Computers

I've used and owned a lot of different computers over the years. Mostly for my own amusement, here's a brief history of them.

Note: This doesn't include the tens of thousands of servers and client workstations I've administered for my jobs. I'm not a monster.

1987 - IBM PCjr

PC jr

My dad brought this home from work one day. I don't think he or anyone else ever figured out how to make it do anything productive, but I remember playing hangman on it in the basement when I was very, very young, and, to my knowledge, that was the first time I touched a computer.

1993 - Compaq

I don't remember much about this computer, but it was the first machine that I did much of anything with. It and its sweet 486DX2/66 and copy of Windows 3.1...

1998 - Gateway

This was the first computer my family bought when I knew anything about computers. It came with a 350MHz Pentium II, 64MB of RAM, a brand new DVD-ROM drive (the first that anyone around had seen), and a hot-of-the-presses copy of Windows 98.

2001 - Gateway

I don't know exactly why we went back to Gateway, but we did. This particular machine came out-of-the box with a 950MHz AMD Athlon (Thunderbird), 128MB of RAM, and a copy of Windows ME. It was crashtacular and not really useful for anything. However, after my parents got another computer in 2003 (an HP), I was able to take this one and install Linux on it full-time (Mandrake, initially). It was upgraded to have 256MB of RAM, a nVidia GeForce 2 MX400.

2005 - CaveOfBirds

CaveOfBirds

Before leaving for college, I built a new computer (CaveOfBirds). The CPU was and AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ (first generation 90W TDP/Socket 939), and it initially had 1GB of RAM and a GeForce FX 5600. It was my primary computer for the entire time I was at college (running Gentoo ~amd64), and gradually got upgraded to 4GB of RAM, a GeForce 9800GT, four hard drives, a 620W modular power supply, and an increasingly-complicated system of fans and baffling to keep that big slow CPU cool. I still have it sitting around, but haven't powered it on in years.

2009 - Caladan

Caladan

Shortly before I graduated, I picked up a used Late 2008 15" MacBook Pro which I named Caladan. Intel Core 2 Duo T9400 (2.53GHz, 2 core), 4GB of RAM. Once I graduated and moved to the Bay Area, I didn't really have the patience (or space in my 630sq ft apartment) for a 650W behemoth, so I just used the laptop. I upgraded it straight through to OS X 10.8 (and stayed on OS X; I didn't feel the need to mess around with Linux on the desktop so much when I was supporting hundreds of Linux servers professionally day-in and day-out). It could've kept going forever except for the sad decline of its battery.

2009 - SietchTabr

When I do need to do something on my own Linux machine, I use my prgmr.com Xen instance, SietchTabr. It runs Debian, and currently has an uptime of 77 days. Generally, all it does is sit around and run my mailserver and DNS for me; sometimes I use it to test various things that need to be run on a Linux box (although if I'm testing something particularly intrusive, I'll probably just spin up an EC2 instance that I can throw away rather than using this box).

It's had some long uptimes.

2013 - Caladan (2)

Caladan

By 2013, Caladan was getting noticeably slow. It couldn't even run Cookie Clicker without chugging. When Apple released the new Haswell-based Retina MacBook Pros, I couldn't resist. So I went ahead and bought myself a fully-loaded rMBP: Intel Core i7-4850HQ (2.3GHz, 4 core), 16GB RAM, nVidia GeForce 750M. It's called Caladan because it replaced Caladan (huzzah network restore), and it's by far the fastest computer I've ever owned. Also, if I don't engage the dedicated GPU, it gets 8-10 hours of battery life. Can't complain about that.

2019 - CaveOfBirds (2)

CaveOfBirds

After almost ten years, I'm back in the "Desktop Computer User" club at home. Now that I have a bit more space, I decided that I'd like something with a bit more horsepower and screen real-estate than Caladan -- thus, CaveOfBirds (2). It's a 2019 5K Retina iMac with an Intel Core i5-9600K (9th Generation, 6 physical cores), 16GB of RAM, AMD Radeon Pro 580X, and a 1TB SSD. Is it the most powerful computer that I could get for that many dollars? Heck no, but it's significantly faster than the MacBook Pro (50% faster single-core Geekbench score, 160% faster multi-core, if you don't want to click the link), and holy cow is that 27", 5120x2880 10-bit-per-channel screen gorgeous. You can see more of my immediate reactions in this blog post.