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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
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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A Radio Shack pocket computer I bought in 1980.

pocket.jpg

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.

kayproII.jpg

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.

Z181.jpg
 

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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.

f5ee1637de8e3afb4a901079ef781b4a.jpg
 

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

33e3q.jpg

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! :banghead::banghead::banghead:

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

ts1000.JPG

$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 :laugh:, 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! :lol: 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. :laugh:

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! :laugh:
 

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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:laugh:
Put year in if you remember...that’s the fun part:good2:
I’ll find a picture later
 

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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.

99_4a.JPG

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! :laugh:

peb.JPG

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.
 

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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
My HP was later, 1978, I think, not as expensive by then. I would have traded it for the IMSAI 8080! :lol:
And I still have my dad's K&E sliderule.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
And... the office computer where I learned to program (1980). It was a Tektronix 4051 with a 6" magnetic tape cartridge (300Kb), 16K of RAM, and a screen that had to be refreshed "all or nothing." No individual pixels or characters could be redrawn. I worked in a research group and we had to write our own analysis & graphing software. In the documentation, I actually identified which sections of the code could be deleted to save memory (to allow larger data sets) for different types of operations.



Computers had come a long way by the time I wrote my thesis in 1985. I ran a simulation using the school's main system, a Harris 800 (performance somewhere between a PDP-11 and a Vax11/780?). It required 180 CPU hours. Thanks to a friend's ingenious software, I was able to use my own PCC2000 (first post in this thread) and a letter quality printer (had a typewriter "thimble") to generate all of the graphics at home.
 

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My first microcomputer. No operating system. Wrote my own.
Hey, I remember working on 8080s. :good2: And, wow, when they got paper tape so you didn't have to reenter everything every time. :good2: I even spent a little time on the 8008. :laugh:

I started out my programming life on a HP 33e. ... But I spent MANY an hour drooling over the huge Computer Shopper magazines, imagining buying all the surplussed junk sold in the back ads!
I was working at my first pro full-time job at TI when they brought out the calculator. $80 employee rate. It could add, subtract, multiply, divide AND do %.
Computer Shopper - yes, MANY hours spent here on 'em too.


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First computer that I worked on was an IBM 1401 at a summer job at an insurance co headquarters in Chicago. Later jobs progressed to IBM 360s. Most of my pro days were with micro and minis with a smattering of avionics firmware before the advent of PCs.

First home PC was a Cromemco Z80 where you had to assemble & solder many of the parts. CP/M and something called MS-DOS. Wonder what ever happened to that o/s? :laugh:

Had one of the first IBM PCs. Had to drive from Austin to Dallas to get it. Upgraded to 2, count 'em, 2 voice-coil, single-sided, 8" Persci floppys. Absolutely Cadillacs of the day.

And the day we got our first hard drive: 5 MB or 10 MB. Would we EVER need that much storage?. Got the 10 MB at > $5000 IIRC. :laugh:

Days I'm happy to remember, but glad to have moved on from technically.
 

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I started working with computers in the early 70's working for Texas Instruments.
I was at the Austin location in 1972. :good2: Worked night shift on military photo interpretation systems that were dropped by parachute. Vicious double deck Hearts games at 2AM lunch. Shoot the Moon ... ah, not that high. :laugh:

In the documentation, I actually identified which sections of the code could be deleted to save memory (to allow larger data sets) for different types of operations.
Oh yes. And over written code, that is, creating instructions on the fly or replacing code that had already run. Had to do that a lot when you were working with machines that only had 8K of memory. Biggest nightmare was having to help debug code from a couple of co-workers.
 

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Hey, I remember working on 8080s. :good2: And, wow, when they got paper tape so you didn't have to reenter everything every time. :good2: I even spent a little time on the 8008. :laugh:
I still have a couple parts drawers filled with Intel 8080 chips, 2102 memory and various support chips. Through hole devices, of course. I'll never use them - I can do more with a $3.00 PIC microcontroller today than I could ever do with boards full of discrete logic chips - but I can't bring myself to throw them out!

Al
 

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First actual computer was a Commodore 64.



Then after a few years I bought one of the 8088 "PC XT clones" with monochrome monitor that were so popular at the time. I splurged and got the 8Mhz "Turbo" upgrade and a 10MB hard drive.

 

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I was working at my first pro full-time job at TI when they brought out the calculator. $80 employee rate. It could add, subtract, multiply, divide AND do %.
Ah yes, the Datamath.

dm.JPG

I'm sure I still have one of them around here somewhere, at one time I think I had one of every model they made for the first few years. laugh:

My 2 all-time favorites were the SR10, first scientific calculator, I was taking a Chemistry class at the time and the math was kicking my butt, paid dearly for one of the first ones.

sr10.JPG

Next was the TI programmer that could do hex, octal, logic functions, etc.

hex.JPG

I was at the Austin location in 1972. :good2: Worked night shift on military photo interpretation systems that were dropped by parachute. Vicious double deck Hearts games at 2AM lunch. Shoot the Moon ... ah, not that high. :laugh:
I started here in 1968. They don't still have anything in Austin do they? I know they closed all the plants in west Texas.
 

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Timex here too, all was well till my sister dumped a load of laundry on it, the static killled it :lolol:

Then I moved up to a Atari 130xe, 150/300 modem, and 5-1/4 floppy. Life was good!




 

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IBM with two 5 1/4 inch floppy drives. It was my dad but I got to play chess on it.

Looked. Like this. I think he ran Lotus on it. I was like 4 or 5.




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Ah yes, the Datamath.
That's the one. Guess it didn't do % as remembered. :dunno:

My 2 all-time favorites were the SR10, first scientific calculator ... Next was the TI programmer that could do hex, octal, logic functions, etc.
Think I had the SR10 too, but positive that I had the Programmer. Was working on machines that were octal & hex, so was a godsend when reading dumps. Wouldn't be surprised if it's around here somewhere - if not mine, then hubby's. He did mostly systems work on mainframes. I was a developer.

They don't still have anything in Austin do they?
Don't think so. When I was hired, there were actually 2 divisions here. I first interviewed at the "super computer" site in town. They asked if I thought Interrupts or Polling was a better method of internal communication. I answered "Interrupts". They were using Polling. :laugh: I ended up at the other site in what was then a few miles NW of Austin. Long gone now.

IBM with two 5 1/4 inch floppy drives.
Still have mine up in the attic with the IBM mono monitor. Had the AT version too, but it's long gone. Think if I looked at the top of the bookshelf in my old office here, I'd probably find those same manuals. :laugh:
 
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