Jump to content
Keatah

Decisive moment you had to get a PC.

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

What was the decisive & defining moment you said to yourself, "I gotta get a PC!" ??

 

Mine was a "slow brew", but there was a tipping point. So, it began in the Apple II era with flight simulators. Like A2-FS1 and then Flight Simulator II & Jet on the Apple II again. I was a flunky for wireframe graphics. They had an aura of sophistication and professionalism I would personally not measure up to till years later. Anyhow, there's only so much you can do with a 1MHz 6502 and no graphics or sound co-processors. I wanted "more" hardware. At the time my choices would have been a Mac, IIgs, Amiga, or 286-class machine. All too expensive, so I got the Amiga and thoroughly enjoyed JET and FlightSimulator II there.

 

Seeing that there was no upgrade path to real "hi-res" on the Amiga, let alone the Apple II except for a one-off niche card called SecondSight, I started thinking about the PC in general.

 

Then I played flight sim on the PC, a 286 Packard Bell and was blown away by the high-res graphics. 640x480 or 800x600, or even 1024x768. I was not impressed with EGA/VGA colors, not wowed by the solid filled-in graphics with hidden-line removal, no none of that. I had seen it all before on the Amiga. But the PC's sharp nearly jaggie-free hi-res graphics were alluring and screamed Pro-Level!

 

There were thousands of hardware combinations already available. Even in the 286 era. And this overwhelmed my still immature and infantile post-teen brain. But I oohed and ahhed over the AT&T machines running the XENIX OS and Leading Edge "workstations". They looked so professional. And the TEXT MODE resolutions and sharpness and raw speed was inspiring. This was real-computer stuff, professional stuff! But it was not a defining moment. And these rigs were still thousands of dollars.

 

If I had the money then I might have splurged, but I didn't, and it was for the better. I got into college and skipped over the 286 and 386 generations. I mooched off of buddies' 286 machines though. It was horribly complex, I didn't understand DOS (like I do now) from my ass or a hole in the ground. And I most definitely didn't understand the industry or any of the hardware architecture. No. A 286 or 386 would be wasted on me other than crappy CGA/EGA/VGA gaming. In school labs and classrooms we all used 286 or 8086 machines. And I continued to be awed by the speed at which text was processed. It was just like the Apple II and not bit-mapped like the rapidly-becoming-underpowered Amiga.

 

So. Comes around the early 1990's, 92 maybe, 93'ish. I've thoroughly outgrown my Apple II. I had it upgraded to the max, hard drive, extra memory, you name it. Upgrading the Amiga was an exercise in futility and money wastage. Everything was hard to find and expensive. Mostly hard to find though. And it still processed text like molasses, not professional.

 

Like reading the Apple II catalogs and literature years ago in the 70's and 80's. I got to doing the same thing with the PC. Visiting CompUSA, Computerland, and others every other day after work - I amassed a lot of brochures and PC World and Byte and PC Magazine magazines. I came across some astronomy software advertisements. It was little more the sky charting and eclipse predicting, constellation tutorials, and planet position plotting. Time & date plots, calendars, stuff from ARC software. I was utterly thunderstruck. Now this. THIS! This is what was exciting! That those basic stargazing activities could be done on a computer with hi-res graphics was beyond flabbergasting. Ohh I had done some of that on the Apple II, but comparatively low-res and slow speeds made it a chore. But still fascinating.

 

Discovering astronomy software on the PC wasn't a revelation in itself. But seeing color plots, and color charts, in easily readable hi-res was. It was how I wanted it to be on the Apple II. But, expecting that on a nearly 15-year old 8-bit architecture wasn't anywhere near reasonable.

 

So reading through the science software catalogs made me all giddy and stuff. My head was spinning in circles while my brain was somersaulting. I finally vowed to start saving. By the time I was done the 486 DX2 class chips were just coming out. In fact I had to wait a few weeks till Gateway had one in stock. I ABSOLUTELY HAD TO HAVE ONE. I still didn't understand much about PC architecture yet, and even less about PC gaming. In fact gaming was not the reason I got a PC at all. Nope. It was all about word processing, astronomy, and hi-res graphics.

 

Imagining playing with all that sophisticated astronomy software and word processing in and along with hi-resolution graphics on a professional-level computer was the moment!

 

In fact I still have the Zephyr and ARC Software catalogs which helped get me hooked on it all.

 

I soon enough got the system. I got all kinds of astro software and enjoyed all of it. Even got some astrological stuff for fun. Got things like RedShift, SkyGlobe Dance of the Planets, and so much more! Loads of shareware and catalog stuff.

