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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
Keyboard quality & layout was one of the biggest factors in my latest laptop purchase (a Lenovo P1 - very nice). Hate the Dell(s) I get from work, HPs are dreadful, and so are Macs now (I have a 2009 MacBook Pro, which has the best laptop keyboard I’ve ever used, but the current ones are lousy).
But none of them are as good as my mechanical keyboard...
Java, Basic, who cares - it's all a bunch of tree-hugging hippy cr*p
Laptop vendors considering their special keys more important than the standard keys sadly ain't news. Having to press Fn to access keys like F5 because lowering the brightness is obviously more important than getting things done is pretty much the standard nowadays. And smuggling the Fn key where the Ctrl key should be (and putting Ctrl in place of Fn) goes back years as well.
I dare to claim that this cancer ain't new either but rather metastasis of the older issue: Software pack-ins. Every friggin' system vendor wants to differentiate itself by filling the preinstalled system with their crap instead of differentiating themselves by simply providing a work environment out-of-the-box.