While I love my ThinkPad T14 laptop, vintage computers also factor into my workflow. Sometimes a modern machine is just too much for writing. All too often, email, social media, chat and a myriad of other tidbits interfere with what I originally logged on to my computer to accomplish.
As a result, I sometimes drift back in time and use some vintage computers when I need to focus. Before I go too far, let me say that vintage may not mean the same to everyone. To me, vintage is somewhere between outdated and ancient.
For example, a white MacBook from 2007 is old and no longer runs an updated operating system. But I would not call it vintage since it still supports most modern computing tasks. It’s just outdated.
On the other end of the spectrum, a mainframe from the 50’s that consumes an entire room is definitely vintage, but not particularly usable today. It’s ancient.
I have some vintage computers that are somewhere in the middle. Vintage, but still usable. And I can still find parts for them.
My Texas Instruments TI-99/4a (above), for example, is not suitable for my writing needs. Instead, I enjoy playing games and fooling around with Basic programming on this machine. It’s something I enjoy doing for fun.
My PowerBook G4, on the other hand, can run a variety of word processors, text editors and version control systems. While it is certainly a vintage machine, it is also capable of handling my writing needs.
In some ways, the second type of vintage computer can be better suited to a task than a modern powerful computer. When I write, I opt for my PowerBook G4 or my new addition — a PowerMac G4 tower. Both of these are from the early 2000’s.
Why would I make that choice? How could a 20-year-old computer be better than my fabulous ThinkPad?
While the newer ThinkPad is certainly a more capable machine, the PowerBook provides a key advantage to writing fiction. It lacks the power to do most internet-related activity. What it does poorly is it’s greatest strength in this case.
For example, browsing the web on vintage computers is painful, if not impossible. Social media is not worth the effort. Email is a pain to set up because of modern authentication mechanisms. Essentially, it sucks at the things that distract me when I write.
If I sit down at a vintage computer to write, that is exactly what I will do. The usual distractions are simply too much of a hassle. That and it’s fun for a geek like me to spend time with old tech.