Leadership

A trip down tech memory lane

Windows 95, certificate of authenticity.

Windows 95, certificate of authenticity.

Submitted by Jeff Davis.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

74 comments
bobbb
bobbb

I still have one of those. GX 20-1850-3. But does anyone have the GX 20-1850-4 (paper version)? Did you know that there is an error on page 15 (code tables)? Decimal 226 is listed as 1101 0010. That should be 1110 0010 I also have a drum from a card punch and should still have a sorting needle.

jsargent
jsargent

Locking the door to the computer room with a lookout at the window (just in case). Turning on the Commodore Pet with 1k expansion pack and running a 10 second digitized (in ASCII characters) scene from "Deep Throat". If you squinted just enough your eyes could just make out the pictures from 6 feet away. Oh! And we still managed to download data from an orbiting Russian weather satellite to prove to the teacher that we actually were doing something innocent.

paulo.sedrez
paulo.sedrez

Even if you could emulate the hardware, you could not run these one on nowadays computers: I have not seen anyone with a 8-bit ISA slot in a long time.

Moeity
Moeity

Good old days, indeed! Anyone remember the Epson HX-20? I have one with cassette drive, 300baud acoustic coupler and the TV adaptor. My first actual portable computer, speaking MS GWBASIC and (wonder of wonders), with an excellent assembly language debug/monitor. Built my very first multitasking OS on it, still have the cassettes. Used the bi-di parallel port to control many things (all my house lighting at one point). Ahh, those were the days. Graduated from there directly to Apple Fat Mac, thereafter to Apple Mac II and it was all "downhill" from there... ;)

angry_white_male
angry_white_male

The Ultratec Minicom is a TTY (text telephone) for deaf people. Many are still in use, however, IM's, SMS, Skype, etc... are rapidly replacing the TTY.

jturner
jturner

In the early 80's I had the Zenith which I loaded with the max 64K or RAM. I started with cassette tape storage but eventually upgraded to 5 1/4" single sided soft sectored floppy disks. Man was I in heaven then. My favorite program was SuperCalc (SC.exe) with all it's rows and columns to add data or formulas. I printed to a thermal printer that used treated paper on a roll. Then the IBM PC came out.

JohnOfStony
JohnOfStony

called the Archimedes made by Acorn Computers Ltd., Cambridge, UK, for whom I worked for a year in the late 80s. It was the fastest desktop computer in the world in terms of processing speed. The processor ran at 8 MHz but its performance was on a par with a 33 MHz 80486 which came out a few years later. I migrated from Acorn's products to "PCs" when I was unemployed in 1990 and had to accept that the PC was the way the world was going despite the technical superiority of Acorn's products. Acorn is no more but its offspring, ARM (which originally stood for Acorn RISC Machine), is still doing remarkably well.

Dhurgan
Dhurgan

When I first started out, we had so called Nascom 2 Computers at School which were handwired by the technical students, I got hooked and got my mom to buy me my first computer, a MSX SpectraVideo 728 (Z80 based), almost everyone else were buying Acorns or C64's :D Eventually traded up to an Amiga (500 then 3000) and went on to code on Sparc in its various forms :D Those were fun days :D

steve
steve

Yes, and shelving from IKEA :)

LovesongJ
LovesongJ

If we're going down memory lane, let's remember that the word is spelled "whippersnapper."

danawinner
danawinner

I used the Amiga for "cutting edge" desktop video editing in 1991 :) I wrote about it in my book "Hardware, Software; Womenware" - a personal history of computing from 1956-present.

mrbonuchi
mrbonuchi

I thought it was funny to see a photo of a book describing "Amateur radio" as if it were a thing of the past. Hardly. Amateur "ham" radio has seen a surge in new licensed operators over the last 10 years and as I know, has more members than there's ever been. Amateur radio of today provides a number of digital mediums for data transfer, satellite communications, as well as protocols that use layers of the atmosphere ionized by meteor dust as a reflector. From emergency communications to educational links between elementary schools and the International Space Station, there are many ways to enjoy ham radio. Amateur radio history? No, not at all.

domiles
domiles

I am still using the old Quatro Pro Dos version, much easier to use, easier to set sizes and much easier to read!