 

I of course got some games, too, but I never seriously got into PC gaming till DOOM and Raptor came out. Or maybe slightly earlier with Stellar 7 and Nova 9, Whacky Wheels and Tubular Worlds. Though the PC gaming revolution didn't hit in earnest till Doom came out.

 

Today it's fun to play with Stellarium, Cartes du Ceil, DeepSky, Starry Night, SpaceEngine, and even the old stuff like SkyGlobe or RedShift. Especially on a rainy night.

 

So, yes, early astronomy and solid word processing was what made me want the PC. I could finally have my own Space Command Center!

Edited by Keatah
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never had the mystical feeling of needing a PC.  I got to mess around on my grandfather's PS/2, my aunt had a PCjr, and I knew a couple of guys who ran BBSes on theirs.  Plus the random scatter of friends who had them.

 

In later years I built a Windows 95 machine from spare parts when I worked at a computer shop.  I used an old Compaq a customer traded in to try out Linux, then turned it into a Windows 98SE machine which became an Internet Connection Sharing machine up until I went to ISDN with an Ascend Pipeline 75.  I purchased my first new Windows computer in 2000 when I was working for an ISP.  It was a Dell Inspiron laptop which came with Windows 2000.  I needed it for some of the stuff I was doing at work and at school.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My brother bought a PC for some of his confirmation money. It was the first computer in our house, and I found it exciting, particularly the games. So when I had my confirmation two years later, I got one for myself.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

When my friend got Doom.

 

I was on Atari ST, and I toyed with the idea of switching to PC for several years, but when I saw Doom, that sealed it! 

 

I was in college, and didn't have money for PC outright, but picked up parts as I could from computer shows and what not, eventually I finished my first build:  AMD 486DX-100 with 850mb hard drive

Edited by zzip
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In 1994 Commodore went out of business, so it became obvious the Amiga platform was a dead end. Web browsing on the Amiga was a pain also, so the Internet had something to do with it.

 

I switched to a 486 running Windows 95 beta versions (a friend was a tester). It was about an even swap for what I sold a souped up Amiga 3000 for... Spectrum 28/24, PhonePak, 68040 accellerator. Of course if I'd kept it until today it would be worth a lot more than I sold it for in 1994.

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, R.Cade said:

In 1994 Commodore went out of business, so it became obvious the Amiga platform was a dead end. Web browsing on the Amiga was a pain also, so the Internet had something to do with it.

 

I switched to a 486 running Windows 95 beta versions (a friend was a tester). It was about an even swap for what I sold a souped up Amiga 3000 for... Spectrum 28/24, PhonePak, 68040 accellerator. Of course if I'd kept it until today it would be worth a lot more than I sold it for in 1994.

 

Oh yeah, internet was another motivation, but that kind of blew up while I was switiching to PC.   I was doing dial-up on my ST and got access to FTP sites, and the GEnie online service I was using at the time gave some limited internet access

 

But the first time I had Netscape Navigator running on my own PC was mind blowing.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I began a Business degree at University in the Fall of 1988. There was a required course in business software (WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3, dBase III+) and accounting class also required the use of both spreadsheets and some specialized software. 

 

I lived at home, so regularly making the lengthy cross-town trip to campus to use the computer lab (which may not have any space available) quickly became a challenge. I got a PC that December. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I ended up working at a UK computer games company based on my Amiga background and they phased out Amiga games in favor of the growing PC game scene. Once I played some of the titles in house that was it for me. I ended up ditching the Amiga and getting a 486 DX2-66. Then Doom came out and the rest is history..

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That would be when I learned programming in high school in 1984/85.  At the time I couldn't afford a computer.  A few years later, at university we used PCs for several courses.  I could have used the labs but decided to spend my student loan money on a PC with the new 386sx chip.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Honestly, the first time I used an actual IBM 5150 at a friend's house the year after the system came out. It was basically instant for me. That was what a computer *should be*.

 

People do forget that at the time the original PC was released, its competition wasn't really all that powerful. Some computers did graphics and sound better, but a lot of current models didn't! The TRS-80 and Apple II sure didn't. And most of the computers that did do graphics and sound better in 1981 (the Atari 8 bits, mostly - the C64 wasn't out yet) didn't do any of the other things the PC did well, or at least not as well as the PC did. Expandability, RGB video output, separate keyboard, and just that *sound* it made!

