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All my computers !

(NB : I moved my film and digital cameras to another page)

Why ?

I wrote this page on demand from some of you, but also by nostalgia.
So, here is my little computer history...

At the beginning there was the BYTE, and we didn't know it would eventually change the world and obsess some of us, poor monkeys.   Then, GOD (see new pictures set) came and enlightened us : He arranged the BYTES, combined them, multiplied them so that   we would never be hungry again.  He flooded us with His good KILOBYTES, MEGABYTES, and GIGABYTES.

But some ignominious protesting ignorant, at the very moment GOD was about to show us the salutary way of the TERABYTE, sued Him in courts !  GOD, faced with so much ungratefulness, and anyway sure of being numero UNO, then retired in His Kingdom (see new pictures set)

As for me, poor soul...


1. In High School :

APPLE II, used in High School, +/- 1982 'till 1984

TECHS : 1Mhz speed, 4kb memory, 16 colors, 5.25" disk drive.


I REMEMBER : the recess hours spent in the little computer room at Don Bosco college, writing a little program in BASIC, which would train students in French...


2. Buddy 1 :

Sinclair ZX 81, used at a friend's house, +/- 1983 'till 1984

TECHS : 3Mhz speed, 1kb memory.


I REMEMBER : long evenings admiring my friend who was inventing little programs on this revolutionary machine, and who sometimes let me use it.


3. Buddy 2 :

Sinclair SPECTRUM, used at a friend's house, +/- 1984 'till 1985

TECHS : 3Mhz speed, 48kb memory.


I REMEMBER : see above !  I was so jealous !


4. My first own computer : MAX 1

COMMODORE C128, bought new at a factory sale 20 000 FB, +/- 1985 and sold +/- 1986

TECHS : 1Mhz speed, 64kb or 128 kb memory (depending on the used mode), 16 colors, disk drive 5.25, B/W television.

PERIPHERALS : a B/W, 9-pins Seikosha printer, bought 13 000 FB with a credit !

I REMEMBER : (1) Buying it : I actually had already given a deposit on my dreams' motorbike, a Yamaha XJ 650 Turbo, when I changed my mind, bought a small car and this computer.  I have some regrets about the motorbike, but not about having started computing !

NB : if you came here through a search engine for the motorbike, I'll soon put up a page about the ones I own(ed), about 20 of them !

(2) Its QWERTY (English) keyboard : to type an accentuated letter in French, I had to do incredible key combinations which I would never remember...  Actually, it caused my Mom to wait a long time to buy her first computer : she had strong memories of me shouting all the time while typing !  (3) It was so slow... in my typing program (a pretty powerful one, at the time !), when I would hit "Page Down", it took the Commodore 11 minutes to show the bottom of my page !   (4) My first "true" written productions, mostly documents for the animation of my cub scouts troop.


5. That's it, I'm in computers now : MAX 2

ATARI 1024 ST, bought used 20 000 FB +/- 1986 and sold +/- 1988

TECHS : 8Mhz speed, 1024kb memory, 16 colors and B/W high resolution, disk drive 5.25, B/W monitor and color TV.

PERIPHERALS : a B/W 24 pins NEC printer, bought new 25 000 FB.

I REMEMBER : (1) My turn to have the nicest machine on the block ! 

(2) Numerous documents produced in PAO, many being for money : it'll pay the next one.  But I had to go to the Computer Square (on the other side of the city) to print them in good quality : the laser printer cost 80 000 FB at this time !


6. I invest : MAX 3

ATARI MEGA ST 2, bought new 50 000 FB +/- 1988 and sold in July 1993 (departure for the USA).

TECHS : 8Mhz speed, 2048kb memory, 16 colors and B/W high resolution, disk drive 5.25 and 3.50, B/W monitor and color TV.

PERIPHERALS : the same NEC printer, the in 1993 a HP Laserjet 4M bought 30 000 FB at the factory.

I REMEMBER : (1) My friends would kill me.  (2) Numerous documents produced in PAO, many being for money : it'll reimburse for the black hole in my account ! 

(3) Two very important productions : a new progression book for my cub scouts troop, and my (how do you call that in English ?) college graduation work (this one was so good -appearance and content- that the school didn't believe I did it myself, so I didn't get the mention -it's not a lie : confirmed by the principal !).  (4) The thousands of hours it worked flawlessly, an incredible machine a the time.  (5) The Atari club and the little war with the Commodore AMIGA adepts.  (6) I didn't have a hard disk drive (the 20Mb one cost 20 000 FB !), so I had all my programs on floppies and could use only one at a time...  Booting with the PAO program took 7 minutes !  An we complaint about Windows...

While in Zaire, I left it in Brussels.


7. I borrow :

APPLE II GS, was given to me by the school where I was working in Zaire, September 1990 'till July 1991.

