I know it’s just an old computer. But understand that to me, my computer is my gateway to the world, a palette for creativity and something of a constant companion. This old girl, “Bulldog” was her name, was built for me by a friend nearly 10 years ago. She was a 1.3 Gigahertz Athlon (sorry, Beat) with a half gig of memory. By today’s standards, an outdated beast with old IDE drives and barely 100 gigs of storage. At the end, she was relegated to being nothing more than a internet station, covered in dust from a previous stint at our old metal polishing shop where her primary job was to run Quickbooks.
But to me, old Bulldog represents more than a tool or a machine. She was an important part of my life.
Back when my friend Tim built her for me in 2001, she was a pretty killer box. Understand that at that point in my life, I was just learning how to deal with the reality of being legally blind. I was at a real difficult point emotionally and this computer was really going to be my way out. On this computer, I learned how to use text to speech readers and magnifiers so I could keep up in the digital world. On this computer, I re-learned how to make art in Photoshop. I spent hours figuring out how to make a website again. On her, I discovered that if I played with some of the gauge settings and config settings enough I could fly my beloved Flight Simulator again.
All of this was great, but the thing this machine was built to do was to make music. It was on this computer that I learned that I could manage my way through the complicated interface of Sonar, a recording program that I mastered well enough to create a very therapeutic CD of original music I composed and recorded in my garage.
You see, while this old bucket of transistors and chips may be nothing more than a dusty old relic today, to me it was a conduit to a life reclaimed.
Over the past couple of weeks, she was acting strangely, almost like a virus, but even a complete wiping of her hard drive couldn’t save her. Ultimately, those years in the polishing shop had coated her motherboard with a layer of zinc dust that corroded her badly. So I gutted her today and put her serviceable parts into another old machine I had laying around. I saved her video card and her sound card as they can be useful in a pinch. But the old chassis, motherboard and chipset will be curbed tomorrow permanently.
So there you have it my friends – a tear for an old bucket of bolts named Bulldog. She will be missed…