Do you remember the specs/price of your first computer/internet connection?

Completing my “looking for a new computer” trilogy-

I’m probably a rider/middle adapter when it comes to technology. For those not familiar with the terms:

Drivers/Early Adapters: those who are among the first to buy and use a new technology (early adapters for computers would be those who started buying them in the 70s or 80s)

Riders/Middle Adapters: those who buy them when the price goes down and it’s clear they’re here to stay (for PCs I’d say 90s for GenX or older, though some may argue)

Draggers/Late Adapters: those who are among the last wave to buy and use a new technology.

I bought my first PC at Christmas 1994. It was a HP, 4MB of RAM, and a 750 MB hard drive. It was on sale for $999 for Christmas. I believe it had a 28K modem. (I paid $100 to upgrade to 8MB of RAM a couple of weeks after buying it.)

When I first started using the Internet Compuserve and AOL and the other big boys still charged by the minute. KILLED ME. I had months then when my Internet service cost way more than my highspeed does now. Mindspring was a godsend since it was unlimited.

What about you? (I’m curious to see the early adapters especially.)

My parents bought an IBM PC with 64K of RAM for Hannukah of either 1980 or 1981. It had 2 full height 360K 5.4" floppy drives and a monochrome monitor. Later we upgraded it to 128K and then 640K.

We played a lot of Microsoft Decathlon.

My first computer was a Timex Sinclair 1000. It was fully loaded with 2k of ram. The monitor was, I believe, a monochrome Magnavox which ran on tubes. The external drive was a boom box.

Not what you were looking for?

My parents bought an Apple IIc, when they first came out (81, 82?). It was whitish instead of that putty color on the IIe and sorta portable, in that it had a handle on the back and the box+monitor weighed maybe 20 pounds together. Integrated 5.25" floppy, no hard drive, monochrome green 10"(?) monitor on a nifty metal stand. A few months later we got a one-button Apple mouse and the Mousepaint software. As far as I remember, that was the only application that supported the mouse. Man, we played a lot of Loderunner, Archon, and Ultima 3 & 4.

That would be my Apple PowerPC 6100/60 pizza box, circa 1994. No internal modem, No CD, 250 mb hard drive, can’t remember how much RAM I had in it (16mb maybe). The first modem I stole from work was 14.4 (it was a castoff, really), then I upgraded to a US robotics 56.6 (X2). I added a SCSI hard drive (800mb)and CD burner.

Had a lot of fun with that computer. I used Compuserve, crashed it all the time trying to do way too much with it with my music programs (OSC Deck, Bias Peak, a bunch of Opcode stuff) but still managed to get some things accomplished.

I still have it but can’t get it to boot up.

That was my first as well. Had to put it together myself, and hook it up to a B&W Panasonic TV (no tubes!) and a portable cassette deck. I’m pretty sure mine only had 1k of ram.

This was back in 1982. What’s an “internet”?

I had a Commodore 64 in the 1980’s with a 300bps modem but I didn’t connect to the “internet”. It was all BBS’s back then. I never belonged to the pay services (GEnie, Prodigy, etc) just the local dial-ins.

My first internet connection was on an Amstad-640 (640k, no HD) in 1993-94 through my university. Dialed into a Telnet shell at 2400bps and hung out on UseNet.

first computer: commodore 64 in the 80s, 300bps modem (unused)

first pc: 1995, ast 486dx66, 8m ram, 540m hdd, 14.4k modem (with v32bis, woooo! also, most bbs in my area didn’t support anything over 9600 at the time)

My first computer was a TRS-80 MC-10 with 2K of memory. Within a couple of years I’d upgraded to a Commodore 128 that I bought with my paper route money, and eventually got a 300 baud modem. I think it was free with a subscription to Quantum Link (which eventually became America Online). I don’t remember what the monthly fee was, if any, but billing was done by the minute! Downloading SID’s (music files) about bankrupted me! I started saving for a 1200 baud modem lickety-split.

