What's the earliest computer you started with?

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Re: What's the earliest computer you started with?

Postby glnc222 » January 4th, 2013, 10:55 pm

Life at Data General in its heyday was recited in an old best selling book by journalist writerTracy Kidder, "The Soul of a New Machine", still in print. A tribute to people in the industry when advances were the new cultural thing and so few understood the tech. If you were young and worked there then, may bring back memories -- or you already read it long ago. Funny how "machine" used for computers instead of factory tools; the Association For Computing Machinery. Maybe Turing's abstract "machine". Back with real hardware, like ships of wood and men of iron... when tweety birds were only in cartoons.
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Re: What's the earliest computer you started with?

Postby mfortuna » January 5th, 2013, 8:23 am

I was sort of in the book, but only as a competent technician from Portsmouth (along with a couple others). My friend Don was a second shift team lead so he got 15% on top of his pay plus was paid for overtime. One of the engineers found Don's pay stub and was shocked to see a technician was making more money than him!

Portsmouth, NH did assenbly of all the DG mainframes which were then shipped to Southboro Massachussetts to be configured for the customer. I was involved with the MV8000 (the focus of Kidder's book) and MV10000 before moving on to a start-up and then into R&D.

It was amazing how much space a machine with 1 Mbyte of memory and 1 MIPs performance took. The memory was eight 15" by 15" boards and the CPU was made up of a number of other 15"x15" boards - micro-sequencer, ALU, ATU, Cache, memory controller, and IO controller. Then there was 8 slots for IO boards. The MV8000 was about the size of a washing machine.
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Re: What's the earliest computer you started with?

Postby glnc222 » January 5th, 2013, 4:55 pm

I researched the speeds of computers back then, interested in using PC's for our statistical things (like SAS today, or data mining). Those bigger boards used a faster, power heavy transistor circuit for logic, ECL I think, vs TTL or Complimentary, which could not be micro-ized. They ran tens of times faster than microcomputers, until over-taken in time. Even micro mini's were faster than PC's, one of the PDP's some engineer had in his basement, and then Apple LISA's or something with a Motorola 6000 16-bit chip instead of Intel's PC chips, much faster. Commercial apps all needed this, so the PC market was in transition. Today's drift into clouds shows the inherent need for centralization. It's time sharing all over again -- just lots more power and processors to share. Only vacuum cleaners and outer space probes can be autonomous. All those ufo sitings -- nothing but software failures in the cloaking devices, cheap programming from shysters on Vega, dubious second hand hardware on ebay. It's a wonder they haven't crashed. You don't want a ride in one.
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Re: What's the earliest computer you started with?

Postby glnc222 » January 7th, 2013, 4:55 pm

good history of the TI9900: http://chung.yikes.com/~leonard/mirrors/ti99/9900story.html

I first saw the 9900 on a custom board at the NJ Amateur Computer Fair, demonstrating four part wave table music instrument synthesis, impossible with all the 8 bit full computers displayed. Later adopted by the instrument industry in fixed ROM tables, then recorded real instrument samples. Now for a couple hundred bucks a PC can synthesize an entire symphony orchestra played simultaneously, sampled from the finest instruments, e.g. Garritan Personal Orchestra for professional musicians, composers, arrangers (who can play keyboards). You have probably heard the output without knowing it in commercial sounds, films etc. Concert grand on the desk, never goes out of tune. Cathedral pipe organ for variety. They can even synthesize the acoustic echo properties of the cathedral.
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Re: What's the earliest computer you started with?

Postby glnc222 » January 14th, 2013, 12:27 am

I don't know if Forth exists for VMS but COBOL, FORTRAN, Pascal, and Basic are all available.

Forth was used to eliminate overhead of OS's like VMS dedicating machines to specific tasks, instead of running under the OS. Under the OS is when supplied assemblers were needed, to get links into the OS, from libraries.
Forth was for imbedded systems or running development inside an Arduino itself instead of an external aid, with it's compact methods. Don't know if Arduino's can do it, but little 8-bit machines did with 16K of memory.
Books on Forth still being released as recently as 2007, check Amazon. Someone uses it.
Done forthing at the mouth. Back to vacuuming. Hope you were entertained.

[addendum: Forth definitely used on Arduino: http://www.offete.com/328eForth.html and other; search forth arduino.]
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Re: What's the earliest computer you started with?

Postby DewMan » April 24th, 2013, 9:04 pm

My first computer was an Apple IIc+ clone made by Franklin.

I think I still have my disk notcher I used to make my single sided disk double sided around here somewhere. :lol:
What do you mean "Caffeine isn't a vitamin."?

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Re: What's the earliest computer you started with?

Postby mfortuna » April 25th, 2013, 7:14 am

I just used scissors.
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Re: What's the earliest computer you started with?

