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My first computer was...

by belg4mit (Prior)
on Jul 03, 2003 at 18:57 UTC ( #271255=poll: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

vote on My first computer was...

Heathkit EC-1
[bar] 4/0%
[bar] 28/2%
[bar] 0/0%
Mark 8
[bar] 1/0%
[bar] 21/1%
Altair 8800
[bar] 4/0%
Apple ][.*
[bar] 154/10%
[bar] 97/7%
Atari 400/800
[bar] 58/4%
[bar] 61/4%
IBM 5100
[bar] 2/0%
Commodore PET
[bar] 27/2%
[bar] 56/4%
Sinclair ZX.*
[bar] 156/10%
[bar] 16/1%
[bar] 1/0%
Vic 20
[bar] 85/6%
[bar] 7/0%
TI-99 / DAI
[bar] 63/4%
Commodore 64
[bar] 246/17%
Coleco Adam
[bar] 6/0%
Apple Lisa
[bar] 2/0%
[bar] 12/1%
Generic 186, 286
[bar] 73/5%
[bar] 22/1%
Macintosh 128/512
[bar] 26/2%
Generic 386
[bar] 53/4%
[bar] 24/2%
Generic 486
[bar] 53/4%
Macintosh Classic/SE
[bar] 25/2%
[bar] 2/0%
Pentium (I)
[bar] 46/3%
Pentium II+ (686)
[bar] 19/1%
Power Mac
[bar] 7/0%
[bar] 0/0%
[bar] 12/1%
[bar] 2/0%
[bar] 3/0%
Don't have one
[bar] 12/1%
1486 total votes
Comment on My first computer was...
Re: My first computer was...
by blaisedec (Initiate) on Jul 03, 2003 at 19:09 UTC
    I answered 8080 because that was the closest the list had -- it was actually a Z-80 with 64M RAM and dual 5 1/4" floppies. was actually a Z-80 with 64M RAM...

      I suspect you mean 64k RAM (how soon we forget)

        64k? HA! Boy, my second computer was a ZX-81 with but a single measly Kilobyte of memory. I drooled over a the ZX-81 expansion pack for a full 16K.

        Uphill! Bothways! Etc! In the days when computer were less cool than Ham Radio's, and assembly was a high level language! How soon we forget!



        Light a man a fire, he's warm for a day. Catch a man on fire, and he's warm for the rest of his life. - Terry Pratchet

        >> was actually a Z-80 with 64M RAM...
        > I suspect you mean 64k RAM (how soon we forget)

        This sketchy description sounds very much like the Osborne 1 or the KayPro 2 (with the the two 5.25" floppies).

        It was an interesting time. The OS booted in about 5 seconds, Wordstar took about 20K of memory (using overlays to swap in code), a single floppy could hold the OS, an application, as well as some data.

        "Computeri non cogitant, ergo non sunt"

      My first was an S100-based Z80 system (with 64K of RAM) and dual 8" floppies, running CP/M. And a Heathkit H19 terminal, lovingly hand-soldered. Ran the BDS C compiler, and the Mince (Mince Is Not Complete Emacs) editor. I got 2 1/2 years of use out of it before getting the first IBM PC.

        BDS C, now *that* brings back some memories. I remember absolutely *hating* to put printf in my programs because it made the executables 4K larger. It was incredibly fast, too. You'd just have a few of clink-clunks (disk accesses) and your program would be compiled. Until Turbo Pascal, it was the hottest thing going (for me, at least).

        On that node, anyone wanting an AMPRO or two, complete with manuals, CP/M manuals and disks, just let me know and pay shipping. (Ampro: a single board computer that you would solder together. Z-80 based, the board was the same footprint as a 5-1/4" floppy drive, so you could attach it to the side of a drive to make a small embedded system. They were pretty fun toys.)


      My first computer was a 286 compatable hewlett packard. I was either 10 or 12 when I got it, and I used that thing until the first pentiums came out!

      When we finally replaced it, it wouldn't boot every time you attempted to do so, so you had to turn it off and on about 20 times before it would finally work. There were little tricks, like pressing the button slowly, etc. that had to be used also.. it's pretty funny, looking back on it.

      Anyone else have stories like that?

      I started programming a little QBASIC on it, but I never managed to get very far. I did have a lot of fun on it, though, and I learned to use MSDOS (it was exciting when I upgraded DOS versions and there was a move command -- no more copying then deleting for me!) and a basic gui that was currently in use at Ontario Hydro.

      In high school, I learned Turbo Pascal 5, and I've enjoyed computer programming since then.

      My father's friend trained new employees at his company on computer use, and he was a lot of help to me.


      "For fate which has ordained that there shall be no friendship among the evil has also ordained that there shall ever be friendship among the good." - Plato / Socrates
      Well, in about 1974 (I think it was) I was commisioned to design a system using the then VERY new Intel 8080, not even an 8080A! I had a Teletype model 33 which was not being used for anything else so I wire wrapped a board with the 8080, the support logic, 4 1702A EPROMs and some 1103 (I think) dynamic RAM chips, all of 512bytes of RAM as I recall.

      The 1702's were programmed in a programmer of our own design which was run by an Interdata Model 70 which we purchased in 1972 as I recall.

      Interstingly we need floating point capability for a project only a couple of years later. For this we made our own hardware floating point box using a MOSTEK calculator chipset (I think it was from an HP calculator as it worked in Reverse Polish Notation) which we interfaced to the later 8080A based design which by then had the 8224 and 8228 support IC's (clock generator and bus support logic as I recall) available.

      All of this time the mass storage on our 8080 machines was paper tape and EPROMs supported by the Interdata 70 and a Data General Nova which also had an EPROM programmer and an 9 track tape drive.

      Now I wonder how we did it all! From there it was CP/M in about 1976 and eventually we built some systems using MP/M and MP/M-II. We retired the MP/M systems in 1998, but at last check there are still two of our very original 808 systems still in service, and at least one of the 8080A/Calculator systems. Boy this poll made me nostalgic!

      For those interested, I will be 50 this year so I suppose I have been working throughout the entire micro/personal computer revolution! Especially as a hardware designer.

Re: My first computer was...
by MrCromeDome (Deacon) on Jul 03, 2003 at 19:12 UTC
    My Commodore 64 was probably the best investment my parents ever made (at least from my standpoint). They first purchased it in. . . 1984(?) and I fell in love with it immediately. Power and simplicity, all rolled into one affordable package.

    I probably started programming it about 1988 (around the time I was 12), and by 14 the basics of programming had finally clicked. Two years after that, I taught myself assembly language on the C-64 at the same time I took a very heavy logic/proof based geometry class in high school. Smartest thing I ever did. Everything started to fall into place for me from that point on, and I never looked back.

    I've had a lot of other computers over the years, but nothing has quite held a place in my heart like my C-64. I still keep it around, and cannot bear to part with it. In fact, as soon as I get my basement cleaned out, I'll probably set it up again there for old times sake!


      This is fascinating! CromeDome, your story almost parallels mine! I live in jamaica, my people bought me a TRS-80 in 1983 and trust me, it was the best investment they ever made in me! It was typical of them though, the'd invest in anything, as long as it was an investment in phillip's future! I bought the manual and read it before they got me the machine! I soon got bored with it though, not enough power. I got... err... what was the assembler called? I forget, but I got that and a copy of the book about 6809 assembler on the color computer by... I think it was Jim Butterfield... I learned assembly but alas, soon got bored with assembler... This is so fascinating to remember! This is stuff you never think about... I've done so many things, I've been in theatre, I fiddle with music, and in IT, I've done consultancy, web development, so many things, but every time someone asks me "what do you do?" and I give a specific answer, I always say "I'm a programmer"
      Just three words: Same for me.

      It's hard to believe that a computer can take so much place in one's heart. But I still get a warm feeling when I start an emulator (vice or c64s) and start playing a few games. In fact I lie, my first contact with a computer was with logo on an apple ][, at school when i was 8 (around 1982), but the C64 was the first one i got home. That computer got me hooked on programming, first with basic and shortly after to assembly - when i saw the difference in speed between:
      	10 A=0; POKE 53280, A; A = A+1; GOTO 10

      		INC $D020
      		JMP LOOP

      there was no negotiations. Once you start taking over the computer, pushing it to its limit, you can never get back.

      Strange, I can't remember my own phone number but I still remember SYS 49152 to fire off turbo assembler or the $D012 for the rasters. I never finished school mostly due to that machine, while others where listening the math teacher i was inspecting C64 assembly code to understand how other guys made a nice effect in an intro or looking at 1541 protections routines... (printed on a 40 columns printer, it was roll paper. The sheet was, maybe, 7 centimeters large). It was a time where documentation meant nothing, and you had to get it the hard way. It was a time where experience was something you don't get until just after you needed it. It was a time where copied/pirated games where sold in shops and where the RIAA, DMCA, or same organisations where laugh at. It was a time where all cracking groups'name were written with 3 characters (DCA, BCA, RCA, KGB, HTL, EPX, TWT, HOT, FLT, NOP, WOW, etc.). It was a time where assembly language was a high-level language /Erik Harrison. It was a time where @!#?@! meant life or death. It was a time where Peeking and Poking memory locations was the height of fashion /Barbie. It was a time where peer-to-peer was made with pigeons networks...

      After that I've been a little on the archimede, then amiga for a few years, and finally the pc (started with a 386 -- the dos was a pain after the amiga and the archimede). Never left assembly programming though. Over the years I finally got a nice collection of computers and consoles, sadly now most of them are in a friend's attic (i dont have the place here) which includes: a Vectrex, a ZX81, a VideoPack, two C64, a Commodore 116 (quite rare), an Apple ][, a Schneider 6128, a C128D, two A500, one A1000, a SNES (japanese version with a debugging tools and a parallel connection to the PC), and a 286 but IBM PC doesnt count i guess. Sometimes i take one home, open it to clean the dust and start to play with it. Call that Nostalgy...

      And guess what... I'm paid to work with computers now... ;-)
      Yep, just about the same story here, too. BASIC in middle school and 6502 assembly in high school. And don't forget MULE.
Re: My first computer was...
by fredopalus (Friar) on Jul 03, 2003 at 19:20 UTC

    Unfortunately, it wasn't fast enough. So, I got a Commodore 64. :-)
Re: My first computer was... (a terminal)
by tye (Cardinal) on Jul 03, 2003 at 19:24 UTC

    My first computer equipment was a 300-baud modem and a Heathkit terminal (which quickly had a modified Domino's pizza box and a long ribbon cable added to make the keyboard detachable). The first computer I owned was a Sinclair ZX-80. The next was my current Athlon. I mostly used computers that I didn't own.

                    - tye
      Slightly offtopic, but I have a Heathkit amplifier that my father built sitting on my desk. It is honestly the coolest thing he ever gave me. Apart from half my DNA, of course.

      I didn't believe in evil until I dated it.