And of course, there were all of the BBS’s where I’d spend most of my time.

I had a Commodore 64 with a 1541 disk drive. I don’t remember what year I got it, but I know I had it in 1984, 'cause that’s when my daughter was born and I had it at that time.

It had an external modem that you’d put your phone handset in. I do remember it would take most of the night to up/download even the smallest files. Bulletin boards were the big thing. Oh! And Zork!! I loved Zork.

In 1981 got a Commodore VIC-20. Had 5K of RAM. The OS was on a ROM chip, so it booted up immediately. Hooked up to an old 12" B&W TV. Had a little switch where it connected, so could switch from TV to the computer.

No disk drives at all, but later I got a tape drive, so could save programs and/or data. We caled it a stringy-floppy.

The whole thing was built right into the keyboard. Unlike the Sinclair (which was also good) it had real keys instead of the membrane ones.

Later on got an external 5.25" floppy drive for it. I skipped the 64 and went to the 128 wen it came out. Had dual floppy, one for the program, one to save data. It had CP/M, a precuror to DOS, so when got a PC, knew how to program in BASIC.

A year or so later, I built my first 286. It had an astonishing 10 KB HDD. I wondered how anybody could possibly fill that up. :smiley:

My first was the Commodore PET 4016 in 1982. 16k of RAM and a cassette deck. Taught myself BASIC and 6502 assembler.

Skipped the VIC and 64. Got a pre-production B128. Then stepped off into a 386-25.

My family purchased its first computer in about 1987. I don’t remember what brand it was, but it was a PC and I know it had a 512k hard drive because that number would show up every time it booted up. It had two floppy drives, one for the big floppies and one for the small floppies that weren’t actually floppy.

Our first computer with a modem was several years later, I think 1992. There had been big advances in computers since our last model – this one even had a CD drive, making it the first CD-playing device in our household. Anyway, it also had a 2400 bps dial-up modem. We mostly used this to connect to Prodigy. A year or so later I also started accessing local dial-up BBSes. I remember that at the time you could connect to Prodigy at either 1200 bps or 2400 bps, so I guess we were “high speed” for the time.

It was actually 1984 (same year as the Macintosh, incidentally). The initial retail price of the IIc was $1295 — figure that’s about $3000 in today’s money.

I bought one myself in late '84, but because I worked at a computer store, I could take advantage of the employee discount. Otherwise, there would have been no way.

But before all that, in 1981, my parents bought an Apple II Plus with 48K of RAM (16K of ROM), a floppy drive for the 140K disks the Apple used, and a pair of game paddles. Total price for this package: about $1800.

There were other paint programs like that, such as Dazzle Draw, which could also use the mouse if you had one. There was at least one word processor also, though I can’t remember it’s name.

Since the IIc had built-in mouse support (though the device itself cost you extra), it wasn’t that unusual to see software taking advantage of it after about 1985.

My first Computer was a 128k Tandy Color Computer in a silver case bought in 1981. It had a RCA jack video link to the television. It had a DAC (digital-to-analog converter) chip for sound, so the sound was really good for back then. The two joystick controllers were analog running through a ADC (Analog-to-Digital Converter) making for a discrete digital output from 0-63 in X and Y axis instead of switches that just went on or off. It had an external cassette tape recorder drive for data or program storage. It had one side slot for Plug in Roms with games or applications, or for a hardware cassettes. I had a cassette for voice and sound synthesize. The voice was very good and the sounds were equivalent to the music synthesizers sold in the early 80’s. It had the operating system in the on board ROM and booted to basic by default. The programmers of the ROM had some interesting stuff typed in for the people that had to read the ROM to find and access routines. This was the first computer I wrote ML (machine language) for, which is typed in as all numbers.

My first text adventure was Pyramid. I also bought Dungeons of Daggorath for my first graphics dungeon maze game.

