TNP 31 "New Computer"

TNP 31 "New Computer"

A Chapter by dw817

I put my hand on it marveling at it's weight cause I believed the heavier something is, the more valuable it was. Of course, I also thought if you painted a car red it would drive faster on the road.




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My time in working for the government during the Savings & Loan Crisis of 1990 with a beautiful
woman who took care of absolutely everything for me in my employ. And I mean EVERYTHING.

© August 2013 Written by David Wicker
Please do not reprint without permission



* * *

This chapter is Rated: EVERYONE

As we entered the computer store, we were at once greeted by the shopkeeper. Clearly it looked as if he was having a slow day and was delighted he might actually get some business.

"Welcome !" he started and scanning the four of us, finding the one most likely to be coerced into his glibbery flim-flam grabbed my hand and started shaking it hard up and down.

"Are all four of you together ?" he asked.

Tricia responded, "Yes we are."

"That's fine ! Maybe we'll have something for ALL of you to take home today."

Then he leaned his head back like he was counting stars through his skylight and began, "Computers are the future !" He held his hands out as if he had personally designed the microcircuit chip himself, "Why there's nothing you can't today without a - "

I smiled extricating my hand and interrupted him, "I've been working with computers for a decade now. I run a server too, Scenario BBS. I - think we'll do just fine without the history lesson."

"Oh ! Okay ..." he said and got quiet. He was an experienced salesman and apparently knew when to shovel it in his customer's mouths and when to swallow it back himself. So he went back behind his counter and offered weakly, "Well, let me know if you need help with anything."

"Thanks, we will." I said friendly enough.

Then we started looking at what all he had. Now, the year was 1990 so there were several to choose from. I looked at the prices and gasped. Apparently I must've gotten a good deal on mine for $300 as the one I looked at, a 486 with a 250mb HD and 3 & 1/2 inch disk drive was a whopping $1300 bucks !

I looked crestfallen for a moment, but Tricia came to me and said encouragingly, "Remember, David, you have some money to spend. Get yourself something good. I'd rather you get what you want now so I don't want to make a lot of trips later."

I guess because I had spent so much time mooning in computer stores in the past it was hard for me to accept that I could actually buy myself a decent system now.

There was also a Macintosh computer on one desk. I remember one salesperson coming to me and told that the display was twisted necromatic which is why the pixels looked as good as they did. I remember they were square. Really square. Not that oblong stuff you got from T.R.S. 80 and not that blurry stuff you got from IBM-pc.

They also had a vintage Apple ][+ on a display table and a pang of loneliness twinged in my brain for the good times I had on the Apple when I lived with my Dad. But clearly, today, it was not considered a powerful computer and despite how much I knew about it and could program on it in Floating Point Basic.

It was still inferior to IBM-pc and I had never tried to run a BBS on it anyways, which was my main interest at the moment.

On a separate larger table was the almighty Commodore Amiga 1000. A wonderful computer for artists. I had my own Amiga stuffed somewhere in some boxes in storage and while it was a great system with bright colors and everything, but it was hard to program on, and ultimately I learned more C++ on it than any other computer, basically, because I had to.

Now I did have F-Basic for it, which was a poor man's BASIC, but the system sadly only allowed me 20-separate images at one time, with no ability of creating raster tables, and for what I wanted I was limited to 32-colors at a 320x200 pixel level.

Still, I wrote DragonHunt and DragonRider on it, with considerable effort and Amiga Invaders in AmigaBasic, which was horrendously slow.

No, if I was to continue my BBS work, I would need to buy an IBM-pc, as expensive as it was. And besides, I was intrigued by ANSI and the ability for it to appear on my site. And clearly what I was looking at was the most expensive computer in the store.

The salesclerk's eyes got wide when I sat down in the chair provided, brought up Windows 3.1, brought up command mode, then SHELL, then checked out the system.

I really didn't like Windows 3.1. I loved SHELL which some of the friends I chatted with laughed and said it was Windows 0.0. It was designed for DOS, it was FAST, used text characters only, and while you had the rollerball mouse for use, I hated it and preferred everything to be keyboard.

SHELL also didn't do true multi-tasking, but you could press ALT TAB and change DOS tasks you ran. I loved the simplicity of it !

Seeing the display screen suddenly change and the sound of the monitor making an angry electric click to switching to it's default and seldom-used all text character mode, the storekeeper leapt from around his counter to see what I was up to.

"Can I help you ?" he asked, a little concerned I was going to damage it.

"I just brought up SHELL." I said absently, not even looking at him.

