The subject of the next TechRepublic poll (and you can take the poll at the bottom of this post) asks what was the first computer you owned. We've also set up a companion discussion thread in which we ask:
What model was it?
Where did you buy it?
How much did it cost?
What kind of stuff did you do with it?
How long did you have it?
What did you eventually replace it with?
I figured I would throw out the first volley...The first computer I owned was an Apple Mac Classic. I bought it at the end of the summer before my senior year of high school. I worked two jobs that summer to save up the money for it - during the day I coached in an instructional baseball league for 7-12 year olds and I also worked nights and weekends as the head usher at a movie theater. By the end of the summer I had saved up the $1300 I needed to buy the Mac. I ordered it from a mail order shop in Texas that I found in an ad in the back of MacWorld magazine. I placed the order over the phone and then sent a cashier's check via FedEx (my first FedEx experience). About 10 days later, my new Mac arrived and I tore into the box and had it set up within about 20 minutes.
Then I immediately went through the process of loading Aldus PageMaker 4.0 with a stack of floppy discs. PageMaker was the desktop publishing program that we used to produce my high school newspaper and that fall I was preparing to start my new role as editor-in-chief. In fact, the whole reason I was buying a Mac was so that I could work on the newspaper from home instead of staying late at school. I worked on one of the last weekly high school newspapers in the U.S. (most high schools had gone to bi-weekly or monthly papers) and I had an outstanding journalism teacher who demanded high quality work. The combination of those factors and my own perfectionism meant that some nights - especially on the days before we went to press - I would end staying at school until 7:00 or 8:00 at night to finish up the paper.
So I bought my own Mac to help avoid staying so late to do the newspaper and to be able to type up other class assignments from home instead of being stuck in the computer lab (where it was easy to get distracted). I was also interested in PCs at the time and worked as the student assistant for the school's computer instructor - who was a hard core IBM zealot - and from him I learned about PCs, computer networking, keyboarding, games, and a little programming. I worked with him three days a week in a computer lab full of 286s and 386s, all running DOS or Windows 3.1. But since the bulk of my computer work was for the school newspaper, there was really no question that I would buy a Mac for my own computer.
I took that Mac to college and it served me well. It lasted until my senior year, when my wife bought me a Mac Performa 6200 in order to help me finish my senior honors thesis - by then the old Mac Classic was extremely slow compared to the new machines. My wife, who is a bit of a technophile herself, actually took the money she had saved for a new dress to wear to a wedding we were going to the next week and used it to help buy the computer. She ended up wearing a dress she already had and we took the computer back to married student housing on campus, got an Ethernet card from the campus computing center, and hooked that puppy up to the campus WAN and ultimately the Internet. We had been on the Internet at the computer labs (and gotten e-mail through Pine on the old Mac), but now we had it in our own apartment. We were absolutely stoked. There was this new thing called the World Wide Web that you accessed with a program called Mosaic. It was sweet.
Once I got into IT, I eventually abandoned Mac for PC as my personal system (although I did later get an iMac for my wife), but I still have that old Mac Classic. It still runs and has a copy of PageMaker on it.
Jason Hiner has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Jason Hiner is Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.