Once upon a time there were only single computers in the house.
In 1982 there was a Commodore 64 connected to the TV with an A/B switch.
In 1985 a desk, a Commodore monitor, and a dot-matrix printer were added.
In 1986 came an Amiga 1000.
In 1990 came an HP IIP laser printer. Then an Amiga 3000 along with an MS-DOS Bridgeboard and A-Max Macintosh emulators.
In 1991 a 486 system became the sole work horse running Windows for Workgroups with 16 MB of RAM and a 512 MB hard drive.
All but the Commodore 64 were connected to the outside world with a telephone line modem. Online bulletin boards and Compuserve were popular before the world wide web exploded.
In 1997 a Pentium I system with 64 MB of RAM and a 3.2 GB hard drive was added and networked to the 486 with a cross-over cable. The Pentium I system ran Windows NT4. Later the RAM was bumped to 128 MB and then again to 256 MB — the physical maximum possible. Somewhere along the way a 40 GB hard drive replaced the original drive.
A 17 inch 4x3 LCD monitor replaced a 17 inch Viewsonic CRT that gobbled 75 watts of electricity.
Later a Pentium II system with 448 MB of RAM was added that served the primary purpose of testing.
A IOGear GC612A KVM connected the Pentium I and II systems.
Three computers ended the feasibility of cross-over cables. A Linksys WRT 54GL 1.1 router with DD-WRT joined the home.
In 2003 an HP 4200 LaserJet with a duplex tray replaced the HP IIP.
In 2006 a 24/7 1 Mbps wireless ISP connection replaced the frustrations of dial-up.
In 2007 a dual core AMD system with 2 GB of RAM and a 320 GB drive became the primary office system.
Two years later the final digital TV switchover occurred. A new LCD TV replaced a 30 year old CRT TV. A home theater PC (HTPC) was added. To enjoy Gbit network connections, the office and HTPC were connected with a Gbit switch, which was connected to the Linksys router.
A pseudo server role and backup strategies prompted adding a second 640 GB hard drive to the office system.
A 19 inch wide screen LCD monitor replaced the 17 inch monitor, which was relegated to the older computers with the KVM.
In 2013 saw a Panasonic cordless Bluetooth phone system introduced to the fold.
Soon thereafter a VOIP ATA joined the network. The land-line phone account was terminated.
Later that year a Thinkpad T400 laptop provided mobility and a 620n JetDirect network card moved the HP Laser Jet printer from the office computer to the network.
Add an electronic ebook reader.
In 2015 a refurbished system running Windows 7 prompted learning basics about VLANs to keep the malware magnet isolated from the LAN.
Supporting other people required a second VLAN port to quickly connect temporary systems without affecting the LAN.
A dead motherboard in the office system prompted redesigning the network with a dedicated server. Media files were moved from the HTPC to the server and the HTPC replaced with a smaller footprint media player.
A second Gbit switch provided more flexibility.
The 486, Pentium I, and Pentium II systems still run but have been retired to basement shelves.
All of this technology tends to improve the quality of life. There is a tradeoff. More maintenance and administration. Sometimes headaches and unwanted challenges.
Often there are moments when I miss the simpler times of a single computer in the house.