CompUSA and my first computer

Well, it seems that CompUSA is closing. Now, this is important because this is a company that had as many as 200 or so stores across the US, and now it is being closed after massive losses. But, for me, it is more important because I purchase my first real computer from CompUSA, back when they were changing their name from Soft Warehouse.

Back in 1991, I purchased my first personal PC. It was a Compudyne 216, back when the 386’s were just coming out. It was called the 216, because it was a 286 that ran at 16MHz, and even included the 287 NPU (math component). This machine included the Suntac Chipset, IDE and floppy interface, and came in a desktop housing. That was it. No video card, no hard drive, no floppy, nothing. I don’t know if this is the exact board, but it seems very close.

So, I had to purchase the rest while I was there. This included a 3.5″ floppy, 5.25″ floppy, 88MB Seagate hard drive (which a friend said that I would never fill), a 1MB VGA card, 14″ Compudyne monitor, Logitech mouse, and even a Mustek handheld scanner. I got more than I had originally planned for because the name change had just started, and they seemed to be going away from the Compudyne stuff.

Here we are, 16 1/2 years later, and they are going out of business. It shouldn’t really mean all THAT much to me, but then again, a lot happened with that computer. It survived being upgraded to 4MB, running Windows 3.0 and 3.1. It survived running DOOM in a Windows DOS window, so I could make the “virtual memory” in Windows available to DOOM so it would actually run (fps was in the less than 1 per second when the window was set obscenely small). Commander Keen spent some time destroying Martians there. I got to find out what happens when you put a sound card in an ISA slot too close to the 350Watt power supply (noise and hum in and out). I visited Prodigy and The Sierra Network with it. That machine is where I truely cut my teeth on PC hardware and troubleshooting. It was nearly 6 years before that machine was replaced. Even then, it stayed around for other stuff. It finally went away, because it had no where else to go or to be used for.

So, now I will say goodbye. To CompUSA, hell, even to Soft Warehouse and the CompuDyne namebrand. Goodbye you guys. Its been fun.


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