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Ben's History of PC's:1988

posted Feb 26, 2009, 6:38 PM by Ben Griggs
Circa 1988. The time eventually came to replace the IIc. As happy as we were with the IIc, we decided to stay with the Apple II line.  The model we ended up with was a IIGS.  The "GS" stood for "Graphics System", and it was the first of many Apples to focus on premium graphics and sound.  It came with a 2.8 GHz 16 bit CPU, so we nearly tripled our clock cycles in one upgrade, which is fairly unheard of today. 

It was the first computer we owned that had a GUI, called GS/OS.  It had a color monitor (also the first Apple to sport such an improvement), and was very mac-like in look and feel.  The integrated sound chip could synthesize voices and music that actually sounded like voices and music, not just different tones on a PC speaker.  It took me a long time to "get" the interface.  I was so used to re-booting the computer from disk for each application, I just didn't understand this "always on" concept.  Plus, the OS had all kinds of new terminology like "launcher", "installer", "finder" and "trash", with no explanation as to what it meant or how to use it.  It was expensive, even for the time.  With the monitor a IIGS cost about $1500.

We had never had a hard drive in a computer before.  We ordered, I think, a 10MB HDD and were pleasantly surprised to find an external 20MB had been shipped.  We called and they said that it wasn't a mistake - they had just started shipping all of those models with the bigger drive.    I mostly stuck with using the floppy drives.  We kept the 3.5 from the IIc and got an additional one with the IIGS, so copying floppies was a breeze. Actually, that was a great thing about the IIGS, everything from the IIc was backward compatible.  We re-used a 5.25'' drive, a 3.5'' drive, and the impact printer.  Honestly, I didn't trust the hard drive.  It was too foreign to me - how would I ever find my disks if I put them all INTO the computer?  It wasn't until later, when I started saving documents created with productivity software that the value of the hard drive became more apparent.

One very cool game that we had for the IIGS was a casino game called "Monte Carlo".  It showcased several card and casino games with lots of colors and great sound effects.  I remember when you launched the game, it played about 4 bars of a Scott Joplin song that sounded like it had just jumped off of a movie screen where "The Sting" was playing.

I learned word-processing on the IIGS and wrote up the infamous senior year stock market report on it, complete with pie charts that were automatically generated by the spreadsheet program! The productivity suite was called Appleworks GS.  Appleworks GS was a great program, and probably justified the cost of the IIGS all by itself.  It was a single program that included word processing, spreadsheet and database, and was bundled with the purchase of the IIGS. The much ballyhooed modern-day Macintosh iWork suite has it's roots in Appleworks and Appleworks GS.

After talking to my dad, it became apparent that we used this PC for a long time.  It wasn't until I graduated high school in 1993 that I started using a DOS based computer.  That's 5 years on the same machine.  An impressive run in a time when hardware was improving quickly. 

Side story: I remember there was a big computer virus scare around this time.  It was funny, because almost nobody had modems the only way for viruses to spread was through actually inserting one into your floppy drive.  People were actually unplugging their PC's from the power outlets to avoid getting the scary virus

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