"What is that ?" he asked. He was determined I was going to break this expensive computer now, especially seeing my fingers flying over the keyboard and the odd way I was typing on the keyboard, at an angle as if I didn't bother to align the keys.

I looked at him, "It's just an early version of Windows. First off. I need an IBM to continue Scenario. I'm probably going to buy this one, but I wanted to see how much hard drive space it had."

"Sir, It says right there, 250mb." and he pointed to the card, a little irritated that I didn't read the plastic inverted V card sitting beside it before messing with the computer first.

"Yeah, I know." I nodded agreeably. "But I want to see how much space it has with everything in it right now. I'm probably going to format the drive."

"AFTER you buy it, of course ?" he said. I nodded again. He fidgeted. I did mention I was likely going to buy this, the most expensive computer in the store. He rubbed his hands together, eager for the commission he would earn on this.

* * *

"Do you want this monitor to go with it ?" he offered as I was adjusting the brightness on a roller-button below so I could see the all-text display better.

"Sure." I said easily. Then I read the plastic card beside the computer again, "Whoa ! 25mhz ! This thing is a speed demon !"

"Yessir. Would you like a printer with that ?" the shopkeeper offered, getting a little excited now that I would buy his store.

"Maybe, gimme a sec will ya ..." I murrphed distractedly, "Let me check this first."

"Take your time." He nodded and stood by attentively. I hit a few buttons, then brought up DOS and did the familiar DIR to look at the drive's contents.

"It doesn't come with any video games ?" I finally remarked unhappily, only seeing Windows 3.1 and some stupid office software.

Now something odd about me is I asked questions about how something was stocked, whether it was a computer or something else. Not necessarily because I would make use of what it was, but by what it came with as a bonus showed me how 'generous' I felt the product was. The more cracker jack prizes in it, the more likely I would buy it.

All advertisers had to do was include some silly prize on something and I would buy it. I remembered when I was with my Dad and we were looking at refrigerators. One refrigerator gave you a bonus stuffed Teddy Bear, "Shiver." who had a snowflake belt-buckle.

I pleaded for Dad to buy it so I could get the bear but he said the refrigerator itself wasn't that good a product. I never saw that though.

I just wanted the Teddy Bear and I didn't care how much the darned old refrigerator was.

"There aren't any games already on it," he said bringing me back to awareness, "Yes - well, if you want some entertainment software, then we have a nice selection you can choose from HERE !"

He raised his hand for me to stand and took me over to a far wall. I got up to look. I immediately saw the TRITEL BBS for sale up there, hanging on a hook, a fat box.

And as you know, even today, you always get a bigger box than the actual size of the software inside. A common advertising practice I learned rather early in life, but I liked the hanging the boxes on the wall cause they were so pretty with the neato artwork.

I pulled down the TRITEL box and asked him, "How is this different from Telegard ?"

He smiled weakly, "I - really don't know. Telegard's a - " and he couldn't continue because he really didn't know what I was talking about right then.

I helped him out, "It's a BBS, a free one though, how would TRITEL, this commercial one be any better ?"

He shrugged. I handed him the box and he turned it over looking at it seeing the slick graphics of bright happy shining smiling faces of people on it, obviously logged into a wonderful system over their phone line.

"It - might run faster. I really wouldn't know."

Seeing I lost interest, he put it back then pointed to the left on the wall. "Here are our IBM-pc games. I'm certain you'll find something - "

But I interrupted him, almost tripping over a box on the floor and stooped down to look at it, "Whoa ! You gotta Super Nintendo ?"

There was only one there and it was odd to find that in a computer store. He smiled, I think at this point he realized my brain was going to flit mindlessly from one brightly colored and candy-coated flower to the next until it passed out blissfully from an overdose of sugar.

He hoped surely I wouldn't change my mind and not get the computer for this clearly less expensive product I was salivating after right now so he sniffed disdainfully, "Yes, well - but this will take a television set. We don't sell those here. Now about your computer - "

I looked behind me. Tricia looked utterly bored at the whole proceeding. "Trish ?" I asked her, "I've - got some money left over. Can we buy stop by and buy a new TV, too ?"

She looked at me, "David, it was a surprise but I'll tell you now. You already have a large television set in your bedroom. Premium cable, too."

"How big ?" and I held my hands out measuring about 2-feet.

"48 inches." she said without batting an eye.

The shopkeeper whistled. "What are you some kind of millionaires ?" and he laughed, unable to maintain it and started coughing.

Tricia greeted him with a dirty look. "Oh." he said apologetically. Then he beamed a wide smile at me. Apparently the sky was the limit and he =WAS= determined to make a profit today !

