Greetings from Wellington,
Tezza believes it is worth introducing myself here - personally I find it a little conceited - but hey why not. This material may still be around when its time to write my eulogy, and may help to explain why I was not a successful businessman - I instead spent too much time working on old computers or fixing something that is not worth the effort.
A good family friend of ours in Hawkes Bay introduced me to computers around my 8th birthday. He built me an IBM XT out of spare parts from the Polytechnic (now EIT Hawkes Bay) where he worked. I was absolutely fascinated with this thing that you could entertain yourself playing BASIC games, Jack Nickalus Golf and Prince of Persia. I soon taught myself BASIC, computer housekeeping (to this day I still think useful utility programs and things like the old Norton utilities, ChecckIT & XTree are more useful than Facebook) and how to scrounge around for an mix and match parts to add memory and replace a faulty Hercules graphics card to my machine.
I maintained an interest in IBM and Acron computers throughout primary and secondary school. My parents were not particularly well off at the time so I had to beg and borrow for parts - they did buy a second hand 386 with 5MB memory but it wasn't up to playing many games, and while the screen was VGA its blue tube gun was shot so colours weren't right. It was a while before I had a machine good enough that could play Doom and Wolfenstein 3D among other games, so I just kept playing BASIC games and others I was familiar with on the XT (plus a friend's Sega Master System). At least they loaded quicker now. I subsequently parted with my XT so someone else could use it as a word processor for their polytech assignments. I had a machine with VGA and a Sound Blaster now so the incredibly slow black and white hulk of a computer was welcome to a new home.
It wasn't till around my 14th birthday when the old man - who believed computers were useless as they could not dig holes (he is a civil engineer) - bought some ridiculously overpriced brand new Compaq Deskpro 2000 P133 machine with 8MB RAM as part of his work's computer system upgrade package. Instead of Win95 he had it loaded with Win3.11 because "that was what work had" and while it came with a modem, getting "the Internet thing and email" was too expensive so out of the question. At least it had a modem, and it was around this time that I discovered bulletin board's and started meeting people who ran them and discovered there was a lot more to "computers" than IBM compatible PC's and Acorns. By this time I had quite a collection of parts and so I could help friends with even slower, dying or dead machines out by assembling them better machines out of what we could scrounge together. I enjoyed the feeling of getting something working out of a pile of parts for next to nothing. A few jobs here and there meant I had some money to get a better graphics card or another hard drive, so with the same philosophy of our family I was happy to hand down any spare parts I had.
I kept my 386 machines up until my 16th birthday when the folks finally gave up on hoping I would have a career outside computers or electronics, and bought me a brand new computer. I was allowed to spec and get quotes from various shops round Napier. I eventually purchased a brand new Win 98 P3 450 machine from PC Central in Taradale. This worked out well because a couple of weeks later I asked the owners for a job and were happy to take me on for a few weeks over the summer after school and holidays. (This was after telling them I had reformatted the new machine to get rid of all the junk they loaded on and told them what BIOS settings I changed to score a few more points in the benchmark programs on my nVidia RIVA TNT2 VGA card. I may have struck a chord?).
Still without internet at home (school & work access only) I taught myself other computer languages, leant a lot working for PC Central and access to cheaper but new parts. I put myself through Uni working in the semester breaks and summer holidays until about 2003 when I decided to stay in Wellington and started a contract gig with a friend I had re-met here whom I knew from high school in Napier. Those were the days of "everything going on the web" and work was reasonably plentiful while I completed my studies. I am now self-employed with a small office in the Wellington CBD with a small portfolio of clients, and my parents have accepted that computing will be my career.
I consider myself as an engineer at heart, with my biggest self criticism being I took economics and accounting as subjects at school instead of electronics. Perhaps I am too harsh. Those subjects are incredibly useful and should be as mandatory in the curriculum as Te Reo Maori should be. To this day I am often surprised at the lack of knowledge and in-depth understanding many "system engineers" in the work force (both from people I worked with at PC Central and today in my company) have about the history of the PC/workstation and what they're generally working on and servicing on their client's desks. The same can be said about programming (web, database, applications) and networking. Having said that I have met a few who are remarkable individuals who have taught themselves a lot in a very short time through Uni or Tech and are smart and knowledgeable in their own way and great to work with. Somehow the industry stumbles along. Business drives it. It's just a bit different from selling a 286 Compaq for $12000 and collecting a $4000 commission on.
In my lifetime (currently all 29 years of it) the microcomputer has fundamentally changed human society. I think of myself as quite privileged in being a part of one of the the younger "sciences" - though I consider writing programs as more of an art form than a science - and that I grew up in a time where the computer was a useful tool as well as an entertainment medium. While it still is, I feel the possibilities of computing and the science as a whole has been somewhat cut off at the knees by the proliferation of "Web 2.0" and the generation of a lot of "dumb content" on the web. A lot of "Gen Y" has little appreciation for how things work, and they grew up learning it is easier to throw something broken away and just replace it with the newest gadget currently being shoved in our faces by Apple, Samsung etc. I suspect I will never be an incredibly successful individual because I spend more time trying to fix something that's broken, rather than create something new. (It may be worth noting that there is more money to be made selling your users personal data to a marketing company than in the actual sale of an App on the Apple Store or Andriod Market place). Again, that's business for you. Privacy and piracy was so much easier 10 years ago.
I find the sheer ignorance of most modern "computer users" astounding and concerning. They will part with their hard earned cash without first taking a close look at what they are really buying. But yet again, that is business for you.
That all said I have quite a selection of modern gadgets on my desks, play modern games and spend too much time surfing the internet. That's how I came across this website and messageboard
Well this is enough about me. If there is anything you ever remember from this 10 minutes of your life you'll never have back, the only shameless advertisement/memory I would like you to remember is that I could be a good home to any old IBM or BBC/Acorn gear anyone may have, and am happy to pay reasonable prices for it. If anyone can suggest any "gold mines" around Wellington or Hawkes Bay, please drop me a line.