Why do people name things? I hadn't had my first PC for more then a few weeks when my
wife named mine. It was 1982 and my youngest daughter was just about to celebrate her
16th birthday. My lottery number came up in July, and true to their word, I picked up
my IBM PC from Computer Land on July first.
Lottery? Yes back in '81 when the first IBM PC was announced there were so many orders
that IBM put them all into a pool and drew lots for delivery dates. Mine was a 4-MHz
8086 with 128K of memory (64K on the mother board made up of 8K piggybacked chips).
It had two single sided 5.25" floppies, monochrome screen, printer, game control adapter,
and a lonely color card, for nobody made a color display at the time. Software -- well
there was DOS Version 1, a Pascal Compiler, and a Technical Reference manual. What else
could you ask for?
But back to my story. My daughter Maria's birthday was on the forth, and I wanted to do
something special for her on the computer. How about a graphical birthday card with an
Independence day theme that played Happy Birthday? Well, what I lacked in originality,
I made up for in ingenuity. You see I had that color card but no display. It was off
to Radio Shack for an RF modulator, and then to the music store for the score to Happy Birthday.
Two days later I had a walken, talken birthday card that flashed Happy Birthday and set off
skyrockets on an old TV while playing Happy Birthday. For the finale it asked a riddle; the
correct answer revealed the first clue in a treasure hunt for her presents. "Gee, that's
nice dad," she said as she left with her friends. High praise indeed from a 16-year-old.
For the next two weeks Maria and I hid out in the back room designing a Pack Man game based
on the then popular PacMan video game. We were deep into a discussion on how to get the
ghosts to chase the Pack Man when my wife came into the room. "What's with you two," she
asked, "you spend more time with that -- thing -- than you do with the rest of the family?
If you two could get it to cook your meals and wash your clothes you'd never have to come out.
I know, why don't your program it for housework and call it 'Bitchy'."
Well, the name stuck. I'm now on "Bitchy 3", a 50-MHz 486, with a ton of applications that I
never dreamed of back in '82. My operating system of choice is OS/2 Warp running mostly DOS
and Windows 3.1 applications in addition to some native OS/2. I prefer the Lotus Suite of
applications to Microsoft's, and Ami Pro is my word processor of choice. "Bitchy 2" is an
IBM AT which my daughter Maria and her husband now use in their home. "Bitchy 1" is still
used by my grandchildren when they visit, but I fear it's not long for this world. The one
unchanging attribute each system shared when they were new was their price; they each set me
back about $3,000 before the add-ons.
What's in a name anyway? Why do we name inanimate objects? We don't, normally; unless, perhaps,
they hold a special place in our life. They transcend inanimatecy, and become a part of out lives.
A friend, missed when absent, exasperating at times, but a friend nevertheless. In my home we
don't have a computer, we have a friend. "Gee dad," Maria will ask, "what do you want for your
birthday, some new CDs, or something for Bitchy?" It's often something for Bitchy.
Time Marches on: "Bitchy 5" has a Cyrex M II 366 processor (equivalent to Intel's P II 366), 32 MB of RAM,
512K of L2 cache, a 3.2 GB Hard Drive, a 32X CD-ROM (that sounds like a jet engine when it revs up),
a 56 KB modem, Windows 98 + Works, a good graphics adapter with 4MB of DRAM, a Sound system with speakers,
a diskette drive, and a rodent with a long tail and two buttons instead of ears. All for $500.00 in June
I purchased it as a spare when my Sharp Laptop, "Bitchy 4" was in the shop for repairs. But, I liked it
so much that I made it my primary system. "Bitchy 4" was the most expensive of the lot, ringing in at just
under $5,000 in 1996. I still use it on the road and around the house. It's a P133 with a 12.1 inch display,
a 28.8 KB internal modem, 6X CD-ROM, 16 MB of RAM, sound, a diskette drive and Windows 95.
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