Dr. Solar
Dr. Solar

If I'd known there'd be all those pictures of MS-DOS/Winders, I'd have sent in a picture of my stack of OS/2 install floppies!

Nivlaek
Nivlaek

I still have my Commodore 128. Tried it last year and it still works. Had to wrack my brain to even remember [b]LOAD "*" ,8,1 [/b]

TheSwabbie
TheSwabbie

One of my FIRST hard drives was a 10 MEGABYTE MFM drive (boat anchor).. weighed a TON. A friend put stacker on it.. I lost ALL my data 3 times (3 crashes) before I told him to get the crap OFF.. I finally broke down and went to a 40MEG RLL drive. This was on a 16mhz 286 PC. :)

john
john

Hey, you guys are supposed to be the geeks, so why can't I look at these pretty pictures without having to scroll down because there is too much crap above the picture after it loads. I'm using a PC with 19" flat screen and IE8 @ 1280x960. By the way, my first "computer" was a Radio Shack CoCo II with 16k ram, cassette tape storage.

fixmypcmike
fixmypcmike

I don't think that this part of the memory lane trip but just to mention: My first introduction to computers was a machine called ADAM. THAT really peaked my interest in computers: imagine telling a machine what to do and the machine actually doing it! What a concept. Although my primary use was as a word processor (it came with a dot matrix printer and ribbon---awesome!), I was intrigued that it "saved" my place after playing a game called "Monkeyshines"...or any games, really. At the time, I could not afford something called Amiga, Commodore or Tandy but this machine gave me incentive to save money and buy a PC. Yeah, I bought one of the first 286 machines, but who else didn't!!! A lot of these images brought back memories of my introductions to PCs. Good article, Toni!

dmagician038
dmagician038

The only thing comes in mind is: , look where we've come in 20 years... My first PC Was IBM Personal Computer clone, with 8088 CPU, 128KB memory, 8MHz(!) (or [b]12MHz[!!][/b] with TURBO on), Dual floppy, all which: I've upgraded to [b]640KB[/b] and an [u][b]21MB[/b][/u] RLL (- I think - either this of an MFM) GIANT hard drive and [b]EGA gaphics card and 4 Color monitor[/b] with MS-DOS 5 (and later on 6 [!!]) for using Borland's Turbo Pascal... Only left to say - again - [b]WOW[/b] this is old (but fun) stuff! or In other words, Mommy! am I THIS old :-) LOL !

darshils99
darshils99

Its always good to see old devices from which our computing actually started!!Hoping to read new articles like this one more and more!!!

calm1now
calm1now

and who could forget one of the first "naughty" games Leather Goddesses of Phobos ,,,

calm1now
calm1now

I'm a 53 yr old tech and I still have to install and make Rolling Ronny and Jill of the Jungle work on my 73 yr old mom's computers ,,, LMAO ... ya can't keep those classic games down ,,, I'm running Win7 and have Asteroids and Centipede and Battle Zone installed just to kill a few minutes now and then to clear my head ,,, it's all mindless fun ,,, BTW my first computer was an Olivetti portable ,,it looked like a large piece of Samsonite with dual 5.25 Floppies and a whopping 3.5" Diagonal Monochrome yellow/black screen ,,,

elkinm
elkinm

How can you not include the Compaq 2-drive 40-pound luggable portable? The OS and WordPerfect in drive 1, the data in drive 2. Memories......

RELF
RELF

Ahh. Even further back, long before MSDOS. I remember learning to program IBM collaters, keypunch, etc while in the military in 1963. The days of true plug and play. Picture a PBX board (Private Board eXchange). Plug and unplug jacks to modify operation.

lukeeladee
lukeeladee

had a few giggles--worked on several of those fine old machines--at the time each was a marvelous step into the future--we had no idea how far we would progress in relatively a short time

RELF
RELF

I wrote my first disk editor in 1984-5 in assembler. Norton Utilities used int 24 and 25, if I remember correctly. However, if the FAT or Dir had a problem the Utilities were as useless as teats on a boar hog. I had to use int 13. It was direct read/write. I did have to modify the screen writing routines when CGA color came out. Used it many times in my company, friends companies, to directly modify a disk (floppy and hard disk). Ahh, the simple life.

oskar401
oskar401

Oh... Those were the days. HP built the worlds best Test Equipment (now Agilent Technologies) and some pretty capable computers to automate the taking of readings. They weren't drowning in a sea of incompetent management and deciding if they were in or out of the computer business. Life was so much simpler DOS 2.11 Yum yum.