Re: My first computer was...
by mr_mischief (Prior) on Jul 03, 2003 at 19:34 UTC
    I voted Atari 400/800, but mine was actually a 600. It's in parts but I still have it.

    I do have a working Commodore 64 and several working 286, 386, 486, Pentium, and K6 class PCs. I have had Amigas, Apple II's, Macs, etc. I currently have a few old computers not on the list, too. A Sun SparcServer 600 and a Cado Systems Tiger 16 are my prized obsolete systems. I really enjoy collecting older systems.

    My current somewhat recent systems are all AMD based, but I'm considering getting a used Powerbook, iBook, or Sparcbook.

    Christopher E. Stith
Re: My first computer was...
by Rex(Wrecks) (Curate) on Jul 03, 2003 at 19:41 UTC
    The Atari 800 with the 16k memory expansion module, and I even had a cassette drive to store code on. That and it ran Donkey Kong better than anything else at the time except the arcade game!

    From there, Apple II, then 286, 386, 486, Pentium, 586, Pentium MMX, Pentium II, Alpha "Tin Cup", Pentium 3, Athlon, StrongARM, Pentium 4.

    Currently own and run: PII 400 laptop, 2 x Dual P3 600, PII 400, Ahtlon 1 Ghz, P4 3.06 Ghz laptop, P3 600 laptop, and some P3 Compaq tower POS. All have thier function in my increasingly digital life :)

    "Nothing is sure but death and taxes" I say combine the two and its death to all taxes!
Re: My first computer was...
by kudra (Vicar) on Jul 03, 2003 at 19:48 UTC
    Mine was an Apple][+, circa 1985. I can remember programming Basic on that thing, which had an all-caps keyboard. My mother still has one of the games I wrote, although I don't have a computer that could use the disk. Most people I know around my age started with the C64.

    I find it interesting how many programmers are now returning to macs. I wonder if it's as much fun as it used to be... I do know none of the current games compares to playing frogger on that ][+.

      that was my first virus experience... (not created by me but its existence). An Apple floppy that when copied filled itself with strange characters up 2 the limit :) .
      My first PC was the Apple ][ but not the plus. 48K RAM, Tape recorder to load programs from cassette. Then I upgraded with the following items: 16k RAM card, dual 5 1/4 inch floppies that held 135K each, 80 column video card from Doublevision, 300 baud Hayes modem that looked like a large black cigarette box.

      When I really had the money I added the following: dual 8 inch Lobo floppy drives the size of a small tank :}, 14MB Gallium hard drive custom made for me (actually two 7MB drives), Z-80 CP/M card to run CP/M, Corvus hard drives, Nestar Network.

      I still have the orginal Visicalc program in it's brown vinyl binder.


      There are three types of people in this world, those that can count and those that cannot. Anon

        Babbage difference engine -- hah! I'm older than all of you!

        Actually, the first machine I programmed was an IBM 370. I was taking a special math class in junior high school and they let us program the school district computer. Turn in your cards and get a printout back in about a week.

        The first computer I owned was an Apple ][, much like yours. 64K with the Pascal card, single floppy.

Re: My first computer was...
by Nkuvu (Priest) on Jul 03, 2003 at 20:25 UTC

    TI-99/4A. I'd go into more detail, but I've already been downvoted a whole bunch for no apparent reason. The note was at -4 when I replaced it with something worth downvoting.

    I don't care about the XP points, it irritates me to no end that the note was downvoted -- there wasn't anything worth downvoting.

      Well if this note is going to be randomly downvoted, I might as well have something to downvote in it.

      Perl is stupid.

      Someone downvoted every single reply. A few people suck. Don't take it personally. A single downvote is almost always something to just ignore. Even two downvotes is often something to just ignore. Mistakes happen and/or there is always one or two jerks in a crowd.

      Please don't join the mean/angry people. Restore your node so we have a good reason to upvote it and more than cancel out the actions of the jerks.

                      - tye
        Mistakes happen and/or there is always one or two jerks in a crowd.

        Perhaps one should design his or her moderation system to withstand such actions.

        Just a thought.

Re: My first computer was...
by rir (Vicar) on Jul 03, 2003 at 20:34 UTC
    KIM 1
      it wasn't my first, but I had (actually, have, somewhere) a Synertek SYM-1, a KIM-1 clone with 256 bytes of RAM. Its coolest feature (if you expanded it to 1K) was a machine code program that could drive an oscilloscope as a vector-based CRT.

      bowling trophy thieves, die!

Re: My first computer was...
by hsmyers (Canon) on Jul 03, 2003 at 20:51 UTC
    Actually it was an 8085 with 32K of memory. The OS was written by the floppy-disk manufacturer, Micropolis. A year or so later, this thing called CPM (not critical path managment) came out and I looked at it, but since my existing clients all were using the former, it took a while to catch on...


    "Never try to teach a pig to wastes your time and it annoys the pig."

      an Amstrad 6128 , with CPM on the external ROM box.

      I loved that machine, good ROM basic, nice disk management, two switchable 64K memory blocks (the kind of switch you can hear click!) , weird 3" disks (not 3.5" or 5.25")

      Sniff . I miss it more every day

      I can't believe it's not psellchecked
Re: My first computer was...
by adrianh (Chancellor) on Jul 03, 2003 at 21:28 UTC

    First one that was actually mine was an old 16K ZX Spectrum, although I played around with a mates ZX-80, and this processor-on-a-board thing at school that you programmed via a hex pad... Z80A I think...


Re: My first computer was...
by Popcorn Dave (Abbot) on Jul 03, 2003 at 21:37 UTC
    Good god, am I the ONLY one who bought an Osborne I? :)

    If I remember right, I paid about $1700 for that thing and another $500 for the Okidata printer to go with it. However I do remember lugging that "suitcase" to college to program between classes and how excited I was when I was able to get double sided 5 1/4 drives in it. That and to get a pascal compiler that didn't rely on swapping floppies just to compile.

    And yes it's still sitting in the garage, along with the service manual that I was able to pick up not long after I bought it.

    The thing that really made me feel old is when I saw one on display in an exhibit in a museum down in Sydney .

    There is no emoticon for what I'm feeling now.

      Good god, am I the ONLY one who bought an Osborne I?

      Ahhh, so you're the one ... :-)


      perl -le 'print+unpack"N",pack"B32","00000000000000000000001001110000"'

        Well actually my brother did too, and I've still got his as well. But I think he picked his up at auction for about $200-300.

        To disagree, one doesn't have to be disagreeable - Barry Goldwater

      Looks like it ;-)

      It wasn't my first computer but I bought an Osbourne II used for about $100 when I was in high school. Only thing I managed to figure out was how to format a floppy disk... turns out that I had told it the wrong drive and I formatted the system disk :o

      You're probably not the only one who ever bought one, but you may be an instance of that extremely rare breed that had one as his or her first computer ... my gawd, given what those things cost, and how widely they were considered to be toys, you'd have to be adventurous, certain, or just plain loaded to have your first one be one of those. These days, I bet a laptop is pretty common as a first computer, but that's because "everybody needs one." Back in the Osborne days, that was emphatically not the case.

      If not P, what? Q maybe?
      "Sidney Morgenbesser"

        Well believe me, I mowed a lot of lawns, washed a lot of cars and all that stuff just to pay for that sucker. Not that I regret having it, but it sure started a lifelong addiction. :)

        There is no emoticon for what I'm feeling now.

      Just a while ago my father threw away his Osborne 1, we couldn't convince him it was a piece of history...
        A little bit of trivia about the Osbourne. If you wanted to upgrade the 'hard drive', you could shell out 500 dollars for an expansion unit installed by them, or pop off the cover and replace the floppy in the drive inside. There was no external access to this thing, and if you obeyed the 'no user serviceable parts inside' warning, you would never know the difference.


      O1, SD 84K floppies, 64K RAM (part of which lived in bank 2): ah, those were the days... as were those when DD 170K mod arrived; when the 80 column board allowed line len > 64 char; when per$onal wealth allowed purchase of external (13"???), green-screen monitor to ease the strain of trying to find typos on the built-in 5x4" (b&w)... The O1 didn't supplant my PDP11, but it sure cut my power bills -- the 20+A startup for the giant 5MB, 14", reefer-box HD or the RK-05s was a killer...

      My grandfather let me use his Osborne before I got my own Trash 80.

Re: My first computer was...
by LameNerd (Hermit) on Jul 03, 2003 at 22:21 UTC
    TRS-80 with 4k memory. The cool thing about it was the programs came on cassette tape and you hooked a plain old radio shack tape player up to it. You could listem to the programs too! Sounded like euro-techo music on crack!
      TRS-80 too. First with 16k RAM. Adjusting the volume control was very tricky. Often after nearly 5 minutes loading-time of a bigger programm the display signaled wrong parity. Then you could rewind the tape, adjust the volume-control a tiny step and retry the whole procedure, sometimes several times. :(

      Nevertheless i loved this old banger and later i extended memory up to 48k RAM and used NEWDOS with 5 1/4 inch floppies.

      Though the modest graphics capabilities with 128 x 48 monochrome pixels (you couldn't really call them so. They were more little bricks) nearly all in those days current arcadegames like Donkey-Kong, frogger or battlezone could be played (sometimes you needed a bit imagination ;) ).

      Yes, yes ... long time ago ...

        Adjusting the volume control was very tricky. Often after nearly 5 minutes loading-time of a bigger programm the display signaled wrong parity.

        That was the worst. I remember staring at the two blinking asterisks at the top of the screen, hoping like hell that I wouldn't have to try again. Mostly I was waiting for "Pyramid 2000" to load.

        My first project (after typing in 100s of lines of BASIC code from the back of magazines so I could play, for example, a text-based racing game) was a simple drawing program using the number pad to move a cursor around. The '5' key turned the 'pen' on and off. What I couldn't manage was a blinking cursor. I was but a wee lad (8 years old).

        For what it's worth, I think I may have gotten a computer too soon, both in terms of my age, and in terms of the computer's capacities. I had a lot of drive, and even tried to learn Z-80 assembler, but I couldn't hack it and found no support for my desire to learn more. I drooled over the pages of BYTE for a few years more, praying for a computer with a color display and something better than the crippled BASIC that came with the first TRS-80. But my family didn't have the money to spend on another computer, and I couldn't do enough on mine to keep me interested.

        As a result, computing has for me only ever been a hobby. I wonder if it would have been different if I had had a C64, for example.

        --Your punctuation skills are insufficient!

        Adjusting the volume control was very tricky. Often after nearly 5 minutes loading-time of a bigger programm the display signaled wrong parity. Then you could rewind the tape, adjust the volume-control a tiny step and retry the whole procedure, sometimes several times. :(

        Boy oh boy, those were the days. It was especially fun when the volume control wheel got dusty, and every minor movement added loud crackling noises to the process. So for myself that meant adjusting the volume, disconnecting the uplink, playing the tape (to see if it was crackling), then rewind/reconnect.

