R. I. P. My First Computer

My first computer was a laptop, a Dell XPS first generation. I got it so I could play PC games, with the added bonus that I would be able to use it at work and college.  It was the first computer that I didn’t have to share with my family and I had to take out a loan to get it. But it was worth it; not only could I play the newest and greatest games, but I didn’t have to fight anyone to get time on it. It was mine and I could do anything that I wanted.

It became clear early on that there is some responsibility that comes with owning your own computer. When something goes wrong, it is your job to fix it. You may have a tech savvy family member but chances are they don’t want to fix your computer on their day off. I learned the ins and outs of tech support real quick, along with how important it was to have a warranty. I can’t even count how many times I shipped that thing back to Dell for repairs. If I had to guess I would say maybe seven or eight times over the course of three years. At least five of those were for the exact same problem. Apparently the motherboards for that machine were always defective. That’s not a slam against Dell, because they did always repair it within the warranty window. But it’s not an endorsement either.

I nicknamed my computer “Gaming Sweetness” and played who knows how many hours of World of Warcraft on it. But in addition to that, I was using it constantly for school work and my own personal writing projects. The machine was running all the time and it held its own to the best of its ability.

Everyone told me that the average life span of a computer was anywhere between three and five years. Mine died near the end of its sixth year. And when I say it died, I mean it literally went dead. All lights went out and all fans went quiet after booting it up. In my experience a lot of laptops go this way. I’m not sure why that is, but I foresaw it some time in advance. First the machine couldn’t handle video games anymore. They got choppy and the machine would get hot. So I stopped playing games on it. Then I finished school and didn’t need it for homework anymore. All I would do was write on it and occasionally make something in Photoshop. But I could see that its days were numbered. It couldn’t handle simple things like flash player or music. I was using it only for the simplest of tasks and it was struggling to perform them. So I began backing up my files religiously and learning all the little tips and tricks of keeping your computer clean. I wrote a hub about it as well as one about recovery procedures one can use when reformatting is not an option. I purchased a 4GB flash drive and made sure that every page I wrote for my novel was backed up before I shut the machine off. I knew that the next time I turned it on could be the last time.

It is sad to see it go. Not because I lost any files but because it was my first computer. It got me through endless college papers. It sent the emails to the woman who would be my future wife (and many emails to her after we were married). It designed some of my best art and writing projects and it got me through the majority of my novel.

Now it sits as little more than a hilariously oversized paperweight. I don’t know if I can ever bring myself to throw it away; every dent, scratch and worn piece of plastic is another memory of my time with it. I have a desktop computer now, for home use, and a business computer at work, so I am not disconnected in any way. And I’m sure one day I will get a new laptop for writing purposes. But Gaming Sweetness will always live on as my first, and it will be remembered fondly for helping me through some of the most work-heavy times in my life.

(I encourage everyone who reads this to share the specs of their first computer and how it died.)

Artist's rendition of Gaming Sweetness. (In real life it was not nearly this shiny.)
Artist's rendition of Gaming Sweetness. (In real life it was not nearly this shiny.)

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Comments 8 comments

Palehorse profile image

Palehorse 6 years ago

I've had a countless number of desktop units that went in various ways; the blue screen of death being the most popular, but even lightening strikes and viruses have evoked endless streams of cursing from my lips, as hours, weeks, and sometimes months of work went to the unknown zone otherwise know as cyber-hades.

Losing them made me endorse backup procedures religiously as you have done, but even at that I watched saved date get corrupted on the portable flash drives and not so portable hard drives I utilized, by cyber pirates who happened to embed a nasty version of one virus or another into something that got saved onto the unit by another member of the family. . . And still they died. I began buying laptops with pretty much the same results, however getting 3 to 4 years out of any one of them required more hardware between it and the sources it was connected to, including the power and internet, than I really wanted to spend my hard earned cash on. . . But I did and still they died. . .

Then I bought a Mac. . . and all was well in life and cyberspace again. . .and has been for 6 years now!


