During my teenage years, I had the privilege of immersing myself in the world of technology and witnessing significant transformations in the digital landscape. These youthful escapades epitomized an era marked by rapid technological evolution, fundamentally altering how we engaged with the digital world. In those formative years, technology was a playground of possibilities, and it’s remarkable how those early encounters have since become the building blocks of our daily lives. They were the seeds of innovation that continue to sprout, branching out into the sprawling tree of our digital age. Little did I know that at the age of 17, I would stumble upon a trio of pioneering products that would etch profound memories within me, which I will be sharing with you in my blog post today. Although the specific gadgets and technologies of that time have faded into history, the unquenchable spirit of curiosity and exploration they ignited persists, propelling our society toward an ever-advancing future.
Cover Image: “Unity” – a compilation of Christian hymns that was released by “Psalmist Music” in collaboration with Soundberg in the form of a Compact Disc – Digital Audio (CDDA). This audio CD was produced before the advent of Napster, MP3, YouTube, and Spotify. Generally, an audio CD contains around 13 or fewer tracks, with the exact number depending on the duration of each track.
DOOM 2, Wolfenstein, and DN3D
When I was 17, I discovered DOOM 2, Wolfenstein, and DN3D (Duke Nukem 3D), three thrilling First-Person Shooter Games. Playing them was an absolute blast. These games were initially designed for 16-bit MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System) but ran smoothly on Windows 9x, and the Millennium Edition (They weren’t 100% 32-bit OSs). However, the gaming landscape changed with Windows 2000 and later operating systems. Two significant factors led to the demise of many MS-DOS games including DOOM 2, Wolfenstein, and DN3D (Quake and Quake II inherited the same fate).
Firstly, Microsoft’s shift to purely 32-bit and 64-bit systems meant they no longer supported 16-bit software. Secondly, these games bypassed the “Kernel”, directly accessing the microprocessor and hardware. This approach was not permitted with Win2K and later systems, rendering the MS-DOS games useless. Today, while newer versions of these games exist, their demanding hardware requirements, including expensive graphics cards, make it challenging for me to relive those youthful gaming memories now.
The Good Old 3.5-inch Floppy Disk
I don’t feel as nostalgic about the Floppy Disk as I do about the games I mentioned earlier. After all, their maximum storage capacity was just 1.4 megabytes. However, this post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the good old 3.5-inch Floppy Disk, which was commonly referred to as the “disk,” “diskette,” or simply “floppy” in everyday language. I can still recall my friends, even those who didn’t have a computer at home, proudly showing them off to impress girls. The last PC I used that had a floppy disk drive was from 2004 to 2012. Back in those days, it was the most affordable but also the most delicate portable storage solution.
During that period, both the 8-inch and 5 ¼-inch floppy disks had completely vanished from the tech landscape. In contrast, the 3.5-inch floppy disk played a pivotal role in data storage during its prime. TDK, Imation, and Verbatim were the prominent brands of my era. Imation and Verbatim, although slightly pricier, offered superior quality compared to TDK. Despite its susceptibility to environmental factors, the 3.5-inch floppy disk was widely used in various applications. I vividly recall buying a Visual Basic 6 manual that came with a floppy disk containing sample code. Even the first computer virus, “Brain,” spread through infected floppy disks.
Optical Media, Drives, and Players
By 2010, computer manufacturers initiated a gradual removal of built-in optical disc drives from their products, driven by the advent of high-capacity USB thumb drives and rapid internet connectivity. CD-ROM drives were once indispensable components in desktops and laptops, while owning a CD Burner was a notable upgrade, and a DVD Burner was considered a luxury. In my case, I acquired my first custom-built PC featuring an Intel Pentium III processor in 2000. (Featured below are close-up photographs of the inside of a Samsung CD-Burner with the top cover taken off.)
However, it took until 2002 for me to afford a CD Burner, and I didn’t obtain a DVD Burner until 2004. The initial cost of a recordable CD was steep, around 500+ rupees (approximately 2 US Dollars). By the year 2012, my first DVD player had become obsolete due to Home Media Server Technology. Although Blu-ray discs were expected to replace DVDs, they also quickly became outdated. Today, built-in optical drives in desktops and laptops are exceptionally rare, making my discovery of laptops in 2023 with this feature quite surprising [Full Story].
The Point-and-Shoot Camera
In 1997, I came across an intriguing newspaper article titled “No Film. Just a Floppy Please!” This article discussed the Sony Digital Mavica MVC-FD5, one of the earliest digital or point-and-shoot cameras. (I never imagined that one day, with the advent of the Camera Phones, Point and Shoot Cameras would face the same fate as Polaroid Cameras.) What made it unique was its use of a floppy disk to store photos. Over time, camera technology advanced, becoming smaller and incorporating built-in memory, replacing floppy disks with memory cards. Other companies like Canon and Nikon also joined the trend.
However, these early digital cameras were quite expensive, and I couldn’t afford my Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-S200 until 2010. I was thrilled to finally own it, but then something unexpected occurred. Smartphone cameras improved significantly and quickly dominated the market. My Sony DSC-S200 had a decent 12 MP camera, but my budget-friendly Oppo A12 has a 13 MP camera. Moreover, the latest Apple iPhone 15 could practically shoot a Hollywood film. Camera phones are so good at taking still photos and shooting videos nobody wants to carry around point-and-shoot cameras with them anymore.
Looking back, those years of delving into technology were marked by remarkable advancements that have now become an integral part of our daily lives. Remembering those initial encounters with technology stands as proof of the incredible journey we’ve embarked upon and the profound influence of innovation on our global landscape. While the specific gadgets and technologies of the past have faded into history, the enduring spirit of curiosity and adventure they ignited continues to drive us forward, shaping the course of our digital future. These memories serve as a testament to technology’s ever-evolving nature and its enduring impact on our world. They remind us that the relentless march of progress, fueled by the human spirit of exploration, has, and will continue to transform the way we live, work, and connect.
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