Not too long ago my beloved home computer (the one I just bought last year) developed a frustrating quirk: after twenty minutes of operation it would freeze and refuse to reboot. After doing everything I could for the ill PC I finally decided to take advantage of the warranty and send the computer back to the manufacturer's home office for repairs for a little maintenance (the official diagnosis is that it has been overheating). I am a very technological individual in that I need Internet access. I just do. I find that I am lost without my e-mail, and my brain grows tired when I can't read all kinds of interesting articles brought home by that little yellow broadband cable. With my PC out traveling, I called on the desperate solution: I hooked up an old computer.
I've been experiencing retro computer shock for the past week or so. I've had to jump down from my high horse of a Pentium 4 CPU with oodles of RAM and broadband to a Pentium 2 machine originally built in 1996. It had only 32 MB of RAM and Windows 95 for an operating system, but a few years ago when I parents were using it as their computer I upped the RAM an additional 128 MB and updated the machine to Windows 98. There's no place for the network cable to connect, so I'm stuck with old fashioned dial-up Internet. The USB ports do not work. The video card cannot exceed a resolution of 1024 x 768 without locking the machine up. In fact, Windows 98 consumes all of the system RAM just by running. Toss in a web browser and the whole system becomes terribly slow and unstable. It takes me nearly thirty minutes just to boot the machine, dial into the Internet, and check my e-mail.
My fancy computer is on its way home this week after a brief stay at the repair center. I cannot wait to restore it to its place of honor in my home. The temp computer is unsuitable for just about everything beyond a game of Freecell (and even that lags somewhat). I miss my fast Internet, my games, my music, my ability to watch DVDs in the bedroom, and the system stability required to write articles of a decent length. In the meantime I'm stuck in a 2006 world with a 1996 computer, and believe me when I say that I now understand that not all retro hardware needs to be preserved for future generations. Somehow I doubt that people in the year 2030 will want to play Freecell on Windows 98.