Photo memories of 18 first computers
Image 1 of 10
Franklin Ace 2000 series
We asked TechRepublic members (via our Forums and our Facebook page) if they remembered their first computers. Many do, and quite fondly. Here is a photo walk down memory lane, featuring comments from members about their first computers. (All photos are from Oldcomputers.net.)
TechRepublic member Tink! shares this memory about the Franklin Ace 2000: “I was 5 years old and it was the family computer. My dad taught me how to do simple math calculations on it and I learned how to type using a 5” floppy disk game called MasterType. (When I say “type” I mean real “touch typing”. I was typing 60-90 wpm by the time I was in grade school.)”
TRS 80 model 1
TechRepublic member OP Gene remembers: “My first computer was a TRS-80, Model 1. It used a cassette tape drive for storage. I wrote a program in micro-basic to balance my check book.” (Steven Stengel explains at oldcomputers.net that T = Tandy, RS = Radio Shack, 80 = Z-80 microprocessor.)
TRS 80 Model II with Table
TechRepublic member SquidProQuo remembers a color computer from Radio Shack. The TRS 80 Model II had many additional items available, including a computer desk designed just for it. SquidProQuo says: “Radio Shack Color Computer. Cool little package, 16K RAM with a 8908 processor at first, I think. Then, third party accessory vendors started popping up all over and offering lots of cool stuff that Radio Shack didn’t offer. Even had a devoted magazine for several years. For a while, I used it with a phone modem to connect to Georgia State University’s Univac for a class in PASCAL programming. Good memories (no pun intended).”
TI 99/4 A
Featuring an improved keyboard and graphics chip, the TI 99/4 A was the first computer TechRepublic member edean65 remembers having.
“The TI/99 4A was my first computer. I added the PANASONIC KXP-1180 cassette tape recorder they recommended due to its variable tone control, and then added the Texas Instruments peripheral expansion box and disk drive and speech synthesizer soon thereafter. Everything still works except for the speech synthesizer, but overheats easily. That’s no biggie, since I still love it and have it set up next to my widescreen TV downstairs. It’s a real conversation piece when people come in. It used a TMS9900 processor, if I remember correctly, and a dedicated graphics processor. Its sprite handling in extended basic was beautiful and very easy to handle– you could take any 8×8 character in the ASCII set and redefine its look using a TI extended basic statement that took as its argument a sixteen hex-digit string. Each digit’s binary equivalent equated exactly to the bit pattern of 4 of the eight pixels in each row of the resulting redefined character. So 2 hex digits redefined the look of each row. You could also set these characters in motion as sprites. The floppy disk drive was accessible only when you plugged in the ROM pack that ran the disk drive, but this was pretty transparent and not a problem. I was a high school student at the time, and a big gamer on this machine. I played most of the Scott Adams adventures on this machine, and several TI proprietary games and some third party games. The sound was pretty good on this machine as well, but it couldn’t compete with the three channel sound of the Commodore 64 by any stretch.”
TheChas enjoyed the Heathkit: “Heathkit Microprocessor Trainer. This device has a boot ROM and programs in Motorola 6800 machine code. It has a Hex keypad and an LED display. There is a breadboard area where you can wire up input and output circuits.”
TheChas explains how the Aquarius worked: “Next was the Mattel Aquarius computer that grew out of the Intelevision game system. Z80 based, this has a 3/4 scale keyboard and connects to a TV. You either used plug-in program cartridges or a cassette drive. There was an option for a CP/M based floppy disk drive expansion.”
Thanks to TechRepublic member JD L. who reminded us of the Compaq in the Facebook discussion.
TechRepublic member Michael Jay tells us about the Digi-Comp I: “Well it was just a toy more than anything else but at a very young age I was introduced to binary and octal, kind cool as new math was just coming out in school and they added hex to the mix which I also learned with the Digi-Comp 2, the next computer I had, again mid sixty’s.”
Related Geekend post: Dust off that dinosaur computer.
Thank you to all of the TechRepublic members who shared their stories about their first computer. If we didn’t feature your comment in this gallery, we may include your comment in another “my first computer” gallery in the future.