My geek history
History with computers
I started my computer hobby in 1985 (or late 1984) with Spectravideo’s SVI-728. In 1987 me and my brother bought Amiga 500, and later we expanded it with extra chip memory and external disk drive. In 1993 I bought my last Amiga, CD32, which was an incredibly risky and stupid decission, since it required blind trust to company’s promises that they will release expansions for upgrading CD32 to full-fledged computer with cd-rom drive. Needless to say, that it never happened. My brother were more clever and put his money on A 1200, which I also kept using frequently because of poor availability of CD32 games and software.
After I graduated from high school, I bought my first PC (Pentium, 150 MHz) and again bet on wrong horse: I chose OS/2 Warp as my operating system, but since literaly none of my friends had OS/2 and I didn’t have any other resources for software or games, I had to change to Windows 95. Later I switched to NT4, mostly because it offered the same user experience but were more stable and robust. Since those days I have been mostly a PC/Linux-guy. My weapon of choise for many years now has been Ubuntu LTS, but I regularly use other Debian-based distros also (e.g. Kali). I have really tried to like Apple’s computers – I own several models from G4 Mac Mini running MorphOS to 11” MacBook Air running Snow Leopard – But I really can’t bring myself to like closed source systems.
My programming hobby started back in 80’s with MS Basic (SVI had actually very good Microsoft Basic intepreter) but since my understanding of programming concepts developed, I learned some Pascal, C++ and Amiga Assembler as well. In late 90’s when I was studying in polytechnic (to became a professional programmer) I familiarized myself with Object Oriented Programming and databases, but what really blew my mind was internet programming (at first with Active Server Pages, later with Java). Back then I didn’t have internet connection at home, so concept of being able to create applications for potentionally millions of users was simply breathtaking.
Since those days I have been programming with Oracle PL/SQL, Perl (which wasn’t for me at all), Visual Basic, Classic ASP, C#, Ruby, Python, Java, T-SQL and now Clojure. After years of being subjected to OO design patterns, I have developed very strong urge for switching to functional paradigm. And even though I don’t actually have time to program in work now, I’ll try to keep myself enlightened enough to be able to discuss with our talented developers. And of course I always have several projects going on in my own time, most of them are proof-of-concepts or prototyping something new and interesting (like IoT with RaspberryPI).
In addition to programming, I spent most of the 90’s experimenting with different trackers. For me it was more natural than playing with keyboard or other instrument directly. Unfortunately after I started Polytechnic, I didn’t find enough time to make music anymore and thus that hobby was left to the past.
On recent years I have accuired all early home computers that have influenced my life somehow. I never considered myself to be a nostalgic, but playing with those early systems is very rewarding and somehow festive. I own following (old) systems:
- Several Commodore 64s (with sd2iec)
- Commodore 128
- Several Commodore Amiga 500s (no Gotek/Cortex at this time!)
- Commodore Amiga CD32
I also have good supply of old laptops, but I don’t consider any modern PC (post Pentium) to be retro yet. They also lack the personality of 80’s and early 90’s home computers.
Btw. I use insane amounts of time trying to find perfect keyboard. I have almost two dozen of mechanical keyboards so far and new ones are coming in every 2-3 months. So far my favourites are Matias Tactile Pro (modified Alps switches) and Unicomp Ultra Classic (buckling spring “switches”).
My editor of choise used to be Emacs, but recently I have tried several good alternatives, like Sublime Text, Atom and even Visual Studio Code. I really don’t have favourite at the time, but I seem to still use Emacs a lot. It’s propably because I got rid of my old and bloated .emacs -file and started a new configuration based on Steve Purcell’s conf.
History with consoles
At early 80’s my cousin gave his Mattel Intellivision to me and my brother. This sparked a life long love for electronic gaming and consoles. We already had Pong before, but it wasn’t interesting enough more than 5 minutes at a time. Intellivision itself was an astonishing piece of hardware: First truly 16 bit console decade before Sega Megadrive (Genesis in USA). If you had means (we certainly didn’t), you could also buy all kinds of extensions for your Inty, e.g. speech synthesizer, computer-module (2 k memory and basic intepreter!) and even adapter which could load games directly from interne.. I mean cable-tv. Internet was but a dream by then.
After Intellivision I have bought several consoles, but I was mostly a computer gamer. And I newer was a Nintendo fan at all, even though they had some unquestionable classics. At this point I have following consoles, which I use regularly:
- Atari 2600
- Couple of Mattel Intellivisions (+ computer module and speech synthesizer)
- Sega Mega Drive
- Several Playstation 1s, 2s and 3s (+ PS2 Net Adapter)
- Couple of XBox 360s
- Sony PSP
Playing games can sometimes go to extremes for me. In 2008 I used over 30 full days with XBox 360’s CoD 4: Modern Warfare. When me and my clan finally moved forward to next game, I had put over 54 days to that game. And half of my sanity points.
History with Ultima and RPGs
It would be hollow for me to discuss 80’s and role playing games without mentioning Ultima series. I first played Ultima IV with my friend with his C64 in late 1985 and was sold at the very first moment. It wasn’t the graphics (obviously) and it wasn’t the soundtrack. Rather it was the feeling of depth and mystery. Ultima IV was my first contact to role playing. Soon afterwards we started playing Dungeons & Dragons and other pen-and-paper rpgs. Ultimas were a big thing for me and my friends. We played every one of them from IV to VII and Underworld, and release of new game in series was always the highlight of our year.
I still play old Ultimas every now and then. I must have played Ultima V through at least dozen times and Ultima VII almost as many. I usually play oldies with emulators, but tend to use original “feelies”, like cloth maps and spell books, from original games. That said, I still don’t have Ultima I and Ultima II in my possession, so if you have extra (cib) copies, I am prepared to make an just offer. Btw, I don’t consider Ultima 8 and Ultima 9 to be part of the canon.
I have been member of UDIC from February 2000, so I’ll soon be Copperbeard. My dragon name is Plastius Dragon. Nice to meet ya.
During my three decades with tabletop RPGs I have tried hordes of different systems and settings. My all time favourites are Call of Cthulhu (Chaosium rules), Cyberpunk (Interlock) with my own campaign set called “line wars”, and Praedor, also with my own game world. You might have guessed that I usually play as a game master, and don’t usually feel natural leading game in someone else’s game world (excluding set-oriented games like Cthulhu and Middle-Earth RPG of course).