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What was your first computer?

By jasonhiner Moderator ·
This week's TechRepublic poll asks, "What was the first computer you owned?

- Apple/Mac
- IBM-compatible PC
- Other"

Let's hear the details on your first computer:

What model was it?
Where did you buy it?
How much did it cost?
What kind of stuff did you do with it?
How long did you have it?
What did you eventually replace it with?

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A Gateway 2000

by Apres Ski In reply to VIC20 and then a Tandy Co ...

What model was it?
Gateway 2000, floppy 3.5, 5.25, external CD-ROM
1 gig RAM, 40 or 60 hard drive, & 20 inch monitor. I laugh now at what we thought was sooooooooooo hot & now, this would hardly do for a Disney CD/DVD!! WOW! Have things changed or what!

I bought a Canon 7000 inkjet printer. One of the best printers still. But I recently bought a i70 Canon portable printer to go with my laptop. The laptop didn't last long. It burned out within 8 months.

It arrived in 3 black & white boxes with cow patches on it. It was very cool. I still have the big box even though now, it's in storage with my Gateway 2000. Like my childhood, it brings back good, fun, fond memories of the early 90's and all the stuff I was learning at the time.

Where did you buy it?
After shopping for hours using newspapers, magazines, Gateway catalogs, I ordered it over the phone.

How much did it cost?
About $6,000! So my mother says because she paid for it. I ordered a 1 gig for the hard drive, and in those days, I was king of the hill!! HAHAHA! It cost plenty to put that on, but their eyes lit up when I asked them to.

What kind of stuff did you do with it?
It's what I DIDN'T do with it!! School, work, started a business with it, DTP, you name it, I did it!

How long did you have it?
I had it about 1993-96, by then Windows 95 came out & I was forced to upgrade.

What did you eventually replace it with?
I replaced it with a Dell XPS 2 in 2003 because of a class I was in. I thought I could bluff my way through Word & Excel 2003 and I found out the hard way I needed a new computer.

I did have 3 generic substitutes in between. I was forced to run out & buy the first thing i saw because I was in the middle of a DTP project. But for shear power, speed, and the work I do, I knew I needed a gamers PC.

Right now, I'm shopping for a gamers laptop. I know it will be either a Dell XPS or Alienware.

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Coco ROCKS! Multitasking OS!

by baldwinleo In reply to VIC20 and then a Tandy Co ...

Did you know OS-9 was multitasking? I went to school in Waterloo, ON, home of Volker Craig, a maker of computer terminals. They had these junk sales on the weekend. A friend of mine had 9(!) surplused Volker Craig terminals all hooked up to 1 CoCo running OS-9. Fantastic! Why? Because he could!

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My first PC

by rd4554 In reply to What was your first compu ...

What model was it? Commodore VIC20
Where did you buy it? Computer Store
How much did it cost? around $100
What kind of stuff did you do with it? Games and BASIC programming
How long did you have it? probably three years
What did you eventually replace it with? Commodore 64

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Work - private

by pkr In reply to What was your first compu ...

My first computer was an IBM 1400 punched card machine. It was the size of a decent house, and I have forgotten everything about ram etc. You programmed it by connecting holes in a honeycomb plate with small wires. It had the big advantage that when something crashed, you could SEE the crumbled cards, repunch them, put them back and press 'go'. Sorting was the big thing, as mostly you used an 'update' stack of cards against a 'master' stack of cards. If the master file suddenly went berserk reading and outputting cards like h*** and nothing else happened, sure thing was you had a sequence error in the 'update' file. It was easy to see on the output stack from the masterfile where the error started - the edge of the stack looked different. So you loaded back from the master output to the master input, noted where you were in the update stack, resorted it, placed it back in the update, and ignored errors about mastefile being out-of-sync with update until the next - correct - update card was read.
Later I moved to a Bull something with 16k (bits - not bytes) core store, 8 tapeunits and - in 1970 - a 1200 lpm printer. Staff was 1 boss, 3 programmers, 1 planner, 8 operators and 12 punchers. Operation was 3 shifts. The punchers were a real asset as they were all female, mostly young, adding a lot to the atmosphere and raising the value of office parties.Then I changed to IBM360/25 and followed IBM until the iSeries hwich I left in 2001, to concentrate entirely on project management.

First PC was an IBM PC-G with a 6 needle printer which I still have and it still works. Current one is a Shuttle full of nice goodies dualbooting into Linux/XP - with a strong preference for the first.

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First computer

by jwolf In reply to What was your first compu ...

What model was it? Sinclair
Where did you buy it? Order via Philtron
How much did it cost? Can't remember,
What kind of stuff did you do with it? Programming
How long did you have it? 2 years
What did you eventually replace it with? Commodore 64

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Sinclair ZX80

by ArthurP In reply to What was your first compu ...

My first computer was a Sinclair ZX80, which at the time was a very advanced piece of kit, with ?kb of ram. But sadly this could only handle integers ...

Over the next year I did any odd little job that a schoolboy could do; paper round, returning glass pop bottles for the 10p deposits, digging gardens in the summer, and repairing bicycles so that I could afford the ?80 for the ZX81 kit.

