My college roommate – Joon – was studying to become a computer engineer. In the spring of 1990, he traded in his Commodore Amiga for a PC compatible machine. It was a monster, running a 486 processor at 33 megahertz. This was at a time when 386 machines were considered “servers”. It was fast; so fast most DOS games available at the time were unplayable. It was taller than our mini fridge and housed a dozen full-sized bays in its solid steel innards. It weighed more than sixty pounds, but – mercifully – the designers had integrated wheels in the bottom of the case, so it could be rolled from place to place.
Over time, the cyber blush faded from the performance rose. Joon kept it updated through the late nineties, but – eventually – it was consigned to the scrap heap of history otherwise known as my basement. By then the bays were filled with all sorts of interesting hardware. I remember removing a video card here, an ISA sound card there. I still use a set of its drive rails inside my current “frankenputer”. Eventually I pulled out everything I was ever going to use (and then some). I dragged the steel husk up to the garage to be recycled.
After I mow the lawn, I roll the lawnmower to the street and use something heavy to hold down the handle while I wash the blade off with a hose. Nowadays, I use Daniel for this. Before he got big enough to help, I would grab whatever was handy and heavy: bags of fertilizer, grass seed, mulch. One weekend – when Meka was particularly productive – the garage was bare. I looked around and couldn’t find anything heavy enough to hold the mower in place. Then, I noticed the old steel computer case. I rolled it down the driveway and set it on the lawnmower handle. It worked like a charm! I ended up keeping the case next to the mower throughout the rest of the season. Sure I got some looks from the neighbors; after all, how often have you seen integration between a PC and a lawnmower?