Down my (computing) Memory Lane

I finally got out of the chair yesterday evening and cleaned out a ton of junk from some long-forgotten storage.  Since my first computer at the age of 12 – an Intel 486DX-33 with a 170MB hard disk – I’ve left behind (to my mom’s dismay) shelves full of obsolete tech.  They quickly become time capsules, thanks to Moore’s Law and my voracious appetite for all things tech.

I counted a pile of CD cases, several PCI-slot graphics cards, a yellowed PS/2 Genius-brand white mouse, tons of documentation and cardboard packaging, an Asus AMD Slot-A motherboard, Creative Soundblaster card and a bunch of others; I forget.  I chucked most of them, but not before grabbing some pics of several items that brought back fond memories of my growing-up days of messing around with tech.

My First Computer Games

Microprose's Task Force 1942 and Maxis' Simant

Microprose's Task Force 1942 and Maxis' Simant

These are the original documentation that came with the first two DOS-based games I ever bought – Microprose’s Task Force 1942 (hybrid historic naval battle strategy/simulator) and Maxis’ SimAnt (ant simulator).  I remember dragging my parents into the Times bookstore at Centrepoint Orchard, and insisted that they get me 2 games to christen my first PC back in 1993.  I spent hours poring over the Ship Identification Book that came with TF1942 until I was so familiar with them I could name the ships to get past Microprose’ copy protection each time I played the game, without referring to the brown booklet you see above at all.  It’s obvious I was drawn to games in the strategy and simulation genre; even though my gaming palate is a lot wider at the age of 27, I’ll always have a soft spot for games like Civilization, SimCity and BattleStations: Midway.

My First Product Launch

Windows 95 Upgrade and Windows Plus!

Windows 95 Upgrade and Windows Plus!

In 1995, Microsoft launched Chicago, or what we’ve come to know as Windows 95.  My rig was running DOS 6.2 and Windows 3.1 then, and while I had loads of fun navigating with command prompt, zapping boot sector viruses by hand, and shunting device drivers around the nooks and crannies of conventional and upper memory, the slick interface of Windows 95 was always on my mind.  I knew I had to lay my hands on the latest piece of code out of Redmont, and succeeded in convincing my dad to drive me to Funan Centre around midnight and queue with me for an Upgrade Pack.  I was 14.

It would be 12 years later before I joined the queue again, at the SingTel Comcentre for Apple iPhone 3G’s launch in Singapore.

My First Modem

US Robotics 28800-baud modem

US Robotics 28800-baud modem

I don’t remember if I got the US Robotics 28.8 KBps modem bundled or separately, but I certainly remember receiving Pacific Internet’s dial-up Internet welcome package (with 20ish hours free each month) in the mail on the evening of 26 December 1996.  I went on to clock 52 hours that month over a span of less than 6 day as I taught myself HTML, and hung out at BBSes and door games.  I also recall flashing the modem to 33600 after Motorola released the sleek black USR 33600 bretheren.

Oops I cracked it...

Later on, I upgraded to the Motorola Surfboard SB3100 DOCSIS 1.0 cable modem that came with Singapore’s first ever hybrid-fiber coaxial (HFC) broadband service by SCV (later acquired by Starhub).  I remmeber watching the IRC file transfer speeds crawl as I was downloading episode after episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and got so fed up I spoofed SCV’s tftp server and downloaded and edited the cable modem’s config file, which had the very nice effect of uncapping my up/down speeds.  Fun.

About James Chan

James Chan is an entrepreneur, investor, geek, photographer and husband/father based out of Singapore. Apart from frequent travels to Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia for work, James can also be found online via his trusty 15" Retina MacBook Pro or iPhone 6+.