The How

The How

I got hooked.

My mother worked for a small printing company on the outskirts of where we lived they second as a computer company supplying IT equipment to local businesses in the area, my mother and father knew nothing about PC's and their capabilities but knew that if their children were to grow with the times they had to invest in one. She'd agreed with her boss to work overtime to pay for a new PC for the family and her boss had agreed he would supply it at cost price to try and help her out. Keeping in mind that back then she didn't earn a great deal of money and she'd worked a ton of hours to pay for this machine she knew nothing about in an generation where the internet was just coming of age in households.

I remember the day I must have been 12/13 years old and rushing home from school to see our very own family PC, I rushed into the dining room and there it was the Intel Pentium III 450Mhz Desktop PC with a 15 inch colour CRT monitor and dual speakers. Given the fact my parents raised 7 children and my mother had worked so hard to get this PC for us I literally felt like our family had won the lottery! The IT guy at the company my mother worked for installed a pre-release version of Windows 98 we all sat around it in awe and we hadn't even turned it on yet. We pressed the on button and waited for it to boot up which in these days would have felt like an eternity but we just sat there watching white text whirl up a black screen without any clue to what it was actually doing. I remember asking to be the first one to have a go, the first thing i done was open internet explorer and click dial on our 28.8k dial up modem, hearing the dialling sound coming out of the modem like something out a star trek film and then being presented with the "Welcome to AOL" start page. by this point a sibling had elbowed me in the ribs and it was my turn to get off and let someone else have a go.

Safe to say I never really paid any attention to the family PC for quite some time, I didn't really get it, it was a machine that I could write a letter on, connect to the internet to look at weather and news and that was the extent of my PC capabilities beside from that it never really interested me and it didn't really make sense. It must have been a good year later at school I sat with friends that were talking about some great new song they had listened to and as much as I was dying to hear this great new track we only had an FM Radio at home, sitting there weighing up my options I could either go home and listen to the radio all night in an attempt to find this great song i'd never heard or wait until Top of the Pops was on to maybe see it there, I asked a friend in class how can I find this song and his response i'll never forget, he said use "Kazaa" after a lengthy discussion on what Kazaa was and what I needed to do on my PC I went home with nothing more than two words "Kazaa" and "mp3" wrote on the back of my hand. I fired up the PC opened the dial up connection and hit Dial. waited for the long whirring and buzzing to finish and I was away, not knowing what I was getting myself into I downloaded some program from the internet and installed it on my PC petrified that I might break something. I noticed the new application available, so I double clicked and was greeted by a program that made little to no sense but after a couple of minutes fumbling around I noticed a search box on the left and thought hey i'll give this a go. I typed "Force & Styles Heart of Gold" waited patiently whilst it searched and the response was hundreds of files appearing on my screen. Not content that i'd taken over the world yet I had to figure out how I got that song to come out of my speakers on my PC. I naively picked one from the list remembering that my friend had told me make sure you download one that's ".mp3" then all of a sudden bingo "Downloading" at this point i was probably 30% scared my mother would have to buy a new PC if I broke this one and %70 king of the world, 45 minutes later (yes the internet was that slow back then) "Completed". after hunting around like a kid on ecstasy to figure out where this file had gone on my computer I finally found it. double clicked and it was official

"I felt like a god, I was conquering the world, and I was never leaving this PC alone again".

Within a couple of days I had broken the family computer and this started to become a repetitive problem, with zero knowledge of computing, every time I broke it my mother had to get the guy from work to come out and fix it, I would spend countless hours watching him fix it saying "whats that for" or "why did you do that", this was my way of learning and whilst music and mp3's were great they weren't enough, if I could download an mp3 what else could I download, what else could I do? Within a week I was reading the Anarchist Cookbook reading up on how to make plastic explosives out of bleach, pipe bomb's from fertilizer and then onto downloading credit card number generating software... for what use exactly? absolutely none! I wanted to learn about these things for one reason and one reason only "Because it was fucking cool!"

Little did I know, that on that day, downloading an mp3 on a computer that had been stuffed in the corner of my mothers bedroom had literally altered my life and sent me down the black hole...