Tell me your "Saw my first SGI" Story. I will tell mine.

7spirals

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Sep 7, 2022
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I graduated high school in 1993. I wasn't aware that SGI even existed until that Summer. I started seeing advertisements for SGI hardware and software off and on in magazines I was reading. However, I was mostly just able to get Computer Shopper and other PeeCee stuff at newstands and libraries. However, when the Indy came out I saw a lot more advertisements.

Then I moved across the state (Texas) to a town in the North of the state. There was a PC service and sales shop there which was probably the biggest in the area. It was run by a crook and his wife. The guys' wife wanted to get into video production and animation in the worst way. The problem was she was dumb as a post didn't know how to build a business. What she did know how to do was spend her husbands money on sportscars and SGI hardware.

I remember dropping by to get some PC parts one day and there was this office with a glass facade and a trio of SGIs. They had an Indy, a vanilla Indigo2, and a second R10k Indigo2 with Max Impact. I only know this now because at the time I was absolutely starstruck. I'd only seen ugly beige PC garbage up to that point. The coolest hardware I'd seen before that was a Quadra 700 or maybe one of the black IBM PC (I think some of the early Aptiva hardware was black and that was very rare/cool at the time). I also remember the MacTV was black and wanted one of those, too. However, I'd already fallen for Unix and I was drooling over those SGIs more than just about anything... ever.

So, there's this lady in there playing with PowerAnimator or something like it and I just kind of drooled and nearly wet myself from outside their fancy room. I left feeling like a PC loser. I mean... that's what I was! However, the story doesn't end there by a long shot.

A couple of years went by (it's now like 1995 or 1996) and this little computer reseller starts to wobble. It seems the owner had been doing some shady accounting and was shorting a lot of his creditors. One day the bank shows up with some marshals and locks the whole place up. The owner and his wife had literally skipped down and abandoned the whole operation (including the SGIs).

There was a notice on the door about the bank etc.. So, I called this bank. I asked if they were going to sell any of the company property and they indicated they were going to have an auction on site in two weeks. I was thrilled and I showed up for the auction hoping that my $900 I had saved (I was in college) was enough to score one of the SGIs. However, I was outbid on each and every one. The Indy went for $1200 and I was pretty bummed, but I talked to the lady who bought it (another pie-in-the-sky artist who didn't really need the machine). I gave her my number and told her that I was a Unix expert (and I was and am) and if she needed any help I'd do it for nearly free if she'd just give me some time to explore the machine etc... She demurred (I was 19 and she was smoking hot @ 20-something and I probably had too many problems looking at her face) but took my number.

About two weeks later, this lady calls me. I was pretty happy because, hey, cute girl + SGI = awesome, right? I did get to go over there and help her with some licensing problems and just basic Unix stuff. She was also missing some IRIX Applications she wanted. I figured 'inst' and just dove head first into the OS to absorb everything I could in the shortest time. However, I only got a couple of sessions because I'd fixed all the issues she had and I didn't have any more excuses to touch the hardware (the SGI, not the lady, lol).

However, after getting to know me this lady warmed up a bit and I :did: fix all the problems she encountered so she gave my number to someone who gave my number to someone else at a big power company that had their engineering headquarters nearby and had tons of SGIs used for CAD/CAM stuff. That was still the coolest desktop environment I've seen at any business. Guys were using PeoplePages, InPerson, WebFront and lots of web-based internal sharing, Gauntlet Firewall, and all kinds of SGI bad-ass software and hardware. However, they were traditional engineering types not Unix nuts like me. So, I scored a few 1099 consulting gigs at the engineering firm, configuring various SGI bits (storage, dials & buttons hardware, video related stuff, etc..).

Seeing the SGI's work together blew me away. I'd seen Macs and, by that point NeXT, hardware in a workgroup, but nothing that worked so amazingly well. This is one thing I bring up when people cry about how insecure IRIX is. I've always found that it's pretty easy to secure the OS and "blame" the issues with security on it being so accessible as a desktop OS.

While working at the engineering firm, I _still_ didn't ever get my own SGI. It was not until 1999 when I moved to Colorado and I met Greg Douglas (of the venerable Reputable Systems). When I met Greg, it was because I was buying a couple of Indy workstations. I got an R4600 @ 200Mhz and an R5k @ 180Mhz. I also scored the Galileo video board and breakout box.

I got to be friends with Greg and used to go with him to man his booth at the computer swap meet in Golden, CO. I really miss Reputable and being able to pop down to Greg's warehouse and see him playing Quake3 on Octane2's and other fun stuff. Nowadays, I have a Tezro and an R12k@400Mhz O2 I really enjoy and I am still doing consulting work from time to time (for the government mostly) on IRIX issues.

How did you first see an SGI? Where were you at? How did you feel?
 
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first time I ever saw one in person was at Kinko's print shop in 1992/3 or so. also, in Texas. Apparently, that was the new killer graphics system hooked up to all their printers. The first one I ever bought was in 1999 which was an o2, then the bug hit. I've prob owned 20+ systems over the past 25 years
 
In the same year 1997 i saw two Silicon Graphics

the first was an Indy in my University, no-one could even touch it , was connected with the big mainframe of the University

the second one was an Incredible Onyx RE (deskside) at the SMAU expo in Milan showing an immersive flight simulator
"Helping to build a better Dinosaur" was the motto

Here started my passion...
 
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