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Hi, I was born in 1970 in Eastgermany (GDR) In my childhood and youth I dreamed from a C64 but we could not get one.
My dad has me give a Z1013. It was a one platine computer with a east germany Z80 clone - a U880 from Robotron. I loved him!
In a computer circle "Station junger Techniker" we had other devices. A KC87 and a KC85/3 always with the U880. I loved playing "Digger" on it!
I'm always excited from the Z80. He has shaped my understanding of how the computer works.
Despite starting out on my school's HP2000 time-share access in 1975 I managed, by judicious borrowing and sharing of friends' machines, to avoid actually buying my own machine until the early 90s! But over that period I had access to:
ETI Triton (8080)
Nascom II (Z80)
UK101 (6502 and suspiciously similar to the Ohio Superboard)
Apple ][ (6502)
BBC B (6502)
then, through work a Phillips luggable 8080 running CP/M, a couple of amstrads, and a PC-AT before buying my own 486DX system in about 90/91. I think I might have had access to a late model Atari ST series somewhere along that line, too, with the GUI front end, and a PET at college (as well as mini's). Over that period I wrote BASIC, various assembler (including han assembling some stuff to opcodes) Pascal and eventually C code.
My C64 was the PDP-11 RSTS/E opeating system made available to computing science students in the ACT (Australia) in the late 1970s. Wrote my first AI program on it in 1979/1980 (analysing syllogisms) and a real-time ADVENT type game which transported the interaction from caves and trolls to a galaxy far, far away with attacking robot spacecraft. My first ever personal computer was a Dick Smith System-80 (https://collection.maas.museum/object/456918), followed quickly by an AMIGA 1000 (still the best gaming/graphics/multi-tasking PC I've ever owned) and then sadly nothing but a series of IBM PC clones ever since. True story - one of my friends from university (with whom I had lunch just this week) was a co-founder of MicroForte which wrote the official America's Cup game for the C64 in the early 1980s.
i think you did catch some time of the hippie programmers, i was too young for that.
when i finally got to university we had a i486 running on Linux serving the orange monochrome terminals.
a little bit later i managed to buy an old Amiga 500 with two of my friends, but sadly at that time a 15 year period of stupidity begun in my life so i didn't really catch up with MC68K assembly.
apart from the demo scene as an example of people working many hours for free, just for fun, the other example i can think of is that of the hippie university programmers and hackers. the pioneers of Unix and the world as we know today. well... maybe many see it as the world of Gates and Jobs, but just to think of how modest Dennis Ritchie was compared to this two guys...
My C64 was a C64...
The original one, not the flat new models. It was in 1984.
When we look at the computers of this era we cannot find the answers to these questions just by looking at the computer itself. It is all about the technical things around at that time. There was, compared to today, simply NO technology all around us.
We need to remember: In our family, we even didn't had a telephone at home. We had one TV with only few channels. High tech was a Tape Recorder with multiple speed and a Super 8 camera. Just new were cassette recorders. The best was a video game named Pong - wow! We could ACTIVELY change the contents of the TV screen!
And then came the C64. Multicolor, electronic sound like we just heard from Jean Michele Jarre, arcade games which we saw only in fancy American films or maybe in a game hall. Everything at home!
And best of all - we could sit down and program that thing, so it does what WE want. And to get out everything possible you of course need a lot to learn like assembly or the system of pokes and peeks or the different memory layers and so on - but at the end we could say: Yeah, I know the complete machine, every bit, and I can get everything out of it. And there were a lot genius programmers who even got a lot more out of it like we saw in genius cracker demos and so on.
That was real science fiction at home, we were heroes (=nerds..freaks.."guys with special interests"... ) in the eyes of all who didn't own one or just started with it.
Today? We have Gigabytes of OS where no one really knows what it does and where a lifetime is not enough to learn all about it. Software and hardware changes so fast that only very specialists knows about small parts of all of this. Only few people (even such which are programmers of any kind) just want to know HOW it works, what a bit is, why the computer can count only from 0 to 1 and not more. Every minute a new "free" app appears, whose main purpose is to feed more of our data to the creator, nobody has even enough time to learn about the pure funcionality of even a small part of these apps - and only few people wants to know more about the internal function because technology is ALL around us.
So the complete "spirit" of that time in the 80s is gone, nobody is impressed today if you were able to program a cool application on your computer or mobile. There is no exploratory spirit anymore, if you don't have something you simply google if there is any existing app, download it and use it. Can be done by anyone. We now LIVE in the science fiction days of our youth and there is nothing special about it anymore - although we have so fantastic hardware where we can see a HD movie on a small mobile phone, we never dreamt about that in these days.
I remember how proud I was when I entered the first BASIC program from the C64 manual which did such fantastic thing like displaying some colored bars in an endless loop on a random basis - yeaaah - I was the "master of the TV", I was able to change the picture there!...
I don't think that the youth of today which starts there life with painting with a tablet will ever have that kind of fascination we had in our youth or even have the motivation to understand this technology or program it. The technology they now have will be old some years later and most of the knowledge is useless then. What we learnt in these days is still the basics of newest technology but today nobody would try to learn about bits when there is this simple call in a programming language which opens a window and display a text in a vector font without knowing how much technology in the background is needed to do all that. Just say "open window, display "Hello" there".
