My IBM ThinkPad 1999-2012

In fall of 1999, I surrendered to an Internet avalanche becoming so much more than hyperlinked text documents of early WWW days: I disposed of my personal computing companion of 15 years--a workhorse Apple II/e--and bought an IBM ThinkPad model 1412i. Set me back $1,400.00. At the time, it seemed reasonable for a computer whose display would give me GUIs, graphics, and text in more than one font. Besides, the Apple II/e had cost $2,000.

The Apple II/e had served well, allowing me to publish short stories and book reviews to Webzines from 1998 on.

Still, the Apple II/e had to go: New software was scarce and priorities for Apple, Inc. were the Macintosh and its devoted user following.

For a laptop, I thought the ThinkPad had a good keyboard feel--to be expected from the company that produced Selectric typewriters.

The ThinkPad quickly passed its first test: The possible Y2K bug on 01/01/2000.

Nothing happened.

A few weeks later, moreover, I got an email from an editor at Mississippi Review.  She'd had a hard drive crash and did I still have that story I'd submitted a year before? She remembered it. Was it still available?

[pointing stick]So good things began happening with the ThinkPad and it's seen me through many a writing project.

But laptops are laptops. Fragile and not cheap to repair. No viruses, really, because for most of its twelve years, it's run relatively malware-free operating systems like BeOS and Linux. But replacement keyboards: two of those. A dead battery and a replacement that went dead faster.

Then the roar of a hard drive I'd hear before I went into my attic garret. That loud. I got a hard drive with fluid, not metal, bearings for $60 and replaced it myself, a demanding, intricate task I'll do only once.

Later, the screen began acquiring an odd pinkish tinge in one corner of that usually blended with web pages if they didn't have not too much white space. If the screen was going bad, I also imagined the display was more normal once the screen warmed up.

That is, until a few weeks ago. The screen went dead and dark. While the machine was on, supposedly in screensaver mode!

I checked the computer with another monitor attached and things worked fine.

I decided, No more fixes. Not on a laptop with a by-now sluggish 367-MHz processor.

So time for a new laptop.

I got a successor from the folks that bought the IBM ThinkPad brand.  Lenovo's budget laptop offering, a 2.2-GHz stormer, for a mere $399.

(p.s. My other computer, a $80 recycled Dell OptiPlex tower, now handles the writing projects.)

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The Cat at Light's End

Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection, The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:

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