remember the first time I did an "illegal operation" -- it made me wonder what the hell I'd done and I was concerned that the cyber police were going to come along and fine me for something. I also remember the first time my computer froze and locked down on me -- I couldn't figure out what I'd done wrong and thought I'd broken the damned thing.

I'd had some snail mail correspondents back then, but they all fell by the wayside once I had people I could email, instead. I soon discovered Instant Messaging, with ICQ being my first IM program. I didn't stick with that very long; I moved to AOL IM and then to Yahoo IM, where I remain today.

Not long after going online, I discover message boards about all sorts of topics, and I still enjoy participating on the number of them today, though I've changed which boards I'm active on over the years. NASCAR message boards were the first ones I was active on, but I don't even read NASCAR boards at all any more.

This was also in the days before blogs. At that time, people were getting personal web sites with decidedly bare bones graphics, usually of one uniform (and ugly) color with severe font restrictions.

I discovered blogging in 2004, when a friend made in a chat room in 2002, told me I should start one and write about my less-than-conventional life. I started and abandoned two blogs at Diary-X and Diaryland, mainly because of their bare-bones appearances and lack of customization features. Finally, I started a blog at Blog-City in April of 2004, which I still maintain today and it now has three-quarters of a million hits. I started another blog at Modblog in August of 2004, as a blog full of my actual sexual experiences. When Modblog crashed and most Modbloggers ended up at the first EFX2, I ended up there as well, but I decided to make my EFX a mirror blog of Blog City and move the sex blog to Blogger. When the first EFX crashed, I started another Blogger blog to be yet another mirror blog, and then recreated it once again on the present EFX.

After ten years of computer and internet use, I can't imagine how I got along without it. I've made friends from all over the world with my computer, bought items unavailable in my own area by computer, kept in touch with family much cheaper than using the phone or traveling. I pay my bills online, I get my news and weather online, found new relatives while searching my family tree online, and so on. It's made all the difference in the world in my life. I would give up my TV, before I'd give up my computer.

How long have you been online?


Kathy said...

I hate to think of the money I spent getting my first decent home PC in 1995. Probably something like $2,500. And that's when I was least able to pay for something like that. Started with AOL, dropping it finally in 2000. Got rid of dial-up probably in 2002. How far we've come, and thank God for that. I'm with you. I'd give up my TV before I give up my PC. Besides, you can get a lot of first run programs on the web anyway. Great post! Got me looking back to the dinosaur days of technology.

Doooh_head said...

I've only been on the internet for about 15 years, but I've been around computers for much longer than that. I still remember sitting in my friends basement. He was demonstrating this new application that he go a hold of, called "Windows". It wasn't even v1.0 yet. It was a beta, like v0.98!