• The PC: a personal experience

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    pc20130819My first Windows-based PC, which I could really call my own, was a hand-me-down desktop computer owned by my tech-savvy brother-in-law. He had just upgraded to a newer computer setup, so my sister, who was living in California, sent me the junk one through the ever-reliable balikbayan box.

    It was one of those big, bulky white boxes, built like a tank. It was powered by a 25Mhz 16-bit Intel 386 CPU with 2mb of RAM, two hard disks drive ñ one 40mb and the other 80mb ñ and ran on Microsoft Windows 3.1. The ìwhite monsterî was also accompanied by two more space-hugging equipment: a large 14-inch CRT monitor that could only produce up to 256 colors (already ìhigh-resî at that time) and an HP deskjet printer, which could only print in black. It was 1994Ö and yeah, those were the days.

    That particular machine only lasted me a couple of months because we all know what happened the next year. I had to upgrade my 386 setup to a Windows 95-capable machine, and doing it at that time wasnít cheap.

    When I brought my 386 to a computer shop in Cubao for the upgrade, I practically had to change everything what was inside. All that was left to keep was the white casing. And it cost me around P15,000 – again, not cheap in 1995 – just so I could begin using the latest Microsoft operating system and at the same time finally join the latest craze in computing ñ surfing the Internet.

    When I got home to power-up my newly acquired Windows 95 system, believe it or not, to this day I remember that feeling of euphoria for having what was probably ñ well, in my mind at least ñ the most powerful personal computer within my neighborhood. Aside from the latest operating system that made Bill Gates a multi-billionaire, my computer ran an AMD 586 processor with 133MHz clock speed, 16mb of RAM, 950mb hard disk drive, and the most exciting of all, my machine had multimedia capability. That part was provided by a 2X CD-ROM drive, a 16-bit Creative SoundBlaster full-duplex sound card, and a pair of Labtec stereo speakers. And how could I forget ñ with the newly-installed 14kbps telephone model, my PC was ready for the World Wide Web. Wow.

    Although my love for computers and everything tech started in the 80s ñ I was already using an Apple MacIntosh for writing and lay-outing underground music magazines back then ñ it wasnít until the 90s that really got into it. Up to the early 90s I was still using an Apple II system, including a DOS-based IBM XT. But when Windows 95 and the Internet arrived, everything changed.

    Today, I build my own PC systems. Built over a dozen of these computers over the years. The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) bug bit me and became a natural hobby for me. From Intel Pentium II to Intel Core 7, from AMD K7 to AMD Phenom; from high-end dual-GPU cards to 4TB hard disk drives, and up to 32GB DDR3 RAM – I played with them all, and literally experienced the evolution of the desktop PC for almost three decades now.

    However, the presence of mobile, which is now dictating the course on computing and wireless Internet connection, is pushing the desktop PC to near obsolescence; with smartphones, notebooks and tablets now becoming consumer favorites. Sadly as it may seem, the desktop PC will have the same fate that fell upon technologies of the past. Yes, just like the music cassette, MiniDisc and PDA. It may not be anytime soon, but it will happen.

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