Blog du Tristank

So terrific that 3 of 4 readers rated it "soporific"

My Next Laptop – an XT

A new year, another new laptop, incorporating the lessons learned from last time. Interesting choice of nomenclature for the new Dell tablet range.

<memory lane>

My first PC (mostly-)compatible was an XT-class machine. I think we got it in 1988, maybe 89. I had no idea that 286 and even 386s were available already! What an exciting time I was in for…

Twin 360K floppy drives, it had, and a green CGA monitor. 640K and an 8088 (Turbo! 10Mhz! Compatible! 4.77Mhz!). DOS 2.0 (or was it 2.11?)

I still remember trying to use good ‘ol Commodore 64 BASIC commands (LOAD *,8) before it was explained to me that these EXE or COM things were what you used, and the DIR command showed you what they were.


“No, you just type the name before the EXE”

“Ohhh”… so the commands I could type were actually extended by the EXEs present… wow. Cool!

The steel “desktop” case of the thing was quite possibly larger than any case I’ve owned since then.

Quite randomly, after about a year, I came home from school to a grinning Dad, who couldn’t wait for me to turn on the computer (for a change; it was more commonly “go outside and do some exercise!”).

I flicked the big red switch, and then noticed the screen wasn’t green any more! Awesome! Text mode was full-colour, but I rapidly discovered that four colour CGA was graphics mode (with a choice of two strange palettes! Who knew Ultima V was actually purple, white and cyan?).

And then, just after that had registered, I heard the grinding noise of a new 40MB hard disk spinning up inside the case! What luxury was this!? How many floppy disks could I abandon!? ALL OF THEM! (except those bastard ones with turbo-unfriendly copy-protected-disk schemes).

Then I saw EGA and VGA at a computer store near school. Wow. Six months later, I’d saved up enough to replace the CGA card with an EGA card. I was hooked on upgradeability. Happy sigh. Fun times.

</memory lane>

Dell Latitude XT, seen here in non-Tablet orientation, for real people, with real needs. Quite why Dell would want to invoke memories of the clunking old monster, associated with their svelte new Tablet is beyond me, but it worked, and somewhat more randomly than you might suspect, mine’s on order now!

I think I mentioned before that I didn’t really care if it was a Tablet per se, just as long as it had a touch screen I could jab with a finger. Re-reading what I wrote last year, I’m quite happy that I’m at least internally consistent.

I found that reviews were quite scarce, so I’ll write up my e-pinions as I go, as per usual. Time permitting (did I mention I’m busy until March already?)

Idle speculation: The next version will be the “AT”… (you can laugh when it suits you. No pressure.)

Oh yeah, and Happy New Year, and all!