25 Jan 2009

Windows and me- an enduring relationship

Ever since i was a child, i have been dismantling things that seem nice due to my curious nature.There was not a single mechanical toy or watch that has not stopped working due to that. My love for computers started that time when in the early 80's i heard stories from elders , who refer it as "magic box" that have answers to everything! Being from a corner on India, where there is lack of everything - from human rights to water, life has not been easy for me to pursue my dream of my relationship with computers. With my education, i had learnt GWBASIC(BASIC - Beginners All purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) and we used to run on DOS with large floppy disks. It looked like building blocks on the screen with line numbers.

GWBASIC - command line interpreter

What is an interpreter?
- Well an interpreter in simple language is nothing but is program (midleman) that interprets commans given by humans into their own understandbale language called machine language. A command line interpreter is nothing but an interpreter that reads the human instruction line by line and not all at a once.Are you wondering if computers talk to each other in their own language? They do; in a network... well but at least they do not conspire to hurt a human!! Remember Matrix movie? (Thanks Anand for reminding about the GWBASIC).

BBC Computer

Imagine everything in GREY coloured text, mostly because of th Black and white screen we had at that time. Colored monitors were not even heard of, forget seeing it! The Black BBC computer was like a God that time.

I still miss the sound of the Computer whining as it reads the system files while booting from the floppy disks. All the computers that time did not have the idea of hard disk as we call today for storing the System files needed to boot,everything was hard coded in a large 5.25' Floppy disk with a large hole in the middle. 5.25' Floppy Disk

Floppy drive (with a dropping head)

After inserting the floppy disk, we have to turn down the tab on the floppy drive for the overhead head to read the contents of the floppy disk. Imagine 512 KBs only on the whole 5.25' floppy disk, as compared to today's mini USB drives!! If the floppy do not work, the computer cannot be started up!! And we had to run all commands line by line and not like as todays compiler does in a go, no GUI interface that time.Soon when Microsoft Windows came,life became easier.
Early Windows with GUI

As i did not have any PC of my own that time, i use to frequently visit my rich friends home to have a view of Windows and lay my hands on it. I wondered how Microsoft people managed to put all those thousands of codes away,we use to type while booting a PC as we used to do in DOS? PC whine lesser than it did when we ran DOS, and the most beautiful part was that it had DOS in it in the form of CMD. After computers, i fell in live with some girl...dragged on for few months..life felt like hell.

Still my relationship with Windows and PC (a term which came much later on, earlier we refered it as Computers only) ligered on. From DOS to Windows, from X286 to X386 then X486 machines and now..multi core machines.The transformation from the first version of Windows to Windows 98 was tremendous one, which till this date i feel indebted to Microsoft. Windows 98 is an amazing OS till now,with all customizations as per your wish. In fact, when i had bought the first PC in my life in Engineering days, with loan from my Junior, it was Windows 98 that i installed and kept fidgeting about. Thanks to that, i know the OS well now(though not inside out but to a manageable extent). When Windows launched Server and Enterprise Editions, i wished i could lay my hands on that to check out the OS inside out.At that time of my life, Server was a lingo ..some HI-FI stuff.

Then Windows Millennium came, yet i still preferred Windows 98.
That was a time when all people were running for the latest version of Windows and i was still hanging on with my old version, out of love and respect for the time i spent fidgeting and dismantling it all over!Over the times,many OS came yet the hands on experience that Windows provided at such a time when there was no GUI was un comparable with others.Many people have different views and reviews about Windows various versions,no matter what reviews they give - users can tell the difference. The version is an unending story, Windows XP, Vista and now Windows 9... the era will go on, the version will keep on changing. However the experience that i have shared with Windows is worth treasuring

Image courtesy:
Windows 3.0 www.intelliadmin.com
BBC Computer www.rakewell.com
Floppy drive http://technabob.com
GWBASIC http://g.virbcdn.com
Windows http://www.granneman.com/
Floppy disk www.blogitude.com


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