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    RodW's Avatar
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    Your first PC?...

    I noticed some very impressive IT savvy in these forum posts. I'll bet many of you got in on the "ground floor" of the computer revolution. What was your first home computer like? Let's show the younger generations some history!


    Purchased in 1982 -- way out of my price range, but my wife worked at a computer store and got it at wholesale from her boss.
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    Last edited by RodW; 08-25-2018 at 01:57 PM. Reason: Date
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    What I learned my craft on:
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    My first microcomputer. No operating system. Wrote my own.:
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    My first actual personal computer - came with both CP/M and DOS:
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    Al

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    A Radio Shack pocket computer I bought in 1980.

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    It had a whopping 2K of memory, and storage was a cassette tape player.

    I used it in my research to run basic statistics like t-tests and chi square analyses.

    It required writing my own programs in Basic to do that.

    It cost more than I paid for the Acer laptop I'm using to post this.

    In 1982 I moved up to a Kaypro II.

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    Then moved on to an IBM PC, to which I added a 10 meg Hard Card, going against the advice of my university's main computed expert. I can still hear his words. "There is nothing you will be doing that can't be done with a 5-1/4 inch floppy disk. That's all you'll ever need." For you younger guys, the 5-1/4 inch floppy he was talking about stored 720 KB of data, if I remember correctly.

    Then there was the Z-181, my first portable, in 1986. It had dual floppies, 10 inch monochrome display, weight 12 pounds, and was over $3,000 with a university faculty discount. That is over $6,700 today when adjusted for inflation.

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    Last edited by RetiredDoc; 08-25-2018 at 11:38 AM.
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    My first was Radio Shack TRS-80, with 16k ram and a cassette drive.
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    My very first home computer was an Atari 800 XL

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    With the Casset Drive

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    I learned Atari Basic on it.
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    I learned on one of these things. T'was very frustrating to use. To boot the thing up you had to program in a machine language initialization code in octal on a switch panel. That gave the computer enough info to initialize the paper tape reader. Then you fed a pre-programmed paper tape into it and that allowed it enough info to initialize the magnetic tape readers where it could get the rest of the code to finish booting up all the other devices (card punches/readers, keyboards, displays, etc...) and run.

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    I started out my programming life on a HP 33e.

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    Ok, so it's not technically a PC.... But I learned about stack based programming and the general concepts of programming. But the problem was, it didn't have continuous memory so the programs would disappear as soon as you turned it off!

    My first 'real' PC (and it's a stretch) was my Timex Sinclair 1000.

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    $100 bucks for a working computer? I even splurged and got the 16KB memory pack! Unlike you guys who could afford the really nice Kaypros and stuff , it was all I could afford, but I learned BASIC on it. But like others, I had to use a tape recorder as a storage device. It actually worked occasionally.

    I eventually moved on to a Tandy Color Computer

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    with a 300 baud modem! I could read the incoming text way faster than it came in! But I didn't keep it long, I ended up buying an Apple //c

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    Finally, a computer with a floppy drive!! I used that for a long time until I eventually traded a HP 48SX calculator for used PC clone (can't remember the name brand but it was a common brand name, but not in the PC world). It had a 20 MB hard drive, I was really living then. The used PC was actually won on the Price is Right by someone related to the trader.

    Then I went back to school and used VAX VMS machines, which I also used at my first real job at STScI. There I was introduced to Unix, and there I started using very early versions of Linux, and that's what I have used ever since.

    But I spent MANY an hour drooling over the huge Computer Shopper magazines, imagining buying all the surplussed junk sold in the back ads!

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    My first was a trs-80 color computer with 16 k of extended memory and the extended color basic OS. Cassette drive for storage. I believe the year was 1979
    Put year in if you remember...that’s the fun part
    I’ll find a picture later
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oscar Leroy View Post
    I started out my programming life on a HP 33e.
    I hated guys like you. First year of college - 1972 - needed either a $20 K&E aluminum slide rule or a $300 HP calculator. Mom and dad opted for the slide rule. That began a several year hatred of math in general, a bad attitude to have when you are an engineering major...

    Al

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    I started working with computers in the early 70's working for Texas Instruments. Worked mostly then with IBM mainframes and proprietary in-house-built computers we were using for machines and automated testers used for manufacturing integrated circuits. Programming was by punch-cards, paper tape, and even using machine language thru bit switches on the front of the computer.

    In '77 I moved to the plant where they were building calculators and were going to add manufacturing digital watches and their first home computer, the TI 99/4.

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    We had an employee store and I was able to get my hands on one before they were officially released for sale. So this was my first home computer. The TI-99/4 series holds the distinction of being the first 16-bit personal computer. The TI-99/4A had a 16-bit TMS9900 CPU running at 3.0 MHz. The TMS9900 was based on TI's range of TI-990 mini computers.

    It was a pretty powerful machine for its time, but initially it was hard to do any expansion except with plug-in cartridges, mostly for games. Later they made a PEB (Periphal Expansion Box) available which could hold various cards and a single-sided 5.25 floppy drive. As soon as I could get a PEB I filled it up, had a P-code card that supported a Pascal compiler, an RS-232 card with serial and parallel ports for a printer, floppy drive, and IIRC a memory expansion card. Man, that was computer heaven in my own home!

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    Mine pretty much looked like this.

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    Unfortunately this computer was less than a howling success for TI. They had planned to sell it at a lower price than most of the competitors at the time, and they planned to do this by selling it with an RF modulator so a TV could be used as the monitor. But they could not get the modulator approved by the FCC in time for their release date so they had to sell the first computers with a monitor which more than doubled the price of it. This was also one of their first attempts at marketing to consumers and they really did a poor job of it.

    They later improved it with the 99/4A which did have an RF modulator but by then the handwriting was pretty much on the wall and they soon dropped this computer.
    It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

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