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Old Computer History for Newbies

Updated on May 5, 2013

Basics on my computer beginnings?

This is directed at people who are relatively new to computer technology or just need a few simple pointers.

I have been working with computers for a long time, nearing 20 years I guess. I was using a PC before the Internet was available. I started out with a Vic20 and I must say it was kind of fun, you had to buy programs and actually code them yourself. It was a lot of coding and could be a bit frustrating if you made data entry errors, at least it would tell you which line had the error in it. Look at it this way, it was great typing practice. There were cartridges you could buy but that cost more money so I did my own coding, I suppose it was in the language called Basic.

Then there was DOS and having to know all the DOS commands to get your computer going and doing what you wanted it to do, what it could do that is. It progressed to windows quickly and the first one I remember at this time is 3.0 of course there was 1.0 and 2.0 but I surely do not remember them.

Technology in regards to communication with other computer users got better, along came going live and talking to other people in your town, country and world. I lived way up Northern Alberta and it took a bit longer for the Internet to become available up there. I started my venture with AOL, Prodigy and the Imagination Network. Not sure how many will remember Prodigy or the Imagination Network, the Imagination Network was an online gaming place where you could also go to chat rooms, it was like walking around a village and going from one building to another.

I can still recall loading a game off of floppies onto a Tandy computer, I think that was a Radio Shack purchase from sway back, had to go through around six floppies before the game was fully loaded. We no longer have to go through this arduous ordeal, thank heavens for the advancements in Personal Computers

First you will have to program that key to do what you want it to do if the boss is coming.
First you will have to program that key to do what you want it to do if the boss is coming.

Computer History of Mine

Living way up North in such a remote area we did not have 1-800 numbers so that we could dial in and connect with our modems which were smoking fast, okay so maybe we thought it was pretty cool back then. I can still remember the sound of the squealing modem when my computer modem was shaking hands with the computer on the other end and I knew the sound to listen for in the case of a failure. I had some big long distance bills let me tell you.

Backtracking a bit, before AOL and those others there were the BBSes that I would frequent, there were different types of BBS systems, BBS means Bulletin Board System. A friend of mine would bring me BBS newspapers from Vancouver so I could search out which BBS system I wanted to check out. Dial in for long distance of course.

Then came the day when the Internet became available, dial in to your local provider which could have been anyone back in those days, back then for us it was the local Radio Shack and sometimes the line was constantly busy. These are all things we do not have to deal with anymore, the Internet is live always. This is not to say that there are no computers out there that continue to dial in with a modem anymore because I'm sure there probably still are some of those people out there.

Circuit Builder on your Mobo
Circuit Builder on your Mobo
That's an old CRT Monitor and as you will notice that PC still has floppy drives.
That's an old CRT Monitor and as you will notice that PC still has floppy drives.
This unit has not brains of its own, known as the dummy terminal.
This unit has not brains of its own, known as the dummy terminal.

Computer parts and tips.

First we will go through what all the parts of your computer are called and what certain terms mean in computer lingo. PC (Personal Computer), personal computers are designed to be used by one person at a time.

Number one tip in case you are unaware and I hate to break it to you this error seems to be still common in this day and age.

  • You do not reboot your computer by turning off your monitor and turning it back on again. This square thing that shows you pictures is called your monitor, not your computer. So when you phone tech support please go for the box with the power button which is usually on the front of it and often times has a light to show if it is on or not.
  • If you see no light glowing it is most likely that it is not turned on. Okay here is another one which some may have heard before. Do not phone tech support and tell us to make your computer turn on, have us trouble shoot everything and then finally include the fact that your power is out. You need to tell us first that your power is out so we can tell you that you will have to wait until the power comes back on and try to turn it on then. Yes we have had calls in regards to this. I have worked tech support at call centers.
  • No we do not know where you are saving the files you are downloading from the Internet and we do not have a direct connection to you either to see what you are seeing.

Please keep in mind this is meant as humour and not meant to offend anyone.

Didn't we all want to know where that darned Any Key was?
Didn't we all want to know where that darned Any Key was?