TECHS : 3Mhz speed, 256kb memory, 4 colors.


I REMEMBER : arriving at the school, I ask if there is a computer.  There's one, "brand new", but it doesn't work.  I take it home and open it : it was just a misplaced jumper, so it starts.  But what shall I do with it ?  There is no software !  I'll learn later that very few programs had been developed for this machine. I'm sure that, if it escaped looting, it still lays in the school's cartons today...  As for me, I borrowed a good ol' electric typewriter !


8. I switch for compatibility : MAX 4

Picture found at the Micro-musée de l'ordinateur

IBM PS1 486 SX 25, bought used 800 US$ in September 1993 and sold in 1994.

TECHS : 25Mhz speed, 4096kb memory, 256 colors, hard drive 170 Mb, disk drive, monitor 14".

PERIPHERALS : a color 24 pins STAR printer, bought with the PC.

I REMEMBER : (1) Buying it : close to the seller's house, I almost gave up : I didn't have a lot of money and couldn't find the house.  But I traveled 80 miles to come, and I missed a computer.  I find the house, who asks me to speak softly, he sells his father's computer, who doesn't want it anymore...  The old junk I expect to see is a 3-month old IBM !  I take it...

(2) My first hard disk formatting : memorable...  (3) The joy of producing for my classes !  (4) It's with this one that I learned the most about computers.  (5) First Internet experience, with Prodigy : I quickly gave up, I found it uninteresting and way too expensive !  Look at me now...


9. I switch for a notebook : MAX 5

TOSHIBA T4400C, 486 SX 25, bought used 1350 US$ in 1994 and sold in November 1996.

TECHS : 25Mhz speed, 12 288kb (12Mb) memory, 16 700 000 colors, 170 Mb hard drive, disk drive, monitor 10.4".

PERIPHERALS : Deskstation IV with 2X CD-ROM drive, 14" monitor+keyboard+mouse, a Canon BJC 4000 inkjet color printer, a MUSTEK color handheld scanner, IOMEGA ZIP disk drive (I definitely do NOT recommend it : mine ate half of the data it was supposed to keep !).

I REMEMBER : (1) Buying it : close to the place I bought the previous one (must be the place ?), I get to the seller's nice villa in the New Orleans' suburbs.  The seller asks if I would also be interested in his two cars and his house !  Too much time at the casino ?  At such a price, I take the baby (hey !  The Toshiba one !), which is pretty recent, the whole thing worth more than 6 000 US$.  (2)  First plane trip with the baby : it's heavy, and on the return trip the first "scanner" finds suspicious traces on it (bomb powder ?) !  I was already picturing myself in jail, when the second inspection showed it was clean : it was their first scanner which was not clean !  (3) So much documents produced...  (4) Odd things : you had to plus the keyboard and mouse in front of the Deskstation at a very inconvenient place, and if you unplugged it while the computer or station or anything was on, the motherboard would burn out !  Also, it would only accept real IBM PS-2 keyboards, which cost (at the time) almost 200 dollars !


10. My best computer ever : MAX 6

Gateway couldn't find a picture for me, so I post this one, but mine was a desktop model...
GATEWAY G6-200, Pentium Pro 200Mhz, bought new 2800 US$ in November 1996 and sold in November 1999.

TECHS : 200Mhz speed, 32 768kb (32 Mb) then 98 304 (96 Mb) memory, 16 700 000 colors, 2 500 Mb hard drive (then a second 8 500 Mb one), disk drive, 8X CD-ROM drive, monitor 15"...

PERIPHERALS : a color inkjet Epson Stylus 600 printer, flatbed color MUSTEK Paragon 600 scanner, video acquisition device Iomega BUZ (never succeeded in getting anything good out of it), a Syquest SPARQ 1 Gb disk drive (excellent, but can't find anymore disks !), Epson PC600 digital camera.

I REMEMBER : (1) Buying it : what a nice babe !  Even right out of the UPS truck, in the middle of the school's parking lot !  (2) The GATEWAY service : friendly and efficient  (3) Three years of computing at the top level, loads of productions.

Why the best ?  Because, despite some trips (Gateway - Buras - New Orleans - Brussels - Walloon - Brussels - Saigon - Can Though - Hanoi ; by plane and by the roads, the worst one being Can Tho - Hanoi ; more than 14 000 miles in total), several moving, the working conditions (from -5°C to +45°C -about 25°F to 110°F- and up to 100% humidity), numerous transformations (upgrades, trials, hundreds of programs in and out, formatting,...) and even if now its packaging materials look like chewed paper, MAX 6 amazed me from day 1 to the last...


11. Back to the notebook :

IBM ThinkPad 390E, Pentium II 333Mhz, bought by the APEFE (my employer) in October 1999.

