How I Learned to Fix Computers

Originally published May 16, 2011

I started out in this business as a computer technician and I still do it some, as a consultant. The first computer I ever fixed was an IBM Compatible (remember when they were called that… heh) Packard Bell 386. I don’t remember how much RAM it had or the size of the hard drive, but I do remember it had a 2400 Baud modem that we never got to use (there was no ISP’s in the small town I grew up in).

I had been saving money for a couple of months, so I could buy… a computer game! I didn’t really care what game, I just wanted a computer game. I ended up buying Ninja Gaiden 2 (the coolest looking game that I had enough cash for). I read the instructions on the way home from Wal-Mart (30 minutes of wide open freeway away). When we finally arrived, I was ready to play, but… it was bed time. The next day, my dad went to work (he worked 12 hour shifts at the power plant) and I proceeded to install my new game… some indiscernible amount of time later, I was playing Ninja Gaiden 2 (not very well, I was never very good at video games, when I was little).

Well, a couple of hours later, I was stuck. So I decided to take a break and switch back to normal computing mode (you know… Windows 3.1) and play around a little while. Well, during the install, I guess I overwrote the autoexec.bat file. Of course, I didn’t know that… I didn’t know what I did. All I knew, is that when I turned on the computer that morning, Windows came up… now, when I turn on the computer, all I got was C:\ and a blinking cursor… Oh shoot… my dad is going to kill me… I broke the computer…

Okay, calm down, think… Okay, the computer came with a bunch of books (really thick books, I was around 10 years old at the time). I have until 7 PM before dad gets home, and if the computer wasn’t back to how it was before he went to work, I wasn’t going to sit down for a month (or much worse, touch another computer until I was 18). Well, time to dig in. So, I start looking through the manuals for a solution.

Now, I don’t really know what happened between that moment and 7 PM, but I know there was a lot of rebooting and popping disks in and out and I’m pretty sure I read 80% of both the DOS and Windows manuals. I think I may have re-installed both DOS and Windows. However, the important thing is, by the time my father walked in the house after work, I was moving and resizing program manager windows to make the screen look the same as it did when he left for work.

Anyways, that’s my story, what’s yours?

@phillipwills #HowILearned