This article summarizes the trip that Wesley Freeman and I (Phil Harton) took to the MarketPro Computer Show and Sale in Annandale, Virginia on August 16, 1998.
Wesley went with the intention of purchasing parts to build a new computer, while I had the desire to buy a new modem and some memory.
I arrived at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) ready for a fun-filled day of shopping for computer products.
Upon exiting the car, I made my way to the end of a long and ever-growing line of impatient customers waiting to get in.
The show was supposed to have opened at 9:30, but the staff was just now opening the doors.
After waiting in line for some 15 minutes, I was finally able to purchase a $6 ticket and enter the showroom.
Seconds after stepping through the doorway, I was mobbed by a group of people handing out flyers for their businesses.
I managed to escape this assault through evasive maneuvers and soon found myself in a crowd of consumers looking at software.
I wandered aimlessly for a time, not really looking for anything in particular.
I was supposed to meet Wesley, but since the show spanned such a large area, I did not expect to find him any time soon.
The showroom was lined end-to-end with tables covered in a grand assortment of hardware and software.
The event had only been open for a few minutes, but the grounds were already quite crowded.
At last he arrived.
Apparently, he had to make a trip to the bank to withdraw $400 for his new computer.
I could now wander with a purpose.
We began searching for low prices on bundled CPUs and motherboard.
Wesley had already decided that he would get an FIC motherboard with an AMD K6-2 300 Mhz processor.
After visiting several display tables, Wesley found a good deal on the processor/motherboard combo that he wanted.
He also purchased an Enlight screwless mid-tower case, paying for the entire purchase in cash so as to avoid the three percent charge for checks or credit.
We left the case with the vendor for safe keeping so that we wouldn't have to carry it.
Wesley then went to look for a CPU cooling device while I looked for an internal modem.
At the time my computer was equipped with a 28.8 kilobit-per-second generic PCI modem.
However, with my internet service provider, PatriotNet, I could only attain a 24 Kbps connection.
To take advantage of my ISP's 56 Kbps enabled servers, I bought a Phoebe Micro 56k modem that could be upgraded to the new v.90 industry standard.
When I found Wesley again, he was examining a Peltier CPU cooling unit on display next to a sign reading "touch me."
The unit's surface was as cold as an ice cube, justifying its steep $50 price.
After Wesley purchased the cooling unit, we met up with his father, who had purchased an IBM DeskStar 8.4 gigabyte hard drive for the new computer.
We then went to a memory booth and each bought 64 megabyte of RAM.
Wesley purchased a single 64 megabyte SDRAM DIMM while I selected a pair of 32 megabyte EDO SIMMs for my older motherboard.
We bought a Creative 32x CD-ROM drive and a Mitsumi floppy disk drive from a nearby vendor, then went shopping for a video card.
At this point, we had only two more parts to buy before Wesley's computer could be complete: the video card and a monitor.
Spying a low-priced Diamond Viper V330 AGP video card at an adjacent table, we made the purchase (with the monetary assistance of Wesley's father), and then went to look for a monitor.
After covering the entire area at least twice, we decided on a refurbished Micron 17-inch display priced at a scant $179.
Most of our money was gone, but will still had $23 between us.
This was just enough to buy the Red Hat Linux Developer's Kit, which consisted of the Red Hat Linux operating system and various server and programming tools.
Completely drained of cash, we picked up the case and walked out the doors
So ended an exciting day at the computer show.