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The company I worked for gave me and DEC LSI-11/23 running some flavor of unix, with the cc compiler and a vt100 to take home as it was destined for scrap. This was the day of the C64, Amiga and others.
This was entertaining until I got one of those new fangled 8088 XT PC clones from Taiwan - the ones with the flip top metal case that were seemingly everywhere and ran DOS 3.31.
In between the family bought a TI994a that had BASIC and went composite to the TV but frankly, that didn't count for much of anything. We made basic loops that send expletives to the TV. Ah-ha, see what we made the computer say. Today fortunately for everyone, our Echo Dot is hip to our tendencies and won't play ball.
At first there was the PET, 25 lines by 40 columns with character graphics and all the green screen fun you might want. I spent a fortune to increase the memory from 8k to 16k. Then I spent another fortune on twin floppy-disk drives. The equivalent of $2,000 for 1.02Mb Commodore format 5 1/4" floppies. Then I got a second-hand "business class" PET fairly cheap with 25 lines and 80 columns and a very pale green (they claimed white) screen. Amazing - except the lines didn't join vertically as there was a couple of pixels gap between lines, presumably to improve readability on lines of business stuff - but no good for games.
I then started a home PC rental company and supplied ZX-81s, Dragons, BBC-Bs, TRS-80s and the brand new ZX-Spectrum! We set up the option to rent before you buy and most people ended up buying, thank goodness. It didn't last long as a couple of friends of mine I partnered with wanted to concentrate on ZX-81s and I wanted to just do the BBC-B. They were married and outvoted me 2 to 1 so we got a bunch of ZX-81s (and Spectrums) which luckily sold quickly bringing almost no income or profit. At the same time we got dozens of requests for the BBC micro but we ran out after we sold both we had in stock and my partners didn't want to admit they were wrong so we didn't buy more - and closed down the business after the last PC we had, the one and only Dragon, sold.
Then, PCs, and the rest is history.
Note: We also had a VIC 20 but never had a C64.
- I would love to change the world, but they won’t give me the source code.
I was 16 during the 'price wars' of the early '80s. My parents got us (my brothers and I) a TI-994/a for Christmas of '82. (maybe '83?) I was the only one that took an interest in it aside from the few games that came with it and was soon using it to solve high school math homework. I still have it in the original box.
I took several CS classes at uni in the late '80s but got barred from the computer lab when I refused to give up a terminal to a grad student. I would not own another computer until my Dad brought home a couple of PowerMac 6100s (around '97) that were being scrapped at his work. (one of the baby bells) I got back into school and bought my first Windows system in late '98. What a wondrous thing it was to discover that the computer lab was a thing of the past!
This is going to be slightly embarrasing, but my first computer was a Bally Astrocade[^].
I got the BASIC cartridge for it. It had a mind boggling 1.8K of RAM. That's right, 1,760 BYTES to store your code! But, the cart didn't have any RAM at all, so where does your code get stored? It was very cleverly interleaved into the video RAM.
...and that's what kicked off my career in code, 1978.
Yes, you can write code on a calculator keypad. There was a keypad overlay, and the bottom row of keys were 4 different "shift" keys. Every other key on the keypad had up to 5 different meanings, like a letter, number, symbol, or BASIC keyword, depending on which "shift" key was used before it, or none of them.
My first computer was the Sinclair ZX81 which had 1K of RAM. I was ecstatic when the 16 expansion module came out, because I could do my inventory with it. My next was the C64, an incredible bargain considering what it could do. I learned both C and assembly with that PC. My next PC was the Amiga 1000, and after that, I had learned enough to change careers and program professionally. I still have all three computers.
I did have a "hand-me-down" ZX-81 that I got from someone -- the original owner had bought it as a kit and assembled it. The ZX-81 was definitely an interesting little micro -- particularly interesting was the level of minimalism.
The first microcomputer I'd used was the TRS-80 model I back in high school -- had enrolled in the computer programming course the year the school acquired 3 TRS-80s to replace the teletype and dial-up access to a local mainframe (they got the TRS-80s since they could get three of them for the same amount of money that was spent on access to mainframe w/ one teletype terminal. Initially the TRS-80s didn't have diskette, so we had to use audio cassette for storage. Each one was eventually upgraded to diskette configuration in the following years).
I never had a C64 but I have an amusing story about them.
At my first job out of school we did a lot of rather interesting projects. We also did some weird ones. One of them was for a large manufacturer of batteries. They made a system in-house that monitored the growth of the cells in a deposition furnace. The system used a very early CCD array (essentially a DRAM chip with the cover removed) as a digital camera and a program written in BASIC to examine the image from the camera and decide when the cell was had grown enough. Our part of the system was procurement and assembly of some things. The amusing part of all of this is the system ran on a Commodore 64. Our purchasing agent looked "all over" for a source and finally went down to the local K-Mart and bought 98 Commodore 64s. I think it took three trips to get them all to the shop. I thought the whole thing was hilarious, especially the part about getting them at K-mart. That was the one and only I remember ever buying anything at K-mart for a project in my entire career.
