Sam's Hobby Room

My juggling act with way too many hobbies

Technology

bbcMicro3
My first school computer, the BBC Micro. We didn’t get to play Elite at school, though.

I grew up alongside technology as I did with gaming, although technology as a whole has so much to it I barely know where to begin.

I’m not old enough to remember when computers took up a whole room, but I do remember the days before phones were in every home, let alone a computer. I remember the frustrations at fumbling in my pocket in a phone box for some change, because I needed to get hold of family back home, and that was when we finally got a phone.

One thing that stands out is how I’ve always been ahead of my time. I’d grumble about another tape getting eaten by the cassette player, or a floppy disc getting corrupted and losing my work; my biggest complaint was “I hate these things. Isn’t there something better?” I didn’t feel that so much with the BBC Micro, or the Acorn Electron and C64 we owned at home, apart from the latter two with the dreaded tape system, where you had to cross your fingers while watching the loading screen and hope the program would load.

My first use of a mouse was at senior school when we got to use the Archimedes. It was also where I started to learn BASIC with the help of my IT tutor; we’d often have one-on-one sessions where I got some extra time to play with the computer. The Acorn Electron that we picked up at a car boot sale for the home came with a manual; not only for using it, but also for programming your own little games.

I was at college in Worthing on an advanced IT course when the internet, and with it the World Wide Web, was released to the public. It was a novelty among the students at being able to message each other through email and the broadcast system, which acted like an early IM application. There was one computer in the college dedicated to web browsing via the Mosaic browser. The fastest computers in college were a few 486s at the back of one computer room, which were always in demand since we were sick of the 386s everywhere else. I also made plenty of newbie-related mistakes regarding my own systems, resulting in an irrecoverably corrupted hard drive on one occasion.

After that, things snowballed. I remember little things like getting excited about the development of the USB stick, but as the internet got more accessible, I also discovered Frontpage Express and got a taste for designing websites. I’ve experimented with web hosts through the years as I continue to improve my web design and development skills, and although I’ve made plenty of beginner mistakes there too, I continue to live and learn.

With the complexities of life until about a few years ago, I found it hard to find something I could settle into and that I enjoyed doing, and was easily discouraged by setbacks. These days, I have once more pursued the IT angle for future career prospects, and now I am in a better place, I am finding that this is my niche after all. My grades from last semester certainly confirmed that web design/development is a major strength, and I aim to make the most of that once I am more proficient.

See also: Game design, Gaming, Music

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