Curiously Judy just watched the repertoire between the 3 of us out of the corner of her eye. She sat her butt down comfortably on an older model flat pc at waist level and curling her legs around the larger box beneath it, played DOOM already running on the computer there using a pc joystick provided.

A small set of speakers blared out the tinny sound of her automatic rifle and the 8-kilohertz sound of dying pixelated SS stormtroopers from the Soundblaster that filtered about the store's quiet background music from an AM radio station. It was clear she was in her "game zone" from the intent look on her face.

Smithers had picked up one of the computer magazines to read about modern technology and the highly awaited 32-bit processor. He was always interested in advancements in technology and science.

I was now tracing my fingers over the SNES box, marveling at the screenshots of other videogames on it. The shopkeeper was determined to keep the tempo however, "Okay, sir. So you STILL do want the computer we talked about earlier, right ?"

* * *

Despite the fact I knew I could afford it, I hesitated and tilted my head to the side uncertainly to the front door. Maybe we could go to a different computer store and find something better ?

The shopkeeper swallowed his tongue in a panic seeing he was losing a sale now, "That DOES comes with a bonus set of speakers and of course Soundblaster and AWE64 MIDI and a JOYSTICK !" He said it like it was something impressive.

But he got me with the mention of the AWE64. That was the cutting edge MIDI sound card and it had incredible ability so there was no argument there, and I could play Midi and .Mod in Cubic later with it.

I shrugged, "Yeah, I guess so. But is that the best computer you have here ?" I was still looking over the Super Nintendo box to see if it came with any free games additionally.

He thought for a moment. Did he have any others in the back that didn't have a price tag on them that he could sell to me for a much more exorbitant price ? He looked to Tricia for a moment. Clearly she was going to be the one paying for everything. But she greeted him with a firm look of shrewd awareness.

Had I entered the store myself he might've easily been able to pull a stunt like that, but not with her here to oversee the shyster.

"No." he said finally, "No, it's - just - what we have on the floor."

He continued, "You want the game deck too ?"

I looked at the price of the Super Nintendo, $220. It was certainly expensive in my book, but I remembered seeing the cool advertising on television about them. I was especially interested in the Legend Of Zelda and F-Zero. I had my old NES somewhere but seeing the graphics, how smooth and slick they were, and listening to the music quality.

I realized that Super Nintendo likely would be my favorite console even 20-years from now.

I was certain of that.

He nodded interrupting my thoughts, "We don't have any games for it though. You'll - have to go elsewhere to get those."

"Tricia ?" I asked looking over my shoulder.

She smiled, "Sure, David. We have some time. I want you to be comfortable, but let's hurry. I've got other things I need to do." and she tapped the watch on her wrist.

I looked at her for a moment. These were all bribes to go along with whatever she had planned. I couldn't put my finger on it, but she definitely wanted us to get married, and apparently the money I had wasn't the real concern. Not if she wanted me to spend it.

That was obvious by looking at where we were going to live. With what I saw and had to speculate, the cost of that place alone would be WELL over a million dollars. Something else was going on here.

"Sir ?" the shopkeeper asked, to keep my focus.

"Ahhm - sure." I said distractedly, "Yeah, we'll take both."

"And a printer, of course ?" he offered.

"Yeah, best you have. Lotsa paper." If Tricia wanted me to spend money, I might as well get what I want.

"Certainly !" he said and this time did go in the back to pull out a printer still in it's box. Maybe he could get some markup past the woman I walked in with.

"Will this do ? It =IS= the best one we have. It prints one page every 5-seconds and it prints in 3-colors ! Silent operation, too !"

I nodded, "Yeah, that'll be great !"

The shopkeeper bit back a smile and without further encouragement patted me on my back. He liked customers like me who didn't ask the price of anything. He wished he had more of them.

Suddenly Tricia spoke up seeing the shopkeeper was grinning way too widely now, "How much for the printer ?"

He scowled but swallowed it, "Oh ? Umm - miss this is - " and he looked at the box for a moment where there was no price.

"Yes, $1,000. A definite bargain, the best technology on the market !" and he set the box back down in front of me. I immediately put my hand on it, marveling in it's weight. I was the kind of person that the heavier something was, the more valuable I thought it was. Of course, I also thought if you painted a car red it would drive faster on the road.

Tricia stepped forward, apparently knowing the actual price of computer hardware. "That seems a bit much for just a printer, don't you think, honey ?"

The shopkeeper squirmed, "Oh. Well, let me think." he said scratching his head for emphasis, "Yes - it's - yes, it's on SALE - today !"

