All my computers have been hand-me-downs. This was my third — a 1997 or 98 Proteva. It used Windows 98. It was slow but serviceable — literally. At one point a couple years ago, the fan broke and my cousin-in-law Jeff (see Credits) kindly installed a new one.
Two days after Christmas, Jeff arrived with a newer computer, a two-year-old Dell with 1.5 GB of RAM and 214 GB of free space on its hard drive. Now I’m learning how to use Windows XP — after changing everything to look and act as much like Windows 98 as possible.
To the left of the sleek new black box you can see the gray case that contains my manual backup system in case of apocalypse or an extended power outage. It’s an old Olympia typewriter — the one I wrote my college papers on, and all my poems up through the late 80s. My dad got it when he was a kid.
We kept the hard drive from the old computer, too, mounting it inside the new box alongside its faster, emptier counterpart. It has a mere 917 MB of free space, but so far — knock on veneered particle board — its little motor still works. Now that I have a CD burner and working USB ports, I can think about backing up my files.
It’s hard to believe that years of work can fit so snugly in the palm of a hand.
The old doesn’t go out, exactly, but more deeply inside. And what comes in — well, it’s new to us, perhaps. But on the other side of the world, they’ve seen it already. We’re all living on borrowed time.