The first computer I used was a DECsystem-10 running TOPS-10 circa.1972/73, located at Hatfield Polytechnic (as it was then known), whilst still at school studying for CSE Comp.Sci.
We coded BASIC and BBC-X(1), onto coding sheets which were picked up on Tuesdays and Fridays by a courier and taken to the college where students (usually not Comp.Sci. students) were paid some measily rate to type them in on teletypes. They came back with the courier 3 or 4 days later with the attached teletype output for analysis and correction. You had to remember to indicate every single step on the coding sheet. For instance, if you forgot to indicate on the sheet that the student should hit the enter key after the word RUN, then they would type the R U N and then wait for a few minutes, before typing ^C , tearing off the print out, and moving on to the next sheet. Very frustrating.
Later, we got a 300 baud acoustic coupler modem at the school, but we were rationed as to how much we could use it because of the cost of the phone calls.
In 1981, the first 'personal computer' I had the use of (but didn't own) a ZX-80, with 1K of in-built ram and an add-on 16k memory pack almost as big as the computer itself which plugged on the back. This had a tendancy to over-heat, so I used to use a tupperware box full of ice held to the back with a couple of elastic bands to prevent it going into thermal overload and dumping the program I was working. When this happened, it meant reloading the program from audio cassette tape--if I had backed it up recently--which was a very hit and miss affair at best.
The first computer I actually owned was an NBC-550 with 48k of ram, twin 128k 5 1/4 inch floppy drives, and a 4MHz Zilog Z-80 processor. It was an almost-IBM-PC clone, with BASIC-in-ROM and running MS-DOS 1.25. It cost £650.00 as a slightly soiled, ex-display model. For comparison, my salary at that time (1983) as a permanent Programmer-Analyst, was the princely sum of £5000.00/annum! I bought a 4 y/o car the same year for under £1000.00.
(1) A pseudo-assembler language that was actually just a BASIC program written by the course designers, and of which I can find no trace on the web.
Examine what is said, not who speaks.
"Efficiency is intelligent laziness." -David Dunham
"When I'm working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong." -Richard Buckminster Fuller
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