Necessity and Desperation
If necessity is the mother of invention then desperation is its great grandmother. I remember my first computer very well: an 80386 DX @ 40 Mhz with a 170MB Hard Disk, 2MB of RAM and a whopping 1MB SVGA Trident graphics card. We didn’t know it at the time but ‘Prof Computers’, the retailer who sold us the system, had loaded up the PC with old unreliable parts. What a bunch of charlatans and thieves! So naturally that computer would constantly break down and we’d have to take it in for service regularly.
They barely kept the system running through its warranty and as soon as that was over the system just decided to quit for good. And so my brother and I would often joke about what we believed ought to be their motto – “Prof – We keep it running.” All things considered I loved that computer to bits. It had a 7-segment LED display on the front of the case with a Turbo button. At the default setting the 7-segment display would read 40 in bright green, but pressing the turbo button would slow down the system to 20Mhz. There was a massive Power button marked 1 and 0, a hard reset button and, get this – a lock for a computer key. Yup, as many who’ve used old systems would rememeber, most of them came with a key that you could use to lock the system. Booting up with the system locked would lead to an error message during the POST.
Growing up, I wasn’t much for gaming. Most of my time was spent programming in BASIC, Pascal and running innovative MS DOS scripts. Some of my favourites were processing command-line parameters in the form of “%1”, “%2”, … “%n”, and of course the ultimate single line command which would typically read something like:
for %t in (file1.ex1 file2.ex2 file3.ex4 somefile.exe another.dat makeEmUp.bat gorilla.bas nibbles.bas autoexec.bat config.sys) do if not exist a:\somedir\%t copy %t ..\