Computing History

What was a childhood hobby turned into what I do for a living. I’m not the typical kind of geek, but I rather see myself as the person finding a solution to a problem in the real world, whether it be developing something for a business or finding an alternative for someone. I tend to be more professional rather than the typical guy you see with a support service like GeekSquad let’s say (nothing against them, I’m sure they do great work). My experience has been all over the charts from working with what we use at home or in our office to other things that we interact with such as your cell phone or a kiosk you walk up to.

 

System Timeline

OS Timeline

The Early Years (1989-1993)

The earliest I can think back to is 1989 when I was 3. I don’t know exactly what sparked my interest, but I guess experimenting ran in the family. Living next door to my grandparents and just down the street from my Uncle Byron and Aunt Paula, this was where I got my first swift of this stuff. My Grandfather and a few others in the family owned a medical products company. With that, they had a few cool little goodies I would play with such as this:

Manufacturer: Apple Macintosh SE
Processor: Motorola 68000 8 Mhz
RAM: 1 MB
Screen Size: Monocrome 8″
Hard Drive: 20 MB
OS Installed: Mac System 6

Other than playing fun and games from that era, I didn’t do much else. Today, I still have those games, though they are almost impossible to run on the new Intel Macs of today.

The Classic Mac Days (1994-1998)

In the meantime, other things started appearing at my Grandpa’s machine shop, such as a few milling machines. Each machine couldn’t store more than one program to make a part. So they got these things called “IBM Compatible PC’s” (today, better know as just a “PC”, right?) that they could store all the different instructions to make a part. Here was where I was first exposed to something called “Windows” (Windows 3.0 to be exact). I managed to screw the thing up a few times and it shut-down the operations for the day. Can you imagine how angry everyone was with this 7-year-old kid? I felt really sorry for Grandpa. My dad grounded me, probably not knowing the fact that something was beginning to crank in my head. Because of all this I decided that PC’s were too hard, it was getting me into trouble, and I couldn’t play with friends. So I went back to the Mac.

My cousin Brian got a new Mac from the new Performa line that was introduced by Apple in the early 90’s. We still make fun of it today. TheĀ Performa 550 seemed so cool when it first came out. He also was one of the first I’d say within Costa Mesa and Newport Beach that had residential Internet. “Quick.net” was the first ISP in our area. They had connections as fast as 33.6 KBPS. Around that time my family started looking for a Performa. The Holidays of ’94 came around, and this came into the family:

Manufacturer: Apple Macintosh
Performa 6115CD
Processor: IBM PowerPC
601 60Mhz
RAM: 8 MB
Hard Drive: 350 MB
Graphics: Apple NuBus
CD Drive: 2x
Modem: 14.4kbps
OS Installed: MacOS 7.5

…more to come…

Getting into Trouble at School (in a very unusual way)

It wasn’t until the third grade when people started noticing that something was unusual with me. Thinking back to the days of my attendance at Kaiser Elementary School, a lot of memories come to my mind. But nothing stood out more than the many incidents of being the “Mr. Fix-it Guy”. I will admit that by the time of third grade being the age of 8 years old, this special ability that I had acquired was not what an average kid would perform. My guess it was due to the very technical environment I was exposed to with the family business and all. I would always attempt to fix things on my own, make things to my liking, then get myself into more trouble just for doing it. Now a days, it’s the other way around! This resulted in teaching myself how to fix things such as the “12:00” on a VCR to stop blinking and fixing the stupid printer because it was not plugged in. No teacher stood out more with these requests to come fix things than Mrs. Bonnie Brigman, my third grade teacher. Even after I departed from her classroom, I was still called into her from time to time. It didn’t take long for the word to get out to my other teachers and it really got on my nerves. There was a time in fifth grade while in Mrs. Liz Slezak’s class and Brigman had called her to see if I could come to the famous “Room 21”. She slammed the phone down and started yelling at me. “Isn’t” there someone else on campus that is supposed to do these jobs? Why are you doing them?” Yes, there was. By this time I actually started taking computers apart. Needless to say this started to catch attention at the school and I got into trouble, big time. “What did I do wrong?” I think it was more of a matter of someone’s job at stake rather than me doing what I did. Get the picture? Hey, I had a perfect track record!

My earliest form of programming (more like hacking) started working with ResEdit for the Mac. I would constantly change elements in programs for the Mac to annoy people and drive them nuts. I was a little devil in a very odd way.

