History of the PC – a personal view.

intel 8088 processor


My first Personal computer was a broken 8088. It weighed about the same as a bag of cement, and had about the same processing power! 16kb of memory and an 8MHz processor! wow! It had obviously been upgraded before I laid hands on it because it contained a hard drive (which wasn't standard for the original IBM PC), but of course when I got it, the hard drive wasn’t working – which made it about as useful as it was graceful. Well a quick (quick?) removal of the cover revealed that the drive cable had come off the controller card (yes – drive controller card, no such thing as IDE back then!) I plonked the cable back in the right place, replaced the lovely beige cover (steel plate I think), and switched on.

The lights dimmed briefly all over town as this monster booted, wow, Dos 2! Now I could word process or play a text-based dos game, hmmm.



The IBM 5150 PC



My next machine skipped two generations, it was a sleek 80386, or 386 as they had become known. Now this was a sweet piece of kit! Light, elegant- a 3.5” floppy drive and…… a colour monitor! This beast had a 40MB hard drive and 2MB of ram. Now that’s what I’m talking about! I could even run a gui based OS. Ahh my introduction to windows 3.1. This machine could even render full screen images in 16 colours, and in under two minutes! Now I could word process or play arcade games, hmmm.


It was at this stage that I decided that the only way to get a good computer was to build one, now let’s see, computer shops in the Kerry area in the early 90's, hmm.

Mail-order it is then! CPC in England for a barebones 486 system with case.

The first system that arrived was DOA and had to be sent back, but the replacement worked fine. Now I was the proud owner of a 486 33Mhz pc with 8 Mb Ram a soundcard, a separate graphics card and.... purchased separately, a 500MB hard drive.

Now I could use Windows 95, wehey!

Now I could play DOOM with a soundcard!!


This soon got too slow so I started tweaking. Upgraded the ram to 16MB and upgraded the processor to a 486 DX2 66Mhz. There were also empty cache ram sockets on the mobo (no L2 cache then!), which I populated with matching 16 pin DIL cache ram modules from another mobo. Now I was motoring, DOOM hardly stuttered or jittered at all!


Well from that point on I have been building PC’s for myself and friends. Pentium was a great achievement breaking the 100Mhz barrier, and with the advent of MMX extensions I could at last play DOOM flawlessly.


These days I’m using a Quad Core 2.40GHz, 4 Gig of ram, 1 Terabyte internal storage (2x500Gb SATA 7200 rpm hard drives) 500Gb external storage (2x250 Gb eSATA set up as RAID 0 for video editing) and a WD MyBook for external backups. Onboard RAID, onboard firewire, 5.1 surround, and a Dual layer DVD RW with DVD RAM support keep me happy. This dual boots Windows 7 and OSX Snow Leopard

There are a couple of other PC’s scattered about which are networked up to the main machine. I use these mostly for storing music and video and for data recovery. A Dell dual core 17” laptop which dual boots XP Pro and Linux travels with me most places, and there is also the Pthallo Media Webserver which is a P4 with 1Gb RAM running Ubuntu.


Next step is an upgrade to an i7 system, then maybe Blu Ray, also I’d like to try water/liquid cooling. I could go on and on.


No, I don’t play DOOM anymore.




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