by Steve Dondley

⬅ Notes listing

Author's note: The note below is part of a digital garden. Therefore, it is likely incomplete, inaccurate or both. In other words, it's just like other information sources but perhaps to a higher degree. That said, it may still be worth exploring.

Tech stuff


Misc. Topics

Free Software (Open Source)

I’m a huge fan of the Free Software Movement, though I don’t always live up to its highest ideals. For better or worse, I’m a pragmatist when it comes to choosing software to use. But I’m a huge believer in sharing my own work and enjoy it immensely.

Programming languages

Tools I Use


Computer hardware

Early years

Since I was a young boy, I’ve always been fascinated by all things digital. The first bit of technology to transfix me was owned by my cousin’s husband, Jimmy Wagner. It was a watch and instead of hands it had glowing LED numbers. It was probably 1975 and I was 5 years old. If the watch wasn’t the Pulsar P3, it was something very close to it.

I begged my parents and relatives for a digital watch as a present but, of course, they weren’t about to spend a couple hundred bucks on a watch for a little kid (I did get a cool Snoopy analog watch, though). I don’t think it was until 1979 that I finally got a digital watch. Although it had a liquid crystal display rather than an LED face and had an ugly, goofy, stiff brown plastic wristband that was supposed to look like alligator skin, it was good enough for me.

Here’s a rough timeline of some of the other hardware I’ve owned as well as other experiences that left a mark on my imagination.

  • 1977?
  • Christmas 1977 (or could have been ‘78)
  • 1980 or ‘81
    • My first use of a computer attached to a network
      • Armory Street School, 5th or 6th grade
      • It was a teletype machine with a dot matrix printer connected to a computer in downtown Springfield
        • it could play simple games such as madlibs
  • Early 80s
  • 1983
    • Got an Apple IIe - Wikipedia
      • It was purchased by my brother, 10 years older than me, while he was in college
        • I’m not sure if he ever intended to use it for himself but he never did so it essentially became mine.
        • It sits in my basement to this day
          • Worked as of about 5 years ago when I last tried it out
      • Learned Apple Basic with it using the book that came with it
      • Used it for gaming, as well
        • Had all the Zork games
      • Wrote a database program to obsessively store all the videos I saw on MTV.
        • Didn’t last long. After a couple dozen entries, I got tired of running up the stairs after every video
      • Conceived a graphical software maze game in 3-D.
        • Never finished it (and barely started it) but I’m sure it would have been better than Doom
    • Intellivision video game console
      • Video games basically killed my budding career in programming
  • 1984
    • My sister and brother-in-law had an original Macintosh computer
      • Didn’t have much need for it but was absolutely fascinated by it and spent hours on it seeing what it could do compared to my Apple IIe
    • My brother-in-law worked in the software industry and had some kind of printing device (I think it was some kind of portable teletype machine) connected to a modem. I could play games on it.
  • 1991
    • Bought my own first computer, an IBM PS/1 - Wikipedia
      • Operating system was PC DOS
      • Provided for my introduction to bulletin boards and Prodigy
        • Early precursors to the World Wide Web which got popular a few years later
      • Tried learning C++ from a book but without success
        • OO concepts were way over my head at the time
        • Had way more fun things to do while living in the Bay Area in my early 20s
  • Early to mid-90s
    • Assembled a couple Windows-based computers from components
  • 1996 (maybe ‘97)
    • Nintendo 64
  • 1997
  • 1998 - 2005
    • Bought two or three IBM clone Window machines
      • Maybe the first was a Gateway? Not sure.
      • The last one I bought was a Dell
      • Got consumed with the internet and building websites
  • 1999/2000
    • Set up a Linux box on an old, second-hand computer
      • Installed Debian, the “purists” Linux distribution
      • Holy hell did it take me hours to get the wifi driver set up. I had no idea what I was doing.
      • Got bit by the free software bug
    • Taught myself Perl
  • 2004
    • Bought a couple of 1U servers and started hosting websites for clients
    • Housed them in a datacenter
    • All run Debian
    • Since that time, I bought several other servers as company grew

The Apple FanBoi Years

I’ve kind of lost track of all the Apple products I’ve purchased over the past 12 years. Here they are to the best of my recollection. I’ve spent roughly $30K on them which is probably a bit obsessive, I’ll admit. We’ve all got our vices.

  • 2008
    • Came back to Mac and never looked back with a MacBook Pro
  • 2009
  • 2010
    • iMac
      • Still in use today, primarily as a third monitor to my iMac 5K
    • iPad
  • 2011
    • iPhone 4S
  • 2012
    • New MacBook Pro
    • got another iPad somewhere around this time
    • Got an AppleTV somewhere in here
  • 2013
    • iPhone 5S
  • 2013 to 2016?
    • bought three MacBook Airs
  • 2015
    • Apple Watch
    • Got an iMac 5k (still my main desktop machine)
    • iPhone 6S Plus
  • 2016
    • New MacBook Pro
    • iPhone 7
    • Got a newer AppleTV somwhere around here
  • 2017
    • Apple Watch Series 2
    • iPhone X
    • iPad Pro 10.5”
  • 2018
    • HomePod
    • iPhone XS
  • 2019
    • iPhone 11 Pro
  • 2020
    • Apple Watch Series 5
    • iPhone 12 Pro

I’m currently waiting for the new iMac Pro line on the ARM architecture to replace my aging iMac 5K machine. It might be a couple of years or it may never even happen. Goal is to hold out until a new, more powerful computer comes out with ARM architecture.

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