This is the Modem World: Why don’t I crash?

Each week Joshua Fruhlinger contributes This is the Modem World, a column dedicated to exploring the culture of consumer technology.

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My first computer was a Commodore VIC-20. It raged with 3.5K of RAM, a high-speed cassette deck, and built-in BASIC. I used to copy game programs string-by-string from the back of COMPUTE! magazine — tens of thousands of lines of code — and small errors were not an option. One syntax error and the program wouldn’t work. When I did make those errors, I’d go back, line by line, and check for differences. There was nothing — at the time — more annoying than seeing hours of code crash because of one bad POKE statement.

That digital fastidiousness has stuck with me since. I keep all my computers’ files in order, keep operating systems updated, backup constantly to a remote storage device and quickly go after a machine that’s behaving strangely. The net result, and I may be tempting fate, is that I have never had a computer completely fail in the thirty years I’ve been using them.

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