I love the easiness of modern technology and how much work it saves to create modern apps, but the spirit of the 80s is lost forever and will never come back. Independent of if the computer was a C16, a PET, a C64, an Amiga, an Atari and so on. (I also had an Amiga 1000 as next, this was the second big jump in technology with multitasking, mouse, multiple screens, great sound and graphic and so on when a PC at that time could just start DOS...)
I think, to get that kind of fascination nowadays we would need at least a holographic 3D screen, augmented reality (working..) at mobile level, direct speech communication where the computer really understands what I'm talking about and so on - that would be the similar jump in technology from everything around us as we had in these times.
When I was about 10 I had my first contact with a computer, a mainframe (I don't know which one). I went with my father (as a trip companion) to a medical associations meeting. Being there, bored, a man took me to the computer room, sat me in front of a terminal and gave me some instructions to play a few games. I played Start Trek and others. I was amazed, the place was really cold but I stayed the whole afternoon there. That situation convinced me to "what I going to do when I'll be big".
Some time after that, he bought me my first computer, a Timex Sinclair 1000 with 2KB of ram, later a 16KB ram pack. With that machine I learned BASIC, z80 assembler and some digital electronics.
My second computer was a TS-2068. At that time I played with C64/C128 of my friends.
Later I, by myself, bought my first PC, a 386 with color monitor, it cost me $2600.
And now here we are, making software as a way of life.
Long live to Sir Clive, Jack Tramiel and many others.
Hoping not have bored you so much.
Regards from Argentina.
My first experience with computers was an 8080 and then an 8085 that my father was working on in the late 1970's. They came as project boards to be hand-spooled with about a 20 key keypad to be hand programmed directly in machine code. Then, a video game system kit built possibly before they were available in stores in the early 1980's. After that I was fortunate enough to have my on Tandy MC-10 with 4kb then later 64kb of memory, and a CoCo 3 that I much enjoyed. In between I also had a TRS-80 Model III computer with programs to conquer like ARS and Eliza[^], both of I took an interest in even at the tender age of 12. The most important thing, apart from having all of the manuals for BASIC, was the monthly subscription to hardware specific magazines to practice typing and learn programming techniques by examining other people's code. On the 68B09E I even learnt to program directly in machine code, used the cursor interrupt to operate a print spooler, and picked up all of that from one book (possible the one by. David W Harding) having already learned every conceivable command in BASIC.
LOGO at school on the Apple IIc computers was quite straight forward. I solved Island and with the assistance of an Atlas from the school library found that it is Haiti. By the time I was second-year apprentice I was teaching the other students ladder logic for Idec Izumi PLC's - shifting into IT ten years after commencing a trade was the most straight forward thing, and a real understatement at that.
Now I recommend an early involvement with children and technology. If someone still has all of the Australian MC-10 and CoCo magazine, acquire a free licence and put them up on cafe press to be printed on demand. It does not matter that it is the same editions over and over, just buy one copy a month. I had interests in sport and captained an u15's Australian Rules team, played basketball and was never stuck inside apart from for several hours a week in front of a keyboard WITH NO INTERNET. Later I became proficient in HTML, and then PHP.
Currently I am completing a Masters in Cyber Security. The course work is easy, it is just a matter of writing enough to please the assessing facilitators as I usually write succinctly.
Young people need to realise they can accomplish much. I was gifted, both in my ability and in that my father studied electronics, learned to program and, was able to give me a good seat to learn. My grandfather (on my mother's side) supported my studies also. Learn logical, sequential thinking. Learn how to break a complex idea down into a logical sequence of steps. Learn how to solve problems. Learn how to think big. Learn how to help others. And most of all (and I learned this first of all nearly), learn how to enjoy life.
I would like to answer saying that it was an i7 8th generation.
It would make me sound young and if I tell the truth then it gives my age away.
What the elephant......
Here we go......
Fun but keyboard was elephanted
Sinclair ZX Spectrum
Fun and keyboard better but still elephanted
Then a machine that was made by Burroughs but not branded by them.
Can't remember the name now, but it was the most fun that you could have.
Good colour graphics, sprites and the fastest and most reliable cassette save and load.
Wrote heaps of code on this including business and games.
A Sony something that was used in TV studios for graphics.
This was a fun machine. Propriety as well as CPM OS.
Thoroughly enjoyed it. Wrote heaps of code on this.
Then a TRS-80 Model 4 - 128
TRS-Dos and CPM
Much fun. Lots of code
IBM XT with Maths Co-processor
Did heaps on this also.
Did more on this.
This was perhaps the weirdest PC as I built it on a chip board frame.
All open so I could swap what ever in and out.
It looked agricultural but it was fun as well as fast for those days.
i7 in various robes ever since.
I never had a C64 so my equivalent was probably the one that I can't remember the name of.
I thought that it was better as I didn't need to peek and poke so much, although I could if required.
I must need to replace my RAM else I would remember it's name.
"Rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read." Frank Zappa 1980
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.
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