TECHS : 333Mhz speed, 196 608kb (192Mb) memory, 16 700 000 colors, 6 250 Mb hard drive, disk drive, DVD-Rom drive, XGA 14,1" screen, video out.

PERIPHERALS : a HP LaserJet 6L printer, still my good ol' MUSTEK flatbed scanner (excellent !), Plextor CD-RW (with an Adaptec Cardbus -> Ultra SCSI II card), and still my Epson digital camera.

I REMEMBER : My good old Gateway, which I should never have sold...  This one is less performing, crashes all the time (despite several reconfigurations an in the same environment as the previous one)...  I think its biggest weakness is its video adapter (a ridiculous 2.5 Mb Neomagic).  I spent again the last 2 days reformatting then reinstalling everything, in order to be able to finish this update of my website : it wouldn't hear anything about anything !  So disappointing...

Recent additions : (1) I sold my trustful Mustek scanner and my employer bought me a new EPSON Perfection 1200 USB scanner, to which I added a transparency adapter.  It works very well and its speed is astonishing !  The software is good, control is complete, but I'm a bit disappointed  about the descreening functions (less effective than on others I think).

To be mentioned : the transparency adapter I bought (July 2000) was dead in its box, and the Belgian EPSON Tech Service was unable to repair it for me or replace it before I went back ton Vietnam (despite several weeks of delay) ; so I had to buy another complete kit (scanner + adapter) in order to have my tools here.  Until now, EPSON did not answer my numerous demands (which they receive, since I get confirmation !) for a commercial gesture (for example keep the old adapter in their labs and reimburse me, since anyway I can't get it back and I had to buy another one !).  Very disappointing from them, but I believe this story is not over yet...  Update (August 2001) : their "no-answer" politics worked : I gave up, after dozens of Emails with copies to all their adresses.  Attention : if you install Windows ME, the Perfection 1200 will stop working with the original software.  You must go to the American (not the European !) EPSON site and download a new driver, following the instructions carefully.  Tip to clean the down side of the glass (it's very humid here in Vietnam and nice little mushrooms settled in) : remove the two screws on the back, then slightly (about 1/2 inch) pull up the top.  The carriage blocks the opening : you must gently push it forward with your finger to be able to open the hood.  Clean up, gently close the hood : the carriage will return when you switch the scanner back on (you did switch it off before, right ;) ?)

Finally, my very dear employer offered me a Logitech cordless mouse : no more without one (even though it devours batteries faster than a digital camera) !  As well as an HP Deskjet 970 CXI printer : it's so beautiful...

Last news from my IBM ThinkPad 390E : it crashes less often, that is, an average of 5 times a week...  Next time, I'll insist to get a Dell or a Gateway...  Of course, WinDaube 98 does not seem to improve the matter...

December 25, 2000 : I got myself a nice 17" SAMTRON 75E monitor : I couldn't stand the LCD screen of the laptop to work like I do.  Aaaaaargh !  Is THIS my website ?  Colors are horrible !  I chose them on the laptop screen, that explains everything.  Quick, let's update the site !

Big upgrade (12/2001) : my employer sent me Dreamweaver 4 (it takes time to get used to but this software is really wonderful !), a Compaq Ipaq 3660 PDA, a new 20 Gb hard disk and Windows ME. This last one implies many updates to the other software (scanner, digital camera, Bios, cederom driver...) and the abandon of those who cannot be updated (essentially games, not a big loss, unfortunately also the Realmedia software) but I had the good surprise to find a lot of help on Microsoft and IBM websites. For the Easy CD Creator software, since the editor refused to give an update discount, I downloaded Nero burning rom and I'm quite happy : it's a lot easier to use and half the price !

And then ? Compared to Win 98a, Windows ME is a bit faster, more stable and gives me "only" one or two crashes per week. Internet connexion is faster, but sometimes crashes the PC. All in all, it's a good update.

12. Let's roll again :  MAX 7

IBM Netvista, Pentium IV 1600Mhz, bought new 1160 USD in July 2002.

TECHS : speed of 1600Mhz, 524 288kb (512 Mb) RAM, 4 000 000 000 colors, hard drive Maxtor 38 000 Mb (40 Gb) at 7200 rpm, floppy drive, CD and DVD-ROM drive Asus 16/48X, Plextor 40/12/40X (re)writer...

PERIPHERALS : see above, with the addition of a Logitech Itouch keyboard + mouse kit (great), Voica speakers and subwoofer, and a Santak 1000VA UPS .

Well, I got really tired of the Thinkpad, used and obsolete, so for my personal usage I got myself what's almost the best here in Vietnam, with a few improvements compared to the original model : more memory, faster HDD, better graphics card (a TNT Nvidia GeForce 2 - 64 Mo), etc.

First good surprise : the burner (Plexwriter 40-12-40A) : HUH ?! Three minutes !? Already done ? It's faster to burn 500Mb on a CD than to copy them on the hard drive !