Having sent the postal order off to Sinclair, proudly announcing that I would like to order a ZX81 kit I sat back in anticipation of its' arrival. Then on my birthday in early November my grandfather made me sign for a box from the postman. When I opened it, I was over the moon, and totally confused because the kit that I had ordered appeared to be a fully assembled computer - little did I know that my gandparents had ordered the ZX81 two days before I did.

With 1kb of RAM - WOW - and able to handle absolute numbers this was a powerful machine.

Two days later my kit arrived, and I sat down with a friend of the family & my granddad over the next two weeks soldering the thing together in order to finally screw the case together and power it up on the small portable TV just in time to go to bed for Christmas Eve. For what it was the ZX81 represented a leap in home technology, I could record my cassette collection within a database, I could fly a flight simulator, and spend hours typing in programs only to watch it crash when I pressed save. Even worse, was realising that you had failed to connect the cassette recorder to the thing and knowing that you had lost 4 hours worth of work.

Over the next couple of years I progressed to the Comadore Pet that was in need of repair; and stumbling across a Comadore 710 - which looked as though it actually belonged in some futureistic episode of Space 1999 - before buying an Atari 510 which was used as a word processor, replacing my 9-pin Epson FX80 with another printer.

It wasn't until the late 80's that I progressed into PC's with my first XT, and then 8088 (AT), before buying my first laptop, (a leading edge 486 with a colour screen), with a 30Mb HD and 2Mb RAM whilst I was in Tampa back in the very early 90's. Truthfully I think the guy who sold it to me thought I was rich. What I didn't tell him was that I had a UK credit card & that the exchange rate was nearly $2:?1 so I had a bargain - the guy even gave me a 10% discount because I was English.

I still have the ZX80, and both ZX81's which work; yet I wonder whether we've really advanced with computers. Yes both the power and functionality of the systems have improved within the last 26 years. But have we ?

23 years ago the Geek was found loitering within the broom cupboard or somewhere within the basement amongst the cobwebs, I was 16 and writing programs for school children so that they worked in less than 32kb; yet today this is not enough to hold some sound files; and memory is measured in Gb, rather than Kb's. Nibbles have faded into a distant memory, and are now regarded as small bites of your food, and other than the Older geek just how many new techies could explain the use of a 3 dimensional array within the program code, and not a database; not to mention the difference between an Operating Environment and Operating System ?

The first program that I downloaded was back in November 1981, with my cassette recorder pressed against the speaker of the TV, and it was from BBC's Tomorrow's World. Not that it worked, but it was fun ...


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by Mark Miller In reply to Sinclair ZX80

I read your story with rapt attention! I guess I could relate a little. When I got started with computers, I was always using computers owned by someone else. Neither I nor my single mom could afford them. This was in the early 1980s. It took a while, but eventually they came down in price to the point that we could actually buy one for me.

I also had some mishaps with typing in programs on an 8-bit computer, whether it was an Atari, or C-64 (my friend's) and then losing them when I tried to save. When my friend first got his C-64, he didn't have a storage device. He just played games on the cartridges he got with it. Eventually he did get a 1541 disk drive, but before that I wanted badly to see some C-64 type-in games run. I knew I wouldn't be able to save, but what the heck. I spent a couple hours typing in the BASIC code, played the game for a while, then turned the computer off and lost it all. I seem to recall having some mishaps even after he got the disk drive...

I really enjoyed this part:

"The first program that I downloaded was back in November 1981, with my cassette recorder pressed against the speaker of the TV, and it was from BBC's Tomorrow's World. Not that it worked, but it was fun ..."

Wow! You know I had a similar experience. Back in the 1980s we used to get a LOT of UK pop music here in the U.S. One of the groups I used to hear a lot, and kind of liked, was Information Society. I can't remember how I heard this. I either was listening to someone else's Information Society tape or their CD, and it's last track was some digital data converted to analog! I listened to it and it sounded like a 300 baud carrier signal, followed by modulation representing data. I never got the chance to try and pipe it into something, like a 300 baud modem. I remember imagining how I could do it, like play it through someone else's stereo, have them call my modem on my computer with their handset phone, and see if it came out with something intelligable. I used to wonder what the heck that last track was. Was it some message? Maybe it was supposed to be loaded into a TS or a BBC Micro at the time.

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Timex Sinclair TS-1000

by Frank_Boston In reply to What was your first compu ...

My first real (?) computer was a Timex Sinclair TS-1000. As a poor college student, I bought it used for $35. I also had the optional 16K addon memory pack, about the size of a pack of cigarettes. Programs were saved onto an external cassette tape deck (not included). You hooked it up to a TV, and the pixels were about 1/8" in size, as I recall. Despite that, I managed to write several programs to demonstrate underground seismic waves reflecting back to the surface. I was sad when it died!

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mine was a QL

by mike.harcourt In reply to What was your first compu ...

My first computer was a Sinclair QL with a blistering 128k memory....ah what memories, I spent many long hours writing my first novel on this machine until it eventually died, taking with it my literary aspirations!

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My First Computer

by johnpaulm In reply to What was your first compu ...

Actually my first was a minavac 601 I found in the alley, had lites and buttons didn't do much.

My next was a Commodore 64.

My first real computer was a IBM XT I think it had a 10 meg hard drive, and a Princeton Graphics color monitor. That about all I can remember about the spec.'s. I do remember it cost me $10,000.00 brand new.


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