"What's the discount, then ?" Tricia asked seeing now what was going on here and decided she had better pay more attention.

"It's - " and he floundered on words for a moment as Tricia stared intently at him, before finally spitting out, "half off !" and he laughed weakly.

She stepped over, crouched down, and looked at the printer closely. It appeared to be maybe a $350 or $400 printer. "So it'll be $500 instead ?"

* * *

"Yes, of course." he said and - the best way to describe it was 'scuttled away like a crab' back to his register to ring it up as if the sale were final before she had more questions.

"You didn't tell him how much that monitor was." Tricia offered impatiently. She wasn't going to let a single item get past.

"Oh ? That - particular monitor ? It's $700." He rang it up without her approval. Surely she wasn't going to argue that.

Tricia surprised him though and added, "Sure, that's fine. They are expensive, aren't they ?"

He laughed heartily now, dollar bills glazed in his eyes, "Yes ma'am ! They certainly are !"

Tricia was quiet for a moment. The shopkeeper busily rang up everything. Then he addressed me again.

"Did you want any pc games in addition to that ?" he asked me from over his counter.

I went back to the game aisle and looked. It would be YEARS before IBM-pc got anything even close to what the SNES could do, especially it's incredible MODE 7 graphic technique I was reading about in a videogame magazine. I know there was talk of a NES emulator coming out for IBM, but it wasn't just out yet.

"Nono." I replied, "The Super N will cover that."

"Well, let's see then. That's $500 for the printer, $220 for the game unit, $1300 for the computer. $700 for the monitor, and a stack of 500 perforated paper will run you $35. Anything else ?"

I slapped my forehead, "Oh man, I forgot ! I'm using a 1200 baud modem. Do you have a 2400 ?"

"Yes, we do." He immediately rang it up, an additional $120, and rushed to the back to grab the unpriced box.

"That's $120." he told Tricia, as he knew she was keeping track of all of it.

She nodded. Technology, especially new, was still pretty expensive.

He breathed a sigh of relief and continued, "Okay, so with your total of $2755 and the modem at $120 that is $2875 with tax to a grand total of $3105 even."

"Just charge it." Tricia said and walked over to pay for it. Smithers and Judy, seeing we were done here approached the register.

A familiar ching-ching as he opened the register and closed it again quickly signifying a credit card purchase. A fat receipt printed out the top. I immediately grabbed it to look at it interestedly but Tricia held her hand out patiently.

"Come on, David. I need that for my records, unless you've got that much with you right now, hun."

"Noo ?" I said, a little hurt she would say something mean like that. She took it from me and rolled it up in her purse, giving me a friendly rub on my back that turned into a pat on my head. Wow, was she always going to do this ?

"Did you two want anything ?" the shopkeeper asked both Judy and Smithers. It would be awesome if he could get them to buy something in addition to what was already being sold.

"Just here for the ride." Smithers said in his deep friendly voice and set the magazine on his table.

"I see, and you, miss ?"

Judy shook her head, still in her game zone. "I want a Super Nintendo too !" she said excitedly, clearly more interested in electronics for their entertainment value.

"Not a computer after all ?" Tricia smirked with a barely concealed smile.

"Naww, I just wanna game system. And, " she looked at me for a moment, "we ARE going to a video game store now, right ?"

Before Tricia could answer the shopkeeper pointed at the front door, "There's a Funcoland not far from here. They sell what you both want. Just take a left out of this driveway. Travel down till you see Kip's and then turn right, you can't miss it."

"Thank you," Tricia said. "If we have any problems, we'll be back."

"Yes ma'am." he said and nodded respectfully. And then we were out the door, with his little brass bell dingling. A sound to him, almost as pleasant as his cash register's bell. Another satisfied customer !

Smithers piled all our purchases in the back trunk of the limousine and then we were headed for Funcoland !


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nice chapter..moreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Posted 7 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


7 Years Ago

There will be, a little later today. I desperately need to get some housework done. Was shifting fur.. read more
Riding the Rainbow

7 Years Ago

don't worry:)

7 Years Ago

Yep, well, and the last chapter is posted. Think I'll take a break till next Tuesday and start up th.. read more
Another great work of art DW! I loved it! Thanks for sharing it!


Posted 7 Years Ago


7 Years Ago

Thanks, CW. I know years ago I used to hang out at a computer store called, "Compushop." Wow - even .. read more
A fantastic chapter! You my friend are extremely talented! Thank you for sending me the read request!

Posted 7 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


7 Years Ago

You're very welcome, doctor ! I'm glad to have you visit ! And I put that text in blue up there caus.. read more
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