Continuing on from my 8-bit and 16-bit trips down memory lane, I thought, this time I’d concentrate on the first few PC’s I owned.
Up until the early nineties, I was quite content with my Commodore Amiga 1200 as a gaming computer (accompanied by a Nintendo SNES) however this soon changed on one particular visit to my local game store. They were demonstrating the new Lucasarts Star Wars games ‘X-Wing’ and ‘Rebel Assault’ and being a huge Star wars fan frustrated by the lack of new material after the original film trilogy this was just the ticket to relive those glory days in the arcade halls playing the original Star Wars arcade game.
The problem was, PC’s at the time were expensive…very expensive. I was going to have to save and save and save. I was still working at IBM at the time and I enquired with my manager about the purchase of second hand parts. Alas, there was no real easy way to process cash orders via the company so still determined, I opened a new bank account and transferred part of my salary each week.
A few months went by and I was still eager to have my own PC. Games on PC’s were getting very good and I remember a tech friend of mine bringing along along copies of Prince of Persia, Wing Commander and Microprose’s F-19 in to my workshop and we’d sit and play them during lunch – and into the afternoons if we could get away with it:-)
One day, my manager came by to see if I was still interested in having a PC as he was upgrading his own and wanted to know if I to buy his old one. Money was exchanged and I was soon moving the Amiga to one side and setting up my toy.
It was an 386SX with 2mb Ram, 30mb hard disk, floppy disk and 14″ colour monitor. I went straight to the computer store and brought a few games including X-Wing. I couldn’t have been happier. Through work, I was familiar with MS-DOS/PC-DOS and quite content with command line navigation in the days before GUI desktops.
Over the next 12 months I upgraded the motherboard and CPU to a 486DX, doubled the memory and fitted a single speed CD-Rom drive. I remember playing FMV classics like ‘7th guest’ and the brilliant Tex Murphy game ‘Under a killing moon’
I’d left IBM and was attending college when the next ‘big’ release hit the stores. To my mind this killer game effectively changed the view of many that PC’s were rapidly becoming the hardware of choice especially as the Amiga appeared to be on a downward slope. This game, of course, was Doom II.
It had everything, great graphics, great music, freedom to explore and BIG guns. Deathmatch Lan games became very popular during lunch break and served many as a great introduction to network basics.
At the time, my PC was struggling a little to play this full screen and I was really getting into creating custom levels for Doom so another upgrade was in order.
Intel had previously released the first Pentium based microprocessors and prices were starting to drop on the early 75mhz and 90mhz chips. I wanted something faster and after a few weeks of weighing up the pros and cons, I sold my beloved Amiga 1200 to raise enough cash for the upgrades. By now the Amiga was a dying system, hardly any new software was being released (the Commodore CD32 just didn’t do it for me). I sold all my kit to a college friend for next to nothing – Something I regretted later on.
I virtually upgraded every component, starting with case as all my previous PC’s had been horizontal desktop models and this was the first tower case I brought. I remember it had three green LED numbers on the front that could be adjusted to match the CPU clock speed – I set mine to 999. I upgraded the motherboard allowing me to fit the new Pentium 133mhz CPU chip. I added 8mb ram, 80mb harddrive, soundblaster 16 card and a quad speed CD-Rom drive. At the time, this made for a monster PC and I remember these upgrades costing me around £800.
Over the years I’m upgraded and owned many more PC’s throughout the Intel Pentium range. Years ago I lost interest in modern gaming therefore upgrading my hardware ever other few months just wasn’t necessary. If i do get chance to play a game, it’s usually a favorite classic.
Here’s a few examples of early PC games I used to play.
- Prince of Persia – Forget the modern version, this original gem is my favorite game of all time.
- Star Wars – Tie Fighter – Although X-Wing was the game that made me switch from the Amiga, the CD version of Tie Fighter was miles better.
- Star Wars Dark Forces – Doom + Star wars = Happy days !!
- Sim Copter – I was never a big fan of games like Sim City, although Sim Theme Park and especially Sim Copter used to eat into my free time.
- Full Throttle – I’m a huge fan of every graphic adventure game from Lucasart. The Dig and Day of the Tentacle are also my favorites and I still play them all today via the ‘ScummVM” emulator – http://www.scummvm.org/
- Tomb Raider – Not a particular favorite of mine but I recall was the first title (via a update patch) I played taking adventage of the the new breed of 3d graphics cards. My first card was a 4mb Voodoo 3DFX card at £179!!
- Interstate 76 – Another game I brought that supported the new 3Dfx graphics cards and my first PC steering wheel too.
It was this orange ‘Interceptor’ that led me to buy this – My ’79 Vauxhall Viva way back in 1999. I never did fit the gun turret 🙂