Sometime this month, I think I passed the milestone of 20 years of owning a PC.
I wasn’t particularly exposed to computers while I was school, nor even much at university. A friend had a BBC micro, on which I played Elite a few times, and I learned to write S-algol on the University VAXen. The closest I came to a PC was one Physics lab that required me to write a little Basic to control a stepper motor.
Then I did a conversion M.Sc. to Computer Science, and then I was unemployed.
After nearly a year of unemployment, the bright future of work as a programmer I’d hoped for looked like as though it might be escaping from me.
I thought I’d better do something about it, and with a loan from my parents and advice from my friends I bought a PC, to demonstrate that I was serious about these computer things. In particular I was grateful for the advice of flybynightpress, a Mac enthusiast himself, who advised me not to get a Mac but a PC, because the employment prospects were better. You tend to pay attention to advice like that!
Sometime in June or July, I had a horrible experience when it stopped working. Completely. My first computer, bought with money I didn’t have, bricked. and with that horrible paranoia that maybe, oh no, maybe it was all my fault!
A technician had to come the hundred and something miles from Edinburgh to the glen where I was living with my parents on the west coast, with me liable for the several-hundred-pound cost of the callout if it really was my fault. That was not a happy wait.
Luckily, the motherboard had died of its own volition, and with a replacement fitted free of charge, that PC served me well for a fair while afterward. And a month or two later, I was employed as a programmer, albeit in a job paying only 65% of the average graduate starting salary of the time, and with the most horrible computer language in the world ever. And on a PDP-11/83, not a PC. Still, I’m sure my PC-ownership helped ;-).
Today, my Raspberry Pi arrived, both more and less powerful than that machine of twenty years ago, depending on how you look at it. Unfortunately a painful ear infection is making the thought of tinkering unappealing for me tonight; but hopefully the Raspberry Pi will be the gateway for others to follow in the career that the PC has let me enjoy.