        The most entertaining thing my TRS-80 did was whenever it started to overheat (a couple hours after turning it on), it would randomly display dollar signs ($) along the right hand edge. I still wonder to this day if it was coincidence, or an ironic sense of humour on Radio Shack's part, reminding me of the quality of what I paid good money for..... 8)

Atari ST? (Re: My first computer was... )
by bart (Canon) on Jul 03, 2003 at 22:28 UTC
    So where's the Atari ST on that list?

    The Atari 400/800 was a small 8 bit computer, the ST dates from later and was a 16bit computer based on the 68k processor — somewhat comparable to the Commodore Amiga.

    So... why is it not on this list?

      There have been *a lot* of platforms over the yeas.... The field has shrunk considerably in recent times though. I consulted numerous timlines/online musuems to develop the list and sometimes collapsed many "indistinguishable" platforms into one (eg 686). So umm, basically I tried to pick the major players/ milestones/cool names.

      I'm not belgian but I play one on TV.

        I think there were far more of them around at the time, than there ever have been of the Apple Lisa.
      Atari 1040ST rocks! A whole freakin' meg of memory for a sweet price. Graphics were great. The built in MIDI port was cool. I was damn near as productive with the GFA Compiled Basic as I am with Perl. Well, maybe productive is the wrong word, but it had the fun factor. Now if I can just find my boot disk...


        GFA Basic was certainly excellent, both compiler and interpreter, junked a lot of the bad things about basic, added in a handful of C-like and assembly options, even a reasonable IDE.

        I'm guessing the ST isn't on the list though because it was never very big in the US; the amiga was more popular, whereas in europe the ST was the hobbyists choice. It wasn't my first computer, but I've still got a 520STfm and a Mega STE.

        the hatter

Re: My first computer was...
by belg4mit (Prior) on Jul 03, 2003 at 22:33 UTC
    Second hand Apple ][e circa 1988. It was quickly upgraded to 128kb, and we looked at a modem but got a color monitor instead. Had some sort of Okidata printer.

    Then came a 386DX40 with 2M of RAM, that'll teach you to use resources wisely... I could barely run Win 3.1 in enhanced mode. It also made me long for shared memory. Helas I fried that puppy when the wires from my home-made "sound system" grounded on the mother board. I eventually ended up with a Tandy CGP-220 printer.

    I'm not belgian but I play one on TV.

Re: My first computer was... (update)
by tye (Cardinal) on Jul 03, 2003 at 22:52 UTC

    Votes cast between 17:15:42 and 18:45:35 (server time) 2003-07-03 were lost when some minor tuning of the option list went awry. If you voted during that window, you can revote.

                    - tye
      Thanks for the update tye becuase when I looked at the numbers, my vote had disappeared just like the old Os 1! I mean I know they were heavy and the screens were small, but you never forget your first one. ;)

      There is no emoticon for what I'm feeling now.

Re: My first computer was...
by WhiteBird (Hermit) on Jul 03, 2003 at 23:48 UTC

    My first computer was an Apple IIGS. I loved it, and still have it packed up in my garage. It had some awesome software, for the times. Music Studio, Marble Madness, Lode Runner.

    Years and years ago my father built a Heathkit H87A, which he recently gave to me. I've got all the books, software and hardware and it's all in working order. He didn't have room for it anymore and he just couldn't bring himself to throw it out completely. Someday I may turn it on and take it for a spin, for old times sake.

Re: My first computer was...
by BrowserUk (Pope) on Jul 04, 2003 at 00:00 UTC

    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

      Have you never seen your code turned into a pattern on punch cards - a thing of beauty I think not


        Yes, I did have that experience, though only a very few times. I also remember writing a program to print banners on punch-tape, to play 'tunes' using the teletype bell--Colonel Bogey was a favorite, and playing star-trek on a teletype which has to be seen to be believed.

        When I first used an 80x24 green screen, an ADM 3A dumb terminal, I thought I'd gone to heaven, the star-trek game screen took less than 3 seconds to draw instead of about 3 minutes on the teletype:)

        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

Re: My first computer was...
by thelenm (Vicar) on Jul 04, 2003 at 00:05 UTC

    Commodore 64. And I was so amazed when we finally bought a disk drive... we could actually load programs and save stuff for later, even if we turned the computer off!

    Sort of off-topic, but it's been bothering me for several years, so I might as well ask here: there used to be a computer game that I loved to play, and I can't remember the name. I'm mostly sure it was on the C64, but it might have been on the Apple ][ at school. In the game, there are lots of little people walking around in train stations. You have to go from train station to train station around the country doing something. I don't remember exactly what, but I think that somehow there were "bad" people spreading a virus to all the normal people, and you had to go around counteracting the virus in some way, within a time limit. That's about all the detail I can remember. Does anybody know what the name of this game might be?

    -- Mike


      And I was so amazed when we finally bought a disk drive...

      You and me both. It was so cool not having to wait 5-10 minutes for a game to load from tape :-)

      -- vek --
      Does anybody know what the name of this game might be?

      Yes, yes I do. The game you're thinking of is Agent USA. The C64 version (I didn't play the others) had a particularly catchy song, which is currently my ringtone. It's been in my head that long.

      Edit: You can get the Atari version of this song (naturally, not as good as the C64 version) here.

      "One word of warning: if you meet a bunch of Perl programmers on the bus or something, don't look them in the eye. They've been known to try to convert the young into Perl monks." - Frank Willison
Re: My first computer was...
by vek (Prior) on Jul 04, 2003 at 02:18 UTC

    My parents bought me a Commodore 64 for my birthday in 1983 . Used it mostly for games but I wrote my first BASIC program on it - well, copied some code from a magazine if that counts :-). I can remember playing Forbidden Forest and thinking the gore was great :-) Other games that I can recall right off the top of my head - International Karate, Paradroid, Uridium, Summer Games, Summer Games II, Winter Games, Monty Mole, Loco, Suicide Express.

    Oh, those were the days.

    -- vek --
      Ahhh - those were the days indeed...afaik, Jean Michel Jarre *still* doesn't know that we ripped off Equinox 5 for Loco...

      :) Benn

        .....that we ripped off... (Emphasis mine)

        You wouldn't be Ben Daglish then by any chance? The man (along with Rob Hubbard) responsible for making my SID chip sing all through the 80's??

        I think Jarre was ripped off for a few other C64 games. I can remember playing at least 2 or 3. The only one I can remember off the top of my head though is Trollie Wallie :-)

        -- vek --

      And lets not forget Bugaboo, Serpentine, Master of Lamps, Lode Runner, Echelon, Karateka, Beachhead, Sargon, Berzerk, and StarFox :-D


        Karateka was good. Not quite as good as International Karate IMHO but better than Way Of The Exploding Fist.

        Beachhead. Was that the game that US Gold released? I think I vaguely remember it. Something about a cannon on a ship and you had to fire at another ship by 'guessing' the right angle of the gun barrel. Something like that anyway :-)

        -- vek --
      We had C64's in the school's computer lab when I was in *scratches his head and rolls his eyes up in deep thought* sixth grade. There was all sorts of educational software available to use. In the midst of it all was a very cool game like Zork that I believe was called Miser's Mansion. Not only was it fun but it made you think!
Re: My first computer was...
by trs80 (Priest) on Jul 04, 2003 at 05:54 UTC
    My screen names gives it away :)
Re: My first computer was...
by nefertari (Chaplain) on Jul 04, 2003 at 06:00 UTC

    My first computer (in the sense of "the first owned by me") is a Power Macintosh G3 (beige). Last year it got the company of a dual processor G4 1GHz (the loud one, but now quieter after I installed this exchange kit by Apple).

    The first computer I used was an Atari ST 1040. My father bought it in 1986(?). But my sister and I were only allowed to play with it, if we also learned programming. That was then Atari Basic, DR Logo, later on we got also Pascal (in the variants of ST Pascal Plus and Pure Pascal). It is still working, but needs a really long startup-time due to the long memory-test-time, it was expanded several times.

    I had also contact with a few C-128 at a computer course for kids at our bank, also at school (around 1988: Commodore (?)) and later the EUMEL-System, where we programmed in ELAN.

    Funniest "porting project": I had a game called "Avalun", where you had to reign a kingdom. We printed the BASIC sourcecode and two friends of mine typed it for their computers. A AT (or XT, I cannot remember, one was the fast one, but we used the slow one) and for a Schneider PC.

(jeffa) Re: My first computer was...
by jeffa (Chancellor) on Jul 04, 2003 at 06:41 UTC
    TI-99/4A. It was a Christmas present from my parents in 1981 (or was that 1982? ... off by one again). My dad wanted to prevent me from installing games on his Apple ][+ (he used it for accounting purposes). The TI-99/4A hooked up to a conventional TV set and had a cartridge slot as well as a cassette tape connection (i still have the original portable cassette tape player that i used). I remember playing a lot of games like Hunt the Wumpus and Parsec, but eventually i learned how to create and animate sprites and wrote my first game - Money Bags. Simple. You control a cursor (an arrow) and move around the screen. There are two bags: one is a gold coin and the other is a bomb ... i think you see where this is going ;)

    Even though the TI-99/4A was my first computer, it just couldn't compare to that "monster" Apple ][+ that was in the other room. Anyone remember Temple Of Apshai? Bard's Tale? Wizardry? Escape From Rungistan? Zork! Lot's of oldies ... but as well as playing games, i did manage to learn some BASIC programming. I had no troubles with loops and conditional branching, but i couldn't grasp the concept of peeks and pokes (i had no understanding of RAM, address space, and memory allocation), so eventually i lost interest in programming (which i wouldn't gain back until 1996). I (ab)used that Apple until about 1988 and it still works ... i have no idea what happened to the TI-99/4A however.


    (the triplet paradiddle with high-hat)
      I started with a TI-99 4A as well. Nothing has quite ever replaced the experience of listening to the BASIC program you wrote as it loads back onto the machine.
      My first was also the TI99/4A, the beige box. Aah, the refresh that pauses. :) I loved that thing. It was a gift to me by a friend of the family who no longer wanted or needed it (his son was completely disinterested in it). I was given a cardboard box with the TI, several education cartridges, a voice module, some cassettes, and both of the instruction books. I didn't have a cassette deck, so I picked up a "slimline" recorder at a pawn shop. Didn't have a cassette interface, so I had to pick up a DB9 connector and some 1/4" phone plugs and within a week of having the system I hacked my own. Later built the cable for the secondary tape recorder.