 

Honestly, the sound it made was a big selling point for me. It felt like being in a real "computer room", like with mainframes and terminals. My friend's dad had his 5150 in I guess a den, or what we'd probably call a home office now. It was a separate little room that had some heavy oak bookshelves, some expensive looking decorations, and a big desk with this IBM PC on it. The lighting in this room was dim and uneven, so that the PC itself provided most of it, and then there was just this hum of the fan in the background. Somehow it all just seemed very expensive and professional, the ambience, and I'd never heard a computer that sounded like that before. My friend's dad let us play around with his PC when he wasn't using it. He had a couple games for it, and then we also just tried programming stuff in BASIC since we were both in computer science class together.

 

And of course the keyboard was (and still is) an absolute boss. I'd never experienced a keyboard like the original Model F - no one really had, at least not anyone who'd used one of the popular computers of the time.

 

My family could not afford a PC and I didn't get any kind of computer until 1985. By that point, I'd kind of come back around to the Apple II because it was a good compromise that had a little of everything I liked about computers, though it didn't really excel in any one area. But I do remember that the first game I got for it was SubLogic's Flight Simulator II, which was actually the basis for the original PC release of MS Flight Simulator. And that was one of the games I'd played on the PC 3 years before. It ran *so much worse* on the Apple II! It just made me want a PC all over again.

 

For a long time I didn't sweat things that much because the PC was very expensive and still mostly for business people through the first 5-10 years of its life. The Apple II definitely had a lot more games, so I was happy with my computer. It was kind of like wishing you could someday own a Bentley but still being happy with your Toyota Camry because it was more practical for your situation.

 

The first impression I had of the PC stuck with me and I kind of had the idea that all the clones were going to offer the same experience. So in the early 90's, when prices came down and my dad was looking to help me get started in college, I finally asked him to buy me a PC clone. And I hated that computer. I still loved DOS, the IBM font, the separate components and all that, and of course my PC out of the box was tons more powerful than my Apple II. By then there were also a lot of DOS games available. But my PC was a cheap piece of junk, and wasn't the same experience as the IBM 5150.

 

I finally got a real 5150 a couple of years ago. It's now one of the pride and joys of my collection. If anything, it's an underrated machine.

Edited by spacecadet
  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a boxed complete 5150 in my collection (and in the box it will stay, until I re-test, clean and sell), had a lab full of them in high school which we used to learn dBase and Lotus.  Have exactly the same impression of it now as I did back then. Having owned and been experienced with various personal computers and platforms before and after it... the platform is what it is, and that's not really an endorsement. Sure, it's a gloriously over-built bit of tech and admittedly the simple things it does - it does fairly well. 
 

Hardware wise, the IBM 5150 is a superior bit of plastic and metal that ultimately runs the most utilitarian software. It works as it should and as we expected back then, especially for the price. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To answer the OP's question.. first time I ever felt I "had to have" a PC was shortly after Windows '95 came out. When I could buy a decent box that had VGA, 56k modem (rarely ever achieved 28k-33k in practice of course), Pentium 133mhz I believe. Some online bundle, probably AOL, an inkjet printer and nice speakers - which is the only thing I still have left of that system and use with my Amiga 1000 to this day! The amplified speakers are among the best computer speakers I've ever heard. Anyway, spent real money on that bitch, most I ever spent... around $3k. And it was a real IBM. Of course!  🤣

 

Bought and "built" several machines since then until the mid 2000's, when I finally ditched the WinTel platform for good. Hardly feel compelled to use Apple stuff anymore either. It all sucks today.   

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was an 80s brat, and had wanted "a computer" (of my own, did not really care what kind) for basically as long as I could voice the desire, because I thought they were "amazingly cool."

 

It took about 15 years of constant harassment for my mom to finally relent, and buy a family computer. By that time, it was the mid 90s, and PCs were already king.  So, naturally, that's what she bought.  A 486SX25, AST AdvantEdge, with cirrus logic video, and 4mb of RAM.  40MB hard drive, with a variant of windows 3.1 on it.  I upgraded the bejesus out of it.  By the time it was retired, it was sporting a DX2/50, 16mb of RAM, had a vibra16 (because actual soundblaster as too expensive), and a 12x cdrom, running windows 95.

 

It was never really "I want a PC! (specifically)", it was "I want a computer!", and a PC is what I ended up with.

 

Where most of you kids have that sensation with something like an Amiga 500, or a C64, or even a TI 99/4A, (Or if you live in Europe, A BBC micro, a Timex Sinclair, etc...)  I have it with old DOS PCs.  I know those things inside and out, and all the fun tricks to carefully getting low memory maximally configured, etc...

