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Paul Lefebvre
Paul Lefebvre

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30+ Years of Computing

For fun, here is a list of the computers I've used over the years:

  • Atari 400 (1983): My first computer with 16K of RAM. I learned BASIC on it and for several months couldn't save the programs I wrote because I couldn't afford the cassette drive!
  • Atari 800XL (1984): A whopping 64K of RAM and built-in BASIC. I continued programming in BASIC and added Pascal and C. Plus I got a 180K disk drive!
  • Atari 1040ST (1988): I bought this when I started college. It had an incredible 1MB of RAM, a super-sharp 640x480 black and white CRT display, and a 720K disk drive. I primarily programmed it using GFA BASIC, Personal Pascal and various C compilers.
  • Atari Mega STe (1992): With 4MB RAM, a 16Mhz CPU and a 105MB hard drive this was one tricked-out Atari! This was a great system that I wish I had kept because it would be worth quite a bit today. During this time I made and sold some shareware, distributed on Delphi and GEnie.
  • Generic AT&T PC (1995): Alas, Atari went out of business so I eventually switched to a PC. I couldn't bring myself to use Windows 3.1 (or Windows 95) at the time so I specifically purchased a machine that was compatible with OS/2 Warp, which I installed from something like 20 floppy disks. This bad boy had the first Pentium CPU, which ran at around 60Mhz (and had the infamous floating point bug). At this point I started my professional career, programming in Advanced Revelation.
  • (1996 to 2001) When OS/2 didn't get traction, I eventually built my own PCs to run Windows NT 4. I never used any of the DOS-based versions of Windows. During this time I was primarily programming using PowerBuilder.
  • PowerMac G4 466Mhz (2001): With the release of OS X, I purchased my first Macintosh. I immediately switched it to boot into Mac OS X and never used Mac OS 9. This was quite a departure for me as I had been using Windows for years as a PowerBuilder developer and was now starting as a .NET developer. But I soon found I also wanted to write programs for the Mac. Not wanting to use CodeWarrior, I instead started using Xojo (REALbasic at the time).
  • PowerMac G4 Dual 1Ghz (2002): This was my first dual processor machine. It was incredibly noisy with lots of small, loud fans. Eventually Apple actually did a "recall" of sorts and replaced the power supplies with ones with quieter fans.
  • iMac Core Duo 2.0Ghz (2006): I bought the original Intel iMac the day that Parallels desktop was announced so that I could easily run Windows XP (for .NET development) on my Mac. This was a refurb and came with a better video card than I ordered, a nice surprise. Because it was a 32-bit Intel CPU it had a limited useful lifespan for me as it only could support a maximum of 2GB RAM.
  • MacBook Pro 15" Core 2 Duo 2.4Ghz (2008): I bought my first laptop when I started doing full-time consulting. Also a refub, it came with a larger hard drive than I ordered. I primarily used it for coding with Xojo) and .NET. Eventually this was upgraded to its max of 6GB of RAM, a 7200rpm internal HD and an SSD in the ExpressCard slot. It had its Nvidia card die out of warranty, but it was covered by Apple as part of its Nvidia replacement program.
  • Mac Pro Quad Core 2.93 Ghz (2010): This is my current setup which has had many upgrades to SSDs, 32GB RAM, a 3.2Ghz CPU, and an Nvidia GeForce 750ti for 4K video. It remains very fast and powerful. I use it for Xojo software development, video editing, virtual machines and anything else I can throw at it. I am eager to see what Apple eventually releases as the next Mac Pro, hopefully in 2018.
  • MacBook Air 11" 1.4Ghz (2010): This was the first of the "new model" Air form factor that is still used today. It was pretty slow, with only 2GB RAM and a sluggish Intel CPU.
  • MacBook Air 11" 1.3Ghz (2014): I purchased this as a refurb to replace the 2010 Air and it ended up coming with 8GB RAM instead of the 4GB I ordered. Since I am not remote often, this still works fine for my purposes, but the screen is pretty bad.

The Atari 400 I had in 1983 had 16K RAM and a 2Mhz CPU. My Mac Pro has 32GB of RAM (33,554,432K) and a 3.2Ghz CPU (3200Mhz). That is amazing progress in 35 years! What will the next 30+ years bring?

I’d love to hear other’s experiences. Share your computing history in the comments.

Top comments (2)

hamsterasesino profile image

I missed the answer to your very question on this post: what do you think the next 30+ years will bring?


lefebvre profile image
Paul Lefebvre • Edited

I didn't offer an answer as I'm sure it would be wrong. After all, who in 1983 would have predicted where we are today with computers and especially mobile devices? Maybe Alan Kay or some other tech visionary, but not me!

The Expanse TV show (based on the book series) shows handle-held devices similar to smartphones that are just a single pane of glass that operate as a computer to do pretty much anything. Maybe we'll get to a point like that.