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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.
My first was a Sinclair ZX 81 with 1K of memory used a standard cassette drive for storage. Upgraded it to 64K and Streaming Tape Drive. Upgraded to C64 -> C128 - Amiga 1000 -> Amgia 500 -> Amiga 2000 -> Amiga 4000 (Still have the A4000 and ZX 81). Currently using MackBook Pro.
Mine was a C64. It was a big improvement to get the disk drive, even if I did have to leave the cover off so I could get the disk spinning by hand. The best thing was a Forth cartridge that I used to write a version of Conway's Life. My favorite programming experience to date.
My C64 was a C64C. I really loved that machine, although we got it very late in the machine's life (around 1990). It was amazing because you were dumped straight into the Basic interpreter within a second or so of flipping the power switch. Even though it was a terrible Basic dialect, it was the beginning of a lifelong journey of learning actual magic.
A couple of years later, we got an Atari STFM with 512 kb of RAM -- a pretty nice upgrade. Between that and the 4MB STFM I scored a year or so after that (complete with a disk box chock-full of pirate menudisks), I got a taste of programming in GFA Basic (and the less elegant STOS Basic), 68000 assembly and C. Good times!
My first computer was during that time, too. It was a Texas Instruments TI-99/4a. Spent countless hours typing in TI-Basic.
They had a magazine, too, with games you could type in line-by-line. They didn’t always work. And there was no reliable way to save them. So you basically just left it on and played as long as you could. Then deleted and started the next game. I didn’t care, it was my first programming experience and I enjoyed it.
I also remember doing loops, alternating between a color and black. Yes, I turned that big old monitor into a strobe light! Lol! What do you expect, I was between 10-13 when I had that computer. I had fun hacking away in TI-Basic.
I have always wished for my computer to be as easy to use as my telephone; my wish has come true because I can no longer figure out how to use my telephone - Bjarne Stroustrup
The world is going to laugh at you anyway, might as well crack the 1st joke!
My code has no bugs, it runs exactly as it was written.
Same here. My first was a TI99/4a. Toys-R-Us put it on sale in about 1983. I went first thing in the morning and the line went all they way out into the parking lot behind the store. Although disappointed in my chances of getting a computer I got in line. Turns out it was a line for Cabbage Patch Dolls. Once I figured that out, it was to the front of the line and my home computer programming life began. Dog eared TI Basic book. I knew every page. I created a raster graphics package that reprogrammed the few characters you could define. Eventually got an assembler cartridge. That was great. Next computer - C64 and the joy of raster interrupts.
Bought a C64 for $395 in 1980. First used Basic for programming but got bored -- not really into playing computer games. Bought the C64 programmers guide and a book on microprocessors and learned all about machine/assembly language -- broke copy protection on a few games just for fun. In ~1987 bought an Amiga A2000... great machine at its time. Funny part is, my first degree was in Biology ('82), then went to grad school and did masters in computer sci. Enjoyed programming in '80, and still luv what I do!
I started with an Atari 600XL, added the cassette tape drive. (!) Looking back, that was
a nightmare device. I still have it, and it still works.
I upgraded to an 800XL and added the 1050 floppy disk drive. Still have all of my
Atari home computer hardware, and I've kept it up well, and it all still works. I even
made the modifications to the 800XL to make it a quarter-meg of ram (for those who remember that)
My first experience with assembly language was with these computers, and I even wrote a 'new'
high level language and compiler for it. I call it ESE (taken from computer-ese). Started
with a compiler in Atari Basic and then after getting the system to work, compiled ESE using
itself! How's that for CASE?
No one has really answered your question "Was that really that good". The answer, without hesitation, is YES!
It is hard to describe the joy of doing something which is utterly new and just "getting it". Stretching your mind to do something with such a tiny machine.
With the first 8086 machines, getting into assembler and understanding what the computer was actually doing, and how it did it.
That's why old codgers regard all this GUI stuff as just bloatware.
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.
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