Funnyman Aditya Kulkarni battles with his first computer in Part 1 of this two part story.
Back when I was a kid, I used to get a lot of toys as gifts, but they never used to last. I loved opening up my toys to see what’s inside them. My dad used to get me toys, and I used to pretend to play with them for a while until my dad was watching. As soon as he went away, I used to take a screw driver and open them up, and fascinatingly dissect all the parts inside them. Of course, I could never put them back, so when my dad used to ask what happened to the new toy he bought me, I used to say that our kid next door stole them from me. The poor kid got a bad reputation, and I got new toys.
Anyway, this fiddling was not limited to just toy cars. My dad had just bought me a brand new computer. This was way back in the late ‘90s when computers cost more than a year’s supply of household groceries. My dad thought of it as an investment though, since he figured that introducing me to new technology would pique my curiosity and help me learn lots of new things. He was right, I did learn a lot of new things. Mostly cheat codes to games like Prince of Persia and how to find secret levels in Dangerous Dave.
After the computer was around for several weeks, I started to wonder how it works. During this time, they used to teach us ‘Computer Science’ in school, so I figured that the teacher would know. So I went and asked her if we students could open up one of the school computers to study what’s inside it.
Me: “Teacher, can you open up the computer and show what’s inside?”
Teacher: “Why do you want to see what’s inside? I already drew the block diagram on the board yesterday. What were you doing then?”
Me: “No, I mean, can we see what’s REALLY inside. There can’t just be three boxes called ALU, CPU and Memory… there has to be cooler stuff inside…”
Teacher: “You’re not supposed to open up computers!”
Teacher: “Because there are viruses inside!”
Me: “You mean computer viruses? But…”
Teacher: “Yes, computers have viruses inside them just like dogs have rabies inside them. If you get one of those computer viruses, you could fall sick and DIE!”
Teacher: “That’s right. These are the real things that they don’t teach in your text books. Listen to me!”
I took what the teacher said to heart, and got really freaked out. I mean, rabies was bad enough, but what would happen if I really got a computer virus? Scary stuff! I decided never to open up my other toys, God knows what other viruses are inside them.
That feeling lasted about two weeks, before I was itching to open up the computer again.
I had a friend in my class who was also interested in these kinds of things. The two of us gathered the courage one day and decided to really open up the computer to see what’s inside. The opportunity came when my parents went out one day, and my friend and I were left alone at home. We decided to take the big step.
I got a big can of cockroach killer spray (in case any viruses jumped out), and then proceeded towards the computer. I had the screwdriver in my hand and my heart was thumping. As I screwed apart the back of the computer, my friend was starting to panic.
Friend: “What if we die?”
Me: “At least we’ll die bravely!”
Friend: “Should we get a flashlight? I’ve heard that the dark monsters are afraid of light. The viruses may be too…”
Me: “Keep quiet… Just be ready with the cockroach spray of something happens…”
I unscrewed the cabinet from the back, one screw at a time. When all the four screws came out, both of us looked at each other, prepared to face whatever monsters would jump out of the computer. I slowly removed the side cover plate out and…
It was absolutely brilliant. There were no monsters inside! Just a beautiful collection of multi-colored fans, wires and cables. At the bottom was a big circuit board, with literally thousands of shiny metallic wires soldered. It was like a giant city for little electronic chips. Our experiment was a success!
Before my parents returned, I had screwed the side panel back on to the computer. We decided never to mention that we had opened up a super expensive, delicate piece of sensitive machinery to my Dad. He would have flipped out.
But since we had opened it up once, we couldn’t just stop then! We kept up with our guilty pleasure of waiting till there was no one in the house, then secretly opening up the case and going through the insides of the computer. One of us would constantly be on the watch near the door to warn if someone unexpectedly came back. Once we had our fill, we’d careful hide away all evidence of our actions, and hide away all the screwdrivers and other jumpers we’d removed from the computer below the bed. I guess this is what the other kids did with their Playboy magazines.
After a few weeks of this, we’d learnt enough about the workings of the computer to know about motherboard jumpers and clock speeds. I remember thinking at the time that the motherboard looked ABSOLUTELY nothing like what the teacher was telling us was inside a computer. It was like telling kids that there is a giant chariot pulling the sun across the sky everyday, and the kids believed that, never asking any questions, just believing. I became convinced since then that my school was a big fraud.
Anyway, so this was the time that the Video CD arrived on the scene. One small shiny silver disk contained a whole movie! Someone told us that we could watch the movie on a computer, provided that we had a fast enough computer. My friend, the same guy that helped me open up the computer, got hold of one of these disks containing the movie Basic Instinct. We’d heard a lot about this movie, and wanted to check it out ourselves. So, as usual, when there was no one in the house, we popped the CD inside the computer, and waited for the good times to start.