Model Train Forum banner

1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,023 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Who remembers their first computer? Ours was a Texas Instruments, complete with 16 KB of RAM and two 5 1/4" floppy drives. I bought an Epson dot matrix printer with a tractor drive, a half ton of perforated paper in a constant feed box and a dozen ribbons of various colors so I could have color printing. I think I had an 8" amber monitor and a mouse of sorts that I was never able to figure out how to use.

Remember having to "PARK" your hard drive before you physically moved your computer? How about those upgrades of DOS? Going from DOS 2.0 to 2.11? How about "Freeware"? There was always a caution that it might be infected. And then the back-ups. 20 floppy discs needed to back up a small system ( I think they had a capacity of 720 KB each). And then the floppy discs themselves, SS, DS, SSSD, DSDD and so on. I don't remember all the designations anymore.

And, the very first time I got on the internet. I got connected into the computer system at Case Western University somehow, and was trying to read things I had absolutely no knowledge of. If I were to guess, it was sometime in 1978 or 1979.

Ahh, those heady days of ignorance and bliss.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,221 Posts
I have been working with computers since '83 when the Exxpanded Minuteman Data Analysis system was implemented to track maintenance actions for the Minuteman II weapon system while in the Air Force.

I had played with PC's that far back owned by other people but did not own a PC until 1996. It came with DOS/Windows 95. I learned a little DOS back then because it was required for setting up some up some combat flight simulators as well as the controllers. My wife at the time was much more familiar with DOS working with a major insurance company and she taught me a lot.

My first computer was an IBM Aptiva 166, and then I bought a 266, and later another IBM model who's model number I forget. I think it was a PI or PII.

This is the computer I had always wanted after finding out it was selected for use on the STS, and one of the very few that was flight rated for space travel.

I bought this mint IBM A31p from a member at my Thinkpad forum. He bought it new in 2003 and also has two others he purchased. This one was stored after only a few months of use. There is not even a hint of shine on the keys and not a mark anywhere on it either inside or outside. This computer was right at $4,000 when brand new. It was the top of the line machine in anyone's line of laptops at the time and had more bells and whistles as standard features than any laptop in it's day.

I use it for email, light browsing, and iTunes music. The audio quality blows away my brand new Dell G3 and my T520 and T510 machines. Only the T500 comes close to the audio quality this A31p puts out.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
120 Posts
I [kinda] remember my first one, it was either an Altair or an Imsai, don't remember any more .. just remember that you had to build it yourself, nobody had a 'personal computer' that you could buy .. yep, a long time ago ..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,803 Posts
I began using computers in 8th grade middle school during the 70-71 school year. Pictured is an IBM 1130 at our HS. I was allowed to walk across campus to the adjacent HS to use it. Programs were input on punch cards that you created on the card punch/reader (partial image on left). Printouts were on the classic white/green tractor feed paper run through the console's "Selectric typewriter" like printer. You could program red or black output.

The disk can been seen through the screen on the lower right. Disk cartridges were ~14" in diameter and 2" high. You opened the blue door to insert and locked it into position. One inserted, it took over a minute for the disk to come up to speed. I remember using two different disks; one for running the Fortran and another for the APL programming languages.

By the time I was a sophomore, the HS had a DEC 1140 computer and a dozen teletype terminals and offered a formal programming class (I skipped that). Among other features, the DEC had a peripheral to read 3.5"diameter tape. You save and load programs from those tapes. The few "geeks" each had one and we carried them around in our back pocket.

3 years later I was programming microprocessors when they were running at 3 MHz ... not 3 GHz :)

544077
 

·
Admin
Joined
·
43,794 Posts
I put together my first personal computer in 1976, it was an S-100 based 8080 with the IMSAI board. My chassis was a no-name with no control panel, even though I always wanted the IMSAI with the cool panel. Everything but the processor board was home-brew, the memory, floppy controller, and I/O board were wire wrapped. I picked up my Memorex 8" floppy drives at a computer swap meet, very popular in the late 70's and 80's. I moved on to the Z80 a couple years later, and scored my first hard disk, a 20mb 8" Memorex model, also at a swap meet. I had to build my own controller to interface to it, but suddenly I had 20 megabytes, more storage than I knew what to do with. The operating system of choice was CP/M, and you got to write your own BIOS to interface to your choice of I/O devices. An ADM3 CRT rounded out the configuration. I went through a number of oddball printers, that was the Achilles Heel of computing in the early days, printers were slow, expensive, and pretty unreliable! One of the nicest printers I had early on was the Qume daisy wheel model, it had great looking print, beat the pants off the early dot matrix printers with the limited character set and ugly characters.

I finally got an IBM-PC in 1983, but it was the floppy model, so I added an add-on hard disk that was almost as big as the PC box and just as expensive, it stored a massive 30 megabytes. :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,803 Posts
I put together my first personal computer in 1976, it was an S-100 based 8080 with the IMSAI board. ... :D
I programmed 8080 assembler code at my first job after college. And designed microprocessor systems around it's spinoff, the 8088.

