October 10, 2020

Back to the AT future

I don't get nostalgic about high school or college. For me, it's the decade from 1985 to 1995, the heyday of the personal computer. By 1985, the clone wars were over (and IBM lost). By 1995, the GUI wars were over (and IBM lost again).

During those ten years when the PC came of age, the computer was truly personal. You simply couldn't live a life online at a few thousand baud. Even in 1995, soon-to-be online colossus AOL only had around three million active users.

Ah, an era now gone for good. For a stroll down memory lane, it's enough for me to browse though old issues of PC Magazine. But then there are those dedicated Dr. Frankensteins devoted to bringing hardware long thought dead back to life.

As his YouTube channel title suggests, 8-Bit Guy focuses more on the Stone Age. Clint Basinger takes us up to the Medieval Period. In the two videos below, he unboxes and upgrades an IBM AT from 1988, still sealed in its original packaging.

As Crocodile Dundee would put it (there's another 1980s reference for you), "Now that's a PC."

Clint Basinger paid $500 for the AT on eBay. The IBM AT cost five times that in 1988, ten times as much when adjusted for inflation. By contrast, a thirty dollar Roku today has orders of magnitude more memory and computing power.

In the following episode, Basinger plays Indiana Jones exploring a warehouse crammed full of computer equipment dating back to the 1970s.

Call it the excavation of a PC Pompeii, a look back at a once thriving past now relegated to landfills, museums, and our memories.

Related posts

The future that wasn't
The accidental standard
MS-DOS at 30
The grandfathers of DOS

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# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
10/12/2020 6:41 PM   
I have a few fond school memories...involving troubleshooting win 3.1 for my teachers. Simpler times indeed!