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My first computer was a Commodore PET 2001[^] (the original model, with 4KB of memory). I later upgraded it to 8KB (!) of memory. From there I upgraded to an IBM portable PC[^] (portable if you were a gorilla - it weighed about 14 Kg!).
I could never persuade my parents to upgrade the PET with a floppy, and at the time my allowance would never have stretched that far.
If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time - a tremendous whack.
The stringy tape concept had been around for a long time by then, and survived in QIC format for quite a while longer. Old time PDP programmers will remember the LINCtape and later DECtape drives on PDP-8s that go back to the 60s. They were bi-directional block replaceable tape drives, sort of a linear disk drive. DECtape was a vast imnprovement over paper tape.
There were some QIC tape cartridge drives that used a floppy interface to implement a stringy floppy. QIC-40 was a common backup medium on early PCs. Just start the backup when you finished for the day to save an overnight copy of that huge 20MB disk drive.
I had the Atari 410 tape drive. Boy I wish I had my old programs from back then - all lost in the black hole where stray cassette tapes got sucked into
I remember rendering images by changing formulas in a loop to generate colored pixels... basically was experimenting with fractals in the early 80's as a kid. Had no idea what they were nor their potential. I just liked the beautiful patterns. Looking back I was more nerdy than I would have thought at the time.
Then by any measure in my book you are a wealthy man my friend!
Those were good days for me. These days its hard to recapture the *actual* thrill felt back then of exploring algorithms for the first time. It probably has something to do with the utter lack of worldly responsibilities I enjoyed as a kid. Everything comes with such weight attached to it now in middle age... deadlines, boss or peer review, balancing home and family life, managing debt, mortgages, etc.
I should probably add staving off alcoholism to that list cuz I feel the strong need for a drink right now.
I had a tape drive for an Atari -- it would buzz once if it wanted you to press Play, and twice if it also wanted you to press Record. It was about as reliable as predicting a sunny day in England. Later, I got an Epson HX-20 and it had a cassette drive which took the type of tapes you put into a dictation machine. It could wind to a specific position *under software control* -- luxury! It was almost - but not quite - entirely unlike having proper random access to the backing store. That computer also had a little printer which printed on cash register paper. If (with a bit of machine code) you disabled the safeties which powered the thing down if it ever went nuts, then told the printer to stick out its (single) pin and keep it there, it would burn out after a couple of minutes and smoke would come out of the printer. Very satisfying. A friend of mine used to go to Dixon's (which was an electronics retailer in the UK) and burn out their HX-20 display models...
Never had one of those but do remember, in about 1981 or so being given a sample "hobbit drive" which was a small digital cassette drive with a view to possibly using it in a project. It had a hinged door like a hi-fi style cassette unit, but took tapes about as small as the ones that fit in pocket dictaphones. Never did get around to evaluating it.
EDIT - found some details. The company I was then working at sold a machine which was based on the Nascom so that would fit.
I remember the Exatron drive, but never had one. Like several on the list, my history started with Atari 800 and a 410 recorder; migrated to 810 then 1050 disk drives (remember 88K/floppy?). After the N key quit on my 800, I got an Atari 1200, a design I still think was one of the most elegant ever. Then bought an Amiga 1000 because, as one person wrote, it was designed by the Atari guys (Jay Miner et al): nice machine that never lived up to its potential through extreme corporate mismanagement.
Eventually, I was reluctantly dragged into the Microsoft Windows world when I bought a DEC PC (having used PDP-11's at college and my first job). Bought a Gateway and a Dell along the way, too. Finally, made the escape to Apple about 2010.
For those who want to relive that past, there are some excellent emulators with a lot of the old software out there. I am getting great joy out of Atari800MacX with a couple of USB Atari-style joysticks these days. Today's games using fancy controllers with more than one joystick and a button are too complicated for me!