Twenty years of computer-assisted research

Our household has been in a bit of a spring cleaning vibe (new bookcases will do that), which inspired me to get rid of a bunch of old electronics dating from the Pleistocene. In addition to recycling some pocket electronics (an old digital recorder and an old Dell Digital Jukebox MP3 player – and where or where did my old c. 2004 Dell Axim go?), we also are unloading one very old (486?) PC and a bevy of laptops, which made me briefly reminisce on all the laptops I’ve loved, and hated, before (sung with a Willie Nelson twang):

To wit:

  1. Mac Powerbook: 1990s-era laptop gifted from my mother, and used for note-taking during my 1997-98 archive trip. I later recycled it to another grad student.
  2. Compaq Presario 1200 (grad school, c. 2000 – ?). It fell and the screen cracked on an Ohio State sidewalk, requiring a replacement that was almost as expensive as the whole computer. But when you’re a grad student, a dollar’s a dollar.
  3. Gateway M305CRV laptop (? – 2008). So high-tech, it had a PC wireless card sticking out of the chassis. And a really, really loud fan.
  4. MSI Wind Netbook (2009-2012): back in the netbook-crazed days of the late 2000s, I tried to go ultra-portable (for the time), but the screen was tiny and the cramped keyboard was annoying as hell.
  5. Lenovo ThinkPad Edge (2012-present). Shared with wife, but was allowed to take it to England in 2012 for archival research. Was brave enough to leave it in the British Library Reading Room during lunch breaks. Still chugs along.
  6. 13″ MacBook Air (late 2012-2016): current faithful companion, and favorite laptop by far; so very lightweight. Up until my return to the Cult of Jobs, I managed to drag my MS Access database along from device to device. But progress has its price, and thy name is Devonthink. Had to expand the storage with a 480 GB JetDrive: a 256 GB hard drive is way too small, even without movies and music.
  7. Later this year, a new MacBook laptop will succeed to the throne – because I’ve earned the 15″ of screen space.
Compaq, MSI and Gateway

(L-R) Compaq, MSI and Gateway: only the MSI still works

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