17 May 2000 mfleming   » (Master)

(an introduction)

    I remember desperately holding out against buying a PC. In the late 80's and early 90's, it was the Apple IIgs computer that held my fancy. I wrote shareware programs and demos with a few other friends in the Chicago area. We called ourselves "Jupiter Systems." To me, buying a PC meant being able to play Wolfenstien 3D, but it also meant being doomed to run DOS. It seemed such a complete step backwards.

    In the summer of 93, I gave in and bought a 486/66 I had purpose-built to run NeXTstep/486 that had just been released. I remember installing the SLS distribution of Linux on a partition and being thoroughly unimpressed ("What is this X-Windows crap!?"). I spent 93-97 studying Electrical Engineering at Purdue University. While at Purdue, I remember thinking back at my high school days and feeling so lucky that I had been involved in the tail end of the Apple II hacker/demo/warez scene. "There will never be another time like that" I thought. The rest of the world was running Windows now; the home computer era that had inspired creativity and individual potential was clearly at its end. And I was the last of its generation.

    Forlorn, I graduated from Purdue in 97 (I was still running NeXTstep, although the OS was well on its way to the grave by that point) and went to work for the PC establishment. The hacker generation was gone; all I could do was romanticize those days to the few who would listen.

    But I had forgotten all about Linux. The little PC UNIX clone that I had snubbed my nose at years ago popped back up on my radar screen. I bought a new machine to replace my aging 486 and Mac laptop and started running it again. Then I could see that the hacker generation had not died at all -- Linux had kept the tradition alive! Renewed and invigorated, my mind full off Possibility, I left the PC establishment in January, 2000 to re-join the hacker community.

    And that's where I come from.

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