Other Computers

These are other computers that I've built/owned over the years that were not mentioned in my main timeline of systems.

1996 - AMD K5

In late 1996 I built an AMD-based system which I believe had a 100 MHz K5 processor. I only used this computer for myself for a short while before I built my 1997 machine, at which point I gave the K5 to my parents who needed a new computer at the time. According to a video I have, it had an 8X CDROM drive, a sound card, a 3.5" floppy, and two internal hard disks (size unknown.)

2011 - i5 Laptop

In March of 2011 I bought the only laptop I've ever owned, an Acer Aspire AS5742G-6600. I wanted something for mobile productivity that was also capable of playing Left4Dead, and this computer fit the bill. It had a dual core Intel i5 480M processor running at 2.66 GHz, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and a discrete NVidia GeForce GT 540M graphics card with 1GB of video memory. I eventually replaced the HDD with a 240GB SSD, and replaced the battery and RAM as well when they went bad. Overall, though, it's been a competent little machine that has served me well.

2014 - Touch Table i5

In 2014 I built a 50" touchscreen table for playing multiplayer interactive games and board-game conversions developed by some friends of mine. More here if you are curious about "touch tables." The computer I built (originally contained internally inside the table) was a Haswell i5 4670K with 8GB of DDR3 memory and a 120GB Intel 530 Series SSD. It used only onboard video and was built on a ASRock H81M-HDS motherboard. In 2017 I started using my laptop to run the touch table, which freed up the other hardware. I moved the components into the DIYPC-F2-O case pictured here, added the GTX660 from my 2013 build (since I had upgraded to a GTX1070) and gave it to my oldest nephew.

2021 - Touch Table i3

My ten year old laptop was no longer powering the touch table adequately, so I pieced this machine together out of things from my supply pile and some new components. The heart is a four-core, eight-thread Intel i3-10100 (3.6GHz) on an ASUS 510M mobo, a 512GB Inland M.2, 32GB of GSkill DDR4, and Windows 10. This was the first build of mine, ever, that failed to POST; deader than a doornail. After making absolutely sure it was the motherboard, I returned it for a different one and all was well. The onboard video powers the touch table games in full HD easily, but my 1070 will probably end up in here one day so that it can be a dedicated VR machine for my living room.

This build refreshed my memory in regards to an old Windows 10 rule: build the PC completely offline, including going all the way through Windows installation. Then, once everything is working, go online activate your key. This bypasses Microsoft requiring you to register an email account during installation.

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Gaming Consoles and Handhelds

The following are gaming consoles and handheld gaming platforms that I have owned over the years. There is at least one platform from each "generation of consoles" two through seven represented here. As of now, I do not own an 8th gen console.

Atari 2600 - released 1977

My grandparents bought us our Atari VCS (known now as the 2600) sometime in 1981 or 1982. We definitely had the console with the fake wood trim that was bundled with Combat. As a kid I remember being amazed at the ability to play video games at home on your own TV, and also disappointed at the same time how terribly unlike the arcade titles such as Pac Man and Donkey Kong were. I was too young to really understand why the home versions were so terrible, and I'd say that my disappointment peaked with Zaxxon (anyone who knows that game knows exactly what I mean). Fortunately, Activision was making awesome original titles for the system like River Raid and Pitfall. Wikipedia link

Nintendo Entertainment System - released 1985

I begged my parents for very few things as a kid, but the NES was one toy where I definitely did the full court press. I still remember going with my mom to the Chapel Hills mall in Colorado Springs around Christmas of '85 to pick up the NES from KB Toys. My parents sprung for the "Deluxe System" which included the robot and the zapper gun. I was overjoyed. I've always saved saved the boxes for things I buy, and even as a kid I did this with my Nintendo's a picture that I took of some of my games in ~1989. I always thought that home video gaming really "arrived" with the NES. Home video gaming was no longer a novelty. It was a hobby; an economy of its own. The NES had the horsepower to faithfully replicate most arcade games, it had background music, the ability to restart a game from a save point which allowed depth and richness, and could accept a variety of controllers. I'm still bitter and resentful that Nintendo underproduced the "NES CLASSIC" in 2016/2017, as I was not lucky enough to get one (and not willing to pay $300 on EBay.) Nintendo really closed out my memories of the NES on a sour note. Enough so that I will probably never buy another Nintendo system. Wikipedia link

Nintendo Game Boy - released 1989

At one point, I had a respectable little collection of Game Boy games...but most of them were unremarkable enough that I don't remember their titles. The Game Boy is pretty much "that thing I played endless hours of Tetris on." Tetris was the only game I ever used the GameLink cable with, to go head-to-head against another player. Two other games stand out in my mind, and those are Metroid II: The Return of Samus and Super Mario Land. Even on a crappy little low-res display those games did right by their franchise titles. They were pretty solid. The Game Boy was a nifty little device, and I'm glad I owned one, but it had some major shortcomings like its non-backlit LCD display. For me it only ever served as a stand-in when I couldn't be on a real platform. It was much like playing a game on your cell phone is today: better than doing nothing, but not really playing a video game. The Game Boy would be the first and last Nintendo mobile platform I owned. Wikipedia link

