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My first computer was a Sharp computer with tape-drive, it was a cp/m machine.
I quickly sold it to buy an IBM compatible PC. I was able to change the 8086 CPU (running at an incredible 4.77MHz) for a super fast Nec V20 CPU running at 8MHz.
As a student I spend almost al the money I earned working in the weekends and holidays on this machine.
I bought an EGA monitor with 16 colors!! (Yes 16, not 16 million) before that I had an amber colored display (It was so much more interesting to call it amber than orange).
Than I bought my first (second hand) harddisk of an incredible 5Mb. It was the size of a shoe box and when you turned it on you could hear it slowly coming up to speed. It than made all kinds of clicking sounds before it would become idle. I think this process took about 30 seconds and I always had the feeling it would drain so much power that my mum would come up because the lights downstairs would dim. Of course this wasn't the case, but this harddrive made you feel as if it did. I bought it second hand for a couple of hundred US$ but when it was purchased new about 5 years earlier the first owner must have paid at least a couple of thousand dollars, they were very expansive in the beginning.
The disk drive was 360Kb (and that was double sided). These disks would cost about 3 to 5 US$ a piece.
And me and my friends would play Frogger or King's Quest.
I also purchased an additional 8087 co-processor for super fast math and a special memory board to upgrade the memory to an astonashing 1Mb (640KB for MS-DOS than some 128Kb got lost and an additional 256Kb as a really super fast memory drive).
Well I still had a lot of fun on with this machine and so did my friends. At my school, with some 600 students, I was the only one with a PC. Most kids had no computer and if they had a computer it would be a Commodore 64, Atari or Sinclair Spectrum.
I really liked MS-DOS and my keyboard was so much larger than that of a Sinclair Spectrum....
I learned BASIC and let the computer draw by calculations some nice looking pictures on the screen (in two colors so either black or white).
The EGA card had a resolution of 640 x 350 and before all these dots were calculated it took my computer about 10 minutes!!!
Later on I started selling computers and started my own computer store and after that I started programming.
Another Atari 800, and Star Raiders player. Started with the cassette drive, and eventually got the 5-1/4" floppy. And different languages including LISP.
Remember the magazines with code listings in each issue? Type them in, DEBUG THEM, and play the games. Then modify them. There was a small Atari club nearby, and we'd drive up to the huge club meetings in Detroit occasionally.
The impact of the magazine code listings was huge. While you were typing them in, you weren't necessarily paying attention to how the program was written. Then when it didn't run you had to fix things. Then you often played with it to make the program easier/more difficult. From the very first, you were learning how to debug and modify someone else's code! That translated directly into a job skill, and I'm not sure if anything offered today does that.
My Atari 800 came with 16K in 1980. 410 cassette recorder for a year or so until I saved up for an 810 disk drive. BASIC, Pascal, LISP and games. Eventually got 48K of memory.
I still have that 800, but no peripherals. Now. I use SIO2USB to let my MacBook Pro serve as the disk drive and printer. I will admit, though, I primarily use the Altirra emulator when I want to play games these days. Emulation is just easier than hardware.
My first was a C16 (the first model which looked like the C64), with which I spent my time playing games with my brother (at the time they sold "legit" pirated games compilations in the stores), and when I was alone, trying to learn programming, which I found so fascinating.
When I finally got into the best part of it (POKE'n'PEEKs), it broke and we were never able to repair it because it went out of production since too much time.
So my next dream was the Amiga, so much that I actually spent all my (very little) money on a magazine which teached Assembly, which I started learning without having the computer.
When I finally got the Amiga, in 1995 (it was the first batch produced by the new owners, ESCOM, after Commodore went bankrupt), I didn't have an assembler, so I used my time to learn the OS and what it had already: AmigaDOS (that is so good that it can be considered a programming language, there's even a racing game made in ASCII available on Aminet) and ARexx (an amazing feature that still today is nowhere to be seen in any other OS, at least in a similar form).
I then learned other languages as soon as I could get my hands on their compilers (yes, Assembly too at a certain point, finally...).
What was so great is really what you already described, probably, the way you could "touch" the hardware and "speak" to it directly, to make something that it was not made for, for example, or just to get that extra performance/feature that the language didn't have (in the case of using a C compiler on the Amiga, for example, you could add some ASM to access HW directly in a part of your time-critical routines to do things actually easier, and much faster, than you would by doing it with C itself).
It was the absence of this forceful abstraction that is, legitimately, present today in every system (even in consoles), which really meant freedom, and on the Amiga, it was done without giving up multi-tasking (though you had to disable it momentarily if you went too deep in the HW, but it was made for that).
It was a time of discovery for all our young minds, and to master the machine.
I believe today's kids might have a similar inner experience but in the end, it's always the machine which masters the man, which forces the way, while at that time, you were the one which chose the way.
It was also something relatively new and not so common, which added to the mystery, while today it's quite a normal thing to have at least one computer in the house (smartphones included).
It's taken for granted, and because of the advancements in technology, it would be weird to use them in the same way as back then, so yeah I'm being a bit nostalgic, but also I'm realistic enough to know that it's something needed.
Of course there were also some very bad things about that, like "crash and you'll lose everything", or the incredibly slow I/O devices (I only had tape on the C16...).
You couldn't just copy/paste a source, you had to type it, which usually involved some pretty bad keyboards, too.
If you wanted to make a good game you HAD to use Assembly, so that also meant countless hours typing, debugging without an actual debugger, make graphics and sounds without the nice tools you have today and so on.
I think it was all worth it though, in end, and it all made you better, but yeah, I'm not nostalgic for THAT part. Oh and of course I'm only talking about pre-OS machines here, as on the Amiga/PC you had pretty much everything you didn't have in those older computers.