      I learned a lot of BASIC on that thing. My largest ongoing project was a TI-Basic port of Pac-Man; mmmm, nothing like defining my one-color sprites with hexadecimal and having to move them around with PRINTCHAR(x,10,8). Got the game as far as being able to move Pac-Man around, with either cursor keys or my home-made joystick, to eat dots and get scores, but couldn't determine how to make the ghosts move to chase Pac-Man or how to make sounds play concurrently with gameplay. That project taught me to have the good sense to gratuitously use subroutines and structured program flow -- before then my projects mainly consisted of straight-through execution and GOTO's. I Learned a lot on that machine. I later ended up with FIVE of them, all in various states of disrepair and cannibalisation.

      My second computer was a hand-me-down Timex Sinclair 1000. Let's hear it for membrane keyboards, 2K of RAM, 8K of ROM, and 1-bit graphics!

      It wasn't until '92 when a close friend of mine gave me his Amstrad 128k Z80-based machine (which displayed on a PAL monitor) that I found a piece of heaven; internal 3.5" floppy (non-standard form factor), 3-voice sound, 3 video modes, and probably the best, most powerful implementation of BASIC I had ever seen (which blew TI's BASIC out of the water). He even gave me his CP/M disks.

      Aah, halcyon days, friends.

      (Ph) Phaysis (Shawn)
      If idle hands are the tools of the devil, are idol tools the hands of god?

        The TI-99/4A was also my first computer. I got it after they had gone out of style and PCs were becoming commonplace. (See my scratchpad for a brief glimpse down memory lane.)

        I loved programming it for sound and graphics. My attempts at sound effects would drive my parents bonkers on the weekend! I too wrote a pac-man like game that used the joysticks for input. That was fun!

      TI 99/4a, ah, that takes me back. You hooked it up to the TV and used a cassette deck to store programs. Shortly after I got mine, Dragon Magazine published a BASIC program for generating D&D characters. Needless to say, I geeked out immediately typing it in and debgging it. The next month, I realized that other gamers were into computers as well, as almost every letter in Dragon had a bug fix or improvement to the code. Sadly, the editors decided only to print the headers of each letter without the code, explaining that they were a gaming magazine, not a computer magazine. In retrospect, it should have occurred to me that I didn't have a printer and I had no way of printing out the characters I created. Ah, well.

      A few years later, I got an Apple II+. 64 MB RAM, dual 5 1/4 floppy drives, a printer, and even a 96 baud modem. The modem was key, as it was my first experience with a BBS. I remember thinking "Wow, this is really klugey. Seems like this could be done far better." And that's how I invented the internet. Wait, that wasn't me, that was Al Gore. Sorry, I confuse them a lot.

      In 1988, I bought a Mac Plus. It's the smartest thing I've ever done in my life. It had 1, count em, 1 megabyte of RAM, a 30 MB Hard drive ("30 Megs! I'll NEVER fill that!") and a dot matrix printer. I was able to write all my papers for school, recycle them for other classes, and having the spell checker was worth a full letter grade. Using that tiny box, I learned MS Works, Pascal, and first used Prodigy. This also insured that computers would still be part of my life when I left college, setting me on the path to, uh, spending my Saturday nights posting on Perl Monks. Damn you, Steve Jobs!

      "What do I want? I'm an American. I want more."

      My TI-99/4A lasted me from the second grade until my Junior year at High School. I still remember getting it for Christmas. I really really wanted an Atari so I could play games. I was very miffed when I got that TI, but soon I learned that not only could the TI play games, but it would let me write my own also!

      TI Basic was my very first programming language, self-taught from a book. Probably the best thing that ever happened to me, as it shaped what would eventually become my career.

      I never did play hunt the wumpus, but I spent hours playing Munchman, Car Wars, TI-Invaders, and Alpiner. Later, I got the tape player attachment and started playing games like Treasure Island, and the Temple of DOOM. I never did solve those, though.

      I still have that TI.. I should really think of something creative to do with it.

Re: My first computer was...
by roke (Curate) on Jul 04, 2003 at 07:07 UTC
Re: My first computer was...
by Courage (Parson) on Jul 04, 2003 at 07:17 UTC

    I wonder why such mainframes are not listed?

    Courage, the Cowardly Dog

      Because the intent of the poll was the first Personal Computer you owned. Very very few people started off with their own mainframe.

      I'm not belgian but I play one on TV.

        At the very beginning of computer era very few people owned any computer at all, because it started with mainframes.

        When I am asked "my first university was..." I usually answer "St.Pete state university" and do not mean that I own it.
        Very few people own university

        Courage, the Cowardly Dog

Re: My first computer was...
by nite_man (Deacon) on Jul 04, 2003 at 07:25 UTC
    My first computer was ES-1045 (analogue of IMB-360). But I could to use it only in the academy where I stadied. Because its dimension of array were too big ...
    SV* sv_bless(SV* sv, HV* stash);
Re: My first computer was...
by DrHyde (Prior) on Jul 04, 2003 at 08:36 UTC
    <sharp intake of breath> what no generic Z80 option?
Re: My first computer was...
by PodMaster (Abbot) on Jul 04, 2003 at 09:15 UTC
    What does "was" mean? The first you owned?

    The first computer I owned was a Pentium (I) I built with the help of a friend (and his dad) around 1998. When asked what do I intend to run on it by his dad, I replied "c/c++ and pascal programs". We were both in "Programming Pascal" (highschool) where we used an "Apple][" (what kudra describes, I think).

    MJD says "you can't just make shit up and expect the computer to know what you mean, retardo!"
    I run a Win32 PPM repository for perl 5.6.x and 5.8.x -- I take requests (README).
    ** The third rule of perl club is a statement of fact: pod is sexy.

      What does "was" mean? The first you owned?

      What does "My" mean? q-:

      You could use "my" in ways that describe the first computer you used: "My first computer usage was on" or "My first computer experience was using a"... But if the first computer you used was a IBM 360, you probably didn't tell people it was "my computer". In "My first computer was", the "my" is describing the computer.

      If the poll had been titled "The first computer I owned was...", then we'd have lots of people saying "Well, I didn't buy it, but my parents let me use...".

      Oh, and "was" means "what model was it?" as in "computer was a TRS-80". ;)

                      - tye
Re: My first computer was...
by Tanalis (Curate) on Jul 04, 2003 at 09:34 UTC
    I had a quite nice (for the time) Dragon 32 as my first computer, circa 1981. It boasted a whopping 32kb of main memory, which could be expanded to a huge 64kb, if you were willing to invest more than the original machine costed. It used cartridges and tapes .. and was surprisingly flexible - you could write simple basic apps on it, use it for word processing, and play a whole host of games, mainly featuring "Cuthbert", a little mad character who always ended up in crazy places, and clones of all those great arcade games of the mid-80s (Donkey Kong, anyone? :)

    *eyes glaze over, reminising*

    -- Foxcub

      I wondered if anyone else here had had one! My first was a ZX-81, but I got the Dragon 32 as the waiting list for a Spectrum 48 was too long for me when my parents bought me a new computer :P

      6809E based IIRC - and I remember being able to POKE an address to double it's speed (this only worked on some machines)

      This machine has such an ardent fan base after the decline of Dragon Data (a Welsh company) and Dragon User Magazine went on for years - I still think I have a full set of them!

      Who can forget that AWFUL black on green text background it was grim.. and only black and white graphics at the highest resolution..

      My favourite cartridge was the one that gave you a proper 80x25 text screen and allowed you to have 'proper' lowercase letters!

      My girlfriend is now laughing at me for being nostalgic about computers :(

      Bukowski - aka Dan (
      "Coffee for the mind, Pizza for the body, Sushi for the soul" -Userfriendly

The Lesser Spotted Commodore
by Molt (Chaplain) on Jul 04, 2003 at 09:46 UTC

    I voted Commodore 64, but my first machine was actually the Commodore +4. Weird little thing, 64k of memory but compatible with the Commodore 16. Seem to remember it was only on the shelves for about eighteen months, if that, and then got shelved.

    Played about with this for a couple of years, wrote a lot of very bad BASIC programs on it, then it went to the great hardware place in the sky and we upgraded to a Commodore 64 which seemed to be mentioned more in the few computer books in the local library, and also had the nice feature of having more games.

    Now I'm getting tempted to try and get a +4 emulator and see what kind of thing I can write on it given my somewhat greater computer experience. Think somehow it'd drive me crazy quite quickly though so maybe one of those things best left as a vague concept.

      I hoped to not be the only one who started with that machine :). I got mine used in 1986; I wrote my first assembler on it, small routines that animated automatic 'doors' via interrupt-vector-changes in games written in basic (too well structured, after a couple of ours, the calling from subroutine to subroutine caused a stack overflow :).
      Mighty little machine, if you simply forgot about the namesaking office suite it had stucked in a rom-chip (four programms, hence +4), you could switch memory banks, define your own character-sets (just poke the address into the place where the pointer to it is expected), and so on...

      I hate these questions, I'm not that old ;)


      Hlade's Law:

      If you have a difficult task, give it to a lazy person --
      they will find an easier way to do it.

        I hate these questions, I'm not that old ;)

        Seeing the popularity of this poll, a lot people like the nostalgia. I'd forgot about half the computers I used when I was at school or at friends. Seeing the list has helped bring back some great memories, especially of some of the games.

        As an aside, some might remember games like JetPac, Pssst, Cookie, Lunar Jetman, Atic Atac and my favourite Trans-Am that Ultimate Play The Game wrote and released. Originally two brothers who were given funding by their father (a games and toys distributor) scored mega success with their creations. They sold the name when the Spectrum market started dwindled and reinvented themselves as RareWare. Nintendo now have shares in them and have only recently moved out of the farmyard barn they were based in, outside of Twycross by the zoo (quite fitting for programmers). I went for an interview in 1999. The two brothers still own and run the company. An enlightening experience. Didn't get the job though :(

        And I am THAT old ;)

        Barbie | Birmingham Perl Mongers |

Re: My first computer was...
by YAFZ (Pilgrim) on Jul 04, 2003 at 11:16 UTC
    Did any of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum users had any experience with extension units for plugging in a microcasette recorder and a printer?

    When I was tired of using those noisy tape casettes I'd use those microcasettes which were like mini-mini-floppy drives :)

    If only I was able to find of those special cartdridges in Istanbul, I think I'd break into games and try to apply the techniques given in Sinclair User. (Commodore and Amiga users were lucky in this respect)
      Did any of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum users had any experience with extension units for plugging in a microcasette recorder and a printer

      I love the smell of thermal printer in the morning :-)

      Ah, the joy of dark grey on light grey hardcopy all of four inches wide and paper so sensitive it went all black if you left it on a hot windowsill.

        Don't forget that if the printout was longer than a few inches that it would roll up upon itself and be impossible to read without the aid of half your library and a spare pair of hands.

        Was it the spectrum or the ZX-81 that had the expansion pack that would pop out if you leaned on the keyboard too hard?