The WinTel Days (1999-2003)

Sure enough, PC’s started coming to the house and that’s what we used. At least Windows 98 was a little better than my previous experience. But I still had this 5-year-old Mac on my desk. It was pretty much given to me for whatever life it had left. It was starting to really show its age. By this time Apple announced its new linup of their operating system. MacOSX (10) was going to be built off of the NEXTstep/BSD Unix-based OS. This would leave behind the classic system that they’ve been using since the original Mac back in 1984. What did this mean? It was going to be the end-of-the-line for this Mac. OS 9 was really putting a toll on this puppy and going back to an older OS was just going to degrade its capabilities. So what did I do? It was put up for storage in my closet. The recently-released iMacs weren’t appealing to me right up front. Since there was pressure to move to PC’s in the house, I had to crack down and get this:

Manufacturer: HP Pavilion 6605
Processor: Intel Celeron 466mhz
RAM: 128mb
Hard Drive: 40 GB
Graphics: unknown (Intel?)
OS Installed: Windows 98->XP Pro

It was also around this time that I wanted to start going mobile. I have to agree that this was a really bad time of the market to get a laptop as the lineup of products were saturated with cheap quality hardware. Somehow, my dad and I came to agreement with this one:

Manufacturer: Compaq Presario 1277
Processor: AMD K62 433mhz
RAM: 192mb
Hard Drive: 20 GB
Graphics: Trident Cyberblade i7
OS Installed: Windows 98->XP Pro

At least now I had the ability to do things on the road and bring it to school. It was around this time that I started getting involved with my high school yearbook. I primarily did desktop publishing work with it. After about two years this laptop started to crawl like my old Mac Performa. I couldn’t believe it. I was involved in a scam with Compaq? Why did the Mac last for so much longer? Perhaps I just bought the laptop in a period that the industry was expanding too fast. I ran out of drive space on the laptop, maxed out the RAM space, and the graphics couldn’t be upgraded. I pledged myself that I wouldn’t buy another laptop until the market progresses into better quality hardware.

Welcome to Linux (2004)

Years go by. In my never ending conquest to keep learning, I heard about this thing called “Linux” from some cousins. They were actually using it to cheat with one of those MMORGP games. Ever heard of EverQuest? I was half-way through high school at the time enrolled in Mr. Dominguez’ AP Computer Science class at Newport Harbor High School getting my hands dirty with C++. Any CS course you take will end up mentioning the rise of the Linux OS and why it is important to our world. With that said, it sparked my interest and I started using it at home. In fact, I was using it so much that I almost never used the old Mac or anything else. What is Boy Wonder supposed to do?…

Goodbye Windows, Hello Fedora (2005)

With Microsoft playing their games with consumers, I was getting fed up with the way they were treating their users. Their whole philosophy that you should pay top dollar to have all the features in your computer is insane. Hey, at least Apple is nice enough to support their systems for a good time-frame. I decided to take the plunge and dump using Windows only to use it on a limited basis for development-needs. Taking this plunge was a brave move. Leaving the mainstream has its risks, but also many opportunities to learn. Sacrifices had to be made, but not for long. Obviously, I was not alone. With the resurgence of Apple and their strategy to bring the company back on its feat, Linux was going to play the same game with Windows because of its open standard that many people are adopting in this day and age. I am happy to be a supporter of the Fedora Project. I love a system that is plug-and-play or plug-and-go. Sure I can spend days putting something together, but why bother.

 

 

 

The 64-bit World (2006-Present)

This pretty much rounds up to where I am today, on the cutting edge of the spectrum. I have found my home with the Fedora Operating System. A release is made of it every year and there is a great community involved with it. I love getting the first hand on stuff. But with that comes challenges: 1) you have to tolerate constant changes, 2) you have to tolerate bugs (or be able to fix them right away or wait it out), and 3) if you need help, you’re either on your own or you have to find someone (not like tech support is really going to help you anyways in this day and age!). Still, I outweigh the disadvantages. I’ve been able to take what I’ve learned and put it in the real world. Part of this got me a job in the aircraft industry for a while working with an in-flight entertainment (IFE) system for many airlines.

My current line-up I work with is a system I built on the 64-bit AMD platform. At the time, Linux was the only OS that fully supported 64-bit technology from the ground up. I have to say I can tell the difference and I will never go back to 32-bit. I sense that it will take the world a while to adapt to the movement. With Apple’s switch to the Intel platform, I’ve gone back to the platform that I grew up with. I’m very impressed where Steve Jobs has taken the company. It’s been a tough fight for them and I’m glad to see the company healthy again. I am looking forward to attending many Worldwide Developer’s Conferences and supporting their platform in the near future. Needless to say I’ve also become addicted to Steve’s keynotes, better known as SteveNotes!

Manufacturer: Asus
Processor: AMD Athlon64 2.5Ghz
RAM: 1.5 GB
Hard Drive: 250 GB
Graphics: ATI Radeon 9500
OS Installed: Fedora Core/64 5-7
Linux Kernel 2.6.XXXX
Manufacturer: Apple Powerbook G4
(Aluminum Series)
Processor: Freescale PowerPC
G4 (7447a) 1.5Ghz
RAM: 1.25 GB
Hard Drive: 74 GB
Graphics: ATI Radeon
OS Installed: MacOSX 10.3.9 – 10.5.2

My Last Word

We’re currently living in a time that is changing quickly and it’s hard to keep up with it. Blueray vs. HD DVD discs, the discontinuation of NTSC broadcast television in favor for HDTV, analog cell phones being condemned, and flat-LCD monitors are just a few of many technologies that are changing as I speak. It seems like things are going to get more and more complicating. My advise is hold on tight, because here I come!

© 1999-2018 Brandin J. Grams
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