Analog Antics and Power Supply Pyrotechnics

Act 1: Analog Antics and Power Supply Pyrotechnics

As a kid growing up in Australia, my life was a tapestry woven with analog wonders. I reveled in the simple joys of VCR tapes, which stored my most cherished movies. The Sega Master System, old in our childhood and a relic by today’s standards, was our go-to portal for gaming escapades. And let’s not forget the cassette tapes that set the soundtrack for countless road trips across australia in our unkillable camry—a ride that hadn’t yet embraced CD players until the early 2000s. All this tech already superseeded, most of it handed down to us, was so fascinating to me a kid.

Luckily I was fortunate to have a grandfather who was an accountant and tech-savvy to boot. Thanks to him, I got to experience broadband internet at home, not my home, we had dial-up, but a home. I’ll admit, I often exceeded the data limit watching early viral video sites (insert nostalgic late 90s/2000s video website here). But it wasn’t all blown on pointless entertainment, somehow I’d managed to download interactive buddy, play a bunch of pinball, and get to create the rollercoaster hellscapes we all still dream of today in the rollercoaster tycoon demo. And the tech perks didn’t stop there. We soon had two hand-me-down family computers—a privilege that made me feel like the luckiest kid on the block.

I must have been about 8, and I had my very own computer! Well, for a grand total of five minutes. In a move that, were the term in the cultural lexicon, would have been refered to as baller, I set the power supply switch to 120 volts before plugging it into our 240-volt socket. The result? A loud bang, an absolutely terrified mother, and a story that I’ve only just remembered.. one which could explain the reason why I would say I wanted to be a pyrotechnician as a kid.

After the mini-firework display, my tinkering rights were temporarily suspended. However, I remained the go-to tech guru for household computer issues—most of which, I sheepishly admit, were self-inflicted.

As years rolled by, we progressed from Windows 95 to 98 and then to XP. I had the honor of keeping our gaming staples, like Total Annihilation, Star Wars: Podracer, and Jedi Knight 2, in tip-top shape. This initial fascination with computers and gaming never waned. Whether it was watching kids at the local library engrossed in Dune 2000 or grappling with my dad’s finicky PowerBook 500—which had a knack for crashing if you so much as moved the mouse too swiftly in MacPaint—I remained captivated by these slow but endlessly intriguing machines.