Thursday, 29 November 2007

Getting the Geek Out ... and some memories of old...

With the amount of business we have been doing lately, it has been pretty tough to focus on some of the neat developments happening in our industry such as SkullTrail, SBS Cougar, and more.

But, every once in a while we get a pleasant surprise such as the one from yesterday.

We helped a client move their operations between floors and while waiting for a technician from their ISP to arrive to finish the hookup, we cleaned out some of their "junk" drawers.

There were a lot of components that spanned well over two decades of computer technology if not more. Here are some of the things found:
  • A completely sealed copy of Windows 3.11 for Workgroups Add-On
  • A completely sealed OEM copy of Windows 3.1
  • WordPerfect 5.1 with add-ons
  • Socket 478 Asus motherboard
  • 80386 Math Co-Processor
  • ISA socket based IDE card
It was really neat going through all of that stuff.

The ISA IDE add-in card with all of its jumpers brought back the excitement of the first generation CD-ROM drives - that were prohibitively expensive - and how much we anticipated the next generation that would run at 2x = 300KB/sec!

Those jumpers for IRQs and I/O addresses reminded me of the pain points we would go through to configure a system to run without freezing up when loaded up with a sound card (one of the most contentious of add-in cards), modem for Bulletin Board and/or Internet access (starting out at 300 bits/sec +), high performance 256KB, 512KB, and 1MB (yes ... kilobytes) video cards, and more.

Having seen where we have come from, it sure gives a different perspective on where we are now with the hardware and software we work with.

There were times where we put huge chunks of time into getting a system configuration working ... most of that playing with jumpers. Then there were huge chunks of time working on drivers and getting them to play nice in the operating system.

Then came DOS4GW and the conventional memory game for gamers.

Today, unless we are working with Bleeding Edge, things tend to play nice together. The caveat to everything playing nice is cost ... just as it always has been. Buy cheap, and in the end it will cost more due to systems coming back because they run flaky at best, if they ran properly at all before leaving the shop.

As some things change, all things remain the same! ;)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

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