in Everything Else, Technology

30 Years of Computing and My Ho-hum Life With It

Chanced upon this article, “The Real History of the GUI“. It’s kinda geeky, but it’s quite a good read to know how your computer came about.

My first computer (it’s my dad’s one, actually) was a whopping 80486 running Windows 3.11 and DOS 6.22 back in 1995 (Primary 4). Instead of perusing textbooks and slaving over assessment books like local school kids do, I read through the entire DOS 6.22 manual, which by the way is thicker than all my Primary 4 and 5 textbooks combined. My repertoire of knowledge in DOS soon grew way beyond my dad’s “dir/w”, “copy ” “mkdir”. The constant experimentation with the PC caused countless of reformats and reinstallation by a 10-year-old, with him getting more proficient each time than the previous.

I only managed to convince my dad to upgrade our Windows 3.11 to Windows 95 after I wrongly bought a game, Cyberstorm (I think), that required DirectX (i.e. Windows 95) to play. I bought myself a book on Windows 95 (can’t exactly remember the title, but it’s some Expert Guide to Win 95), went through it more than once (instead of studying, again) and became Microsoft’s unofficial technical helpdesk for all relatives with their computers woes.

Back in my upper primary school days, when kids play games – board or electronic forms, I wanted to make my own games. I was too poor (read: my parents were too ngiao) then to afford the board game Risk that my spoilt and rich neighbours owned. And so, I combined two drawing boards, traced a world map on it from my encyclopedia, stole dices from my brother’s Monopoly and made my own Risk. My aberrant desires to make games (instead of playing them) was only limited to board games. Making your own computer game sounds unattainable to a 10-year-old then.

When I transferred school in Primary 5, this bloke, Alvin, told me that I can make my own computer games. Although Alvin was a bullshitter most of the time, he was right about that. His words and encouragement had utterly destroyed my life as a normal living teenager for the next 6 years to come. I spent my days slaving in front of the computer instead of having a life. I remembered perusing through the help files of QBasic, the program Alvin touted that could materialise my deviant desires, one afternoon and finally managed to draw a circle on the screen. I literally jumped around the house for a full five minutes before hugging my younger brother for joy. It was not until 2 years later in Secondary 1 that Alvin, myself and two other school mates participated in the Cyberwar Zone ’98 competition that I made the first game, Annihilator, with Visual Basic. We eventually made it into the finals (the only Secondary 1 team out of the 6 finalists) though I can’t exactly remember did we rank 4th or 5th. I have since lost the source code, though.

I became the Vice-Chairman of the school’s computer club by Secondary 2 but was eventually overthrown in a coup d’etat by the teachers-in-charge and IT HOD in Secondary 3 due to my recalcitrant ways and for articulating my disdain for inane school policies.

Alvin, Jeremy and myself (and even Weiming, I think!) eventually formed OmniDesigns and created ONAS, a network administration suite that was to be deployed over school computer labs and marketed to LAN shops for easy administration. However, programmers being programmers, we procrastinated and never managed to deliver a final version of it. We never became rich as a result of that but still managed to clinch monetary prizes for the school’s internal IT competitions. There was this renegade group of non-computer club students that were always trying to rival us though, and the IT HOD was so obsessed with them. They went by the lame name of “TyphoonStorm” if I remembered correctly. Admitedlly, they’ve got better marketing executives than we do.

Addendum God, their website is still around and has not changed a bit since 2001. Now this is nostalgic.

Secondary school passed, I collected my ‘O’ Level results and decided at last minute not to do computer studies at polytechnic but to continue rote-learning at a friendly neighbourhood JC. That was perhaps when I decided I didn’t want to do computers for a living. And that is the end of my geeky story. And that was when I last heard from Alvin, I have no idea why he refuses to contact me now. And you must be really bored to read through all that!

  1. this article had me laughing in office.

    hi there my friend :)

  2. and i never knew su guaning was the vip for cyber warzone. haha

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