Computer Basic Parts

So far we know what the monitor and the computer box/case is; the case houses all kinds of things including:

  • Motherboard, everything connects back to the motherboard.
  • Motherboard has a processor (CPU) on it which is the brain center of your computer.
  • There are RAM (Random Access Memory) chips on your computer, perhaps only one, usually more than one though. There are different types of RAM. This is used to store data which is currently in use and to a certain point adding more Ram to a sluggish machine may seem to speed it up.
  • There will be a graphics card if you do not have an integrated graphics card. Integrated means it is built onto the Mobo(Motherboard). If you use programs that require high end graphics a stand-alone card is usually superior providing you buy a good graphics card that is. How do you know if it's good? Ask a friend or a friend of a friend that knows or if you know of a store that is honest with you and knows what they are doing, you can tell them what you need and they will be able to steer you in the right direction.
  • Sound Card can be integrated as well, but there again I prefer a higher quality stand-alone card.
  • Don't forget the Video card, which can also be integrated, as above I go for the higher quality stand-alone card.

How my computer was feeling today.
How my computer was feeling today.

Anti Virus Software Importance

Most people use a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) and plug all of their computer gear into there. The UPS allows you time to shut down properly should the power go out and also protects your gear from power spikes or drops. If you see lights on your UPS you are getting power, the UPS will beep most annoyingly if it is not getting power, at least mine does. I highly recommend a good UPS.

Make sure you have Anti Virus on your computer before you get onto the internet, windows has it's own firewall but once you load Anti Virus software you will most likely be using that Anti Virus software firewall. A Firewall is a part of a computer system or network that is designed to block unauthorized access while permitting authorized communications.

Note: Today I had a computer malfunction, chkdsk wanted to run every time I booted up or restarted my PC. I had lost my admin rights to do much of anything and I could not force chkdsk to run even-though my computer kept telling me on boot that it needed to run or I could remove my recently added software or hardware. Well I did not have any recently added software or hardware so I went hmmm? I removed the latest updates to my office 2010 and still I had the same issue.

I could not get into safe mode, my computer told me it had issues, yet I could still boot into Win7 after the initial chkdsk on boot error, computer also told me I did not have NTFS (New Technology File System). I Googled it until I could Google no more, found it seemed to be a common issue. All that they suggested would not get me around the issue.

So I went to the store and bought a new Hard Drive, a 1TB which should be fine for a while. I also bought Norton 360, I had another AV program but I thought hmmm, this seems like it could be a virus, I shall see. Well I came home and Googled some more before starting the big task of building a new Hard Drive with all my data and programs on it.

A link that I went to said Repair Doctor and said it could find and fix many problems, download free. I thought okay this can't get much worse even so my computer still boots I'll download this. Once downloaded I ran the scan and it found I think 388 serious problems or so it told me. I do think it was exaggerating a bit but okay, turns out I could not click the fix now button unless I purchased the piece of software. I looked at the price and okay it was only $30.00 approximately, I'll try it. I was shocked to tell you the truth, it worked like a charm, it fixed the boot issue, the error no longer shows up. My Registry was foo-barred.

Installed Norton 360 and it found several other issues, a lot were cookie issues but the moral of the story is this - even if you have Anti-Virus don't believe it is stopping everything, one day your PC may just do as mine did. I think mine only had a stroke, not a full blown heart attack and she seems to be happy once again. Check the reviews on the Anti-Virus package you are thinking of buying, see if there have been any serious issues in the past that have not been resolved.

Hope this helps or at least you smile.

I have left a lot of data out as there are many other parts that encompass a computer and new ever changing computer technology, like peripherals: Printers, scanners, speakers, woofers, web-cams, external data storage devices, microphones and digital cameras to name a few.

One Final Note on Routers

Routers are another story altogether, quick tip; if your router is giving you grief check to see if there is a firmware update available... I was having problems weekly with mine, after I finally got the firmware update the issues seemed to have resolved themselves.


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    • Magdelene profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Okotoks

      Hi Angela, it sure does seem like a long time ago and things have changed so much since the beginnings for computers. Glad you found it useful

    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 

      6 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      Actually I forget some of this from time to time so I found this useful.

    • Magdelene profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Okotoks

      Thanks for the comment Sun Pen. I think computers were interesting back then, remember in the beginning there were no bad sites on the internet and the only people that used them were ones that knew a bit of coding.

    • Sun Pen 50 profile image

      Sun Pen 50 

      7 years ago from Srilanka

      Oh, Thanks a lot for reminding the old days.

      The first computer I was acquainted with did not have a monitor. Neither cartridges. Nor floppies. They built a three storied building to house it. Basic was to come long years later. We learned Fortran (IV). We had to code our programs on coding sheets first. Then punch it on Holarith cards on a card punch. A type writer that did not type letters but made holes on cardboard. Our interface with the actual computer was the (Computer operating Officer, a graduate with computer science degree).

      Want to know the make and model of the computer? It was an IBM 1130.

      Though your hub meant for newbies I read it from beginning to end. Thanks.


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