      I had a 48k zx spectrum, those mini drives were called microdrives.... they were great at the time, you could load a game in about 20 seconds (instead of about 4 minutes). Still have the spectrum, plus all the extra gear, but the microdrive casettes don't work anymore (looks like they were only good for a couple of years)


      I wonder if anybody from that lovely Sinclair User magazine (aka SU) is around.
Re: My first computer was...
by CountZero (Chancellor) on Jul 04, 2003 at 13:27 UTC

    I answered TRS-80, but if "programmable calculators" count as well, it was an HP-97.


    "If you have four groups working on a compiler, you'll get a 4-pass compiler." - Conway's Law

      I wrote some pretty large programs on my TI-58 including a bowling scorer.

      90% of every Perl application is already written.
Re: My first computer was...
by pfaut (Priest) on Jul 04, 2003 at 14:18 UTC

    The first computer I owned was a Heathkit ET3400. This was a MC6800 based microprocessor training system I had to have for tech school (circa 1980). It came with one 256 byte bank of memory and had sockets for a second. The person I bought it from had installed the second bank. I ended up buying a third pair of chips and stacking them on top of one of the existing banks. Internally, the system decoded for four banks so i just had to run a wire to the enable lines. With the three banks, I had a whole 768 bytes of RAM.

    The first PC class machine I owned was actually an office machine. I worked for DEC and they gave me a Rainbow-100 to use at home. The Rainbow had a Z80 and an 8088 and could run CPM, CPM-86 and MS-DOS programs. I think the Rainbow design was better in some aspects than the IBM PC but DEC made some critical mistakes like not giving the machine a bus that you could plug cards into. It had slots on the motherboard that would accept specific option cards. Since no one else but DEC could make cards for this system, it didn't quite catch on. I still have this machine in the basement (it wasn't worth much when I left DEC so they let me keep it) and it still works.

    The first PC class machine I bought was a 20MHz 486-SX in June 1992. By November, the 100MB hard drive had a linux partition on it.

    90% of every Perl application is already written.
Re: My first computer was...
by BazB (Priest) on Jul 04, 2003 at 15:20 UTC

    ...a Sinclair Spectrum 128+.

    128k of memory. 3.75MHz processor. Awesome computing power!

    My favourite games used to take 5 minutes to load from tape, complete with squawks and flashes. Ah, those were the days.

    Now my TI-85 calculator uses the same ZX80 processor - most modern mobile phones are more powerful :-)

    Update: Oh, and is it just the way I type, or were the keyboards on the 128+ evil?
    I used to literally bleed after a long session messing around on that machine, due to the hard square-edged keys digging into my fingers. Ouch.

    If the information in this post is inaccurate, or just plain wrong, don't just downvote - please post explaining what's wrong.
    That way everyone learns.

      ...or were the keyboards on the 128+ evil?

      Although better than those rubber keys the 128's little brother (Spectrum 48k) had I suspect?

      -- vek --
        The "proper" term for those keys (used on some other boxen as well) appears to be "chiclets".

        I'm not belgian but I play one on TV.

Re: My first computer was...
by jepri (Parson) on Jul 04, 2003 at 16:11 UTC
    You have an 8088 on the list? That's pretty much the worlds most obscure processor, and also the one that I learned assembler on. These VM thingies came as a real shock, I can tell you*.

    The Apple ][e will always be my object of lust, rivalling the 486. I can remember going around to a friends place and playing Conan the Barbarian on his ][e. That was awesome compared to the best game I had (at the time, it was "Pitfall II", or the "Ancient Art of War").

    I actually feel reassured by the choices presented in the poll. If there were five flavours of PDP, I'd feel young. If there were five flavours of Visual Basic, I'd feel old. But as the poll stands, it is "Not too heavy, not too light - just right." But you'd have to be Australian to get that reference.

    * I'm being serious about the VM thingies. I had a big discussion (read argument) with a friend of my age about why you couldn't arbitrarily write to arbitrary memory addresses to affect arbitrary peripherals arbitrarily.

    I didn't believe in evil until I dated it.

      Unless I'm growing senile, the 8088 (at 4.77 MHz) was the microprocessor in the original IBM PC, which was hardly an obscure machine, as well as its successor, the PC/XT. (There was a 286-based XT later, I think.) Isn't the 8088 just an 8086 with 8-bit instead of 16-bit bus to save some money in the supporting components?

      Anyway, I answered 8088 because that was in the first computer I actually bought with my own money (not a trivial expense at 12 years of age, either, but it certainly ended up being a good long-term investment). Still, for some reason I've got a real soft spot for the Z80-based CP/M systems we used in school for a while. They were actually connected via a primitive network to a centralized 10MB hard disk. Learning assembly language and tinkering with the boot loaders on those things was fun, I must admit.

              $perlmonks{seattlejohn} = 'John Clyman';

Re: My first computer was...
by ajt (Prior) on Jul 04, 2003 at 16:15 UTC

    It seems that I'm not alone in having started with a Commodore-64.

    The first computer I ever actually used was a Sinclair ZX-80 that a teacher brought into primary school, and we were allowed to program in Sinclair BASIC with.

    At secondary school we used strange Z-80 based Research Machines, RM-480Z I think, running a form of BBC BASIC and a Logo clone called Turtle.

    My best friend got an early Commodore-64, and when my dad got an unexpected income tax refund, I got one too. I started with the C2N Datasette, but later upgraded to the Oceaninc OC-118N 5.25 floppy drive, which came with GEOS, the first windowing software I ever used - it was better and more functional that Windows 3.1 and Word 1.0 for Windows.

    On the venerable 64 I played lots of games, many still available for the "VICE" emulator, learnt to program in the terrible Commodore V2 BASIC, then tried Basic Lightning which was much better, and finally 6502 assembly. I managed to create a hi-res printer driver for my Citizen-120D printer, which was rather fun.

    The C64 is fully functional, and lives up in the loft, I really should dig it out when I get time one of these days!

Re: My first computer was...
by fruiture (Curate) on Jul 04, 2003 at 16:38 UTC

    I have to say that most of these are simply "not my generation". I wasn't even born at the time some of you already hacked computers ;)

    So I'm one of the Pentium 1 people. It was bought in 1995 and ran windows95 and is still in use as family-internet-router (running NetBSD). Since then we've always bought a new computer with a new Pentium, so now there are 4 in use, the latest since yesterday. But 8 years are nothing compared to 20, i mean, i've always had a CD-ROM drive, and i've "seen" such large floppy disks, but never used. And I actually woulnd't want to, probably I'm just spoiled.

      Did you ever miss out on the fun of a 5 1/4'' floppy disk. They used to come single sided and you could use a hole punch (yes a hole punch for paper) to turn it into a double sided disk.

      They also made really good 'throwing stars' once they were unusable. You'll never truly understand the joy of seeing one of those floppies flying down the hallway and picking off your buddy until you've done it

      mr greywolf
Re: My first computer was...
by tadman (Prior) on Jul 04, 2003 at 18:00 UTC
    IBM PCjr. Strange, but true. Still, it had a wireless (infra-red) keyboard.

    The only other thing around was a TI99/4A the neighbors had.
      Didn't see it on the list, so I was going to make a comment but first surfed the comments to see if anyone else was the same.

      Fond memories: Getting a copy of COMPUTE and hand-typing BASIC programs in (BearMath) and playing Rocky's Boots (construct AND/OR gates) to understand programming and playing GATO, a submarine game with my dad ("Flank Speed Ahead - gotta catch the convoy!").

      Good times...

Re: My first computer was...
by belg4mit (Prior) on Jul 04, 2003 at 20:15 UTC
    Just a random note for the TI-99 people, you all seem to feel the need to say TI-99/4A ;-), TI-99/DAI isn't a single model. That's TI-99 AKA DAI, the TI-99 was released as a DAI in Europe. FYI there was a straight TI-99/4 as well.

    I'm not belgian but I play one on TV.

Re: My first computer was...
by arturo (Vicar) on Jul 05, 2003 at 04:09 UTC

    Zounds, I say. I recall that Vic-20. Lobbied long and hard for it. It had a whopping 5k (effectively 3.5), and I remember boosting it to 8k. Whoopee! I'm a little bit surprised to see it on the list at all, but given that it's on, my surprise shifts to seeing that not so many folk had it as their first.

    AAMOF, I just picked up a wad o' pictures mi madre sent me not so long ago, and there I was, futzing away time. I think I wrote a program to translate from ASCII text to machine code. Yes, I proudly hacked 6502 assembly!

    If not P, what? Q maybe?
    "Sidney Morgenbesser"

      A friend of mine started out with a Vic-20. We thought it was so cool when he got a 16k switchable RAM pack. We both got C64's soon after and the Vic-20 was soon forgotten :-)

      -- vek --

        Since I got my Vic-20 long after its introduction, I also had a bad case of C64 envy ... I mean, 64K, sprites, and even better polyphonic sound! I can only imagine if back then that we paid attention to MHz ...

        Today, of course, I curse my only slightly flaky SB Live! card and have 5 speakers.

        If not P, what? Q maybe?
        "Sidney Morgenbesser"

Re: My first computer was...
by Anonymous Monk on Jul 05, 2003 at 10:21 UTC
    8080 made with parts stolen from radio shack, on a one of those white breadboards where you stick the wires in. Programmed by dip switches and later a hex keypad made from a calculator keypad. Output was a 7-segment led display.
Re: My first computer was...
by little (Curate) on Jul 05, 2003 at 23:04 UTC

    "Schneider CPC 6128" aka "Amstrad CPC 6128" the famous successor and "son" of the CPC 464 and CPC 664
    Z80 A (4.7 MHz)
    Floppy (3", yeah no typo, 3")
    Locomotive Basic (or CP/M or Borland Pascal or simply machine code)
    128 KB RAM (organized as benches of 16KB each, switcheable as the cpu could only address 64KB range, an upgrade to 512 KB would have been possible as well as "slot modules")
    My former motherland GDR rebuilt that computer entirely with the name KC/83 with exactly the same parameters and they offered a 16KB memory module at the size of a discman containing a basic variant. Another guy even ported fortran to that machine.
    but the first computer I was allowed to put my hands on was a poly 880 (powered by U880 cpu an east german clone of the Z80 from Zilog at about 2 MHz), 16 KB RAM, an 8 Element 7 segment LCD Display and just a keyboard with numbers from 1-9 and a to f ok and four more buttons
    funny that at about the same time in 1984 some other students where coding in C already, I think I missed that way as I realized the existence of unix first in 1989 (to be honest then I just heard of it) :-)

    Have a nice day
    All decision is left to your taste

Re: My first computer was...
by greywolf (Priest) on Jul 06, 2003 at 02:56 UTC
    Vic 20.

    Oh man that was a cool computer. I remember playing a car racing game from the cassette tape drive. It was pretty slick.

