My introduction to computers was in the summer of 1991. I was about to start eighth grade and we had just moved to Switzerland. I was mostly alone that summer – school hadn’t started yet and, while there was a friendly family in the apartment below ours, I didn’t yet speak French.
But across the hall were two 20-something guys who had started a computer sales and training company out of their apartment, and they spoke English. I spent just about all my time over there.
My first proper job was with those two guys, copying shareware software onto floppy disks. Cedric showed off his modem to me but I didn’t quite understand the significance. The Internet was still in its infancy and the World Wide Web had just been invented a mere 40 minutes away. Email was still a mind-blowing novelty. But he knew it was the future.
My dad decided that we needed a computer before the school year started. Naturally, he turned to the guys next door. They convinced him to buy an Commodore Amiga 2000. It was a beast of a computer – it boasted a Motorola 68000 CPU running at an amazing 7.16Mhz, up to 128MB of RAM (This was in 1991!!!!!), 52MB SCSI hard drive, 12-bit color, 2 stereo audio channels, 7 expansion slots, and a genlock slot.
That genlock slot is important. Remember the show Babylon 5? It was the first television show to use CGI, and those graphics were created with NewTek’s Video Toaster card running on an Amiga 2000, the only desktop computer that could do it because of that ingenious inclusion of genlock and the Zorro II expansion slots and 12 bit color.
This was the beast that humbly sat in our spare bedroom, where I drowned a summer of upheaval playing Sim City and Civilization, learned Desktop Publishing, and did my apprenticeship as a Jedi knight for the operating system wars of the 1990s.
Were it not for the guys next door – Cédric and François – I may well not be doing what I do today. So, wherever you are, thank you.