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Your First Computer or Computer Game

10/07/2006 5:08 PM

Vector Graphics was mine first one.

That was the beginning of the world for me.

I still keep a lot of the old tech stuff for kids to tear into.

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Guru

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#1

Re: Your First Computer or Computer Game

10/07/2006 9:37 PM

My first computer was an MITS (Micro-Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems Corp., Albuquerque, NM) Altair 8800, in kit form. It had an 8-bit Intel 8080, a half-megahertz four-phase clock, and 256 bytes of static RAM. This was in the mid-70s. It was the Altair 8800 that appeared on the cover of (I believe) Popular Science and which prompted Bill Gates, then a Harvard student, to exclaim, "It's here!" Gates' first product was a BASIC interpreter/compiler for the '8800, which he wrote in record time. Gates soon dropped out of Harvard to devote himself full-time to software development and formed Microsoft Corporation shortly thereafter. The jury is still out on whether this auspicious moment was a Good Thing. Personally I tend to think not, but then, I'm a diehard linux fan. <p> My second computer was Sinclair ZX81, also in kit form. I wrote my first general-purpose simultaneous equation solver on this one, but I had to pay an extra $100 for the 16k of dynamic RAM the program required. Mass storage was via audio tape. You connected your cassette recorder to the computer via the 1/8" audio jack. The data were encoded on audio tape by means of frequency-shift-keying (FSK), where a binary "one" was one frequency, while a binary "zero" was a different frequency. If the tape ever stretched, you were S.O.L. It's quite fun to remember things like this once in awhile. I tend to appreciate more the things I have today. Thanks! --Europium

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The Architect
Engineering Fields - Software Engineering - S/W Architect Popular Science - Evolution - Fascinating! Fans of Old Computers - TRS-80 - A fine computer United States - US - Statue of Liberty - NY

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Your First Computer or Computer Game

10/08/2006 10:06 AM

My first computer was the Sinclair ZX81 (as advertised in Discover magazine), but mine came assembled. I was 14 at the time. I ended up selling it for money to buy my next computer, so for a long time I was sorry that I got rid of it... I spent many hours tapping away at that thing. When Ebay hit the scene I looked and, sure enough, there was an auction going on; I monitored it from work, and with 2 seconds to go, I beat someone else out for it (paying only 1/2 of the original price!). The deal included original brochures (get extra memory!) and other really retro looking printed materials. I keep it on a shelf with a sliderule and a paper roll from a player piano... it's my little shrine to computing.

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Guru

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Your First Computer or Computer Game

10/08/2006 1:23 PM

Yes, there it is! Thank you for posting this pic. I had forgotten how closely the ZX-81 resembles a doorstop with a keyboard. :-) -- Europium

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Guru

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#8
In reply to #1

Re: Your First Computer or Computer Game

10/09/2006 7:11 AM

My first interaction with these Marvels of today was with the old ??Computer Game?? called Pong. Oh my, our house was the wonder of the neighborhood. Hours spent mindlessly wasting time back and forth. I know most of your experiences precede mine, but I just had to share.

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Power-User
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#4

Re: Your First Computer or Computer Game

10/08/2006 2:26 PM

Mine was a Vector 1, by Vector Graphics. It was one of the first hobbiest computers with no "front panel," just "on" and "reset" buttons. I still have it (though I'd be surprised if it actually still works). The Vector 1 basically provided the box, power supply, and bus system. You had to buy the rest yourself.

Here's the box:

and here's a view of the inside, which is pretty dusty at the moment.

My CPU was a Z80 (which is now used in my son's TI-84 Calculator!) This one was on a 2Mhz part, although the CPU board had a pot in the clock circuit so you overclock it up to a whopping 4 Mhz. The Z80 is the 40 pin DIP at the upper right:

The firmware was held in EEPROM, and the machine has a whopping 8 kbytes of static ram on the card below. As I recall, this cost a fortune at the time, although I was in college and poor so it may have just seemed like a fortune to me :)

Note the four voltage regulators on the left. The ram card was a real power hog. As I remember, the dip switches set the base address of the card.

Now, my cell phone has more CPU power than this box!

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Anonymous Poster
#5

Re: Your First Computer or Computer Game

10/08/2006 11:36 PM

Pacman on a Apple 2e in 1980somethink, replaced it with a Mac with a split keyboard.

Still got it and it still works. but its in Australia and I am in the US, Still cant get "user freindly " with a PC

Apple rules

Johnno

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Member

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#6

Re: Your First Computer or Computer Game

10/09/2006 2:39 AM

My first computer was the IMSAI 80 I built several interfacing cards and program it to solve equations and printout the result, giving alarm on passing the threshold.

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Associate
Fans of Old Computers - Commodore 64 - New Member

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Your First Computer or Computer Game

10/09/2006 4:57 AM

I seem to remember one of those in the movie War Games. That was about the time I got my first computer. An Atari 800xl with an RF modulator hooked to a 12" black and white television. A 64k competitor to the Commodore that could play Atari cartridges. I had a BASIC cartridge and wrote some simple games for my brothers and a few small tools to help with my trig homework. I begged my parents for the $700 audio tape drive to no avail. So with no mass storage, everytime I wanted to use a program I had to retype it using the same 2 fingers I still hunt and peck with today. I would wait 2 hours for a simple graphic to render and at about 85% finished it would run out of memory and die.

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Guru
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#9
In reply to #7

Re: Your First Computer or Computer Game

10/09/2006 7:40 AM

Oh dear...... I feel old now!

I remember the amazement we all showed in the design labs at Marconi Instruments in the early 70's when we saw the first 4004 microprcessor chip together with one of the first EPROMs was it a 1702 or something??

