My first ever computer was a Sinclair ZX Spectrum, inspired by seeing and trying out my uncle’s. Before that “computers” were rather nebulous things represented in films and TV by large white rooms with cabinets full of equipment. Finding out you could get one in your own house and seeing all the things you could do with it was mind-blowing to 10 year old me.

After dabbling through swaps and loans a few years later, I had now tried out / owned a Dragon 32, Oric Atmos and eventually the Ferrari of 8-bit computers: an Atari 800XL.

A couple of years after that I got my first 16 bit computer - an Atari 520STfm. This was a long love affair with 16/32-bit Atari and I upgraded to an Atari STe then a Mega STe and finally the much coveted TT030. I became involved with the Atari user group scene and produced disk-zines and edited the STAG (Scottish TOS/Atari User Group) newsletter too.

That was me until the late 1990s when computer gaming took a leap with the explosion of 3D graphics cards and first-person shooters and reeled me back in.

While still on my MegaSTe I discovered something called the GNU project and I was using a few of their free (as in beer and speech) bits of software. In the mid 1990s I discovered that the free software movement had a whole operating system now, based on the Linux kernel and using the GNU tools. I dabbled with this a little on my Atari hardware (and latterly some Macs - running Atari systems using “MagiC Mac” on that hardware led to trying native linux too). When I picked up a couple of x86 PCs in the late 1990s, enter Slackware - a GNU/Linux distribution on a bunch of CD-ROMs and I was hooked.

So by the late 1990s the Atari scene was finally dying off and I had mostly what we now call “PC” hardware around. I was getting a little bit into games again so I was running a windows system with GNU/Linux servers and when Aliens versus Predator was released in 1999 by Rebellion, I got into 3D GPUs and hardware upgrading for a couple of years. I constantly wrestled with myself over using MS stuff but a “games PC” or dual-boot PC lingered for a few years.

Id software’s habit of open-sourcing their game engines and my main interest being Quake games and related mods meant I was back to mostly spending my time on GNU/Linux and getting “PC” games to run by various means had my interest. Still there was a time of straddling the lines for Games and Music software but eventually by the early 2000s I was 95% GNU/Linux (mostly SuSE then Gentoo for a while). A couple of games came out that tempted me to keep a windows partition that was completely gone by the late 2000s and since then I purely use Arch linux at home, including my “Games PC” - A Valve Steam Deck and various distros on my remote servers.