Atari Lynx- released 1989

I believe I got my Lynx in either 1990 or 1991. I'm leaning toward the latter since I'm almost sure I got California Games at the same time. This handheld was a gift and unfortunately I can't remember who got it for me; it was either my parents or my grandparents. The Lynx wasn't widely appreciated for the technological achievement that it was. With a full color backlit display, and graphics capabilities that surpassed full sized consoles, it stood way ahead of the Game Boy technically but not in popularity. If you read my favorites page you will find several Lynx games; it's the only handheld where any of its titles made that final cut. It ate batteries like there was no tomorrow but I have very fond memories of the Lynx, having kept me entertained on many a long road trip with the parents. Wikipedia link

Super NES - released 1991

The SNES was popular during my college years, but I didn't play a lot on it. PC games were starting to come into their own, and the SNES didn't have a lot of titles I was interested in. I pretty much owned an SNES so that I could play Super Metroid and Super Castlevania IV. In this photo of my system I can see that I was down to four games at the time it was taken (1996). One of the others was probably Super Mario World, a pretty solid title. I have no idea what the fourth was, probably Mega Man X or Harvest Moon. Even though this console is one of my least-played, Super Metroid is in my Top 20 of all time list and definitely made the SNES worth owning. It will be interesting to see if Nintendo actually produces enough SNES CLASSIC units in 2018 to meet demand. Wikipedia link

Nintendo 64 - released 1996

The N64 game that I played the most of was 1080 Snowboarding, which was the best winter sports video game until Ubisoft's Steep in 2016. I logged many hours in that game, and the San Francisco Rush series too. I never got into the new, 3D versions of classic Nintendo games like Mario 64. The N64 is the last Nintendo console that I owned. In the late 90s the PC was starting to surge ahead of consoles, and most of the games I wanted to play were on the PC. There were some Nintendo exclusive titles (Metroid) that I missed out on by not buying a Game Cube, but I couldn't justify the expense of staying in the Nintendo realm just for a few games. After the Game Cube, I felt like Nintendo systems degenerated into underpowered, gimmicky toys. I'm sure that's debatable, but nevertheless, this is where Nintendo and I parted ways. Wikipedia link

Play Station 2 - released 2000

I originally bought a Play Station 2 just to play Grand Theft Auto III. I had played it at a friends house and loved it. Sony revived console gaming for me by deciding to serve a generation of gamers who had grown up. Nintendo has a certain image and reputation that it wants to uphold, which is great, but I'm glad Sony decided to take a "pull no punches" approach to the titles it publishes for its consoles. The PS2 had great hardware and a huge library of games, and the period that I owned it (2001-2007) was a time when PC games were in a rut. When I look at my favorites from those six years they are almost all PS2 and XBox360 games. For me, this is definitely the "console era." Wikipedia link

XBOX 360 - released 2005

I got an XBox360 Premium with a 20GB HDD for Christmas in 2005. It was a versatile console that pushed the envelope in hardware, and its market longevity is a testament to that. It had HDMI and optical audio output, a solid GPU and CPU, DDR3 memory, and was 1080p capable. Mine died from the infamous red ring of death in 2010, and I sold it for $20 on CraigsList. I bought a new one and moved the hard drive over. I'm mentioning this just to highlight that it was a good enough console that it warranted being replaced. The XBox360 was my main gaming platform until PC games started to get good again in ~2008. I kept it for many years after that, and eventually gave it to my nephew in 2017. It was the platform for one of my top 20 games of all time, Rock Band 2. The XBox360 is the last console I owned. The line between today's high end console hardware and PC hardware is blurry, but there is still a massive gap between the best console and a high end gaming PC. I don't see the lure of an exclusive title getting me back into a console, but you never know. Wikipedia link

NES Classic - released 2016

Although I have no plans to ever own a console again, I did pick up a NES Classic in December of 2018. It's a small, solid-state, emulated version of the original NES. It took Nintendo two years to actually build enough of them to meet demand, which irritated me, but I'm happy I got one. It has a limited set of games built-in, but that set includes two of my all-time favorites: Castlevania and Metroid. Both games are in my Top 20 of al time, currently. It comes with one (frustratingly not two) replicas of the original NES controller, and is capable of saving the state of any of the built-in games at any time. It's modable, unofficially, to have a much larger library of games. I have no plans to mess around with that, for now. Wikipedia link

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