Postby kafer1964 » August 26th, 2013, 1:46 pm

I am late to this site and this forum, but I will add my .02 cents.

My first access to a computer was 1973. My father worked at Alcoa, and they had an open house where they had their computers print off a calendar for kids, mine had a Charlie Brown figure on top.

My best friend had a TR80 Radio Shack with the cassette tape drive. He drew a Mirage fighter get with it, it took forever to load and then eventually print.

In the Air Force we had Zenith Z100's with 10 inch floppy drives. We upgraded them to 5 inch drives and bypassed the 8 inch ones. What a leap in technology. They sounded like jets when they accessed the drives. We also had laptops that had the rubber connectors for phones for their modems, and printouts on paper rolls.

My first PC was a Packard Bell 386 with a 9 pin dot matrix printer. 1 MB of RAM, upgradable to 2. That setup cost me $2000 but I used it and parts of it for years. I dropped in a 486 motherboard and processor into it's case. I think it made it from 1992 to 1998 before it went away. Might be a record for a Taco Bell.
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Re: What's the earliest computer you started with?

Postby eqwalker » September 6th, 2013, 3:18 pm

My first computer was a Coleco ADAM computer. I expanded it's memory to 144k. I also added a 300 baud modem along with a second high speed tape drive and then added two 5 1/4" floppy drives to it as well. Still have it and it still works but I'm thinking of finally letting it go. (Below is a pic of one like mine except I have two floppy drives)

ADAM Computer.JPG
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Re: What's the earliest computer you started with?

Postby vic7767 » September 6th, 2013, 4:39 pm

Did you mod those drives so that you could write on both sides of the floppy ?
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Re: What's the earliest computer you started with?

Postby eqwalker » September 16th, 2013, 4:24 pm

No, they are one side only.
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Re: What's the earliest computer you started with?

Postby djos » September 23rd, 2013, 6:43 pm

I managed to score this lot of Amiga gear for $120 from gumtree recently - the amazing part is my wife spotted it and asked if I wanted it (to which said "hell yes"):



:D
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Re: What's the earliest computer you started with?

Postby jvendor » September 24th, 2013, 3:29 pm

Sinclair Spectrum ZX80
Commodore 64
Amiga 500
IBM 70F61
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Re: What's the earliest computer you started with?

Postby  |?()()|\/||3@ » February 5th, 2014, 3:20 pm

The first apple Mac computer
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Re: What's the earliest computer you started with?

Postby SaabGuy » March 24th, 2014, 3:39 am

Bringing back forgotten times with my Atari 1200xl. Don't miss the tape drive or typing in basic games. If not then go to 25! I remember a version of what may have been Leisure Suit Larry in all text!
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Re: What's the earliest computer you started with?

Postby third_deg » March 24th, 2014, 7:15 am

TRS-80, C64, then my dad's company let me have their Apple IIe....

Like all of you, typed in so much basic. Worlds slowest and loudest Dot Matrix printer....

Then proceeded to let them collect dust while played too much Atari
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Re: What's the earliest computer you started with?

Postby robotreviews » March 24th, 2014, 8:40 am

SaabGuy wrote:Bringing back forgotten times with my Atari 1200xl. Don't miss the tape drive or typing in basic games. If not then go to 25! I remember a version of what may have been Leisure Suit Larry in all text!


You remember correctly! Leisure Suit Larry was first released as a text adventure sold under the poorly named original title of Softporn Adventure. By today's standards, it would barely register a PG rating, especially since it was entirely text.

And how great was it to spend hours typing in code line by line desperately hoping you didn't make a single typo, all in a desperate attempt to run a free piece of software written in a magazine.

I started with the horrible Atari 400 with the 'membrane' keyboard, and eventually felt like a king when I got my Atari 800XL. I learned a lot of programming on that little computer.
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Re: What's the earliest computer you started with?

Postby swanny4life » March 24th, 2014, 11:53 am

It was the sensor systems for the Navy's SH-60 helicopters. I had to preflight the helicopters and software from magnetic tape. It took a long time and there was not even a keyboard. This was 1993 and there were hard drives, but the helos vibrate so much hard drives would fail the aircraft was and used a design from the 70s. Before that, it waz using IBM pc xt.
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Re: What's the earliest computer you started with?

Postby mfortuna » March 28th, 2014, 10:41 am

I brought my micro-vax back to life! The vax is running decwindows via cygwin on a PC desktop.

A fellow TRS80 enthusiast turned me on to the micro-vax. The entire setup including a larger SCSI hard drive and external CD drive was about $125.

Licenses to run the software are free but have to be renewed each year.
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Re: What's the earliest computer you started with?

Postby Roombascoobatastic » April 20th, 2014, 11:33 am

TXL Series 4. Any Canadian born in the 70s and early 80s will know what I mean.
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