    The first computer my elementary school had was an Apple II E. It was the only one in the building and it was bolted to a rolling cart. Each classroom got to use it for a few hours once or twice a week. A while after that we got a computer lab with a bunch of Apple II E and Apple II C in there. When we finally got a Apple II G and it was the fastest thing around.

    mr greywolf
Re: My first computer was...Complicated
by dataDrone (Acolyte) on Jul 06, 2003 at 05:11 UTC
    But not compared to today's systems. My first computer ( that I owned / had given to me by my parents ) was a C-64 with the Tape-Deck unit to plug into the "User Port". I started a year or two before that with the neighbors ZX-80 and then TRS-80 Mod III.

    I actually went to computer camp for two weeks one summer where they had TRS-80's. Any one else brave enough to admit to that level of Geekdom?

    A few years earlier my brother's High School was gifted a Dec Mini Computer, two DecWriter 100's and a tape Punch machine, with no software. They got to bootstrap the machine from zero. The system had 16K of memory (Huge for that time) and was 8 Bit. The coolest part about that system was the toggle switches across the front. Address Bus, Data Bus, Read/write toggle. and 8 leds to display memory contents. They had to programs to drive the tape writer, a tape reader, an editor, a compiler, drivers for the DecWriters for human readable output, etc.... How cool was that? Oh, I forgot to mention, the thing was about 2.25 feet square and stood about 6 foot tall, and was much heavier than a refrigerator.

      I actually went to computer camp for two weeks one summer where they had TRS-80's. Any one else brave enough to admit to that level of Geekdom?

      At the tender age of 9, I gave a lecture (at a kids' summer math camp) on the bus architecture of the Z-80. I can only say that because I didn't go on to become a geek.

      I've asked my parents about this a few times since, because it seems so hard to believe. But they've always confirmed it. Then my dad found the actual paper: 3 hand-typed pages in a clear-plastic binder. Yikes!

      --Your punctuation skills are insufficient!

Re: My first computer was...
by fsn (Friar) on Jul 06, 2003 at 14:13 UTC
    Bah! Only Ameri-centric options!

    My first computer was an ABC80. Developed in Sweden and manufactured by the Swedish company Luxor, famous for it's lamps and TVs. It was a Z80based computer with 8kb of memory, and was introduced in the late 70s. Swedish schools bought a lot of ABC computers.

    The ABC80 was followed by the ABC800-serie, which featured an extended BASIC language, color graphics as an option, etc etc.

    Then there was an ABC1600, which ran it's own version of Unix, and then the whole computerdivision was sold off to Nokia.

      Not exactly. Acorn is British, and DAI is Belgian.

      I'm not belgian but I play one on TV.

Re: My first computer was...
by talexb (Canon) on Jul 06, 2003 at 21:11 UTC

    It was not a 'Generic 186/286', it was actually a fully loaded IBM PC AT (yes, that stood for Advanced Technology in September 1985). My employer bought it for me, complete with a huge 40M drive and DOS 3.1 for about $3-4,000 Canadian. It had 640K RAM and a colour screen (la dee dah) and I eventually got a 1200 baud modem that I used to dial into The Well.

    The first computer I ever used was probably an HP mainframe running BASIC -- I accessed it through a Teletype filled with a reel of newsprint and a paper tape reader. The modem ran at 110 baud, and it was really noisy.

    --t. alex
    Life is short: get busy!
      ahhh, similar to my first one, but my one had only 20 MB HD. Too sad i trashed it. But i stil have the ugly smal 14" Monitor.

      Brings back Memory of Hacking Borland Turbo Pascal.....

Oh - the fond memories
by htoug (Deacon) on Jul 07, 2003 at 10:16 UTC
    I had to think long and hard about this. The first computer I *used* was a Univac 1106 -an awesome big machine with, I think, 2 F40 drums of 40K each. An enormous thing - for 1972.

    The first computer I had for myself was a Data General Nova 1205, a 16 bit machine with 4KB memory and I/O via a teletype writer - yes we loaded the 3 (or 4) pass FORTRAN compiler on a 10 cps teletype, and punched the intermediate code out on the teletype. It just took forever. Later we even got a graphics terminal for it - a tektronix 4010 storage screen, and programmed crazy shooting games for it.

    The first computer I *owned* was a Sinclair ZX 80 with the 64KB expansion pack - I used it for my numerical computing class at university. Ahhh - the joy of fiddling with floats in BASIC on a keyboard that was as responsive as the kitchen table - not to speak of the eyestrain of looking at a monitor that was salvaged from a broken down TV that the local radio shop let me have for lugging it away.

    I'd better stop now or the tears will shortcircuit my keyboard.

Re: My first computer was...
by castaway (Parson) on Jul 07, 2003 at 10:19 UTC
    Hmm, doesnt say 'first owned' .. first used would have to be the Acorn Electron (BBC Micro-alike, why isnt that on the list?), that dad bought for the family in 1983. Tape drive, and BASIC, of course. Recently I picked it up from home, bought a new power-box, and can now use it by attaching it to my TV-card.. (Acorn Electron games in a TV-window on Linux :)

    .oO( And I wish I knew where the Elite tape got to, *sigh* lots of other games, but not that.. Anyone have one by any chance? Yup, lots online as ROMs, but I need a tape :)

    First owned was a P1-133, most of which is still doing service in various computers. I have a Commodore PET lying around at my parents too (bought for a fiver..)


      I remember playing Elite on a friend's BBC. Classic game. Probably the best thing about the BBC as I recall :-)

      -- vek --

        Damn, that game was good.

        I can still remember the warm fuzzies from my first "Right on Commander!"

      Try out Elite: The New Kind. Let me know if you can't find it (hint: search for, I have it at home.
        Thanks for the tip.. But, BTDT, bought the T-shirt.. It won't run on my Acorn Electron though ,)


Re: My first computer was...
by LazerRed (Pilgrim) on Jul 07, 2003 at 16:53 UTC

    I've still got my Sinclair packed away in a box with the audio/data cassette player, thermal tape printer (looks like a cash register tape), and a couple rolls of paper. I think I even have frogger and air traffic controller in there too. I may dig it out and fire it up for a little retro gaming session ;)

    I just threw out two old columbia "luggables" last year. They were 8080's with built-in 9in green screens and dual 5 1/4 floppys. I chucked em because they were taking up too much room in the closet, that, and I couldn't get either of them to boot.

Re: My first computer was...
by LD2 (Curate) on Jul 07, 2003 at 18:20 UTC
    Kaypros rocked! I was SO addicted to Ladder. Bummed, I was damn close of beating my brother's high score!!

    NeXT machines were interesting.. that's what I had fun playing on in college my first 2yrs. there. They finally got Pent. my junior and senior year!
Re: My first computer was...
by Acolyte (Hermit) on Jul 07, 2003 at 19:12 UTC

    Macintosh COLOR Classic. This little beauty was the first and only color Mac with the old boxy footprint. It was only in production for 13 months and it seemed like the compatible software was only available for that amount of time too.

    Interestingly enough the processor speed and maximum installable RAM was the same as my Palm Pilot currently supports. Talk about shrinkage...

    Studying at the feet of the masters
Re: My first computer was...
by JimJx (Beadle) on Jul 08, 2003 at 05:16 UTC
    Commodore VIC-20, second computer was a Commodore 64. I still have both of them in a closet. I pull them out once in a while for old times sake.....

    When I bought the Vic, it took me about 2 months of mowing lawns to buy a 1541 drive and an 8K expansion (WOO-HOO!!). But as far as I was concerned, that was the best investment I could have made.

    I feel so OLD. <sob!>

Re: My first computer was...
by Lord Wrath (Friar) on Jul 08, 2003 at 17:00 UTC
    actually my first was the IBM PC Jr. still have the poor thing in a closet. RAM? what's RAM? and this hard disk you keep speaking of...
Re: My first computer was...
by blue_cowdawg (Prior) on Jul 08, 2003 at 19:31 UTC

    I didn't see scratchbuilt as a choice on that poll.

    My first machine was built up from an 8085 chip and its friends on a perf board and wire wrapped. It wasn't even an S100 bus machine.

    Later on I inherited an Altair that someone had given up on assembling. After many hours of troubleshooting and eliminating his cold solder joints I had a working machine.

    Next on the parade of machines that trapsed through my house was a VIC-20 that I interfaced to an ASR-33 teletype so that I would have a printer to use.

    Next came not one but two C-64s that had short lives.

    After that I bought my first AT clone and had a ball messing with it until I finally bought a 386/33 machine that had me thinking "this is it, things will never get better than this!"

    Nowadays I have a 2.2Ghz ASUS based system that I built up from parts, a SS-20, and a myriad of refugees from junk shops at home.

    I haven't changed a bit. I'm still hacking at the hardware.

    Peter L. BergholdBrewer of Belgian Ales
    Unix Professional
Re: My first computer was...
by robsv (Curate) on Jul 09, 2003 at 00:19 UTC
    I had an Atari 400 with 8KB of RAM (God, I hated that membrane keyboard!). Actually, mine got recalled (something having to do with the power supply bursting into flame). I got a refund, saved up some more, then got a Commodore 64.

    - robsv
Re: Oh! the Sinclair QL
by Anonymous Monk on Jul 09, 2003 at 03:59 UTC
    Well I see that this website is very terrible, I thank that I was the only person who lives with machines. My list is this: ZX-Spectrum 48K ( very little but was the best ) Sinclair QL 128K ( good machine ) INVES 80286 1M HP/430 Series 6000 ( server ) HP Vectra 80486 25MHz / 50 MHz IBM PSII MC 80486 50MHz ( microchannel ) HP/730 Series 9000 ( server ) Mi Pentium 166MHz 16 Mb Mi Pentium MMX 233MHz 32 Mb Mi AMD K6II 300 MHz 64 Mb IBM ThinkPad MMX 233 80Mb Mi AMD K6II 450 MHz 700Mb IBM ThinkPad Pentium II 256Mb Mi Pentium-IV 2'4GHz 1Mb If I add all of the hardware that I shop and the machines, I think that is equivalent to a Mercedes 220-SLK, but this list is not the final, I need to continue, IT's my job RMonzonis
Re: My first computer was...
by tilly (Archbishop) on Jul 09, 2003 at 04:23 UTC
    I said Apple II* because the Franklin Ace 1000 was an Apple II+ clone, so Apple II was the closest option.

    You probably haven't heard of them because Franklin got sued into oblivion by Apple for patent infringement. (Were they the first company wiped out by a lawsuit from Apple? Could be...)

Re: My first computer was...
by petemar1 (Pilgrim) on Jul 09, 2003 at 08:40 UTC

    Commodore VIC 20, "The Friendly Computer."

      Friendly with 3.4KB of RAM... I even had the tape recorder for storing programs... And nobody thought tape was a good media... :)
Re: My first computer was...
by nimdokk (Vicar) on Jul 09, 2003 at 12:52 UTC
    First computer I used was some sort of early portable model that my dad brought it home from work one weekend (couldn't guess at the model). The first computer my family owned was a TRS-80 Color Computer. The first computer I owned was an 8086 IBM PC-clone.

