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Author Topic: What was your first computer?  (Read 11231 times)
M0E-lnx
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« on: May 21, 2009, 06:27:28 am »

Just for fun, let'd go down memory lane and remember how it all started for us. Let's give it a go... shall we?

First computer I operated was around 1999-94 maybe.
This happened while taking a very expensive computer operator course (I dont even remember what it was called) in a school. I can only vaguely remember I was taught to insert your floppy disk, and secure the lever down (remember that?) and then start it. Once it started, you saw the DOS prompt and the teacher showed us a few DOS commands. I also learned the wonder that was the old "edit" in DOS .... Remember that?
That beast was the text editor we were learning.
Of course, we only got like 1hr of hand-on computer time, the rest was just books.

The first computer I owned was some early model of the acer aspire. This was around 1997-98
I bought this thing for about $2,000.00 (that was a great deal for that beast @ the time) at a local best buy. It had a 15" color CRT monitor. Something like 64MB ram, and 5GB hard drive, and something around a 8-12X CD ROM drive. CPU speed was something like 300-400MHZ IIRC


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nightflier
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« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2009, 07:10:46 am »

I came into the computing world in 1991. I was doing some consulting work that required me to write some manuals using the company's 286 DOS machine. After spending three hours typing, using the "LFP" method, I decided to run spell check. The machine went unresponsive. I contacted someone to ask some advice. He helpfully instructed me to press three keys simultaneously and the thing rebooted fine. My next questions were: um.. where is my document?? What do you mean save regularly, not just on exit?? You knew it always locks up on spell check and didn't tell me??

I decided that if I was going to use such a tool, I needed my own. I found a screaming deal with a small local startup. For $1300 I got a 386SX-25 with 4 MB of RAM, a 100 MB HDD, 5.25" and 3.5" floppy drives, and a 14" CRT. DOS 5.0 and Win 3.0 was included, as well as a DOS office suite called 8in1 (I think). I had to pay extra to upgrade the memory from the standard 2 MB.

Almost immediately I figured out that a willingness to experiment and self-educate was a great asset with such a new product. I bought a joystick to go with some shareware games that my kids liked. It didn't work. I took it to the store and plugged it into one of their machines where it worked. Back home I carefully took the cover off the box to see what was inside. Traced the cable from the game port to the m/b and found that the connector fit both ways. I plugged it in the other way, closed my eyes and started the machine up. Voila! Game on.

Several more repairs/fixes/upgrades followed the first successful foray into the box with all those parts plugged into each other. Once hard drives dropped below $1/MB I added a 245 MB hard disk. Unlimited storage! Another couple of hundred dollars added a sound card and a double-speed cdrom drive. Yay! Time to spend lots more money on cdrom based encyclopedias and packages of "shovelware" games. Four hundred more got me an upgrade to an AMD 486-40 and 8 MB of RAM.

The only surviving parts of that original machine are the 3.5" floppy drive and an IBM style, mechanical click keyboard. I used that keyboard for a flight simulator setup where I hardwired homemade brake and flap controls into the corresponding keys. Those were the days.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2009, 07:13:35 am by nightflier » Logged
M0E-lnx
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« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2009, 07:18:56 am »

Wow... sounds like a lot of fun.
I still remember when I paid $400.00 for my 2X CD-RW upgrade for my acer aspire. I'll never forget it...
The box was black, and they only had the drive in white... so you can imagine how it looked, but despite that.. Did not mind waiting the occasional hour and a half to burn a cd. Or to find out the burn had failed in some cases Wink

When I saw the CD-RW thing, I thought we'd be seeing flying cars within the year!
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tomh38
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« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2009, 08:16:41 am »

ENIAC

Just kidding ... Commodore 64.  Back in college.  I loved that machine, since it meant I got to throw my crappy manual typewriter in the dumpster.

nightflier
: I got a "Das Keyboard" which does a fair imitation of the old IBM Model M, (at least the "clicky" part, it doesn't weigh 200 pounds  Smiley).  I still miss the Model M I used to have.  The whole keyboard thing is one of the reasons I'm not overly fond of laptops.



EDIT:  Does anybody remember those Atari computers with the crazy flat keyboard (maybe there was more than one model with that) ... anyway when I was a kid a friend of mine had one of those and the keyboard broke in about two weeks.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2009, 12:35:30 pm by tomh38 » Logged

"I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones." - Linus Torvalds, April 1991
dawnsboy
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« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2009, 10:14:07 am »

Commodore 64 with a blazing fast 1 MHz processor.  Came with a 1541 disk drive and a daisy wheel printer.  My first word processor was Speed Script.  I got it when the developer printed the code in a computer magazine.  I typed it to screen and saved it to a 5.25" low density floppy disk.  After a time I had the local Commodore guru install Jiffy Dos. 

