Michał Sapka's website

My First Computer

I’ve been using computers since 1994. Of course, it was always a PC (or Mac) - I never owned a console. I now use a borrowed PS4, but that’s a story for a different occasion.

My first computer was a 386 with a whopping 60MB hard drive. Unfortunately, that’s all I know. Even though my mother worked in IT back then, my understanding of what RAM or graphic card did was zilch, and therefore never bothered to learn the values. The machine was a gift for my first communion, and it was a marvel that it existed. She used all her contacts to gather equipment, as the gear was not available or extremely expensive in the first years after communism fell in Poland. It will be years till one can even go to a store and buy one! I was the first kid I knew with a computer, and soon after, being “the kid with a computer” became my personality. If my memory serves me right, it would be a few years before two other kids from my class got their computers, and we became friends.

Computers were seen as a passport into the future. They were not a commodity as they are now (or rather were, as kids don’t even have a computer nowadays). They were expensive and not bought on a whim. My mother saw it as a way to build my future. And here I am, 30 years later, as a backend developer.

This random birthday photo is the only photo of the machine.
This random birthday photo is the only photo of the machine.

What I remember the most was the magic around every startup. When I pressed the power button, beeps started. I had no idea what they meant, but they were cool. And then a few screens on English words, which I also didn’t understand. And finally


I was 9, and my mother was the only person who knew anything about computers, so she taught me everything. But, of course, 90% of the time spent in front of the screen was used to play games. I had two sources of those in the early days: From time to time, my mother’s friends & co-workers had some new games or applications. This is I got my hands on Civilization or Wolfenstein 3d. A store nearby sold shareware on floppies. Those were cheap enough to buy, and I loved everyone equally. I know some people nowadays are masters of Doom or remember every secret in some obscure game. Not me; I sucked hard as I suck now. I have no reflexes, so anything requiring it was a constant trial and error. I remember my cousin spending most summer vacations with us; we could beat those games together. He later became the third provider of games for me, as he arrived with a box full of discettes. I got my hands on Syndicate or Wings of Fury this way.

Another problem was that none (and I mean none) of us knew any English. Sure, we were taught it, but it will be years until I can understand anything on the screen. The “CHANGE” button on the city screen in Civilization? Total secret. I’ve spent months playing it without knowing how to change the production of a city. It was fun, nevertheless. I was also not younger than 20 until I discovered that the icon of the Settler unit is not some Yoda-lookalike.

I remember the first drawing tool. I have yet to learn what it was called, but it had buttons on top from which I would play for hours with a simple flood fill tool. The computer was slow enough that filling any area was not instantaneous, but it showed astonishing progress when the algorithm tried to do its thing. Sometimes I would draw complex figures to see how (and if) the computer would try to fill them.

I remember trying to beat the first levels of Prince of Persia, but I have never finished it.

Commander Striker, Wolfenstein 3d, Dynamo, Duke Nukem II, Lost Vikings, Inspector Gadget Lost in Time, Lotus III. I spend hours playing those. I was to finish some - some were much too demanding. But I’ve played them constantly. I would have no patience today to replay a game a dozen times.

But the warmest memories are around Put Put on The Moon. I have played it the most. I have memorized it. Even now, I remember a lot. And then Put Put goes to the Parade, which would always break after the initial intro. Stunts was another game I wanted to play but could not due to technical problems.

What a trip down memory lane. I love those memories and will defend PC Speaker with my own life. This doesn’t change the fact that a few years later, I couldn’t hold my excitement when we upgraded to Pentium 150.