Web 1.5

This blog-thing revolves around three post topics. One is literacy (adult, family, early, community). Another is the phenomenon of electric-print conversation. The third is computers - software and hardware.

Yesterday I was considering throwing away my Win3.11 machine. Apparently, I've moved on, and Win98se is now my platform of choice.

Yeah, I know.

My first computer was a PC with about 250 mg in the hard drive and no RAM - just the built in 256 kb of memory. It offered text-only on a two tone screen, had a built in speaker, and was on the way to a dumpster. Actually, it was me carrying it to the dumpster when, bitten by curiosity, I asked "Can I have this?"

Sure, they said. But it doesn't work. They were right. I took it home, turned it on, and the screen lit up and wrote f a t a l X e r r o r .

Then it locked up.

Fatal error, self-diagnosed.

A mere mortal might have stopped there, but I had a screwdriver and a library card. I found a 2" thick book called "The Programmers Bible" that was mostly incomprehensible, but had three pages of essential information. I found another book - forget the name, it was red - about config.sys and autoexec.bat. Somewhere, I found a copy of DOS 6 on diskette. I used the library's internet-access computers to download small software files. I found a dusty old stack of WordPerfect 5 diskettes at work.

By the end of the week, I was typing short essays and playing a text-based Star Trek video game.

That would have been 2001 or 2002... that Winter, I think.

Then one day in 2003, I was helping someone throw out an old CPU that had been running Win3.11. "Can I have this?" I asked.

Sure, they said. It doesn't work.

Right, says I.

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