My Past Interest In Computers

This page looks back at some of the computers I have used in the past and how my interest in computing has developed over the years. The images used on page this are examples of computers I used or owned but in most cases not the actual computer I used or owned.


At the age of 7 I used a computer for the first time in my life. The computer (which was an Amstrad) belonged to our school principal and I used it to write a letter at school. From this day I have always had a love of computers. This same year I went to Health Camp in Roxburgh and remember playing on a Commodore 64.


After our school principal left in 1987 he took his Amstrad computer with him and the school once again had no computer, this was until the school bought its own computer. The computer was a BBC Master Compact computer, we used this computer mostly to type up our creative writing stories using a programme called Folio. The school computer had a lot of games, I can remember a floppy full of about 30 games. Many of the games were clones of popular games at the time such as Snapper which was a clone of Pac-Man and Hopper, a clone of Frogger.


For Christmas my parents bought my sister and myself an Atari 2600, well not really. This games console was a clone of an Atari 2600, it had 64 built in games, could play Atari cartridges and even looked like the early versions of the 2600 but not with the wood panels found in the original model.


I started Form 1 (Year 7) at Menzies College in Wyndham, the school then had a computer room with 15 BBC Computers all networked to an Econet File Server. The file server was located in the computer room and at the end of the day the last student or teacher out of the room was expected to shut down the file server by switching it off at the wall socket, as well as switch off every computer in the room. Every Tuesday boys in Form 1 and 2 were allowed to use the computer room at lunchtime and I certainly was there every Tuesday. I learnt how to program in BBC basic however the programs I wrote over the next couple of years were very basic, I did manage to write my own menu that loaded programs on the school network.


I used a PC for the first time when my friend Terry was given his own laptop, I can remember playing games in DOS like Test Drive, California Games, Alley Cat, Jones in the Fast Lane and Commander Keen to name a few. Our school also purchased it's first DOS/Windows based PCs, 2 were purchased for the computer room to run as standalone PCs alongside the BBC computers and another 2 went to the library as the library catalogue was computerised using an application called MUSAC. I really wanted my own computer but as I was only 13 a PC was out of my price range instead I bought a Sega Master System with my pocket money.


A year after buying a Sega Master System I now really wanted to move up to a Mega Drive. My mum wouldn't let me spend my money on Mega Drive even if I saved up, she was never really happy about the idea of me buying the Master System in the first place and considered my Atari to be good enough. Since I wasn't allowed a Mega Drive my next idea was to get an Amiga computer. My parents were happy with that idea as I could use an Amiga computer for school work and use my 14" TV as a monitor. My parents actually bought me an Amiga 500 for my 15th birthday, my Amiga 500 was the very last model on display at Dick Smiths and for a very reduced price. My memories of the Amiga were how slow it was to load everything from floppy and trying to play Mortal Kombat switching all 3 floppy disks. I bought a colour dot matrix printer to go with the Amiga, I remember this printer was very noisey and used to take sometimes 20 minutes to print a colour graphic page. That same year my parents bought me a second hand Amiga monitor for Christmas since the picture quality using a TV wasn't that great.


A year after buying the Amiga I had so many problems with the Amiga so I decided it was time to ditch this computer. The problems included my lack of software, a virus infecting almost every disk and the fact Commodore was no longer in business meant getting software was so much harder. So I decided I should sell the Amiga and use the money to buy a PC. Instead of this happening my parents bought their own computer. My parents computer was a 486DX4-100 it had 8MB of RAM, Windows 3.11 and a 4x Speed CD-ROM and 16bit Sound Card. Back then a sound card and CD-ROM were luxury items. My high school also retired the BBC network this year and replaced all computers in the computer room with PCs. The new PCs were connected to a Netware file server, existing standalone PCs in the library and admin block were added to the network. Each computer booted into DOS and loaded the DOS Netware Client, once a user had logged in a copy of Windows 3.11, stored on the file server, would load. Each user could have their own individual Windows configuration such as wallpapers and screensavers a feature not possible on a standalone copy of Windows 3.11.


Form 6 (Year 12) at school and this year I could finally choose Computer Studies as a subject, at my school Computer Studies was available once a week in Form 1 and 2 but not available again until Form 6. This year I used the Internet for the first time, at school we had the Internet available for use on one PC, and our connection was a 14.4k Dial-up connection and cost the school a toll call to Invercargill every time someone used the Internet. Student access was restricted with the one computer being located in a classroom that was locked most of the time. Our class learnt how to write HTML webpages before most students had actually ever used the Internet. At the end of the year I was top student for my Computer Studies class but the way Sixth Form Certificate grading system worked my grade was only a Grade 5 even though I was getting over 80% in the exams. The reason is Sixth Form Certificate grades were allocated based on students School Certificate grades. An average of 80% should have got me a grade 3 but as there were no grade 3s to allocate I got grade 5. The higher grades were always given to English, Maths and Science first.


Seventh Form (Year 13) at school and this year Computer Studies did not count towards University Entrance or Bursary but since I had no intentions of going to University I was happy to take this subject. We spent most of our class time playing Doom, even after the school principal banned the game from the school network. Up until here my plans were when I left school I wanted to get into retail and work at an electronics store like Dick Smiths or Noel Leemings as I had a real love for electronics such as TVs and obviously computers and I figured I would have made a good salesman. My computer studies teacher had other ideas he thought I should go to University and do a Computer Science degree. Uni felt too much out of my league especially since I hadn't picked the right subjects to even get University Entrance so I decided that when I left school I would go to Polytech and do a Certificate in Business Computing.
At the end of the year I went to the USA and Canada and had a chance to see the Microsoft Campus in Seattle. I visited the Microsoft Museum and remember seeing a row of computers runnning each version of Windows from Windows 1.0 to Windows 95 (the latest at the time). This was my second trip over to the USA and this time I had a chance, on several occasions, to use the Internet. I have to say it was great feeling being able to read news from New Zealand, including our local paper The Southland Times, as when I was overseas New Zealand seemed so far away especially when there was no news on Television or in the papers from New Zealand.


