Retro-computing and grieving


Paul Ford has written a haunting, beautiful essay about his voyage into the emulation of extinct, obsolete computers and the way that this has allowed him to come to grips with the death of an older friend and father figure, who helped him through a very difficult period of adolescence through their shared love of computers.

Computers, existing in their state of constant near-brokenness, are the locus of infinite life-or-death heroic struggles that only we ourselves are ever privy to (or really, care about). Looking at these old OS screencaps makes the memories come flooding back -- the boundless frustration of a machine that would not work, the incredible accomplishment of making it do what it was told, the promise of creativity and community through the ungainly screens and clunky keyboards. Ford's essay captures this beautifully.

This is how a network comes together. You bought something and then you wanted to understand it, so you went out and found other people. You found them via posters in hallways, or word of mouth, or by purchasing a magazine that caught your eye and then reading the ads in the back.

You’d go to a party and browse through the host’s record collection, chat about the album, and maybe decide to go see a concert together—or in some cases you’d start a band.

The Sixth Stage
of Grief Is
Retro-computing
[Paul Ford/Message]