The 4004 was only 4 bit but it still created awe amongst us as we visualised what we could do with it!!

John.

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Guru
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#10
In reply to #9

Re: Your First Computer or Computer Game

10/09/2006 8:00 AM

Oh yes, my first home computer was a 'Nascom' kit, about 1978 using a Z80 it had a massive 2k of monitor ROM and about 2k of RAM.... storage was by a tape recorder at 300 baud!

The only games were hand written in machine code, I did buy a BASIC interpretor EPROM and a Z80 assembly program later....

Yes! I still have it, I used it last in about 1985 so I got a fair amount of use out of it....

John.

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The Feature Creep

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#11

Re: Your First Computer or Computer Game

10/09/2006 9:44 AM

My first computer was the good old TI 99 / 4A. It had a cartridge slot for programs and I even had a tape drive (yes a cassette tape drive). I remember putting Ozzy's "Howl at the Moon" into it see what the computer would think of it.

After that we "Upgraded" to a Laser 128, it was an Apple II clone and it had a real floppy disk drive. I spent hours using LOGO, an old drawing program and writing code from a line of children's books about a child hacker that included the code for the programs he ran in the back of the book.

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Participant

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#12

Re: Your First Computer or Computer Game

10/09/2006 11:36 AM

The first computer I purchased was a Commodore VIC-20. I dis-assembled the OS, bought an EPROM programmer, and hooked in to the OS to have a random number generator blink lights in a random pattern. Cool conversation piece "back then".

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Fans of Old Computers - Commodore 64 - New Member

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#13

Re: Your First Computer or Computer Game

10/09/2006 4:15 PM

To make every one of you feel old and outdated and all that.

My first computer was a ten year old 5th hand Commodor 64. I used that just for the games. The next one had Windows on it.

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#14

Re: Your First Computer or Computer Game

10/10/2006 1:59 PM

My first computer was also a Commodore Vic 20. However, needing it for more than just playing games and not being able to afford the "business" computers like the Kay Pro, IBM PC (original), of even an Apple, I settled for an after market upgrade, a video card/memory card combo that plugged into the game card slot, upgrading the Vic 20 memory from 2k to a Whopping 16K (around 3-4 typed pages)! It also gave a text display of 80 characters per line for an almost WYSIWYG display routed to a 9-inch amber monitor I had also bought, since TV resolution would only work up to 40 characters.

This allowed me to use the word processing software that came with the combo card to write my grad school papers, freeing me from the tyranny of the typewriter. Of course, there was no spell check, but there was a crude cut-and-paste function. No mouse, just cursor keys, so it took a while to jump around in the text.

I printed my papers on an Okidata dot matrix "near letter quality" printer. Personal printers were still in their infancy back then and this one had traction (holes on edges pulled by a sprocket) or friction feed. However, the friction feeder had only single sheet feed (by hand), and often skewed the paper, so I opted to buy a box of fanfold paper with something called "dis-a-perf" that allowed the traction-feed edges to be removed without leaving unsightly perferations. I think I still have half a box of it somewhere, probably in the same closet where resides my Vic-20, amber monitor, and, oh yes, my Commodore audio cassette tape data storage device!

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: Your First Computer or Computer Game

11/23/2006 9:46 AM

My first genuine computer was an Alphatronic which was a top of the range 8080 with 64Kb memory and two 5.5" floppy drives which I purchased when they became obsolete in 1980 , it is still serviceable although not installed.

Later that year I got to work with Siemens R30/R10 that had CPU,s built on boards as they predated micro processors these were of 1972 design in large cabinets and had separate desk mounted 8" floppy disks and huge 250Mb disk drives with removable packs

My first encounter with any computing was a home built noughts and crosses machine built with post office relays about 1948.

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The Architect
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#16
In reply to #15

Re: Your First Computer or Computer Game

11/24/2006 1:19 PM

"My first encounter with any computing was a home built noughts and crosses machine built with post office relays about 1948."

Wow! I would love to see something of that vintage actually working. I suppose there's a difference between a programmable computer and a hard-wired single-purpose "computing machine" (which I assume was the case for something built with mechanical relays in 1948), but I bet it was impressive, and must have looked and sounded really cool as it operated.

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#17
In reply to #16

Re: Your First Computer or Computer Game

11/24/2006 2:50 PM

The first insight I had as to how computers work was when I went on courses to Siemens to learn all about their old fashioned R10/R30 series they had no micro processors so you could see what was really happening with a logic probe, the CPU consisted of 4 4bit bit slice devices and the Instruction set was held on a board with 64 sets of chips that held 128 bit long words.

All the memory was in the form of 4K 1Bit chips and we had diagnostic programs to locate which one had failed so we could solder in a new one, the normal memory was 64k by 16bits but you could fit more vastly expensive boards in if you felt the need,

The clock rate was 10MHz but it was surprising what you could do with these simple machines and what elaborate software had been written for them.

They had 100Kg disk drives with multi platter 13" removable disk packs that held 256MB of data that were quite good at self destructing and some models had large panels with lots of switches and light so that you could address individual bits and addresses.

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#18
In reply to #17

Re: Your First Computer or Computer Game

11/24/2006 2:53 PM

The ENIAC from 1946 one of the largest early computers worked in Decimal no binary and had no stored program everything was setup with plugged leads.

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Participant

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#20
In reply to #18

Re: Your First Computer or Computer Game

06/22/2015 3:11 AM

Thank you for the Information Glad to know such a great stuff regarding computers i like to do researches on history based on computers so i use to search on ijcsit-apm . Thanks for your post..!!!!!!!!!

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Guru

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#19
In reply to #16

Re: Your First Computer or Computer Game

01/26/2007 3:04 PM

Santa, I want an Enigma.

I'll be good. Promise.

-e

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