I started studying at Southland Polytechnic in Invercargill doing a Certificate in Business Computing. This year I bought my very own PC, my first computer was a second hand Pentium 75 with 16MB of RAM, 840MB Hard Disc and ran Windows 95. By the end of the year that same PC had almost every component upgraded including a new motherboard, CPU and RAM creating an almost new computer. I also started using the Internet regularly this year as we had unlimited Internet access at Polytech back then the network had very little filters in place and chat programs such as IRC were made available to students. The same year I also started using the Internet at home my first modem was a 28.8K modem and the first ISP I used was Southnet who charged $2 an hour to connect to the Internet. Later that year I switched to IHUG who offered flat rate Internet for $45 a month. I changed to Auckland based ISP World-Net in mid 1999 and stayed with this ISP for the next 15 years.


I continued my studies and completed the Certificate in Business Computing and began studying towards a Diploma in Business Computing. This year I decided to find myself a part time job and began working at BP as a forecourt attendant.
While working at BP I did take note of the technology we used, most BP stations in New Zealand around this time used the PEC Retail system. The POS tills were a grey colour with monochrome LCD screen, in the managers office was the store controller PC which ran OS/2 Warp and various applications for stocktakes and fuel reconciliation. Our EFTPOS system was not originally integrated into the till instead a separate unit which was used to process EFTPOS and fuel card transactions, this system did become integrated years later. The BP station I worked at was still using this system when I left in 2008.
This year I bought my first cell phone it was a Motorolla phone and I remember paying as little as $150 for this phone and the phone came with $100 prepaid credit. In this era texting was starting to take off, sending a text cost 20 cents and initially only available for Vodafone customers. When Telecom did introduce texting you initially couldn't text between networks, not until about 2002.

2000 - 2001:

I finally completed the Diploma in Business Computing. I was on track to complete this course in 2000 however came short by 2 papers. While completing these papers I continued to work BP initially part time and later full time.

2002 - 2008:

After completing the Diploma in Business Computing back in 2001 I initially started to look for jobs in the IT industry but found most places were looking for people with experience or who had completed a degree. I initially wasn’t in any rush to look for an IT job as I had a full time job however in 2003 with a change of management at the BP station I worked at I decided it was time to move on along with most of the staff that worked there. In 2003 I began working seasonally at the Alliance Meat Works and I returned to BP as a casual in the off seasons. In 2004 I was diagnosed with cancer and after completing treatment at the end of 2005 I returned to work in 2006. At this stage I looked into my options for getting back into IT, studying in the off seasons was a consideration but not really an option when the off season at this point was only for 3 months.

2009 - 2010:

This year I finally made a decision to return to study, 8 years after completing my original course. Shorter seasons at the Meat Works meant I was able to study during my off season for the next couple of years. I was able to go straight into the second year of the Bachelor of IT course as many of the first year papers could be crossed credited from my Diploma in Business Computing. The papers I enjoyed the most were the project management papers, not because I liked project management but because I enjoyed being able to do a project for a business or charity. In 2009 my project was to build a website for the Southern Pride Invercargill Lions club and in 2010 I was project lead for a year long project to build a website for a Wellington Radio Station. Other papers I enjoyed doing was a web development paper, networking papers and programming papers.


In 2011 I started my very first IT job. A year earlier I had put my CV out to a couple of businesses requesting to do some work experience while studying, as a result in April 2011 I was offered a job at Gen-i Southland working on a new Service Desk that was in the process of being established. While I was only halfway through completing my degree, I considered this job offer was a much better opportunity to learn and grow my skillset. I was also required to withdraw from my course due to a conflict of interest as I would be providing IT support for the place I had been studying at.
Working for an IT provider certainly allowed me to have a vast exposure to a lot of different businesses and their IT environment, everything from small customers which just one server and a few users up to hundreds of users and hundreds of servers, I ended up dealing with people remotely all-over New Zealand and some overseas users also.
In 2017 the company I worked for Computer Group New Zealand was sold to another local IT company Focus and I was transferred to Focus that year.


After spending the past 7 years working for an IT company and supporting customers around Southland and New Zealand I decided it was time for a change. I decided I would enjoy working in the IT department for a company as opposed to working for an IT company. I liked the idea that my customers would be my work colleagues, the same people I would have morning tea and Friday drinks with. In December 2018 I began working for H&J Smiths Department Store as a computer technician.


The first computer I ever used was an Amstrad, similar to this computer, and belonged to my school principal.

BBC Master Compact

The BBC Master Compact was the computer I grew up with as we used them in both primary and high school between 1988 and 1994.

BBC Econet File Server

The BBC Econet File Server, a similar server was used at my high school.

Atari 2600 Clone

My very first games console, a clone of the Atari 2600. This console had 64 games built in and was compatable with the Atari 2600.

Sega Master System

My second games console was the Sega Master System 2.

Amiga 500

My first computer was an Amiga 500 upgraded to 1MB RAM.

My parents first computer

My parents first computer a 486DX4-100 with 8MB RAM.

My computer in 2001

My computer in 2001 the game on the screen is Quake 3.

An early network server

An early network server on my home network, running Windows NT 4.0.

My server in 2004

My network server in 2004.

My computer area

The dining area in my first house in 2006 became my office. Computer in the corner was the server.


Some of the old computer hardware that I disposed of in 2008 when we had an "e-day" where you could recycle old computer waste for free.