Where it all began
This is a brief history of how the IT bug bit us with a bit of home pc history thrown in.
Our first introduction in home pc's was back in the 1980's, that long ago you all say. Yes almost around the time Captain Cook arrived (LOL), well it feels like that anyway. the 1980's was the begining of the introduction of home pc's with only 2 brands being available at that time if memory serves me correctly. These were IBM and Apple Macintosh, both were running very basic operating systems, the IBM was using DOS and the Apple MAcintosh was running what was known back then as system 1. IBM was the first into the market with Apple Macintosh coming into the fold a few years later. These pc's were extremely slow and limited computers by todays standards but at the time it was a big break through for technology at home and not exactly kind on the wallet.
These computers were large, heavy desktop items running next to nothing for graphics at the time as most of the graphics back then looked like playing ping pong on an early console( who remembers this) all "pixel" based with monochrome screen and early models had no mouse, the use of the curser arrow keys or the Q, W, A, S keys to move around the screen where you could. Printers of the time were called dot matrix also slow and loud when printing and another item not so kind to the wallet. A couple of years later IBM computers came with a mouse that almost looked like a square box, these had 2 slightly raised mouse buttons and a cursor ball that was made of of a material that seemed to attract any dust and needed cleaning regularly as the dust would impede the mouse ball movement.
Next advancement was what was called the XT version 2 which came with a colour screen all of 16 bit technology and only basic colours to match the pixel graphics. Up until now all these computers had everything onboard, no seperate OI cards for now. Sounds back then where just simple beeps and boops coming from a single speaker built into these units, sound cards would appear soon enough. DOS was also being updated/upgraded at the time, the first versions of DOS was DOS 2, now we are getting DOS versions 3 and 4 with more upgrades to come and hardware started to advance. During these early years it was not an economical idea to upgrade as everything for IO's was run on the motherboard plus back then there was not a computer store on every corner. Soon we get the "286" computer which was a big step up from previous pc's although it still looked like the XT computer the internal hardware was starting to advance a bit quicker.
Following not long after the 286 the 386 computer appeared and this is where things started to speed up a bit quicker with hardware, software and games were now starting to appear on floppy disk. The original floppy disk on the XT computers were 8 inch, 5 inch floppy drives were not too far away.Towards the end of the 386 production runs and into the new 486 the first of what could be classed as IO cards appeared, simple sounds and graphics although still pixel based were improving all the time.With the introduction of the 386/486 computers mouse improvements were advancing as well although still basic by todays standard the mouse was steadily getting better.When the 486 had progressed a new model had appeared it was "dubbed the 586 by many but in reality was probably an upgraded 486 and now DOS has advanced to version 6. 2 floppy drives were now available 3 /14 and 5 inch as the 5 inch would very shortly be phased out with the introduction of the first cd drives. IF you had one of these models with a cd drive, the floppy drive was now the 3 1/4 inch drives that remained on pc's for along time
The timeline for 486/586 pc's are the 1990's and very shortly the first of the pentium computers will appear and this is where the bug bit as computer shops and easier upgrades became available. Mid to late 1990's are here and the first pentium computers hit the market , now with much better graphics and sound this is where the advancement of hardware and everything else started to roll along much faster with much better motherboards and IO cards available along with upgradable ram. A new operating system with the launch of the first pentiums has arrived , windows 95 is no here. No longer was the interface based around DOS(although it was the backbone of early windows). Processors, ram, motherboards and graphics cards are developing much much quicker than before and with the arrival of the early pentiums a new style of case has arrived,the tower case is now with us and new component names are appearing. We now have the beginings of choice AMD or Intel for cpu's.Graphics cards now had AGP or PCIe available.