 

I have some great memories of fixing all the many exotic hardware offers from that era (first job was as a tech benchmonkey), and for me, Old DOS PCs are great.  Sure, they are ugly and beige, but they are all so quirky and unique in so many delightful ways.

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me it was more of a necessity.  In the early 90's I had an Atari ST which got me through community college, it was good for word processing and accessing the VAX machine for my programming courses as well as playing imported games (which I felt were better than the console games at the time).

 

But in my math courses they were using DOS based programs like Mathmatica plus they used IBMs for a C programming elective course.  Not to mention everything was moving to Windows while Atari stopped supporting the computers so the ST had no upgrade path after the Falcon...plus the European clones were far too expensive for me.

 

Then I saw an article about Gemulator which ran ST programs twice as fast on a 486 and 4x faster with a Pentium.  Oh yes, and on the same machine that also ran Doom!  That was when I had to have a PC even though it took a few more years before I could actually get one.

 

In the late 90's when I went back to school, I really needed a PC for the C courses in university and even for accessing the college e-mail account (it was an Eudora floppy disk).  So I went got a customized PC from the same person whole sold me the ST years before and it was a Pentium II with Windows 98.

 

I was no fan of Microsoft at the time but man did Win98 blow all the previous versions away, and when I wasn't doing school work at home or playing those awesome PC games (best one was Unreal) I was playing around with Linux for a "real" OS experience.

 

And I stuck with the PC platform to this day though it was recently that I no longer felt the regret of not using an alternative computer like the Mac to replace my old ST.

 

 

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember feeling like the odd man out in school.

 

I attended a fairly "wealthy" school, so all the schoolkids I attended with all had the more expensive Macintosh systems of that era, (because their parents had been snowed by apple's propaganda), and the school system of course, was practically owned by Apple back then. 

 

There was a piece of software I desperately wanted--  ARDI Executor--  which was not a true emulator, but a mac compatibility layer, that did MacOS 6, and some of OS 7 syscall implementations.  It would have been suitable for running Claris Works, which is what all the teachers wanted the assigned word processing crap done in.  But, it cost like 40$, and mom insisted the answer was no. 

 

On the other hand, I had LOTS of experience with PCs when the school system retired all those old macs several years later, and all the teachers had to come to grips with using windows 98. LOL.

  • Like 1
  • Haha 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was happy with my Amiga 500, but going to college (EE degree, later changed to Computer Engineering). I had visited the school and talked to some people there and realized most of the development was done on PCs (or Unix boxes).  I figured it'd be a lot harder to not have my own PC.  It wasn't a piece of software or a game that sold me, it was the practicality.

 

As much as I loved the Amiga (and still do), the PC worked out great, games-wise.  It quickly became the golden era, imho: 386+, VGA and Sound Blaster.  Wing Commander, Ultima: Underworld, X-Com, Doom, Civ.  So many of my favorite computer games of all time came from that eary-mid 90s period.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In 1990 Radio Shack made the mistake of approving a credit card for me. I purchased a Tandy 386 sx/33 with 512k video RAM, floppy drive, CD-ROM and VGA monitor - which was great since I could play 7th Guest when it came out a few years later. :) I think it was $1200 plus tax. I bought a box of 3.5" floppies too.

 

My next stop was the comic shop we had here that rented DOS games. I'll end my story there. 😇

  • Like 2
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It was 1998 I think, my Amstrad 464 (not even the plus version!) simply wasn't good enough, nobody knew what one was and everyone had started blabbering about this internet thing. I got a second hand Pentium 233 Mhz which had been upgraded to windows 98, it'll be another year or two before I got 28.8k dialup (our area wasn't great, we did get it fullspeed to 56k eventually). It was a first for me in a lot of things, an operating system, applications, mouse, hell I didn't even own my own floppy drive till this point as my 464 used the cassette deck.

