When I was 18 I bought my very first computer: an Apple IIgs, which was the top-of-the-line Apple model at the time (1990). It set me back a little over $2,000 but was fabulous during my first year of college. It had amazing graphics and sound (hence the “gs” in the name) and was way ahead of the competition– notably IBM clones running Microsoft’s MS-DOS. The Macintosh, which had been first released a few years earlier, didn’t have the processing power or color screen of the IIgs. So all in all it was a great piece of hardware.

I was waxing nostalgic a bit this evening, so I surfed over to eBay to see if people still sell those twenty-year-old computers. To my surprise and delight, there’s apparently a thriving market for the IIgs! Not only can I buy a full system– for $150 or so– but people sell games and software on ancient 3.5″ floppy disks as well. I’m almost tempted to buy one, just to remember those heady days of the start of the PC revolution. Almost.

Stepping even further back in time, I remember the old Apple IIe we had at home. I suspect mom and dad bought that puppy around 1984 or so, when computers at home were rare (we were the only family who had one for a long time). Ahh, the crazy cool games we played back then: Apple Panic and Night Mission Pinball and Black Magic.

I even taught myself how to program on the Apple IIe. First I learned BASIC, then stepped into assembly (yes, I figured out how to program 6502 Assembly on my own), and managed to write all kinds of software ranging from text-based adventure games (Zork was king then) to low-level disk drive routines that increased the data density of the 5.25″ disks we used back then.

Wow, I’m a geek.

Funny, though, how twenty-five years later I’m still programming, and in fact making a decent living at it. You never know what silly childhood hobbies will endure into adulthood…