The Joys of Windows 95

Windows 95 has encountered an illegal operation and must be – CRASH

Oh man, Windows 95. Did I ever tell you how excited I was when Windows 95 was released? The year was 1995, and I was 7 or so. Back then I was in Grade 2, pretty god damn young, but I’d been playing with computers since I was 2. I didn’t get to see Windows 1 or 2, but I did get to see Windows 3 and a few MS DOS versions. My friends and I were all into computers; we’d go to each other’s houses and talk about all sorts of shit that we probably had no business knowing back in Grade 1 and 2; who had the fastest processor, who was going to get what upgrade and when, and whether or not our games would actually run. We were also members of The Sneakernet, and avid bootdisk makers to try to free up more RAM to get voices in X-WING or something. Wow, we were mad. Most other kids worried about getting a new Jurassic Park toy. I wanted more RAM. Most kids got upset because they broke their favourite helicopter. I threw fits over sound drivers failing to work.

Anyway, my old man was into computers at that time too, as were the fathers of all my best friends. Since the Sarge (my pet name for the old man) liked keeping on the bleeding edge back then, he went out and bought an upgrade copy of Win95. Now piracy of major things like an operating system was common even back then, but Win95 was harder to pirate because few of us had CD burners back in those days. Actually, nobody I knew had a CD burner. Win95 came on floppy disks and as a CD, but come on, who would want a floppy disk version of Win95? I was supposed to be cool, so we got the CD version. Of course it was an upgrade version, but like today an “upgrade” version means bugger all if you’ve got the skills to hax the megahutz (by which I mean use Google).

So I ended up being the first with Windows 95, though I never bothered to install it on my old 486DX with something mad like 8MB of RAM. That thing had trouble with Duke Nukem 3D, so Win95 wasn’t really on the cards. But Sarge, who had a Pentium 100 (as in 100mhz, which isn’t even enough to power a smart phone these days), installed it on his system. And man, I thought I was hot shit. Everybody came over to see Windows 95. “Look at that video! It looks so cool!” they’d say as we watched the stupid interactive sampler program that showed off such “awesome” titles as Deadly Tide, Hellbender, and Monster Truck Madness. Actually Hellbender and MTM weren’t so bad, maybe we’ll get to them some day. But Deadly Tide? I’d COMPLETELY forgotten about that game until just recently. Needless to say, it was complete and total bullshit.

Recently I decided to try installing Windows 95 on a virtual machine, mostly for old games. I had Win98 working fine, but Win95 seemed like a special challenge. And it was. Over the time period I spent reinstalling it, it managed to bluescreen several times. And you know what caused it? Audio drivers. Man, the number of times audio drivers caused Win9 to crash on me back in the old days were astronomical. If there was a crash, it was probably caused by them. I had to laugh. Then I had to use this clunky piece of shit, with its crappy Explorer interface and teal-green desktop. My god, it’s a piece of shit. Still, I enjoyed every second of using the OS, even though it refused to run Virtual Open Heart Surgeon better than Win98. Goddamn that game for not loading save games properly, and for randomly crashing during surgery!

Anyway it really does show how far we’ve come with computing. A decade later we were still on Windows XP, which even then made Win95 look outdated. Now half a decade later we’ve on Win7, which makes XP look outdated. The Sampler program, which catalogues all the exciting developments like Microsoft Publisher and Close Combat, makes me laugh and smile. Back then it was a pretty promising age, and The Internet was still fairly young in the eye of the average user. But then again the ‘average user’ was different to what they are today.

I shut down the virtual machine pretty quickly, but not before it threw up a BSOD one last time. Well, I suppose it’s entitled to shit me just once more. Nevermind!


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