When I moved to Japan, I brought along my sisters old laptop. For those reading this in 2014, you probably think of a laptop as a wafer thin, feather light device that easily pops into a bag and travels everywhere. This may be true now, but it was not true at all about a laptop from 1999.
My sister’s laptop was an IBM Thinkpad that featured a Pentium processor running about 133mhz. It weighed just over 3kg (6.6lbs) and would no longer run on battery power for more than 30 seconds. The hard drive was somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1-2GB. It had a CD drive built in (not a DVD drive), and an external floppy drive. There were no USB ports.
The advantage of bringing along this dinosaur of computing was that it easily fit into carry-on luggage, as opposed to my more powerful desktop tower that stayed in Canada. Also, the power connector worked on a range of voltages, presenting no problem plugging in to Japanese outlets. The disadvantages are fairly obvious from the description above.
Since I didn’t have any internet connection, I needed to go to the internet cafe to update my blog. I could, however, prepare the pictures and text entries for upload at home, then copy them onto 3.5″ floppy disks to take to the internet cafe. Since each disk could only hold 1.44mb of data, I would always need to resize my pictures for transport.
One of the fun things I could do on my computer was play classic video games, which kept me at home instead of out spending money. In mid February I was spending a lot of time on the classic Transport Tycoon Deluxe. It is one of those addictive simulator games that is easy to learn and difficult to get really good at. The basic idea is that you are a transportation company, and to make money you need to connect resources and people to their destinations. There is a free open source version called OpenTTD that can be found at http://www.openttd.org/
This was a complete rewrite from the original post, because I am sure that many people don’t remember how horrible laptops were in the early 2000s.