Pasley69
Pasley69

My first home computer looked a bit like the Minicom in one of the pictures (purchased September 1983, I think, and cost $870 AU with a 6502 processor, a Z80 processor, 64K RAM and 7 expansion slots) . 5 inch external drive - $425; which needed the disk controller card in one of the expansion slots - $85. A 20MHz, 12inch green screen monitor - $273; and card $85 in another slot. A Micom 80 column dot-matrix printer - $550, plus printer interface card took another slot - $85. Micromint Microvox speech synthesizer - $499; and voice card $258; and software $65. To upgrade the memory to 128K needed another slot and cost $395 for the card and $269 for the chips. If feeling rich you could buy the all-in-one Micom MC-1000 with 6502 processor, 64K RAM, 5 expansion slots, 7inch hi-res green screen, 2x 7inch disk drives, and fold-down 52-key keyboard with 12-key numeric keypad. It was fitted with a 10Amp, 240 Volt power supply. All this for $1995. My first work computer was a standalone desktop machine with 256K memory. It ran the TurboDOS multi-user operating system and had 32 ports for connecting 16 keyboards and 16 screens in a star configuration. We had BASIC for the programmer, WordStar and SuperCalc for the users and a printer. Aaaah great times. Although I can't recall producing anything genuinely useful out of it., we did have fun running the 32 cables (max length 250 feet) through the building and between floors.

mark
mark

Ha, I still have the Intel Pentium overdrive promotional shirt I received when the overdrives were released. Plus a handful of keychains with pentium processor cores embedded in plastic.

squirrelpie0
squirrelpie0

How do I get copies of that cool software and the new hardware. My old Apple IIe has just about had the bird!

dwhite0849
dwhite0849

MS-Dos 3.2, Star, DBase, bbbs' on a 300 baud modem, Lotus.....buying gray market parts to build a PC from some guy in a garage...I think his name was Dell or something like that......ah it is so nice to remember but this new stuff is so much better...well the hardware...give me the old Lotus any day. And at least with the old DOS you knew where you were and where to find things

wstrine
wstrine

I cant believe someone has that stuff - makes me feel like im not a pack rat at all.

steve.hammill
steve.hammill

It has always surprised me that some hardware manufacturer hasn't made a modern clone of the Radio Shack TRS model 100. They were a fine tool.

rbanffy
rbanffy

At least clean the computers before taking pictures on your room's carpet.

2bczar4u
2bczar4u

Save for a few items, I think most of these things can still be found in either my or my parent's basement. I suspect a call to 1-800-dump is long overdue..... yikes!

leeric
leeric

I have an A4000T which has run non-stop (except for fan, harddrive and P/S replacements) for 15 years now. It wakes me up for work, reminds me to take my meds, waters the apple tree, controls block heater outlet, lights, etc. it doesn't die, crash, get dropped, broken, stolen, lose memory, like all the portable stuff these days. But I do have to be at home ;-)

Elfman42
Elfman42

In an age when the choices are one of three operating systems, in machines differentiated, for the most part, by shape and colour, it's hard not to get wistful about the 'old' days. I have the C64 cyan and blue main screen as my wallpaper on my Win7 notebook. A person's allegiance to any one of the older machines is usually defined by what they first started using. Entire online camps are devoted to the machines of those days; Timex Sinclair, Commodore Vic20 & C=64, Amiga, TRS-80, CoCo, Atari 400/800, Apple II. Some folks even had the Adam computer that attached to their Colecovision. Measured against our current expectations of technology, the old machines are utter dinosaurs, but in their time, what they were capable of was nothing short of mind-blowing. For those of us over the age of 35, that technology is the reason we're employed in IT now. it is only right that we honour our past by realizing that those early days set us on the career paths we're now on.

