It just occurred to me that last month marked my 20-year anniversary of being a PC owner. I purchased my very first PC in May 1993. That first PC purchase marked the beginning of an amazing new technological era in my life, both personally and professionally. I sensed my life would never be the same again, and I was right!
Living through my 20-year PC era has definitely had its highlights and its lowlights. Like most of us, I witnessed and experienced some astonishing technology transitions, some very pleasurable and some very painful.
My first PC was a Compaq. It came with a whopping four megabytes of RAM. No, that is not gigabytes—I said correctly, four megabytes. You can imagine my sense of accomplishment when a year later I installed four additional megabytes of RAM for a grand total of eight megabytes! My PC suddenly was a lean, mean screaming machine! My hard drive was 120 megabytes. I thought I was king of the hill when I later installed a second 250-Mb hard drive.
Upon learning all my PC’s capabilities and software, I immediately began applying my newfound technology to all aspects of my life, both personally and professionally. I saw applications everywhere. I can still remember sitting in a church board meeting at the church I pastored declaring, “This has revolutionized the way I do ministry.” I received several blank looks. One of the older gentleman disinterestedly said, “My son has one of those.” I quickly learned, some people got it and some people did not.
Talk about excitement? Welcome to the wonderful world of computer viruses and malware! I remember one day suddenly noticing that every single title under my desktop icons right before my eyes was changing into a one or a zero. Obviously, I picked up something on the Internet that I wished I hadn’t. Fortunately, in that case, a reboot eliminated the problem.
Rebooting, I learned, was often the panacea for all sorts of PC problems. I remember hearing a radio talk show host emphatically declare, “No matter what problems your PC is giving you, rebooting fixes them all.” Funny, it seemed to work back in those days. Many things were simpler then, such as working in DOS or editing your AUTOEXEC.BAT. However, simple did not stay simple forever.
This annoying matter of “software conflicts” often arose. Technical support phone calls at all hours of the day or night became a common experience. I remember one software conflict that quickly degenerated so badly, I was up until 6:00 a.m. reinstalling Windows. I did not get much done that day.
Once I played an online game. After typing in a code to indicate I was turning my character 90 degrees, the game responded, “You are looking at a wall.” I did not have much patience for online games.
It has been an astonishing 20-year technological ride filled with great victories and horrific failures. Nonetheless, I am so glad I have had the experience. What I encounter today in PC technology is light-years ahead of where I started. My PC life still has its problems, but the good news is we just seem to know so much more today about how it all fits together. Problems—overall—just seem to get resolved faster and easier, and there seem to be fewer of them. I like where we are going.
I can only imagine what the next 20-year cycle will send my way.