"They have a consciousness, they have a life, they have a soul! Damn you! Let the rabbits wear glasses! Save our brothers! Can I get an amen?"
My first computer was a C64, which my dad got me on Christmas of 83, I believe, which would've made me 11. That, and the tape drive. All I could do during that first year was type in my own programs (or from magazines) and save them to cassette, or play cartridge-based games. The next Christmas, I got the floppy drive - so despite it being notoriously slow, given I had gotten used to a tape drive for a year, I thought that was a huge improvement. The following Christmas, I got a printer. In hindsight, given what each device sold for, even back then, I really have to appreciate this amounted to a lot of money my dad set aside to get me these one Christmas after another.
I then bought myself the C64C, so my folks gave the original one (just the computer) to a couple of friends of theirs, for their kid. Later I got myself the C128. I genuinely have no idea what happened to those computers...sometimes I wish I still had them. I remember doing a lot of high school work with GEOS. The Amiga was always out of my reach, price-wise, but Commodore advertised it rather heavily in the magazines I read, so I did have a bit of envy. It's probably just as well I didn't know anyone who had one.
Having a bit of a hard time with English technical manuals during my teen years, while I did learn a lot of Basic, I never learned assembly, so PEEKs and POKEs meant nothing for me except for a few items I had come to learn by heart.
About 2 years ago, thanks to Amazon shipping internationally, I bought the C64 Mini (look it up) when it was still only available in Europe...had I waited a few more months, when it finally showed up in the US and Canada, I could've paid a lot less for it. But, I don't really regret it. While it's okay for some games, the moment you need to use the keyboard, you're at a real disadvantage - you either have to use an onscreen keyboard that you can only control through the USB joystick, or hook up a USB keyboard (and my hub somehow doesn't work with it). The company that makes it will be releasing a full-size version at the end of the year (with a functional keyboard, this time around), and I have to admit I'm rather intrigued... Emulators on a PC don't do it for me.
Archive.org has a ton of old magazines, and I actually remember some covers from a few of them. While they're interesting enough for a quick read here and there, just for nostalgia's sake, I can't imagine myself sitting down and start typing in some of the sample listings.
So what was so great? Well, this is where I learned programming (admittedly to a somewhat limited extent), but it's all I had needed to convince myself at a very young age I was going to make a career out of this hobby, so by the time I got to formally study computer science, I found I had an advantage over most of the students I had classes with. For one thing, I never questioned whether this was the career path for me. Clearly, some had never even asked themselves until they were already of college age.
Mine was a spectrum 128k with some games coming in cassette (I remember "Panic in the orient express")
I suppose I am one of the "youngsters" over here
If something has a solution... Why do we have to worry about?. If it has no solution... For what reason do we have to worry about?
Help me to understand what I'm saying, and I'll explain it better to you
Rating helpful answers is nice, but saying thanks can be even nicer.
Mine was a "Junior" computer. A 1979 or so clone of the KIM1, available as a self assembly kit from an DIY electronics magazine called "Elektuur" ( "Elektor Labs" these days ).
1K of RAM, 1K of ROM, a HEX keyboard 6 digit 7 segment display and no storage. No compiler, no assembler: simply type in the actual hex codes for the 6502 assembly instructions one by one and start the program.
Mind you: in the end you do get to know how a processor works. The main reason why I ended up in embedded control systems.
My C64 is the C128. Although I must admit that I spent about 90% of the time in C64 mode, mostly not for programming or making music or demos but for playing games. I knew a little C64 Basic already when I got the machine and appreciated the extended syntax of C128 Basic very much. Unfortunately, extended syntax at the same CPU speed means slower execution, so I finally turned back to C64 Basic and also learned a little assembler for the time-critical stuff like copying a whole screen full of characters from an offscreen buffer to the display.
The two things I liked most about the C64 were its sound capabilities (SID chip forever!! ) and the way you could glean much more potential from the machine than its obvious capabilities. You could do real magic if you knew all the not-so-well-documented tricks like certain memory addresses, interrupt, raster interrupt or the 4th audio voice, which could be used for playing sampled stuff like digital drums. It was a world with very narrow boundaries that could be vastly extended, that's what was so cool about it for me. Unfortunately, I was born a few years to late, bc once I had become really good on the C64, everybody else had switched to Amiga already.
My "C64", that is the first computer I had, was some Windows 95 machine built by a local electronics store. I learned programming later, staring with some HTML (which is programming in a rather loose sense of that word), then PHP, then Delphi and later low-level stuff like C and ASM. Both I learned after learning C# in the meanwhile.
My first comp was (Sinclair) ZX81 with 1Kb of ram, upgraded with 16K module
After that it was ZX Spectrum 48K with total of 48 Kb J. Thanks to very specific feature of Spectrum (most of his basic was one byte commands, not byte per letter) I was able to make some very fancy programs like (not so simple) FEM (Finite elements method) calculation...
My First PC-like comp was IBM IT (not AT) that has numeric coprocessor (wow !)
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.