...of the really, really, really boring kind
After uploading the 20 years
piece I recalled the first time I began to use a computer.
In 1989 I obtained my Visual Art Degree high school diploma (Italian school rank, don't know how to translate in other schooling systems) and after that I attended a course of graphic design specializing.
In the latter I used my first graphic program... DPaint, DOS version. I had 16 colors and a 320x240 screen to work on, but at least I could choose from a palette of 256 colors. My first drawing? The Yamato, of course. I still have the print of that somewhere, a print made taking a snapshot at monitor with my camera. The drawing was pretty hideous, anyway.
I began to work in 1991, as a freelancer. The computer systems I used in first working years were the clients' or the firm ones -- I bought mine much later. And despite in the early years graphic related jobs were nearly strictly a Macintosh thing, I always ended to operate on DOS-Windows systems. That brought unmentionable quantities of pain and teeth gnashing when it was time to bring works to print, since typographies had Mac systems 90% of times.
My first real scenario hands-on-a-keyboard experience was Aldus Pagemaker 2 on Windows 2.5. I had to learn how to use that in a week. I'm still wondering how the heck I managed to do that, since when it come to computer related maneuvers I'm dumb as a brick and I always been.
Windows-two-dot-five. No drag and drop, I had to move files via written strings on that shell-thingy. The machine holding that marvel was a 286 with 2 megs of ram and a hard disk of 15 megabytes. MEGAbytes. When I had to save, it was coffee time, and sometimes go-down-at-supermarket-on-rush-hour-and-stack-for-a-week time.
After that first experience I switched to another client and began to use another specimen in the programs fauna. Many of my works, by client requests, were done on a monument of computer graphic history: Dr. Halo. EGA graphic palette, which means 16 basic colors, a third of these nearly unusable (try to do something even remotely tasteful with R255 G0 B255 or R0 G255 B0). If you use Paint Shop Pro, you'll notice that in the file format the program can manage Dr.Halo .cut is still present nowadays.
And on that I used a graphic tablet, because tablets are much older than you may think: used mainly in CAD and the like, came with a precision pointer mouse and a pen... connected with the tablet by a power and data cable that had the amazing capability of entangling in the most creative ways. The cost was three times the most powerful hardware you could buy around the beginning of nineties.
256 color depth was the norm, but a couple of years later I put my hands on the marvels of 16-million color depth with a Targa card and TIPS photo retouching program. One of the few that managed to fully make the most of that color depth. Having to deal with 16-bit image usually meant renouncing at undo capability: memory wasn't simply enough to hold two instances of the image, and disk swapping was something painfully slow. So working on TIPS was like working on traditional media: a mistake and the only thing you had is the last quicksave. Which obviously I always forgot to make.
Graphic tablets developed too: no more pen cable, at last pressure sensitivity, and the pen was powered by batteries. That always run out on the brink of deadlines.
And on, Windows 3.11. Wow! Drag and drop! Wow! Local network! Wow! Pentiums! ...what do you mean, floating point errors? Whatever. And Windows 95 came, and so the first version of Photoshop I used: 2.5. No layers (these were introduced on the 3.0 and after, while multiple undo in 5.0, I think).
Did you ever used SCSI external peripherals? No? Lucky you. Yes? You can understand me. I'm still persuaded a certain cartridge reader had the electronic version of PMS. I cannot explain its behaviour otherwise.
Then, my first own computer. Pentium 90, 24 megs of ram, 1gb of hard disk. I felt like I was on the Enterprise. Was... hmm, around '96, '97, maybe. And Windows 3.11, later upgraded to 95. (I'm slow in upgrading, I'm usually a major release below the official one). First backup device, a SCSI/parallel Zip drive. First tablet, a Graphire A6, serial port version.
Apparently there wasn't USB capability on Enterprise...