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rbistolfi
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« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2009, 10:21:09 am »

My first computer was a Timex Sinclair,  developed in UK by Sinclair and licended to Timex in the USA. My dad bought it to a Spanish co-worker, who was selling it to buy a brand new 286.
It had a super fast CPU at 3.5Mhz (yes, that is an "M"), and 16kb of memory (again, that is a "k" and a "b" Grin). The operating system was a BASIC variant developed by Sinclair. I wrote my first code in it, was a small virtual pìano (well, was just a set of keybindings to the BEEP command, but was a real BASIC program).

Here is a photo:



You had to plug it into the TV, and the storage was a regular tape recorder.

It has a wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZX_Spectrum
The best games were Emilyn Huge Soccer, Gianna Systers, Wonder Boy and a few others.

My mom put it in the garbage, I will hate her forever >:[
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"There is a concept which corrupts and upsets all others. I refer not to Evil, whose limited realm is that of ethics; I refer to the infinite."
Jorge Luis Borges, Avatars of the Tortoise.

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M0E-lnx
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« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2009, 10:35:48 am »

Very nice rbistolfi... Interesting piece of machinery you had... I've never seen anything like it.
Where did you insert the tape for that thing?
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rbistolfi
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« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2009, 11:45:39 am »

The PC had two 3.5mm (miniplug) jacks in the back, one for recording and one for reading, you connect it to the mic and to the line out or headphones jack of the tape recorder. If you play the tape, it sounds like a modem. To save a program, you press play & rec, and send some kind of basic instruction, I already forgot about which one Grin.
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"There is a concept which corrupts and upsets all others. I refer not to Evil, whose limited realm is that of ethics; I refer to the infinite."
Jorge Luis Borges, Avatars of the Tortoise.

--
Jumalauta!!
Lyn
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Posts: 651



« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2009, 11:59:22 am »

Ah yes I had a speccy as well, fun little machine with rubber keys.... then moved on to a BBC B machine... loved Repton on that, especially Repton 2...
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nitehawk
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Just me.


« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2009, 12:42:26 pm »

Ah,...my beloved 286.  I had used my brother's Commodore64,...but the 286 was mine!!!  I bought it used for about $100 in 1992.  EGA monitor, 1mb ram,...and a whooping big 10mb hard drive!!!  So much space, I hardly knew what to do with it all.  I used dos on it,...but had just oodles of my own dos apps, utilities, and stuff.  It wasn't until I upgraded to a 386,...that I went to windows 3.1, and the internet.  Not much was on the 'net then,....(lots of black backgrounds full of colored letters to get your attention). 
« Last Edit: May 21, 2009, 12:47:59 pm by nitehawk » Logged
GrannyGeek
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« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2009, 05:09:24 pm »

My first computer was a Tandy 1000SX with 384K of RAM and two 5-1/4" floppy disk drives. No sound card, no modem, no hard drive, no mouse. The monitor was a 12" green and black thing. I also got a 9-pin dot matrix printer. I think we paid between US $1200 and $1500 in 1987. Its operating system was DOS 3.2 and I used it primarily for WordStar. We did some upgrades: added 256K of RAM for an unheard of 640K; got a bus mouse; had a 20 meg hard drive installed.

By 1991 the Tandy was totally inadequate for what I was doing, so I got a 486/33DX Gateway with 4 megs of RAM and a 200-meg hard drive, no sound card, no modem, no CD-ROM (they were fairly unusual back then and *very* expensive). It came with a 13" or 14" COLOR monitor. We quickly upgraded to 8 megs of RAM. It ran Windows 3.0. The price of the system was nearly $3000! We did numerous upgrades along the way, upping the RAM to 32 megs (at about $40 a meg!), adding a 2x CD-ROM drive and a modem in 1993. We did a BIOS update--dangerous back then, as you had to physically replace the BIOS chips and if you made a mistake, your computer would go POOF! This BIOS update enabled us to install a hard drive larger than 512 megs.

It's fun to reminisce but frankly, I'm glad those days are gone. Everything was SOOOO EXPENSIVE! And those impossibly slow modems--ugh. But there was a certain excitement as things got better and faster and computers could do more and more.

The Tandy 1000SX made its way down the family food chain, as did the upgraded Gateway. In fact, I've never thrown a working computer away. I've always found someone who wanted it.
--GrannyGeek
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tomh38
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« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2009, 05:43:18 pm »

Things are a lot better now.  Still, I can't think of one single other piece of technology that has improved my day-to-day life as my first computer did.  Everything since then has been incremental - that was a huge leap.

