Prairie Rim Tech

Ten thousand and counting

A discussion this morning at work caused me to tally up how much I’ve spent on computers in my life.  Despite using computers for 30 years (25 of it as a professional programmer), I was somewhat surprised at how much I’ve spent.  My co-workers, however, were surprised how little I’ve spent.

I was given my first computer — a TI 99/4a — in 1984, when I was in 8th grade.  I dropped about $2500 combined on my Apple IIc (which I still own) and IIGS while I was still in high school.  My own 8th-grade son can’t comprehend how rare it was back then for a high school kid to actually own a computer, let alone two, and then know how to program them.

I spent most of the 1990’s with just a WYSE50 terminal and 28.8 modem.  Most of my computer use was at college (UNL) and work, so all I needed was a way to remote into those places.

In 2001, I pieced together a linux desktop computer for about $1500.  Some of those components (like the monitor and case) are still in use on my current desktop.  I upgraded the mobo/CPU/RAM/PS in 2008 for $400 and just the CPU again last year for under $100.

My wife has owned two computers since 2003, totaling under $1000.  I’ve also owned two laptops in that time span, both of which were bought used for under $1000 combined.

Just this week, I bought a new rack-mount server to replace my 13-year-old firewall, so there’s another $500.

That’s about 7 grand, and we haven’t mentioned the hard drives yet.  I currently have about 28TB (yes, terabytes) of disks in active use across 11 drives.  I’ve bought & retired quite a few more over the years.  It’s hard to put a number on the cost of all those drives, but I think it’s safe say they averaged about $150 each, meaning maybe $2000-2500 or so combined.

Throw in some other miscellany, and we’re at an even $10,000 that I’ve spent across a 30-year computer career.  If you think about it, $333 per year really isn’t all that bad by today’s standards.

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