Second good surprise : Windows XP (pro version). At last, it seems that we've here a Windows we'll not laugh and shout about, good, nice and strong. Crashes ? Happens, sometimes it restarts the computer suddenly with no warning, in the middle of an Internet session. Couldn't find the cause yet. But I have much less connexion problems, and when a program crashes, Windows says so, closes it and doesn't crash itself. It seems that Microsoft is on the way to make good reliable OSs.

Not much intsallation problems, a couple of old programs who cannot run on that one, and again the EPSON scanner being quite delicate to install (same advice again : go get the driver on the American website, others are not up to date). But do not install DirectX 8.1 which could cause problems and cannot be uninstalled without reformating the hard drive.

Third good surprise : the computer as a whole. A little comparison ? Salt and pepper filter on a 20Mb picture in PSP : on the Thinkpad, 41 minutes ; on my new baby, 52 seconds... Yep, it was the same picture !

A little later : I had to change the motherboard : little by little, it became impossible to use the keyboard other than to make music ("bip-bip-bip").

Then, the fan of the AGP graphics card began to make more and more noise, especially a loud whistle blow when powering on. I got a replacement fan at the local computer shop for 3 dollars and was all set.

Besides that, a year later, this computer still gives me entire satisfaction :-)

13. A new dream machine :  MAX 8

NB : this notebook will be for sale in september or october 2004

DELL Inspiron 5150, Pentium IV 3Ghz, bought new 1950 euros in July 2003.

TECHS : 3,06Ghz (3060Mhz), 524 288kb (512 Mb) memory, 15" UXGA screen, Hitachi 60 Go HDD at 4200 rpm, no diskdrive, CDR/RW and DVD+R/RW Philips reader/writer, USB 2.0 and Firewire, network card and modem...

PERIPHERALS : see above, with the addition of a mini-mouse for travel use, a USB memory key, a nice bag and a port replicator, since this laptop doesn't come with some ports I still need (parallel, ps2...)

Nope, my Netvista is not yet obsolete and works great, but knowing that I'll leave Vietnam in a few months and having some great savings opportunities with summer promotions in Belgium, I treated myself with this last generation beautiful baby :-)

Three gigahertz and a DVD burner in a notebook computer ! Geez !

The DVD burner is of course slower than on the desktop, but anyways : being able to burn a DVD (4.7Gb) in less than 30 minutes, wow ! On the graphics side too, this notebook is great : an ATI Radeon 9000 card with 64Mb memory and a great screen, set for 1600x1200 but that works great in lower resolutions. A really wonderful screen, as well as the sound system, just have to watch a DVD in full screen to be convinced.

One disapointment for the performances : the hard drive is a 4200rpm, it slows down the whole system and is probably the weak link of this little jewel, I'll have to think about getting a speedier one later on. Some other weaknesses : the cardbus bay doesn't have a door, Dell gives a little piece of plastic that protects the bay but not quite well ; and the phone line jack on the right side, in the way of the mouse area. But the biggest disapointment came with the power supply : an elephant of almost one kilogram with its cables, probably the biggest ones available, in all 20% of the total weight to carry :-((

The keyboard is exceptionally good, but I got the French version, not the Belgian one (just have to get used to it). The battery holds at least three hours. And unlike I feared, the (subsequent !) heat is well evacuated and the computer stays cool :-)

Of course, I kept Windows XP Pro, in French this time, since it suits well my usage. I also took the opportunity to purchase Paint Shop Pro 8 (wonderful), as well as Getright and ACD See who render great services.

But after this one, I did not want to buy a Dell computer again !
It later turned out to cost me much more than expected, read the details here (on my forum, in French). You'll also read why I later changed my mind :-)

Peripherals : having left in Vietnam the printers and the scanner my employer gave me, I offered myself this nice toy when I arrived in Belgium : a Canon MP-730 multifunction printer, for 346 euros. This big baby prints, scans, copies and faxes in colors, with an automatic feeder and even a memory card reader... Quality is surprisingly good for an inkjet printer, and cheap thanks to its separate inktanks for the four colors.

I also got a new mouse, an optical, cordless, rechargeable and compact one : thanks, Targus !

A little comparison of this last one with my first computer ("Max 1"), 15 years later...

Its processor is 3000 times faster.

It has 8000 times more memory.

It has 600 000 times more colors.

It has a hard drive, various multimedia drives, a burner, a scanner, a color printer...

I love progress :o)



If you want to learn more, here are links to 2 obsolete computers online museums :

The Museum of Dead and obsolete computers

Another PC museum

As for my cameras, film and digital,
I placed them on another page

Page créée le 12 février 2000 -  Mise à jour le 11 avril 2004

©opyright 1997-2007 Pierre Gieling - tous droits réservés