It's that time of year again - Dream Machine time! In honor of our 15th Dream Machine we thought we'd go back, way back, to the very first Dream Machine. We got Online Reviews Editor Michael Brown, the only current staff member who was also around back then, to share his thoughts on the experience and we've got the whole original story. Come with us now on a journey, a journey of 24MB memory, reminisce with us over SCSI, laugh over recommendations to upgrade "later this year" to IEEE. And stick around for the rest of the week - we've got more Dream Machine retrospectives on the way, as well as this years wicked rig! (Also, check out our 2004 predictions for this years Dream Machine!)
Anyone who tells you life was better “back in the good ol’ days” is either a fool or a liar—maybe both. I was Reviews Editor when we euthanized the shambling zombie of a magazine known as CD-ROM Today so that it could be reborn as the too-cool-for-its-own-good boot (the progenitor of Maximum PC). That was back in September 1996, and the components we used to build a no-holds-barred PC—the very first Dream Machine—were so weak by today’s standards that the machine would likely die in a pile if it tried to run Peggle.
The idea of building your own PC was a whole new concept back then. Most people bought prefab boxes and upgraded the weaker components (if the PCI slots weren’t blocked by ribbon or power cables, that is. Most manufacturers assumed no one would ever open the case.) Looking back, I’m proud that we recommended high-end components—including a 200MHz Intel Pentium CPU and Matrox’s MGA Millennium videocard with a 4MB frame buffer—but I’m disappointed that we used a generic “full-height metal tower” and “any 300-watt power supply.”