Thursday, January 5, 2012

No. 882 – Winnebago

Performer: Foo Fighters
Songwriter: Dave Grohl
Original Release: Big Me maxi-single
Year: 1996
Definitive Version: None

When I moved back to Columbus in 1994, I made a list of everything I needed (wanted) for my apartment and slowly crossed off items. The last thing on my list was one of the first things that I put on it: a new computer. In February 1996, I bought my first Mac.

I had had a hand-me-down IBM clone—a Zenith—since 1986 (still running DOS and Word 1.0!), but I was a Mac guy from the time I got to play around on one at Northwestern. It seemed so cool to me, but I couldn’t afford to lay out the scratch at first, and I couldn’t justify the high price later when I already had a perfectly good computer for what little I did on it.

But when I joined the Dispatch, I had enough money to make the buy, and I had the killer app: email and the Internet. The Zenith couldn’t do either. But when it comes to big-ticket purchases, I pull a very slow trigger. So it still took me almost 2 years to get my first Mac, and when I did, it cost me $2,500 after I threw in a printer and a Zip drive (100MB disks!).

This was the dark period for Apple when Steve Jobs was gone, and they were doing nothing more than churning out one boring beige box after another to slowly dwindling interest. I didn’t care. Now I had a way to get to that exciting new world—the Internet—to which I had only previously had access at work.

At the time, as you might recall, the Internet was made up of several companies that were trying like crazy to control the environment: AOL, Prodigy, CompuServe (down the street from where I lived during high school). Apple had its own (very lame) ecosystem, but I can’t say that I ever spent a moment there. I was too busy clicking the icon of the open road outside of town. That’s where the wild things were: baseball discussion groups, song listservs that would post album release dates and porn. (Hey, I had to see what was out there … for educational purposes.)

I set up my computer in the guest room in Gahanna on my cheap Sauder hand-me-down desk that had been bare for years, and I’d have music on the stereo as I surfed away on my new toy. The Big Me single, which came out at about that time, had a bunch of additional songs on it, and Winnebago was the one that stuck with me, which seemed appropriate as I tooled down the open road.

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