    "Ex libris un peut de tout"
Re: My first computer was...
by higle (Chaplain) on Jul 09, 2003 at 15:33 UTC
    Commodore 64... now that's a computer.

    LOAD "*", 8, 1

      C64 Rulezzzz !... well somewhere...


Re: My first computer was...
by Mago (Parson) on Jul 09, 2003 at 16:28 UTC
    1981 - TK82C

    Sinclair ZX-80/81
    Zilog Z80A, 3,25MHz
    ROM 4Kb
    RAM 16Kb
A pizza box...
by /dev/trash (Curate) on Jul 09, 2003 at 20:08 UTC
    Well not really. I bought my first computer, used from a guy who sold PCs in the back room of his Pizza shop. It was a 486 166Mhz ( I think). The odor of pizza sauce never left the case or monitor.
Re: My first computer was...
by palindrome (Beadle) on Jul 09, 2003 at 23:25 UTC
    Ahhh, my first love: Epson QX-10 with CP/M, Valdocs and an incredible 8k of RAM.


    Killed by the first power surge experienced by anyone I knew at the time!

    < Brief moment of Silence ..>

    But quickly replaced by another Epson which could run CP/M **or** that new DOS 1.1 thingy.

    And I'm still waiting on my mail-in rebate from Microsoft!

Re: My first computer was...
by Anonymous Monk on Jul 10, 2003 at 13:46 UTC
    The Atari 800XL, with basic in ROM! Wonderful. I wish I hadn't sold it. Then the 1040ST and then various intel PCs till today. Can't say that PCs are thrilling, but they are somewhat standard, esp. with peripherals...
Re: My first computer was...
by shotgunefx (Parson) on Jul 10, 2003 at 22:01 UTC
    My first computer was an Atari 400. The keyboard sucked so bad. The second was a Tandy 1000 8086 7MHZ (in turbo mode) with the bizarre TGA display adapter.
    It's funny when you think of how common the Turbo button was and how often you had to actually use it only software only a couple of years old.


    "To be civilized is to deny one's nature."
Re: My first computer was...
by schweini (Friar) on Jul 11, 2003 at 09:34 UTC
    geeez...i feel SO old seeing poll options like "iMac" or "pentium II".
    but i'm still proud to be the first to have been introduced to the world of computing by my beloved:
    Amstrad/Schneider PCW-8256
    (Z80A @ 3.9 MHz, 256kb RAM, good ol' Black/Green monitor, and two (!) 3-inch (!) floppies)
    incidently, it only came with the glorious (but boring) LOGO, some text-processor and glorious (and fun) BASIC, which is basically why i ended up here. there simply wasn't that much to do in Lesotho besides teaching yourself BASIC :-)
Re: My first computer was...
by bassplayer (Monsignor) on Jul 11, 2003 at 23:01 UTC
    First owned (vote): Macintosh 512k. It was the "Fat Mac", and my 128k friend was green with envy.
    First used: Commodore 64. Ahh... line numbers and GOTO statements. Going back, I did use something in elementary school called SRA. Anyone remember this thing? Some kind of educational machine. I don't think it was really a computer, but my memory of it is very vague.


      I actually had a TI-Basic when I was about 7 years old. That was my first computer. I remember my Dad making me a real simple little "Captain Power" game on it. I can't remember how he did it, I think he kept the program on a tape cassette and I had to plug the tape player into it. Man that's old!
Re: My first computer was...
by zakzebrowski (Curate) on Jul 14, 2003 at 12:15 UTC
    First owned: Apple IIgs (4 meg ram, 80 mb hard drive, 8mhz upgraded cpu, 2400 baud modem, printer, 2 5.25 drives, 1 3.5 drive, joystick)
    First used (@ school): Atari (insert here) @ kindergarden
    First borrowed: Comodore 64
    First language: Apple Basic
    First published (Apple BASIC Question): 6th grade (1990)

    Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate - mysql's philosphy
Re: My first computer was...
by Anonymous Monk on Jul 14, 2003 at 18:12 UTC
    I had an Atari 65xe with a tape player from which I loaded all my games. I remember recording games from the radio.
My first one was...
by Anonymous Monk on Jul 14, 2003 at 20:20 UTC
    An Apple II with 16K RAM, no floppy (used a Panasonic tape recorder to save programs and data). Upgraded to 48K, 2 floppy drives, Apple monochrome monitor, IDS Paper Tiger Printer, Kensington external fan, Z80 card to run CPM (from Microsoft?) and a paper punch to use floppies on both sides (a notch on the side of 5.25 floppies allowed writing; drives had one head only so you could flip the disk and use the other side... great savings!!!) The best programs: Visicalc (spreadsheet, just in case) and Apple World, a 3D drawing program in 38K! (the other 10L were used by the disk operating system)
Re: My first computer was...
by Dr. Mu (Hermit) on Jul 15, 2003 at 07:39 UTC
    ...a Polymorphic Systems Poly 88. This S100 bus computer used audio tape for program storage and had a 64x16-character B/W display. It was programmed using assembler and a variant of HP Basic, which I've always felt was superior to the Gates/Allen version used in the Altair and, later, in the TRS-80. But I quickly learned the difference between technical superiority and market superiority and had to shift my focus to the TRS-80. The Poly 88 software market was just too small to make a living from! I still have my Poly 88, but haven't powered it up in years.
Re: My first computer was...
by tbone1 (Monsignor) on Jul 15, 2003 at 13:01 UTC
    This seemed an odd question for me, at least. I started off on VAXen way back when, moved to various Unices, including a NeXT for which I still have the kind of fond memories that guys usually reserve for cars or playoff victories. Given that I was in college/grad school and then moved to a government research facility, I didn't have a need for an at-home computer until fairly late in the game. A Mac/Win-DOS/whatever personal computer didn't do anything for me; certainly not enough to justify the cost. It wasn't until I entered industry in '96 and started making some decent scratch that I could 1) afford one and 2) justify one. I'm probably not the only person in that category. Once I found out that I could run Linux on a Mac and could dual-boot, that was it. And now that OS X is here, oo mama ...

    Ain't enough 'O's in 'stoopid' to describe that guy.
    - Dave "the King" Wilson

Re: My first computer was...
by vili (Monk) on Jul 15, 2003 at 23:35 UTC
    well, not a vic 20, but a commodore 16, but pretty close. press play on tape
Re: My first computer was...
by snafu (Chaplain) on Jul 16, 2003 at 02:39 UTC
    I was nine years old with a brand new shiny Commodore Vic-20 with I-don't-remember-how-much(little) ram of memory and probably a sub-kilohertz cpu. :) I used a tape drive for my storage medium. It was a fun machine. Too bad I didn't use it to its potential...

    I still have it in fact. I wonder if I could sell it on ebay? Would that be blasphemous? I still have the original RF modulator and everything!! :) I have a 64K ram extender card too. I bet the sucker would still boot if I tried plugging it in. Hmmm, I should try that! :)

    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
    - Jim
    Insert clever comment here...

Re: My first computer was...
by Chief of Chaos (Friar) on Jul 16, 2003 at 06:13 UTC
    My first was a Commodore C16, after this I had a C64 with 5,25'' Floppy and Datasette.
    Than came my 80286 and a little bit later I upgraded it with 80287 (math.CoProcessor).
    80486-DX4-100 (16MB), P2-233, Cel-466, P5-2.66Ghz

    I'm missing my C64 most of all 'computers'. **sniff**

    Chief of Chaos
      i miss my c64 too.....*sniff*

      i had a light gun.....*starts to cry*

      anyone want a hug?
Re: My first computer was...
by bcladd (Initiate) on Jul 16, 2003 at 17:30 UTC
    Pet 2001 w/ serial number < 100000:
    • chicklet keys (with capital letters/graphics symbols on them); could swap in the lowercase letter forms at the cost of the graphics symbols
    • integrated storage solution (built-in cassette player)
    • integrated monochrome (white on black) monitor
    Two pins in the user port were the output of a programmable timer. After I read about it in a magazine, a simple RadioShack amplifier wired across the connector provided "music". It had built-in BASIC _and_ a hardware monitor. Two languages in one little machine.

    The _second_ computer I had was even cooler: a CompuColor II. The keyboard had custom colored keys so you knew how to set colors as you programmed. The monitor was a portable TV w/ the tuner replaced by a floppy disk drive. The HOURS that can be absorbed writing 16 (yes, 16!) color games in pirated MS-BASIC (or so the various history sites say; I don't know anything about where the BASIC came from). No format command so you were expected to buy disks from CompuColor; we got a huge box with the computer so we never needed any (100 disks at 50KB each? Who could need to store >5MB of information?).

Re: My first computer was...
by rozallin (Curate) on Jul 18, 2003 at 21:53 UTC
    A ZX Spectrum 48k, which I got when I was four years old, mostly used for adventure games like Dizzy, although when I was five years old I did play around with the BASIC examples in the manual and made a game called Pyramidz, involving Pyramids and crawly spiders and not very exciting gameplay. But still, it was a start, and no doubt if I had kept it up I would be a really good programmer right now. Sadly it came to an end when someone spilt orange juice all over the keyboard, and my parents pawned the games and bought me games consoles instead. I didn't get my next proper computer (Amiga 500+) until I was 12 *sniff*

    rozallin j. thompson
    The Webmistress who doesn't hesitate to use strict;

Wow...Even I feel old
by GermanHerman (Sexton) on Jul 19, 2003 at 00:02 UTC
    I am probably the only niteen yearold around that can honestly say that the first computer he layed hands on was an altair 8800. My father bought it and and assembeled it. I remember switching one swith back and forth and watching the lights change configurations. Some how I knew it was counting (more and more lights were turning on) now I realize it was binary. I must have been very very young. I guess I realize why everyone here seems so much smarter than me. You guys have been involved in computers much? longer than I have been alive.
    Much Respect,
      I guess I realize why everyone here seems so much smarter than me.

      You'd be amazed how small the differences really are.

Re: My first computer was...
by chaoticset (Chaplain) on Jul 19, 2003 at 04:23 UTC

    I chose Apple ][.*, but that's not technically correct -- those who remember those times might recall a Laser 128, the very Pinto of cloned computer systems. My first computer was this devil of a system, the clone of one of the Apple series.

    Sadly, I think back fondly to it now. I wrote piles of journal entries, aborted half-stories, and even a desperate attempt at a detective novel on that thing, filling up at least five or six 5 1/4 floppy disks. Not to mention that I attempted to teach myself the BASIC variant on the machine.

    Good times. :\

    You are what you think.

Re: My first computer was...
by Kage (Scribe) on Jul 20, 2003 at 09:51 UTC
    My first computer was a 1989 Apple Macintosh SE that I partially rebuilt at the age of 7. After I fixed a few things, remounted the drive, and reinstalled new RAM, I ran it, and it worked nicely. I played many a game on it, including the original Lemmings. It's got a black and white screen, but I don't care, I love it anyway. I learned my first language on it (HyperScript), and first accessed the internet over it using the Apple Community.

