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Packard Bell C90: My First PC

The Packard Bell “Multi-Media Corner 90” PC was originally released in the fall of 1995. I bought mine, a slightly upgraded version from the original specs, in the late summer of 1997. It was an “open box” deal at Best Buy marked down to just $1,200.

Packard Bell C90

  • Processor - 120MHz Pentium MMX
  • Memory - 32MB
  • Hard Drive - 1.2GB
  • Graphics Chip - 1MB Video Memory
  • Sound Card - Sound Blaster
  • Optical Drive - 4x CD-ROM Drive
  • Floppy Drives - 1x 1.44MB 3.5” Floppy Drive
  • Expansion Slots - 2x PCIe, 2x ISA Slots
  • Operating System - Windows 95
  • Case Type - “Corner” Desktop
  • Motherboard - ATX
  • Price - $1,800

I worked at Dairy Queen for $4.25 an hour for a year and a half to save up for a computer. I was just 14 years old at the time. Up to this point I had only used computers in school. My family did not have one.

This computer taught me a lot. I learned the basics of programming with Visual Basic, learned to write HTML for a personal homepage, learned about hardware by adding expansion cards and installing drives, and learned how to get the most out of my hardware by overclocking.

Signing up for internet service was one of the first things I did. I spent many, many hours on America Online. I found myself getting into “warez” sites full of pirated software. All the software that I couldn’t afford was available if you knew where to look.

This was also the first computer I ran Linux on. In the summer of 1999 I bought a copy of SUSE Linux 6.1 from CompUSA for $99. I was well aware I could have downloaded it for free, but at 56kbps dial-up I just didn’t have the patience. Plus this copy came with printed documentation and a promise of phone support if I could dial long distance to Germany and speak Dutch.

I’m not sure what happened to it. I probably just threw it away sometime in early 2001. The Apple iBook had come out about a year earlier and was now shipping with the unix-based Mac OS X. Being a Linux user, I was excited about the possibilities the new operating system provided and decided to pick one up. It wasn’t long before I switched it over to Yellow Dog Linux, but that’s a story for another day.