things that make one's heart beat faster

M

y dad and I decided to get our first computer right around 1980. The deal was that dad would kick in half of the money if I could raise the other half and, believe it or not, I saved my allowance for over a year and actually managed to put together the necessary finances.

My dad and I made the choice of computer together, although I don't remember now why exactly we chose the TRS-80 Color Computer. I really wanted an Apple ][ but it was way too out of my price range. The Commodore 32 was for girls, The Texas Instruments TI-99 and Sinclair Z-80 were for pussies, and the Atari home computer was nothing more than a glorified videogame console. You had to load in a special cartridge just to program, for God's sake!

It was almost unbearable to wait week after week and month after month, watching my two-dollar allowance slowly accumulate at a snail's pace. I used to spend hours at Radio Shack, teaching myself BASIC at the store's computers and driving the 16-year-old minimum-wage employees crazy. I used to dream about the day I would have my own sleek-gray box of chips, giving it voice-controlled commands like a HAL that has not gone crazy.

I've owned four computers since that first purchase back at the dawn of the "Me" decade. But nothing will ever replace the excitement of my sweet 4K baby. My 16-color hotrod. My lean, mean computing machine.

The pillow book of jason pettus.