    Surprising as this may sound, it's sitting to my direct left, and still works to this day, despite its being made in 1989 -- and I even redid part of it so it's Y2K compatible! :D God I love this little machine. I swear, it's one of my biggest loves along side my girlfriend and programming.
    A script is what you give the actors. A program is what you give the audience. ~ Larry Wall
      Hello, Chad. Or Matt. I can't remember which Kage you were.
Re: My first computer was...
by liz (Monsignor) on Jul 20, 2003 at 10:23 UTC
    My first computer was a Control Data IST-1 PLATO terminal with an 8080 processor (1977):
    • 16K ROM
    • 40K RAM (of which 32K was used for the 512x512 monochrome screen)
    Available memory for programming was more like 1.5K, but there was a nice API in the 16K ROM that would allow you to do nice graphics stuff and access the keyboard and touch screen. If your program got too big, the stack would run into your executable code and crash the terminal.

    My first program on that was a chase game in which you were supposed to shoot a Star Wars Imperial Tie Fighter. You could run this program locally in the terminal, which was handy if the connection to the mainframe was down. And by making it accessible through a hot key, you could appear to be doing serious work one moment, and be playing the next moment ;-)

    Later on I simulated a slot machine, with the turning of the wheels being done locally, which made for a nice effect in those days.

    Of course, the terminal was used for doing serious development of Computer Based Training (nowadays usually referred to as "e-learning") otherwise. ;-)


Re: My first computer was...
by PeterM (Initiate) on Jul 21, 2003 at 03:23 UTC
    KayproII maybe around 1980. these were 2.5mhz 64K CP/M variants of what were called "big boards" with two SSDD floppies. I was a graduate student at the time and spent a fortune on it but it set me free from the computer center, TSO and the IBM mainframe. The Kaypro II was built like a tank and except for the buzz of the drives was silent - no fan even. I used it for general programming and word processing using an nroff like program -- think it was called perfect writer. It came with wordstar and a compiler called S-basic or structured basic that was pascal like. I wrote lots of programs in S-basic until I got a $35 compiler called Turbo Pascal. There were other languages like Nevada Fortand and Cobol that were cheap or you could buy $500 compilers that were no better. Those were fun times with computers. Now, perl has brought some of the fun back into programming for me.
Re: My first computer was...
by mpeppler (Vicar) on Nov 16, 2003 at 16:54 UTC
    My first computer was an ACT Apricot, a generic 8086 machine, with 256K ram and dual 3.5" floppies, in 1984. It was actually a pretty neat machine for its time.

    My first computer experience was a few years earlier, on the University's Univac, writing programs using the SPSS (Stastical Package for Social Sciences) on punch cards... :-)


Re: My first computer was...
by JSchmitz (Canon) on May 21, 2004 at 02:28 UTC
    usually a Sparc 5 or 20 is referred to as a pizza box cause it looked exactly like one but with four little feet on it...

Re: My first computer was...
by wenD (Beadle) on Nov 30, 2006 at 15:25 UTC
Re: My first computer was...
by wizbancp (Sexton) on Feb 14, 2007 at 16:01 UTC
    A Commodore Vic20... (sigh! because when i bought the C64 my parents lend him(yes "him" and not "it")for 100.000 Italian Lire).
    Feel the Dark Power of Regular Expressions...
Re: My first computer was...
by alexm (Chaplain) on Jun 28, 2008 at 12:22 UTC
      Mine was a Sony HB75 ... MSX (and parents, like Spectravideo, Yeno...) and Amstrad 464/6128 are too obviously missing :)
Re: My first computer was...
by ccn (Vicar) on Nov 21, 2008 at 19:57 UTC
    Агат (Apple ][ based) in 1989
Re: My first computer was...
by ambrus (Abbot) on Sep 11, 2010 at 20:50 UTC

    I keep saying that this is a nice nostalgic thread, but never posted about my first computer, so here's the story.

    The first computer we had at home was a 386 PC. We, of course, only had one for the whole family. We got it when I was very young (like less than three years old) but we had it for a very long time (till I was more than twelve I don't know the exact years). I also played games on the Commodore 64 computers in the school (and later some PCs), and on another Commodore at a friend.

    Later, we got a newer machine, a Pentium, and even later a second Pentium which I could then consider mine. That second Pentium is what I'm thinking back the most happily. I installed SUSE Linux from CDs I brought home from the school, learning about it from schoolmates. I had to fit everything on a 2 gigabyte hard disk, which was divided like this: 1 gigabyte for DOS and Windows 3.1, 50 megabyte for Windows 95 OSR2 (a compressed partition, and booting it from a separate floppy), 720 megabytes for Linux, and 128 megabytes of swap (twice the amount of RAM). The Linux partition was so small I barely fit on it, and I remember I had to remove big programs to install others from the CD. (There was plenty of space on the DOS partitions, I only used at most 750 megs of it, but partition resizing wouldn't have been so easy at that time.) There was no way to make backups, as we couldn't yet have CD burners at home. There was also only expensive dialup internet, so I brought some software home from school using a 300 meg mobile hard disk. That was the time I learnt the most about Linux and stuff like that.

    Later, I got a Compaq computer with a Pentium II CPU. That computer was a real wonder of the time. It was so much faster than the Pentium. Some years after that, home computers got cheap so after the Celeron P4 computer after that, I got so many different ones, each better than the previous one. The improvement between each and the next one, while significant, was never so important in practice to me as the one between the PII and the Pentium. The Pentium was slow, the PII was fast enough to run any software I actually need (like xterm or Netscape), but the first P4 was only better in that I could also run such complicated software fast that I didn't even need (like gnome etc), and the later ones only kept up with how software got more and more complicated.

    Some other stuff I used in some time during these are an Epson FX 850 (9 pin) matrix printer; and a notebook with a 286 cpu and 2 meg of RAM whose end was its hard disk dying; and a Nintendo Game boy.

    Incidentally, as the computers got better, the keyboards are getting worse and worse. Back with the 386s and the Pentiums, we were using IBM keyboards (101 key ones with US-English layout printed on them and Hungarian layout put on it with stickers). Then I used a Compaq keyboard I got with the Compaq for very long, and it was almost as good as a real IBM one. I didn't throw it away till I worn it out (at the end the one of the new motherboards had problem with it perhaps they didn't test it with an AT socket keyboard plugged into the PS2 port with a converter). Since then, I'm using worse and worse keyboards. If I ever get rich, I'll buy IBMs again.

Re: My first computer was...
by davies (Vicar) on Sep 11, 2010 at 23:08 UTC
    Kosmos Spielcomputer Logikus. Truly. And I still have it and know where it is. But I wouldn't know where to get the battery it used nowadays.


    John Davies
Re: My first computer was...
by rowdog (Curate) on Sep 12, 2010 at 20:07 UTC

    Way back in the day, when I was 12 and it was 1974, I lived next to a university. Now, I can't remember exactly how it happened, but this professor friend of mine gave me his user/pass for the campus DEC PDP-11.

    I was messing around trying to learn fortran and exploring the OS while skulking from computer lab to computer lab hoping the attendants wouldn't notice the 12 year old kid that was, technically, breaking into the system. That lasted for the rest of the summer, when, I discovered that girls were even more fun than computers.

    The first computer to own me was an early clone of the IBM PC. It had that cool turbo button so you could boost the speed! I say the computer owned me because that's when I really fell in love with programming. I taught myself Pascal, Prolog and C on that computer and I've been programming ever since.

    I just wanted to add that I later worked at that university doing security work for IT, so I would assume that all is forgiven.

Re: My first computer was...
by Voronich (Hermit) on Aug 23, 2011 at 15:01 UTC

    Franklin Ace 1000, the Apple ][ clone.

Re: My first computer was...
by blue_cowdawg (Prior) on Aug 23, 2011 at 15:27 UTC

    Hearing (or reading) the phrase "My first computer was..." brings me to a reverie and a walk down memory lane and makes me feel very nostalgic.

    "My first computer" depends on what you'd consider as "my computer." The very first computer I ever used was in High School in 1972. The head of the math department, Ron Gearheart, was very much a visionary when he realized that our generation (meaning my classmates and I) were going to be exposed to computers in a very real way. His logic followed that there was a need for all of us to learn a bit about how to use them. His solution to that was to decree that all students in any math class taught at our high school would have the requirement to write a program in BASIC that would:

    • Take two numbers and add them
    • Take two more numbers and find the difference
    and so for for multiply, divide, exponent of two and exponent of 10 and print the results.

    This was being done with ASR-33 teletypes (you had to put your program to tape first) and submitted to a Honeywell 1648 time share system that we connected to via acoustic modem and was located in Minneapolis. (We were in a suburb of Boston)

    From those humble beginnings I developed a fascination for making computers do my bidding. Since I was an avid model airplane buff and model rocketry hobbyist a lot of the code I wrote in those days (as I built up my skill in BASIC and later FORTRAN) had to do with those two hobbies.

    By 1973 I was writing in assembler against a PDP-8 where I discovered how much mischief I could cause. Up until around 1998 I still remembered the boot toggle sequence for the PDP-8. I sorta miss those clunky boxes.

    Later on after I joined the US Navy I discovered microprocessors. First was the 8008, then the 8080 and the more sophisticated 8085. My truly first computer of my own was a wire wrapped construction around the 8085 chip that sported a full 64K (!) of RAM and I used FORTH to write programs against it. (Seems I got the FORTH compiler for free somewhere... don't remember where...)

    Soon after the 8085 based computer I built a 68000 based system that had a Z80 "helper" attached to it to produce vector graphics on an oscilloscope for a project that I never finished that was to be a video game that would be a clone of the popular asteroids game. I had taken advantage of an "undocumented feature" in the Z80 that allowed me to emulate 16 bit output and drive two digital to analog converters at the same time.

    It's all a blur now, but I went with the Sinclair at one point, the VIC-20, Commodore 64, "Hack Shack Trash 80" and a few more home built boxes based on 6805, 6809, 68010 and a few other processors.

    There was this application out there called "Windows" that seemed to be creeping in on the scene and while it was neat to be able to run multiple things at once I wasn't too impressed with it at the time. I'd been exposed to X-windows and thought that was a much better deal (as crude as it was back then) and never expected this "Windows thing" to go very far.

    Fast forward now, and I'm a Linux bigot of the highest order. I have three desktops at and two laptops at home that all run some variant of Debian or another. Plus I rent around 10 VPSs all running either CentOS or Debian. Still don't think Windows is going to last... it's just a fad... </p.

    Peter L. Berghold -- Unix Professional
    Peter -at- Berghold -dot- Net; AOL IM redcowdawg Yahoo IM: blue_cowdawg

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