boomchuck1
boomchuck1

I recall some computer magazines in the 80s that included bar code like data that could be scanned into your computer. I never had anything fancy enough to scan it in, but I did spend long hours typing in pokes and peeks from magazines!

morg
morg

My first desktop was a Sanyo in which I mounted two 720K 5 1/2" floppies. Generic MS Dos 2.1 was patched with the Michtron patch to support the larger drives.. IBM only had one 5 1/2" 360K at that time. I had to write and compile assembly language programs to get the Epson compatible printers to do caps, italics, etc.

morg
morg

We had a guy that wrote machine language for an early IBM before we got the 360 for Cobol compiler and the 1800 for Fortran compiler. He seemed to think in machine language. I wrote many Fortran 4 programs during the 60s and early 70s. Talking about sense light switches etc. Having to write and call sub routines and sub programs because the small memory wouldn't allow the running of a complete program without storing results while the next part is calculated. I could hold a punch card up to the light and read the line of code.

danawinner
danawinner

I built my first computer in January 1963. It was a GENIAC kit that could do calculations. It was a great way for a kid to learn the relationship between electricity, wiring and binary. Ten years later I was a Jr. Programmer with Business Computers, LTD in London coding in Machine language. Those were the days when programmers programmed!!!

jturner
jturner

I took 4 ceramic Pentium II and superglued them together to make a coaster for my coffee mug.

Worth2Cents
Worth2Cents

Just because you purchase a new set of designer luggage, that doesn't mean you can just throw out your Samsonite bags. I mean, that Samsonite holds a lot of history. Yeah, the corners are worn, but they are still good bags. We traveled across the country on vacation with these bags strapped to the top of the station wagon. Stood up to the rain, the heat, the wind....OK, I admit it. There was nothing wrong with my old computers, but I wanted another new one. So I keep the old ones out of guilt and a gnawing sense of betrayal. That's why my Tandy 1000 EX and "daisy wheel" printer are in a box at my folks' house. It's been 25 years! I need to let go of the pain, but that first love hursts the worse!! Please, somebody, I need a hug.

Nathan.L.Brenner
Nathan.L.Brenner

Hey you'd be surprised that those that have kept this crap are those that rebuild our civilization after 12/21/12 LOL. I wager these dinosaurs are far more sturdy, bootable and useable after 20 +/- years then any modern tower, laptop or server 20 years from now. Especially if you consider the infrastructure needed to power, use and network these devices. Go back in time to the post industrial age right after Electricity and Telephones and TVs were (almost) common place, like 1950's and even earlier and you can use all these machines again. Most of our modern equipment needs modern infrastructure to even have a moniker of functionality beyond playing Solitaire for a couple of hours. We can more easily rebuild to post industrial era than we can to this modern era. With these things still around we can surpass what greatness we currently have after a rebuild than we could if all we had were our new fangled contraptions.

Dr. Solar
Dr. Solar

I pretty much consider my M100 to be my favorite computer. Periodically I check Android Marketplace to see if anyone has put out a M100 emulator to play with.

gates_clone
gates_clone

The nostalgia for old computers si so evident that in April 2011 Commodore USA released the Commodore 64x (a 64-bit PC inside a Commodore 64 casing). Surely it won't beat Apple as he did the 80's, and I'm pretty sure Commodore won't offer a rebate for trading in a Dell Inspiron or a Wii; but I think there is still enough nostalgia factor to have good sales.

RobertMoore12
RobertMoore12

First machine I worked on had 16k ram and loaded from a cassette or by typing in programs. I still have a working Timex Sinclair.

Freebird54
Freebird54

abounded in those days. I certainly recall how happy I was when I got my external numeric keypad for the C64 - so I could type in machine language programs which were listed byte by byte in the magazines. Later on I learned to disassemble them so I could learn some tricks and tips! jsr $FFD2 anyone? As for the Amiga - the 'above the table' dealings on the Amiga windowing interface and so on were actually made with IBM (around the time MS decided to break from IBM and do Windows alone, leaving IBM to create WARP) - which is how the Amiga ended up with ARexx inter-process control script language.... Good old days!

danawinner
danawinner

My first programming job in 1972 with Business Computers LTD in London England I was coding the Molecular 18 minicomputer in binary and octal. Loved it!