 

Essentially it was pressure to be similar to everyone else, but it turns out I'm always behind anyway. Nearly time to get a PS4!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was a senior in high school.  As a child, I had been given a TI 99/4A when those were being sold for $49.  A few years later, I was given a Commodore 128 system and I used that all through junior high and high school, until it became apparent that it, too, was headed to the obsolete corner.  At about the same time, my school went from generally having Apple IIe computers in every classroom to IBM PC compatibles (mostly Compaq 386s I believe).  I really wanted an Amiga 500, but I could also see even then that Commodore was not heading in the right direction.  With that in mind, and with the help of a family friend, I bought a Tandy 1000 RL system.  It was the floor model and had numerous issues with the hard drive, and they exchanged it (along with the CM-11 CGA monitor) for a Tandy 1000 RLX-HD with VGA monitor and gave me some money back because the 1000 RLX was on sale for less than I paid for the 1000 RL.  After a month, the store agreed to exchange the 1000 RLX for a 1000 RSX because it was now selling for the same price as the RLX.  That was the computer I took with me to college in 1993.  A few years later I sold it and got a Tandy 486SX-33 system.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, spacecadet said:

 

People do forget that at the time the original PC was released, its competition wasn't really all that powerful. Some computers did graphics and sound better, but a lot of current models didn't! The TRS-80 and Apple II sure didn't. And most of the computers that did do graphics and sound better in 1981 (the Atari 8 bits, mostly - the C64 wasn't out yet) didn't do any of the other things the PC did well, or at least not as well as the PC did. Expandability, RGB video output, separate keyboard, and just that *sound* it made!

I eventually got a 5150 when someone gave an old one away.   It's hard to compare it to the "home computers" of the era because they came from such different design philosophies

 

The 5150 felt slower than the 8-bit doing simple tasks.  Even turning it on, it would sit idle for 30 seconds before it sprang to life.   And graphics-wise it depended on what you wanted to do.  The PC could do higher res in those icky CGA colors, but graphics rendering was rather slow-  not a big deal if displaying pie-charts, but not good for games.  The Atari graphics were clearly built for gaming rather than applications

 

But the 5150 was built like a tank, it did 80 columns, and that clicky keyboard was a joy to work on compared to my mushy 800XL

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was a die hard 8bit fan (800 then 130XE) before moving on to the 1040ST in '86.I did most of my College work on the 1040 and upgraded to a Mega 2ST when it came out.  I had the Magic Sac and then Spectre 128K carts.  I had the 286 board to run IBM stuff.  I had a 20MB and then 40MB ICD-FaST drive.  I was doing DTP and Wordperfect on the ST, Turbo Pascal on the Spectre and DOS stuff on the IBM piece.  It honestly was a great kit.  I added one of the 16mhz boards as well.

 

Fast forward to '91/'92 and at my job I was working on a mainframe.  Dialing in from home was unheard of back then but was an option when the weather was bad.  None of the ST terminal software at the time accurately emulated a VT100 or VT52, forgot which.  The colors and screen drawing routines werent 100% and I couldnt do my work efficiently.  ProComm+ on the PC's was the best at the time and I needed a PC in order to move forward so I reluctantly bought a 386DX machine running Windows 3.0.  It sucked compared to my Mega 2 at the time but I could get any game I wanted now and eventually when I got a 486SX machine the Atari was packed up.

 

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Family came into enough money for a computer when I was in high school.  I had a hunch either an Amiga for video production or PC for software development was in my future.  Did my research from reading Computer Shopper end to end. 

 

It came down to an Amiga with x86 side box or a CompuAdd 386sx with enough cards to match Amiga features.    Went for the i386 as it was cheaper and regretted it as I became more savvy.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, zzip said:

The 5150 felt slower than the 8-bit doing simple tasks.  Even turning it on, it would sit idle for 30 seconds before it sprang to life.   And graphics-wise it depended on what you wanted to do.  The PC could do higher res in those icky CGA colors, but graphics rendering was rather slow-  not a big deal if displaying pie-charts, but not good for games.  The Atari graphics were clearly built for gaming rather than applications

Yes, it did wait a while and then have to go through a boot process. I thought that was about the coolest thing at the time - I loved watching it count up all the RAM (to 640K in my the case of my friend's machine - 640k! In 1982!). It seemed so much more "computery" than just turning on a machine and it being instantly ready. Of course over the years bootup times did get pretty out of hand, and I started getting as annoyed by them as anybody else. But in the beginning, I found it part of the PC's charm.

 

Graphics-wise the original PC is *massively* underrated. Go watch some videos of the 8088 mph demo to see what it was really capable of on stock hardware. It's true that a lot of games were kind of lazy or developers were just learning the architecture and didn't take advantage of what the system could do, but there is quite a list of games that run at 640x200 in 16 colors and at pretty good frame rates. I don't know of another computer in 1981 that could do that. (It could do this while outputting to two monitors simultaneously as well.)

 

Here's a list of those games: http://nerdlypleasures.blogspot.com/2013/11/ibm-pc-color-composite-graphics.html

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...