I really wish Gmail wouldn’t obscure the difference between the
Cc: fields of my e-mail messages. This is most annoying at work, because I like to distinguish the primary recipients of my messages (people who must take action) from people who were copied for informational purposes.
E-mail wasn’t meant to resemble instant messaging.
Last weekend I retired my trusty old Digital AlphaStation 200
4/233. When it was introduced in 1994 (retail price: $15,595 with UNIX and a 1 GB hard drive), it was one of the first 64-bit
computers intended for desktop use. At that time, a 90 MHz Pentium was considered top-of-the-line for desktop computing, and this sucker was screaming at 233 MHz! When I bought one secondhand from a co-worker for $200 in 1999,
it was still a reasonably fast machine.
At some point, I outfitted it with a 9 GB Ultra2 LVD SCSI drive and it became
my primary workstation. I briefly ran Linux on it,
but soon discovered that Tru64 UNIX not only ran more reliably—in fact,
it never crashed once—but that it contained some interesting security,
clustering, and filesystem capabilities that were way ahead of their time.
I have always had a soft spot for the DEC Alpha architecture. I am a big
fan of elegance and simplicity in engineering. Which made me a RISC person.
Unfortunately, DEC’s engineering didn’t really survive the
sequential acquisitions by Compaq and then HP. And eventually the market
proved two things: that ultimately, nobody cares how elegant a
processor design is, and that nobody can out-spend Intel on innovation.
Thus the Alpha took its place on history’s long list of technologically
superior alternatives that got left behind.
Some time around 2003 or 2004, I started using an SGI O2 for a desktop machine (another flavor of retro-tech!),
relegating the Alphastation to a corner to live a quiet life as a Web server.
There it ran for another 6 or 7 years. I moved most of my important files
(including this Web site) to a more modern PC several years ago, but it
took me until this year to finally transition the Alphastation’s last duties
to other servers.
I sold my-computer on eBay this week for a whopping $382, which, even factoring in inflation,
represents a solid profit. How many of your computers have appreciated
in value over time?
I shipped it off to Texas this morning. So long, my-computer. It’s been a good 11 years.