My A1200 is sitting next to my pc, and I sometimes update/modify its HW when I have time and will.
Years ago I bought an Ethernet card so it's also connected to our home network, and I can surf the web/chat/email/whetever
Z80 microprocessor, enthusiast magazines...learned assembly language (entered one byte at a time), tinkered with wire wrapped circuits, rewired war surplus full size keyboards, all kinds of fun projects...great times!
I still have my C-64, purchased in 1985. That is what started me in a career as a developer. On my desk right now, is a coffee mug with the C-64 schematic printed on it, in tribute. I had some amazing stuff for that old PC, like a CAD program that worked with a light pen, and a voice recognition device that could display the notes of a tune as you whistled into a microphone. I had a lot of 'cracked' software on 5 1/4" floppy disks. I had a special hole punch that would turn a single sided floppy into a double sided floppy. I also still own my old C-128 and my SX-64 luggable.
Yamaha MSX2. Although I didn't own it, that's the one I spent countless hours after school in grades 8 and 9, doing everything from ROM Basic to opcodes. It had crazy number of colors (dont remember exactly how many but no less than 256), hardware sprites (fun!), 4 channel sound synthesizer (so much fun!), and Zilog Z80 inside (not that much fun at that age but still). And of course those beautiful Konami games I still occasionally enjoy in an emulator.
never had a computer growing up, even thought they were getting quite common, my parents believed and still do that computers are a passing fad.
so whenever I could, I was over at a friends house learning his C64 making text adventure games and such, at school there was the Apple IIe's in all the labs that had the Basic ROM, sometimes a few friends and my self would build little games on these and leave them running for the next class to find, or until the power got cycled
In high school, I fell in love with the 286 lab, they were quick and responsive. for the intro to programming class we needed to turn in a minimum of a one printed page program, mine was closer to 50 with menus, graphics, and small games to play. good times. I came across that floppy a couple years back, took awhile to find a machine with a working floppy drive, but sadly it had sections that were unreadable. oh well.
A C64 from 1984. Last year I dug it out of storage along with a 1541 drive. Couldn't find the power supply. It hadn't been used since about 1991. I built a power supply from scratch along with a custom power cable, recapped all electrolytics and tested the 2 voltage regulators out of circuit (and they were bad) - wound up replacing those. After all that, it did not work... at first ... black screen. I was able to troubleshoot it and determined that the PLA was bad. I replaced the PLA (found a pulled chip on fleaBay) and it fired up and worked fine including video, audio, logic. I then restored the 1541 drive (which still had a disk in while in storage all those years) and it too worked including that disk I just mentioned. I had a supply of old 5.25 disks but most did not work but I was able to get about 15% of them to load! I bought a joystick for it and I played some old retro games. Pretty cool to use the old computer that got me started when I was a kid in the 80s.
My first 'c64' was a home built s100 bus system using a z80 processor with 4K of RAM. There was no programming language, just a monitor program that fit into a 2K ROM (was named Zapple). With the monitor program I could peek/poke memory, dump memory, execute from a specified location and insert break points. I built this system during my last year of college (electrical engineering, 1978). I basically learned the z80 instruction set by the numbers. Over the years, the system grew until it had 64K or RAM, dual 8 in floppy drives (dual density!!) and ran the CP/M OS. I kept the system until I could buy an Amiga.
Those were fun days, learning to program with the z80 machine code, designing/building boards for the system (serial port board, votrax based speech board and a driver board for a selectric printer mechanizm).
* Was that really that good?
* What was so good (or bad) about it?
* Do we have it somewhere today?
* What is/was your C64?
"Goodness" fell more in an eye of the beholder scenario. Compatibility between platforms wasn't a mandate so every competitors offering had their own engineering go wild at times.
The Commodore line was really good at graphics and sound. Lots of games took advantage of that.
Tandy CoCos were not good on graphics and sound as the Commodire but flew circles around many others with its BASIC... add an RTOS (Microware's OS9) and the CoCo blew everybody else on the computing prowess department no contest.
Apple was... well, Apple! The Woz in all effect pre-Mac days
Atari was also very good on graphics, somewhat good on sound. A you-can't-lose way to go on the 8 bits machines line. The Atari ST upped the stakes later on but by then everybody was on IBM mode.
Texas Instuments TI 99/4A its an oddity but an interesting one, half way in graphics and sound capabilities, not too good on its BASIC and expansion capabilities.
Of all these I have a few, still work on them, repair, retrofit and soup up where possible. It's a fun way to deflate from the day to day modern hardware and software woes.
I started late on the Commodore, my start was with Tandy's TRS-80 line and the Color Computer series. My latest addition is a replica I assembled of the Jupiter Ace.
RadioShack TRS80 with 16K Ram and a dual Tape drive that was bi-directional so loading and saving files was pretty fast. From there to the Atari 800 where I wrote the first Point of Sale program for my store.
I have liked it very much, learned a lot of things later useful about design and programming.
It had very good user's manual, written for teaching programming.
It had very strong constraints on music, and using only 2 colors in a 8 x 8 pixel area. These limits inspired creativity, I still hear the music of Galactic Gunners, I still see the loading screen of Asterix and the magic cauldron.
Unlike most Spectrum owners I have gone the Windows way.
Most lasting experience: I still don't believe in that two seconds are necessarily equal timespans, whatever physicists say.
First computer I had was a VIC 20. I think Commodore used it to test the market. It looked a lot like the C64 but inside it only had 5K of usable RAM and a 22-column screen. I was able to get the VicModem for it which was a strange device. You would have to manually dial the number on the phone then when you heard the carrier tone you had to disconnect the cord from the handset and plug it into the modem. Later I ended up buying a C64.
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