Saturday, March 03, 2007


One of my readers (we'll call her Mom, because that's her name) sent me this photo today:

This was the first "PC" in my house growing up, speaking specifically of IBM-compatible machines. My house had always had a computer in one form or another, from TRS-80's to a Commodore VIC-20 and the Commodore 64. This is the machine that took over the main computing needs of the family at the tail end of the C-64 days (my late high school days, if I recall).

Notice the important details though:

  • This 286 had the spiral phone cord-like keyboard cable. They just don't make them like that anymore!
  • The mouse has a definite home in its holder affixed to the case. I don't know how many times today that I wish I had a place to put my mouse when I'm done using it.
  • Speaking of the mouse, I don't know if you can make it out, but there's a mousepad there with gridlines on it. You know, for when you need the highest precision in mouse usage, or so that you can pretend that you're at a CAD workstation or something.
  • Even in the days of this 286, there was a format war going on between 3.5" floppies and 5.25" floppies. Thankfully, this computer could handle both. Imagine if it only had a 3.5" drive: those disks in the cases to the right wouldn't work, and I bet inside of those cases were copies of MS-DOS 4.01. (Do they even sell computers with floppy drives these days?)
  • There's no Windows keys on that keyboard. No sir, they didn't exist back then. I don't even think that we would have seen a pirated copy of Windows 3.1 for a few more years, and by that time, I think that this particular machine was in retirement.
  • There are no speakers because... well, there was no sound card in this thing. And no CD-ROM drive because if they were out, then they probably cost as much as this computer.
  • And, lastly, there's the ever-important beer can lamp that I think my younger brother made in shop class.