Now comes the upgrade bug, i held out using an older 486 pc for awhile as i had other interests back then that distracted me from the bug that was soon to eat my wallet. I purchased a pentium 120 with a massive 17 inch CRT screen back in the late 1990's for $1,500 without the option to pay more for windows 95, i did get WIN 95 shortly after.. Time is ticking for the warranty period to expire, and the advancement of dial up internet was on the march as well. Now connected to dial up internet and computer store staff stated you will not sleep much at first, i laughed at them and soon found out how right they were.The very first day of being connected online i think i hit the sack around 2am ( had to be up at 6am for work).Internet connection now in hand i spend many hours on dial up connection( snail pace internet). First upgrade i need a faster modem, i advance from 33.6k to 56k modem and here i am thinking i am on a rocketship speed which was only marginally faster if you look at it all. Web browser's at the time were Netscape, IE ,Firefox and Alta Vista, along with this home email as well. Now i discover online auction sites and the begining of expanding fledgeling online stores. Next upgrade is to buy a 4mb Voodoo 3DFX gpu, yes a 4mb graphics card which was an ATI brand (later to be swallowed up by AMD). For the time being i still have the pentium 120 cpu and original motherboard.Monitors by this time are all now CRT, still big and bulky units and now available as 256 colour with the right graphics card.
Advancement of components and software have advanced much faster, original win 95 version A was on 3 1/4 floppy disk, version B and C had moved to cd version and the final version of win95 being version C. Now pentium 2's have arrived along with win98,later win Mellinium, win 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 8.1, Win 10 and now Win 11 and for the gamers a large selection of games for the time are here. Graphics cards as well as sound cards have advanced too so has everything else, better mouse although still with the crappy mouse ball( laser mouse not too far away along with optical mouse too). Time to upgrade to pentium 2 stuff with my preference being AMD over Intel and is still the same today( just my preference), new motherboard,cpu and ram for pentium 2 stuff cost me almost $600 back around 2000, i was only earning maybe $300 per week back then. Next is the graphics card, now we can get graphics cards with 256mb of memory, wow i thought i was god back then having a 256mb card and my wallet new it all too well.
Pentium 3's arrive and now all components,peripherals and software are advancing very quickly, i skip updatiing to pentium 3 but watch out when the dual core stuff arrives on the market. My first dual core pc is a complete new build, now the options of tower models, power supplies, motherboards, graphics cards,sound cards, cpu and ram with new brands appearing , better monitors etc all ready to eat your wallet. So i build my custom built dual core pc which got uprgaded several times over its life cycle and upgrading to the next level of everything thats been released. Currently my builds for my use are still AMD cpu based, for graphics cards i dont have a preference as i have used both ATI(AMD) or Nvidia based cards. From dual core systems i advance with the times to the quad cores, 6 core and 8 cores with my wallet feeling the pinch everytime.The Last of the AMD 8 core FM3+ cpus are the 8350, but the 8250 has better overclocking capabilities, this is just before the rise of Ryzen and the I series Intel cpus.Broadband has now been with pc users for a while and my thirst for more knowledge and upgrades continues and keeps going and going with getting into the nitty gritty of endless upgrades/pc builds.
For all of you who have managed to read this far my suggestion for you if you are a beginner at pc building, first thing to do is to work out what are you building a pc for and what do you want out of it, the next thing is what budget do you have. Today there is so much to choose from compared to 20+ years ago, so for the beginner pc builders work out what you want out of a pc and your budget first, then search for components that will fit your budget and make sure all components are compatible as well as optimise what you are building. always check the specs of everything you buy to make sure you minimise bottlenecks in the systems you build. simple things like checking out what cpu the motherboard is capable of running, same with ram speed, no point buying 3200mhz ram if your motherboard will take a slower max speed, With graphics cards for first time builders or anyone for that matter buy what you can afford and optimise what you have by looking for the best bang for buck.
Regardless of what anyone says wether a novice pc builder or professional, once a pc builder always a pc builder the only difference is how much you want to spend and how far you want to go with your build.
Thank you all for reading this if you got that far and hopefully i didnt bore you all too much, timelines in this blog are all ball park and maybe not too precise. There is plenty of info about for more acurate timelines for pc advancement, this was only an introduction of were it all started that feel like a life time now and where my first experiences began that gave me the bug to get into computers which has now led to an online store 30+ years later.