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 6 years ago from United States Author

Palehorse - You know, I've seriously considered getting a mac every time the subject of a new computer comes up. Honestly, the only thing tying me down to PCs is my software catalog. It would be really expensive to re-purchase programs like photoshop and flash. Some program discs have installation files for both, but some don't and I'm reluctant to embark down the road to finding out which. Maybe when I have more money I'll finally take the mac plunge. ;)


Palehorse profile image

Palehorse 6 years ago

I can certainly understand the costs associated with converting to a mac, but when I did my own cost / benefit analysis it showed me that while the initial outlay of capital in purchasing the mac and related software was more than just going with another pc, the ROI was not as long as one might think.

If you work with photography going to a mac is a no brainer. Apple's Aperture program is not as user friendly as photo shop is, and I use both based upon what it is I am trying to do with the photographs. Macs graphics and software are far more user friendly than anything Microsoft puts out there, plus if you take the short time necessary to learn one of their software packages, then using any of the others is a snap, because they all function the same way.

I too was addicted to PC's and on average I had to replace my desktop or laptop every three years, with numerous repairs having had to be endured within that three year period. I have owned, Dells, HP's, IBM's, Gateways, and even a custom built unit I had put together by Fry's Electronics; but in the end 3 years with major interruptions due to hardware problems was the norm. I finally got so sick of it I bit the bullet and bought a mac.

If you are a techie then you probably own some of Apple's products already, and if you do you will be amazed at how easily they sync up and function.

Wireless networking has been another challenge for me as well. Despite going through several units within every price range you could imagine, I could never find one to provide a strong enough signal in my home to allow me to use my laptop without losing the signal unexpectedly.

When my wife was ready for her next laptop, we purchased another Mac, and while we were at it I picked up one of Apple's Airport Extreme units. I expected more of the same old same old, but man I couldn't have been more wrong!

I set it up and configured it in less than 15 minutes, and now I can post from ANYWHERE on my property with a full signal strength! Even in the garage and out in the backyard! It's amazing. My home network has never functioned this well.

Anyway, I guess I am sounding like an Apple rep, and I don't mean to. I just have had nothing but positive experiences with their products and have never had to even use their support!

Hope you find what meets your needs, but I truly hope you will one day obtain a Mac of your own. You will not be sorry when you do!


Rusty C. Adore profile image

Rusty C. Adore 6 years ago from Michigan

What a lovely tribute to your laptop, M.T.! My first laptop died because of me... :( I was surfing the Internet and saw that the battery was getting low. I decided that rather then waiting for it to die completely I would plug it in while I was still on it. I plugged the cord into the laptop and then into the wall. As I was plugging it into the outlet a flash out bluish light sparked against the prongs and zap the computer went dark and has never seen the light of day again. Unlike you, I did lose all my files though. It was terribly sad to not have it anymore. I haven't been able to replace it either. I'm actually using a Franken-computer now. I'm done with school though, so I really don't need anything fancy anyway! Anyway, great hub!


Pcunix profile image

Pcunix 6 years ago from SE MA

My first computer was one I wired myself. My first "real" computer was a Radio Shack TRS-80.

Now I use Macs.


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 6 years ago from United States Author

Palehorse - Don't worry about sounding like a mac spokesman. I often sound like a walking netflix and daz studio advertisement. I think the best thing for me to do would be to purchase a mac laptop the next time I have the opportunity to get one. I'm using an Alienware desktop right now and that has all my programs on it, so hopefully it will still be running later and I won't need the laptop to have all the programs in my catalog. Thanks again for the comment!

Rusty - That really sucks about your first computer. My parents lost one computer to a virus and another to a power surge. It's amazing how something that does as much as a computer can be destroyed so quickly. Thanks for the comment!

Pcunix - Another endorsement for macs. :D Hopefully those who read this article are able to avoid our first computer pitfalls and just get a mac.


Mandeeadair profile image

Mandeeadair 5 years ago from California

Great Hub! I really enjoy your writing style!

I have to admit that I got my hands on a Mac just a couple of days ago. It is truly amazing, I am still going strong with my old Dell (fingers crossed it stays that way for some time) however, I am pretty certain my next computer will be a mac.


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 5 years ago from United States Author

Mandeeadair - Thank you for the comment! I hope your dell lasts too. Desktop computers tend to last longer than laptop computers so I'm going to try to stick to those as much as possible. Any laptops I get will be just for writing.

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