(WMB4X) 90’s Geek vs Geek of the Millennium

1980. Year of the birth of Austin Mini Metro and me. By the mid 90’s I was a spotty mullet topped computer geek. Much has changed, I’m not spotty anymore and the computer that sits in front of me of is more powerful than I could even have imagined.

My PC then was a Pentium 166mhz, with 16mb of RAM. I had a massive hard drive where I could store up to 2gb of data. When I first got the machine I didn’t have access to the internet of any kind, so I spent my time playing Championship Manager 2, in-between homework composed using MS Works. Then the internet came along, in the shape of a beige box with some red flashing lights on it. I was lucky, the blistering 56.6 modem. My friend had a Pentium 75 and 14.4 connection. How I took the piss.

Then came mIRC a text based chat system which I spent far too much time on. My parents let me stay online long enough (hogging the phone line) to make good acquaintance with most of Ohio, America (so it seemed). FiveOhTwo one of the Ohio clan introduced me and my real life friends to MP3. We each then spent hours trying to download Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” via Napster.

The browser of choice back then was Netscape, which had to be searched for via Yahoo on Internet Explorer 4.0. That is if it you could keep it from crashing for long enough for the download to complete. Windows ’95, then Windows ’98 which pre-service pack was as stable as me on ice.

The geek of the Millennium. Has it easy.

Geek-chic now is all around us. It’s fashionable to be geeky, nerdy and know what TARDIS stands for. Geeks today live connected. No waiting for your Mum to get off the phone to download that latest blockbuster movie. Yes movie. It would have taken months to download full length HD movies via a 90’s dial up connection.

Although mIRC still exists, the rooms now are largely populated with people who used them first time around. It’s now all Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The 90’s geek was all about identity security and low profile. The millennium counterpart is more “out” than a Pride Parade.

Napster has now long gone legit after spats with Lars Ulrich and others. So geeks now have Pirate Bay to be a freeloader. If your ISP allows. If not there is iTunes, which began life as a humble music player. The music player of choice in the 90’s was Winamp. It was superb, you could download skins for it to change the way it looked, add-ins to change the sound, stream online radio using SHOUTcast and some skins even included reel-to-reel tape Skeuomorphics that would have made Scott Forstall cream his pants.

Winamp was best when it was simple. As time passed by it tried to compete with iTunes and Windows Media Player, becoming bloated and seemingly unaware of the world where people were taking their music out and about as opposed to being sat in chat rooms.

I have just learnt that Winamp is to be shut down forever on the 20th December. Whatever will whip the llamas ass with now.

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