Thursday, February 25, 2010


It’s a funny old world really. Today I’ve just bought myself a brand spanking new laptop, or notebook, depending on how old you are. It’s one of those little stunners, an Asus EeePC 1000HE. Why? Because I wanted something portable to take with me for my writing. Too often I’ve felt the urge to jot something down and my normal Toshiba is just too bulky and heavy to work with on a bus, or having lunch or the like. I know, I could use a book, but frankly writing things by hand, with a view of doing it again is just double dipping, plus I now type faster than I can handwrite.

The irony of this is that the new machine cost me less than $500. The first laptop I bought, second hand, was Toshiba T1200, bought back in 1993. Back then it was cutting edge, although it didn’t feature a colour screen (that was the more expensive TC1200) it was still desirable enough to set me back around $1,000. Chuckle all you want, but my friend bought a CD burner at the same time for $5,000, which was half the asking price of $10,000. It burnt CDs at 1:1 speed and guess what, it still works, not that it gets much use. According the Laptop Museum, my Toshiba was ”…a very advanced laptop for it’s time, being able to run many powerful programs only a proper PC could use at the time. It had an 8 Inch screen that can only use scales of Green and Blue. It had an Intel 80C86 processor at 9.54 MHz, 1MB RAM of which 384kB could be used for LIM EMS or as a RAMdisk, CGA graphics card, one 720Kb 3.5" floppy drive and one 20 MB hard drive (Some models had two floppy drives.) MS-DOS 3.30 was included with the laptop.” It also cost slightly under $4,000 in 1991, so to get it around two years later for a grand was a bargain. My PDA has more features and is more powerful than this beast was.

Having said all of that it was huge, bulky and weighed an incredible amount of weight, but it did have the effect of impressing people when I used it. It ran Windows 1.0 and the battery was a paperweight as it was incapable of holding more than ten minutes of charge, thus rendering it utterly useless without an external power supply. The screen was impossible to read in the sunlight and the modem was equally as useless. Still I wrote a good number of my early magazine articles on it and it served me very well for a number of years, and also assisted my girlfriend at the time in her University work, as she’d often write essays on it and print them off later. Using Windows Notepad to write feature articles was fun – and cutting edge – as was printing them all out on a dot matrix printer. I still find discs with articles on them in Notepad format. Brilliant.

I dispensed with the Toshiba in the late ‘90s. I sold it at a Trash & Treasure market to some clown for the princely sum of $50. Frankly I was stunned to get that much for it. Someone will now tell me that they go for massive amounts of money, but hey – I don’t care. I got my moneys worth out of it, and frankly, it died a long death. I then graduated to other laptops, each getting smaller and more powerful as I moved upwards. I now have three such machines in the house, with one being the main workhorse. The new one will be for writing and internet (that being emails), with some other functions, so the specifications (I’m one of those rare people that has no desire to play any computer games outside of Taipei or FreeCell) on it will be just fine.

What an odd, and at times amazing, world we live in. This new machine is like going from driving an old 1950s Beetle to a brand spanking new Porsche 911. The difference is staggering.

And, I’m told, the battery may never fully go flat. I’m happy with that.

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