In the mid-90s my parents bought our first PC – it was a second hand 286 with 1MB RAM, running MS-DOS 5.0. Of course this was back in the days when the processor speed was shown on the front of the computer using 7-segment LEDs and, on ours, it proudly stated that this machine was screaming along at 12MHz. Well, as long as you had the Turbo button depressed anyway – in standard mode it ran at 10MHz. Even with these lowly specs, I managed to upgrade it to MS-DOS 6.1 and Windows 3.1.
In 1995 I started my GCSEs, including Music, which was going to lead to the use of MIDI to record and compose pieces which would go on to be part of the course work. Unfortunately our lowly 286 couldn’t run any of the current MIDI software, and so my parents bought us a brand new machine. This was a Pentium 90, with 4MB RAM and was bought from a local computer company. It initially came with Windows 3.1 but they upgraded it to 95 when that came out, and we used it to run Works for standard word processing and spreadsheet work, and Cubasis (the cut down version of Cubase) for my MIDI keyboard.
Our P90 (although now with 16MB RAM) lasted me all through GCSEs and A-Levels and went to university with me, where it began, much like Trigger’s Broom, to morph into gradually more and more powerful systems, until eventually I couldn’t fit the new motherboards into the older case. These machines ran everything from Windows 98, through 2000 and XP, and eventually Red Hat Linux as well (useful for testing My-SQL and Java programming assignments on).
Generally I was using AMD processors as we could get those quite cheaply from the computer fair which visited our campus once each term. I can still remember the excitement of moving from a 400MHz to 1GHz processor for the first time, and when I installed the MPEG4 decoder card and watched my first DVDs it was like my little computer had grown up! Of course, the sound was also constantly upgraded, always using Creative Labs sounds cards and speakers, and it went from stereo to 4.1 to 5.1 over the course of my university career.
After university I started earning some ‘proper’ money, and I splashed out on my first laptop. A Toshiba Satellite, it was on offer in the January sales at PC World in 2003! Eventually I left home, moved into my own flat and the Toshiba, ever faithful, began to show its age. So I saved some money and upgraded to the sexiest laptop available at the time – a Sony Vaio! This lasted well, but with only a 12″ screen (and we’re still looking at low-resolutions) it wasn’t quite as useable as I’d hoped. I sold it and moved on to a series of HPs, before dipping my toe back into the Vaio’s with a mega 15″ desktop replacement unit. During this time, however, I’d take more and more interest in editing videos, and the Sony Vaio, big as it was, met its match when producing the final few seconds of a ‘25th Anniversary‘ video a group of friends put together. Knowing the end was nigh for this laptop, I splashed out on the most expensive desktop I could afford – Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 2TB HDD – it was, and still is, a monster!
But my new desktop left me immobile, at a time when computing was becoming more and more mobile. At work I started seeing the Windows 8 pre-release software, and our users needed tablets to keep up with the competition. But we’re a Microsoft shop, so I knew I’d have to get au fait with the new OS pretty sharpish. To help I made an impulse buy (again at PC World) of an Asus tablet PC, and from there I got caught up in the hype of the Surface RT and then Surface 2, convinced I could live in a world of 10″ screens and WinRT apps. After struggling to edit PowerPoints and not being able to view Word documents properly I eventually fell for the Surface Pro 3, which very quickly became my main machine, with the desktop relegated to video production.
While all this had been going on in my personal life, at work I was being asked to support a senior exec with his iPad usage, so our department bought an iPad so we could get used to it, faster than the exec would. Once the exec stopped needing our help I started using the iPad for personal tasks. Then, as previously explained, I moved from Windows Phone to an iPhone. Eventually Apple announced they wouldn’t be supporting the company iPad in iOS 10 (it was the first iPad with a Retina screen, but I forget the exact model). On the way to our closest John Lewis I happened to mention to my wife that if there just happened to be an iPad Mini 4 in the “John Lewis Magical Box Of Discounts” (aka returns cabinet) then ok, yes, I’d buy it. They had one in there, and it was the exact spec I was looking for. So I bought it and splashed out on the official blue smart cover to match my iPhone and Surface as well.
So my current setup consists of an iPhone 6, an iPad Mini 4, a Surface Pro 3 and an HP desktop. Of course the iPhone and iPad work well together, and the Surface and HP desktop and getting better and more cohesive and Microsoft continue to improve Windows 10. However over the last couple of years I’ve been getting more annoyed with issues in Windows, and on the Surface in particular – but that’s the topic for another post!
Suffice it to say – now seems like a good time to give in to the halo effect and make the leap across the chasm to macOS!