Thursday, February 17, 2011

Geeking It Up, Old Skool

I know this might surprise many of you, but I am a bit of a geek.

I know, I know. Believe me, I know what you’re thinking….. “But Slyde, how could someone with your killer good looks and sparkling personality EVER be mistaken for a nerd?”

Well, it wasn’t easy. As a child, I really had to work at it.

And the machine in the banner pic was really how it all started.

Back during the holidays of 1981, a wee little Mini-Slyde awoke Christmas day to the best present a little boy could ever ask for…

His first computer.

I cannot express to you all how excited I was to have my very own computer. I felt like I had been given the power to do, to CREATE, anything I wanted. If I needed to write a report for school, I could kick my typewriter to the curb….. on this baby I could FIX MY MISTAKES WITHOUT USING WHITEOUT!!!

And of course, the games. Oh God, the games.

I felt like I had been given my very own arcade, conveniently plopped right into my bedroom. And once I was able to purchase a disk drive a few months later, my gaming obsession knew no bounds. I quickly amassed a stockpile of hundreds of games. I would post on local bulletin boards, meeting other kids in the area, and meet up with them so we could pirate each other’s games.

And then I took things to the next level, when I began to learn to be a programmer. I devoured books on programming, hungry to learn all I could. Before long, I was no longer limited to playing games OTHER people made….. I could program my own games! I would sit for hours, thinking up the coolest concepts I could think of, and then would spend weeks trying to program my ideas into reality.

I LOVED those days. And that love of programming has never left me. It shaped me enough to make computer programming my desired vocation for my adult life.

As the years went by, and I got older, computers got more and more sophisticated. My old Atari couldn’t do half of what the newer, spiffier models could do. Plus, I also learned that there was this OTHER cool thing to play with… girls.

Anyway, time and circumstances marched on, and my old binary friend got shelved to my mom’s attic. I hadn’t seen it in over 20 years.

Until last weekend.

Feeling nostalgic, I decided to rummage through my mom’s attic to look for it. My mom, wrong as ever, adamantly INSISTED that she had thrown it out years ago. When I came across a big, dusty box in the far back of the attic, I knew I had struck pay dirt.

For the first time in a LONG time, I have been reunited with my old Atari 800 personal computer.

The years have not been kind to the old girl. Upon inspecting the box, I noticed that she’s a little banged up, and I seem to be missing some key parts which I can only assume at this point have long since been thrown out.

After rifling through the box’s contents for a while, I decided it would be my mission to get this baby up and running again. I think it would be a cool project for Mini-Me and myself to do together.

Once I made my decision to get my old computer working again, my next step was where to begin? It’s not like I can go to Best Buy and get parts for this old baby.

Enter the magic of the internet.

I found a dude who, for the past 20 years, has been visiting old warehouses around the country, and buying up all the old Atari parts he finds. I have no idea WHY exactly, but I’m not going to question it. After speaking to him on the phone yesterday, I placed my first order of parts in what I hope will be the first step to getting an integral piece of my childhood up and running again.

Will the magic that had captivated me for so many years in my youth, hold up today? Would dusting off these memories and putting them under the harsh glare of 2011 diminish the magical memories of my childhood?

You know what? Right now, I don’t give a fig. I am excited to take the next step and show my son a major part of my childhood that helped shape who I am today.


SK Waller said...

How cool! I wish I had a Nintendo Super NES for all these games I collected back in the 90s.

Verdant Earl said...

My first "computer" was a Commodore VIC-20 around 1980, but I had been using a Commodore PET at school for at least a year before that. Wow.

Unknown said...

There's no school like the old school.

I think that's a great project to take on with a Mimi Me type person.

Thanks for your comment, btw. It's nice to see a boy over there.

Bruce Johnson said...

My geek awakening came about with an old Timex Sinclair 1000TX. Something you don't even see anymore in junk stores. A neat computer to learn programing on, if not someone limited.

Atari???...I always pegged you as a Commadore Dude.

Slyde said...

steph: see, i never was a ninendo least until i got myself a WII

earl: all my friends had commodores, but i was always an atari bitch. it let you play 4 players simultaneously, man! it was like the worlds first MMO!

anna: welcome! yeah, i DO notice boys are pretty scarce in blogland.... especially hot ones.

bruce: ah yes, my friend had one. 1k of memory, as i recall. The Sinclair is actually the computer that got me to ask MY parents for the atari, when i saw all the things my friend was doing with his. i even remember that it cost 99 bucks.

SK Waller said...

My first computer was a Commodore 64. And I even had "internet": Q-link!

BB said...

I had a brand new baby at the time you got this and forgot all about Atari coming out with that. What a blast. Fix it up and keep it for your son. Good post.

Susan Higgins said...

Love your story... I'm a computer geek too. I was a mainframe programmer for years. Computers gave me a good life too. Hope mini me is excited to see a computer dinosaur!

latindog said...

Very cool post! Good luck with the project!

sybil law said...

Can't wait til you start bitching I mean, praising the whole project as it's coming along...

Bless My Bitchy Heart said...

That is a really sweet post! *sniff* You are a cool dad!

Marlene said...

You're pretty cool as far as geeks go. :) I think it's a great project for you and mini-you.

Slyde said...

steph: i remember qlink!

barb: thats the plan!

sue: thats the best part... hes more excited than me to get it running..

bitchy: of course :)

marlene: me too!

Jill said...

That thing looks vaguely familiar...I know we had computers. My mom brought one home from work in the late 1970s (maybe '78 or '79?). It was bigger than my coffee table and had a place to plug in the phone to connect to the University where she worked. Or somewhere. I assume it connected to something.

Good luck getting it together!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Evil Twin's Wife said...

Awesome project. I bet you will both learn a lot!

Cocaine Princess said...

I showed my sister this post because she had an Atari growing up! She told me you weren't part of the "cool kids club " or considered "cool" if you didn't own one.

Heff said...

Started off with the Timex Sinclair, realized it couldn't do jack shit, & moved up to the Texas Instruments "T.I. 99".

Faiqa said...

I had the commodore... also, wow, OHMYGOD, what a GEEK! :-)