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Yes, exactly! The fact that all you got when you switched on the C64 was a cursor prompt to start inputting commands strongly encouraged the hobbyist to learn how the computer worked! The manual would help get you started and their were excellent books on coding graphics and sound that really were aimed at kids and hobbyists. It was inspiring. This sparked all those magazines on coding aimed at the home user. It was empowering, it inspired a generation. Nowadays, the hobbyist has a much harder time getting a foot in the door. your average PC does not come equipped with a readily accessible programming interface, in that there is no mode an inexperienced user can simply switch to. Instead one has to get one's head around complicated development suites first and platforms with extensive class libraries. I think Python has tried to bring some of the gold old days back, but I don't feel as if it has succeeded in this.
I started with a Signetics 2650 writing my first code, not on a mini computer, in an early version of BASIC to create a tank game in monochrome on a 80x25 text screen directly addressing the the memory with "pokes" and "peeks". The character set had special characters including a tank facing in 8, year that's right, 8 different directions. Horizontal, vertical and diagonal. The microcomputer was home built on breadboard with the backplane wire-wrapped. What a nightmare!
1981 - My first was a VIC 20. 3K of RAM for code after booting.
Cassette tape drive (no floppies yet). Added a 170K single sided floppy drive and a 16K memory expansion.
This started it all. Many hours with the manual figuring it out.
I still have this and all the games.
Then I graduated to a C64 - still have 3 of these.
From there it was an X86, 286, 386, 486, etc. . . . and here I am 38 years later . . ready to retire in a couple of years after a nice career in IT and development.
My first machine was a TI-99/4 that I purchased in '78 for $1,200. I wanted to use it to play games, like those that I played on mainframes or at the arcade. Back then there were no games for the home computer market, so I had to write my own; I had never written a program before. I quickly learned to program in Basic. My first program was called TI-Invaders (a knock off of Space Invaders) and was published to 99'er Magazine's premiere issue. I ended up taking a job at 99'er magazine about a year later as the Sr. Technical Editor. I was responsible for all of the programs and their listings that were published. The magazine became a source for others who wanted to unlock the power of this new technology and eventually became Home Computer Magazine with over a quarter million subscribers. In '86 I co-founded Hyperlink Magazine, which focused on the Macintosh and a new programming tool called Hyper Card that used a new paradigm for application navigation by clicking on links where key words were linked to additional information. No one remembers Hyper card or Hyperlink Magazine, but the hyperlink lives on today.
The first computer I ever touched and "programmed" was a TRS-80, and I used it right in the Radio Shack store.
The first real computer time I got was as a freshman in high school in 1981. They had five or six Commodore Pets; these were the generation with the full sized keyboard and the tape drive in a separate box. There were a couple of 8KB machines, a couple of 16K machines, and one "monster" with 32KB. They were in a room not much larger than an elongated walk-in closet. The print devices were converted teletype machines.
Dad purchased a VIC-20 for us 3 kids (but it wound up being used mostly by me) at home; it must have been 1982.
During the summer after my year in the 9th grade, my high school relocated from the city of Detroit to the suburbs. With the move came a new, greatly expanded computer lab. It still had the Commodore PETs, but it quickly started acquiring Commodore 64s. By this time I was starting to really ramp up my knowledge and understanding of programming, and it was pretty plain to see that the VIC-20s days were numbered. I did some odd jobs here and there and saved up the money to purchase a Commodore 64. The next two years multiplied my knowledge many times over; I got into assembly, Pascal, and decided to pursue a Computer Information Systems major when I graduated from high school.
I went to my freshman year at college with a brand new Amiga 1000, and graduated after four years with my BA in CIS. It took awhile to get a job in the field, but I'm in year 28 or thereabouts of my software development career.
So, I guess the machine that was "my C64" really was a C64.
My first computer was the VIC 20, then the C64 by which time I also coded on the BBC micros at school. The C64 (and VIC 20) was great because it's BASIC was limited (the same reason many hated it) and so it forced you to use machine code / assembly language to do the exciting stuff like animated sprites. I am glad I coded on it because it taught me a lot about low-level programming and how computers work. These days you can too easily avoid all that (I code mostly in Java these days, with a bit of C++/C#) but I still find it useful to have an insight into the inner workings, and besides it's interesting. Modern PCs are surprisingly (or not) similar in basic architecture. The BBC had better BASIC and I used it to write a database management program at school (just simple creation, search and editing features). I enjoyed using all three of these computers. In the end my C64 and VIC 20 failed in the way they usually did - the power supply adapter failed. I do occasionally dabble on a C64 emulator for nostalgic and academic reasons. I never did become a fully-fledged professional coder (I always found the industry a bit too scary!), though I do code a lot as part of my academic teaching role.
Way back I had a TI 99-4A. Loved that little machine. Still have the BASIC programming guide as a keepsake. Also a TRS-80 Model 100 portable, which I guess was the first laptop computer. Worked on a gob of D batteries and had a big old 4 line / 40 column screen. It's in my closet and still works if I spend a fortune on batteries.
Sometimes the true reward for completing a task is not the money, but instead the satisfaction of a job well done. But it's usually the money.
Over the years, I have used, and largely adapted to, a number of laptop keyboards of different layouts. I largely "hunt and peck" for home/page up etc, so their meanderings don't concern me too much. One that I really couldn't come to terms with had the up-arrow of the inverted T snuggled in where my right pinkie expected to find the shift key. I eventually took to using an external keyboard with that machine whenever I could.
But one I've started using recently is proving quite unsettling. It has an extra column of "multimedia" keys down the left edge of the keyboard. Every other keyboard I have ever used has tab/caps lock/shift/ctrl as the leftmost. (And I still remember the pain of adapting when caps lock and ctrl got swapped.) My (probably incorrect, but by now incorrigible) resting position has my left pinkie on the inner part of the shift key and if I glance down the joint of my pinkie aligns with the edge of a "normal" keyboard. On this keyboard, being "one key inboard" looks wrong out of the corner of my eye, and makes me stop to recalibrate. It really does disrupt my typing. I'll give it go for a while, but it might soon be time to break out an external keyboard.
</not quite a rant>
Software rusts. Simon Stephenson, ca 1994. So does this signature. me, 2012
While laptop keyboards don't bother me, I think there should be some sort of IEEE standard regarding layout as far as relative key positions are concerned. Given the highly variant laptop sizes available, it would be impossible to specify how big keys are, or their dimensional position on the keyboard plane.
You can get compact keyboards, but if you travel a lot, the keyboard will eventually (and sooner rather than later) get mangled and broke, so IMHO, the juice ain't worth the squeeze.
Having said all that, the best advice I can offer is that you man-up and stop whining.
".45 ACP - because shooting twice is just silly" - JSOP, 2010 ----- You can never have too much ammo - unless you're swimming, or on fire. - JSOP, 2010 ----- When you pry the gun from my cold dead hands, be careful - the barrel will be very hot. - JSOP, 2013