Tuesday the 9th of October 2001, I arrive home from TAFE sometime in the evening. Just as I was about to make coffee, my mother brings my attention to a note stuck to the refrigerator. It basically said that Toby rang and to call him back as soon as possible. I found this to be very strange.
Why? Well, first a bit of background. Toby and I have a lot in common. One of these things is that we spend a fair chunk of our time on computers, on the internet, reading newsgroups, etc. Whenever we find something interesting, we e-mail each other. A lot of our communication involves e-mail, to the point where 90% of what I receive comes from him. So, upon hearing that he phoned, I figured that it must be either very important or urgent. So, naturally, I rang him immediately.
"You're probably wondering what could be so important as to prompt a phone call" he said. That, I was.
"Hey Emil," he asked "...in computers, what's your 'Holy Grail'?"
There were quite a few computers which I lusted after, some more easily obtainable than others. It was just that I wasn't sure how 'Holy Grail' he meant. Really, there are 'Holy Grails' and then there are 'HOLY GRAILS', so I decided to be rather realistic at first. I soon discovered that Toby was on to something really good. The conversation went somewhat like this:
Toby: "...what's your 'Holy Grail'?"
Emil: "Ummm, NeXTstation?"
Toby: "Nup, older."
Emil: "Apple Lisa?"
Toby: "Older still"
Toby: "Keep going."
Toby: "Very close!"
Toby: "Creator, not company."
Emil: "Ed deCastro?! Data General Nova?"
Toby: "No, I'm serious."
Emil: "WOW!!! How the hell will I get my parents to let me keep it?"
Anyhow, he went on to tell me how he was reading newsgroups when he came across a local guy selling his minicomputer collection. Toby was interested in the PDP-11/34 and VAX-11/750, coming from a UNIX background, and figured that the Nova 3 would be more suited to me, who enjoys programming on 'bare metal' at the machine code level (yes, I'm a masochist). At $250 Australian, it was also something I could afford. Not surprisingly I became very excited and decided I didn't need any coffee after all. I had a hard time trying to sleep that night.
The next few days were spent on the internet religiously gathering as much information on the Nova as possible. I discovered that Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computers, lusted after the Nova while in college. I also came across Carl Friend's Minicomputer Museum which provided the most information of all. I was hooked. I drooled over the pictures, the elegance and efficiency of the instruction set, and the possibility of me actually owning one.
It was around this time that my Uncle was visiting. He came into my room, wondering what mischief I was up to. With great enthusiasm, I showed him the photographs, explained it's history, told him about the offer, and probably bored him to death in the process. "Well, if you want it that bad," he said, "...I'll look after it for you if your parents don't let you keep it here". I grinned a large idiot-grin and within minutes sent Toby an e-mail to tell him the excellent news. My problem had been solved!