Having access to pentium (100?) PC's with internet and zip drives made it possible to do some interesting things, but not yet gave the possibility to do real serious programming, unless I'd have access to a (comercial) compiler++. I tried the GNU suite with the Rhide interface, which works fine for non-unix like apps, but does not have the possibily to deal with network programming (sockets), shared libraries (dll's), multiple type libraries (from other compilers), and working under an msdos shell is pretty far from my dream environment, to put is mildly.
The compiler, as I understand related to the Gnu compiler (it has gcc and g++), is quite neat, it is fast, supposedly can work with various type of .o (.a) files, has no need for endless options and libdefs set to function satisfactory on unix type of programs, and is freely available! It supposedly can even create dll's and most other serious things you'd want from a win95 developers env, and is claimed to be able to compile itself and to allow programming windows user interfaces. I wouldn't say it renders Gnu obsolete (gnu with rhide works smoothly), but it sure is my current choice, being a former unix user.
There is a need for a shared library (cygwin.dll) to make all this passible, which is about half a Meg, but worth having on a system.
The 'mellotron' package allow polyphonic sample playing ver midi of soft-keyboard in real time, and comes with a source set to use it's functionality with other programs, on a variety of machine types. This, and/or the 'socks' sound library should provide a suitable basis to audify some of my ideas in synthesis.