I did not think I was ever going to do it, yet yesterday it happened. It sold it. The last of its kind here in the house. The last giant in a long tradition. Yep : I sold my last 'custom built' computer. Back when I started out with PC's there where almost no "oem" computers that you could buy. I mean there where but they where incredibly expensive. If, back in the days, you wanted to buy a P75 from Compaq, you needed twice the amount of money opposed to when you bought a custom built clone. I think I was a year into the whole PC thing when I put together my very first system. When I started taking the machine apart and putting the parts (along with some new ones) in another case a whole new world opened up before me. I no longer saw computers as these magically closed white boxes. No : computers became like Lego to me. Take a part out here, swap in in there and use your components to make something totally new.
Ever since I have always built my own computers. The long fairing tradition of carefully selecting the right parts for the right price to buy the 'master machine' of the house is one I have cherished for years. First I still went to computershops in the neighborhood to pick up my parts. But soon enough Belgium was to small for me. I found a cash and carry store in Aachen where I could pick up all the parts I needed for a far better price. So countless were the times where we hopped over the border(s) (Aachen is about a 100 kilometers from here) and waited until the store opened up at 9am. Being amazed at how many familiar faces you saw over there on a saturday morning. A lot of Belgians and most of the time some workmates too (I worked in a Game testing center at the time, and these guys constantly built their own stuff).
Getting home with this collection of parts was the most fun bit. Putting them together could take all morning. Sure I could whip a pc together in under 20 minutes (i still can btw) but when building one's personal "super system" you took the time to connect everything just right, Tuck away all the cables with tie wrap, make sure that the airflow in the case was unobstructed and optimal and so on… After that the actual installation took the better part of the day. Tweaking Windows JUST RIGHT, getting all your settings setup correctly, choosing the killer wallpaper, downloading the latest drivers, patches. Installing your favourite games, tweaking them … You could be at it all night. And if you where into overclocking, tweaking, fans and all that shit.. It was better to take the week off.
But yesterday I sold the last 'self-constructed' computer I owned. After buying my first Mac my interests started to shift from "building" computers and the hardware involved, to "Using" the computers and diving more deeply in how they could work for me. The Mac Mini is the ultimate proof that the computer (to me) has become another closed black box that I just use. And with hardware evolving so fast it does not pay anymore to install new ram of a new mainboard.. people just sell their computer and buy a new one. So that is what I did yesterday. I bid my goodbeys to the last of the homebrew computers. The last of my selfbuilt master systems. Built with love and care, now replaced by laptops, fast progress in hardware, closed boxes and what have you.