Wait, I'm going to let that stand, but I'm going to qualify it.  I felt it as a huge leap, but maybe I've just become accustomed to these amazing changes.  Everything is rushing forward, but after a while one can get used to even that.  My first CD burner was 2x ... I don't remember exactly how much it cost me but it was in the hundreds.

My dad, who wrote software for machines that used punch cards, never did adjust to the widespread use of computers.  He never wanted one of his own, it was supposed to be something you operated and coded for at work.

"ENIAC contained 17,468 vacuum tubes, 7,200 crystal diodes, 1,500 relays, 70,000 resistors, 10,000 capacitors and around 5 million hand-soldered joints. It weighed 30 short tons (27 t), was roughly 8.5 feet (2.6 m) by 3 feet (0.91 m) by 80 feet (2.6 m by 0.9 m by 26 m), took up 680 square feet (63 m²), and consumed 150 kW of power." - from the Wikipedia article on ENIAC, citing this site:  http://ed-thelen.org/comp-hist/BRL-e-h.html.

I don't know where we're headed, but we're going there awfully fast.

Tom
« Last Edit: May 21, 2009, 05:47:09 pm by tomh38 » Logged

"I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones." - Linus Torvalds, April 1991
rbistolfi
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Posts: 2288


« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2009, 06:20:52 pm »

Things are a lot better now.  Still, I can't think of one single other piece of technology that has improved my day-to-day life as my first computer did.  Everything since then has been incremental - that was a huge leap.

Wait, I'm going to let that stand, but I'm going to qualify it.  I felt it as a huge leap, but maybe I've just become accustomed to these amazing changes.  Everything is rushing forward, but after a while one can get used to even that.  My first CD burner was 2x ... I don't remember exactly how much it cost me but it was in the hundreds.

My dad, who wrote software for machines that used punch cards, never did adjust to the widespread use of computers.  He never wanted one of his own, it was supposed to be something you operated and coded for at work.

"ENIAC contained 17,468 vacuum tubes, 7,200 crystal diodes, 1,500 relays, 70,000 resistors, 10,000 capacitors and around 5 million hand-soldered joints. It weighed 30 short tons (27 t), was roughly 8.5 feet (2.6 m) by 3 feet (0.91 m) by 80 feet (2.6 m by 0.9 m by 26 m), took up 680 square feet (63 m²), and consumed 150 kW of power." - from the Wikipedia article on ENIAC, citing this site:  http://ed-thelen.org/comp-hist/BRL-e-h.html.

I don't know where we're headed, but we're going there awfully fast.

Tom

Hell
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"There is a concept which corrupts and upsets all others. I refer not to Evil, whose limited realm is that of ethics; I refer to the infinite."
Jorge Luis Borges, Avatars of the Tortoise.

--
Jumalauta!!
rbistolfi
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« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2009, 06:31:02 pm »

Ok that was a joke Cheesy

I dont feel nostalgic about those old computers either, we did learned a lot with them though.
I am not very optimistic about the future, I cant see anything too exciting. All the modern UIs are pretty much the same imho, and I prefer minimal stuff, as many of you know. A programmer visited us at #vectorlinux, and he implemented a nice UI with the mouse for his WM, based in Pie Menus. That is maybe the only interesting thing I have seen lately, if you dont count some coding stuff that kidd teachs me here and there. Here is his page: http://home.pacbell.net/rklement/
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"There is a concept which corrupts and upsets all others. I refer not to Evil, whose limited realm is that of ethics; I refer to the infinite."
Jorge Luis Borges, Avatars of the Tortoise.

--
Jumalauta!!
Lyn
Vectorian
****
Posts: 651



« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2009, 01:02:53 am »

I think that the computer revolution have made major differences to access and information, they have also revolutionised the way that small community organisations work.  I remember when Amstrad produced a machine that ran CP/M and included a word processor, spreadsheet and a card index type database.  This was a revelation.  For the first time a machine that could be used by someone who had no computer experience could turn out mail merged documents and newsletters with ease.  It made the life of club and community group secretaries much easier, and the Amstrads were half the price of the IBM equivalents. Plus instead of the laborious process of typing a stencil to run off copies via a duplicator, an amazingly tedious process to do it accurately or expensive via a print shop, you could just produce the document and then feed the stencil through a dot matrix printer with the ribbon removed and you could cut the stencil yourself.  Then it was easy to run off multiple copies via a duplicator (photocopiers and photocopying were prohibitively expensive).

If you want to see the impact that computers had on real life revolutions you only have to look at the coup in the old Soviet Union against Gorbachev - the tanks rolled in and the media was controlled by the plotters.  An independent news sheet was produced by the Moscow Gay Group, using a photocopier and a computer and software donated by Western gay groups.  This became an essential tool in alerting and mobalising the people to resist the coup.  History might have been very different without that home computer kit. 
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