My earliest computer-related memory is playing Oregon Trail in kindergarten in approximately 1982. In grade school, computers were part of my life, but more as a diversion that sometimes came in to my orbit when I was at someone else’s house.
Sometime around 1990, I started using the monochrome-screened, IBM-compatible, MS-DOS based computer my mom used at her job to do word processing. At the same time, I started using the Macintosh computers at my high school.
My parents got a PC, I learned about shareware, really learned MS-DOS, and even took the dive into installing hardware, which at the time required setting jumpers and dip switches as well as editing config.sys and autoexec.bat to get them working. I then became the student assistant who got to swap floppies to update the multiple computers in the high school MacIntosh computer lab.
My plans to study pre-veterinary medicine in college got derailed when all the biology classes I needed were full but my intended second major, computer science, became my sole major.
The rest, as they say, is history. For my freshman year of college, I purchased the most expensive computer I’ve ever purchased: a Windows 95 computer that had an Intel Pentium 133 MHz processor, 16 MB of RAM, a 512 MB hard drive, a 28.8 baud modem, and a 17-inch monitor.
Spring semester of my freshman year, I started working at the computer help desk on campus. The bulk of our support calls were helping people set up and troubleshoot their dial-in connection from dorm rooms and off-campus. There were a few computer labs that had ‘real’ networks set up, and even then I could tell the difference that made over dial-up.
Diving in to networking, servers, and Unix-like operating systems gave me a great foundation for my career working with computers. I’ve been working with computer networks since that help desk job I started back in 1996.