Did you know that Intel grew the 8080 out it's CRT controllers?
 

·
Admin
Joined
·
43,794 Posts
I programmed 8080 assembler code at my first job after college. And designed microprocessor systems around it's spinoff, the 8088.

Did you know that Intel grew the 8080 out it's CRT controllers?
I was working for a little company on a joint project with Univac in 1976-1978, we were designing the BC/7 Business Computer.

I can personally debunk one of the myths in that page, the BC/7 was most certainly NOT designed by Singer and sold to Univac, I was on the project from it's inception, and it was all designed in-house from the ground up.

We were what was called a "barn project", semi-autonomous from Univac and Decision Data the two companies that were in the joint venture. The BC/7 was the very first major user of the new Intel 8080 processor, and at the time the price started out at $310/ea! Think of what that is in today's dollars! I made a number of trips out to Intel in Santa Clara, I was the guy that had to get the PL/M compiler working on the Univac 1108 computer and then develop the system simulator so we could work on software while we were still building hardware. I worked with the guy that should have done the IBM O/S, Gary Kildall. Somehow he punted and didn't get the contract and Bill Gates swooped in and got the contract.

A clip from one of the documents, this was after the system got hard disks, the original only had 8" floppies that were quad-density, 1.2mb each, you can still see them next to the CRT. I forget who made that larger printer, but it had a traveling drum with about ten columns of characters on it that traveled across like a typewriter, one of the nosiest printers I ever had to sit near!

544081
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,282 Posts
...SS, DS, SSSD, DSDD and so on. I don't remember all the designations anymore...
SS = Single Sided
DS = Double Sided
SSSD = Single Sided, Single Density
DSDD = Double Sided, Double Density

and there's also DSSD = Double Sided, Single Density
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
747 Posts
Apple //c in late 1986.
We were always behind the curve on computers compared to our neighbors.

Our first computer was also an Apple IIC, though ours was used and we didn't get it until several years later. Lots of fun with that.

I remember when my dad got my grandma's hand-me-down IBM PC XT (she was a financial planner) so we could do schoolwork at his place. That thing had a Daisy Wheel printer that sounded like a machine gun. I had to explain it to my teachers so they wouldn't mark me down for not using the correct font on my school papers.

Ah memories...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
545 Posts
IT WAS WITH A MRR CLUB !!!
My very first experience with a computer, and man was it disheartening, was after I'd joined the East Valley Lines N scale club in Travel Town in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, Ca. in the 1970s ! The entire layout at that time was controlled by a floppy disk computer..Every once in a while the entire layout would shut down and someone had to climb up to where it was and do something or other to correct this..And the the member who'd installed it had long since left L.A....
I quit that club and joined the Belmont Shore MRRC in San Pedro where I remained until I grew tired of N and went back to HO about 2006 (+-) only visiting clubs, then going NCE about 8 yrs ago at home....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,748 Posts
I still have mine, although I have not even opened the padded container now, but it worked last time I tried. It is an HP85 from 1980. Electric typewriter size unit with small B&W screen, tape cassette drive, and dot matrix all printer built in. I had an a third-party kit that routed the screen to a TV. It ran the full Dartmouth Basic (which was cool, because you could invert matrices with a single line of code, etc.) but had only 32Kb memory for code and another 32kB memory for data. Still, I did a lot of analysis and professional work on it. Loved it. the one in the photo below is not mine, but is identical to mine.

544119
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
442 Posts
Our very first Home computer was a Commodore 64 "C64" 8 bit machine. Circa 1982. Ah yes, as I remember, everything was in a peripheral form then hooked up to your very own TV. This was when we purchased our first computer desk & ergonomic back saving chair.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
879 Posts
Started in HS using punched cards. Once we had the cards punched we'd put them in the reader and fire it up. Then we'd pick up the phone and dial "TUC" somewhere in the Research Triangle (I don't remember what TUC stood for). Once we heard the tone we'd place the handset on the fish. When you got a green light on he fish, hit the go button on the card reader. About 20 seconds after the cards were read you'd get your output on the green bar paper printer. Take the handset off the fish and hang it up.

In my senior year we got a TRS-80.

The first computer I had in my house was a 286 with 512K of RAM and a 10MB hard drive. I think that was about 1987.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,560 Posts
Like so many of us, I too started with that dandy Commodore 64. I learned Basic
language on it and produced a few business oriented programs. Then along
came the Kaypros. They were still using Basic but had built in floppy drives
and were much more useful professionally.
Things took a turn for the better when IBM came along with
the First PC's and MSDOS. I got a copy of the Pascal compiler and really
got into business programming...my office had to communicate with
A State wide UNIX system and the local COBOL main frame and those
easy to code Pascal programs did their job. I really loved the challenge
or coding a complex accounting program and particularly emphasized good security
and accountability. I was very proud of speed of my products. They
eliminated the overtime needed by the slow COBOL main frame terminals.
But by the time that Windows
was taking over I said no more... just plain did not want to stop and learn a whole new
system...that was it... I ended my programming 'career' and retired.

Don
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top