My first PC was one I got from my brother, probably some outranged equipment he’d got from one of his friends who had hauled it home over the German border. There were plenty of this kind og “bussinessmen” in the early 90’s. People who got on the train to Berlin, just a couple of hours from Polish border, bought whatever they found interesting (and cheap), and sold it back home, usually to friends and relatives. Some made fortunes, some lost the little money they’d had to begin with. It was our Wild West – the first ones and the quickest got rich, then came the ruthless and reckless and scooped the rest. There were no rules and not that much overall decency either. The borders were open, and those who could afford a train ticket (or a car!) had their chance to get rich, just by power of quick reaction. Suddenly there were all those cars loaded with western goods, sweets, washing powders and soap, electric hair trimmers, and and so much more, dropping by our humble village several times every week and salesmen travelling around the countryside and markeplaces in towns. The analogy with the Wild West is quite acurate, aside from the fact that now cars had replaces carts. You could buy pajamas straight from the field bed, as they used to say back then… I suppose it was a great way to reach out to a wide range of customers and, at the same time, avoid sales taxes the usual stores were obliged to pay. After a while legal bussinesses also began to practice this kind of trade, and you could buy bread straight from the bakery, which was much better than the one from our local store, meat and sausages directly from the butcher store in town, and pretty much everything else. The “travelling salesmen” just stopped at the bus stop at a previously announced time, stood there as long they had customers, and went on to the next village. The saleswoman at our village store, a large and not-very-often-cheery woman, saw the trend and observed as her customers gradually disappeared to shop their groceries elsewhere. You could see her standing on the stairs of the store , keeping lookout for the travelling bakery or butcher store, and inspecting all the villagers who rushed to them, instead of her shop (in a village of maybe 150 people everyone knew everyone else, of course). Then, when they came back to her grace, wanting to buy some cheap wine or daily grocery, she made a point of their unfaithfullnes and denied them credit. She had a great power by being the boss of the only permanent shop in several miles radius, with the possibility of giving and denying customer credit… People were equally poor then, but some user the little money they had on vodka and cheap wine, the were poorer than the other, who, by managing the money wise and sparsely made a decent living. Fotunately for me, my parents belong to the latter group, thus making us “rich” in the village. That made it somehow possible to us to buy a computer in the first place.
My first PC was quite old already when I got it, though, and the harddisk was small. So i started system set-up after installation of an illegal copy of Windows 95 by deleting half of the txt-files from the Windows folder… I coudn’t imagine them being necessary for the system to work, it was just a bunch of license agreements, changelogs and other useless stuff. Anyway, I succeded, and got some extra free space on the harddrive. Though the system wouldn’t start up after the next re-boot after that… So I had to install the OS all over again, and never made that mistake again. This was my way of learning computers – breaking things and staying up whole night, tring to fix them. Upgrading components and reinstalling everything to get them to work. time after time. There was no internet or Google to ask for a solution. No one with a computer in 10 miles radius, that I knew of, at least. Darn, not everyone, including us, even had a phone at that time… What were one to do? Build up quite some knowledge of the pc’s internals, components, operating system and essential software (got the right version of directX, anyone?), and fix it all by yourself… This process learned me that everything could be fixed, even if the solution did not work the first 99 times – it would work the 100th. I’m still quite proud of it, because it’s what I still am able to do – fix close to anything that concerns a computer, and I still haven’t met a problem that did not have a solution. Of couse, some are tougher to crack than other
, but in the end, everything is solvable. And with time (and the Internet) it got a whole lot easier though, with Google and stuff.