IMSAI 8080 kit, about $500, ca. 1976. I soldered every part myself, then, knowing very little about computers, couldn’t figure out why it didn’t do anything. A trip to the Byte Shop told me why.

The kit came with a CPU, a power supply and a case, but no RAM. :smack: (What’s RAM?)

Pushing my wallet to the limit, I invested in a 4K RAM board for about $300. I soldered every part myself.

With no keyboard, I had to toggle the front panel switches to enter a program, one step at at time.

With no display device, I read the front panel LEDs to get the data results.

I added a local Junior High math teacher to my team; he knew more than I did about computer stuff and had been teaching the kids to enter data thru punched paper tape.

Long-term storage? There was none. The more advanced hackers told us to buy a Tarbell cassette interface and a Penny’s audio cassette recorder. Now we could load Basic after writing our own drivers in object code.

A keyboard came next. Diving into surplus bins, I dug up two keyboards that had been ripped from teletypes or something like it. Had to figure out the wiring and pinouts, but we got one working eventually. We wrote our own drivers in object code.

But a Soroc terminal was being sold at a serious discount at the Byte Shop. It was a 9" monochrome screen with a keyboard rigidly attached and RS232 I/O up to 19,200 baud, block mode option. Text only, no graphics. List price: $1600, discounted to $900, so I bought one. Now I had both a display and a keyboard in one package. We wrote our own drivers in object code.

Pretty soon the cassette interface was shown to be inadequate for data storage, so I bit the bullet and purchased the very latest storage technolgy, a dual Micropolis floppy drive unit with S-100 interface card for $1895. Each single-sided, hard-sectored 5" floppy stored 360K. We wrote our own drivers in object code.

Hard drives were only a dream.

A printer was a luxury, but we were working on a graphics project and it was obvious we needed one. An experiment with a plotter was a failure (We wrote our own drivers in object code but couldn’t get the plotter to respond properly). We found a startup company, Malibu, that sold a dot matrix printer, 60DPI, 11" wide, using fanfold paper, for $2500. We convinced them to sell it to us for the wholesale price of $1500. It sounded like a cat screeching when it printed a line, and we had to write our own drivers in object code.

We built up the IMSAI with 32KB of RAM in a mix of 1K, 4K, 8K and 16K boards, mostly hand-soldered. About 32KB of ROM and other memory-addressed devices maxed out the addressing space and we could add no more. A Merlin graphics board got us to a 320 x 200 graphics display on a 19" monochrome studio monitor. To get resolution that high, the Merlin was a triple-width board and used interrupts that effectively reduced the CPU speed from 2Mhz to 1Mhz.

Experiments with Basic showed that it would be too slow, as it took 8 minutes just to clear the screen by writing to all memory locations. It would have to be object code all the way (we didn’t know what an assembler was at first).

With no operating system available, we wrote our own and burned it into a PROM with our homemade PROM burner. An ultraviolet light inside a small box made an eraser.

And with that, we produced music graphics at 60x75DPI that we put in front of orchestras and they played it without a problem, knowing that for the first time, there were no missing or extra beats in any measure, something that hand music copying could not guarantee.

I think a lot of you are misremembering the size of hard drives. The smallest were typically 5 to 10 megabytes, and not measured in K. Even a 3.5" disk was 768Kb (single sided). Oh, and these hard drives were about $1000, if I remember correctly.

After the Commodore 128, I moved into a Mac SE, with a whopping 1MB of memory and an unfillable 20MB hard drive! The fun thing then was to find BBS’s that used Telefinder, because Quantum Link was Commodore-only.

I eventually got into Amiga for a short bit… by now my 40MB hard drive had dropped in price to about $400.

My first printer that went with the Color Computer was a four color Multi-Pen Plotter (blue, red, green, and black) that used rolls of paper that were about 5 inches wide. A computer magazine had a program they published that did a graphics screen dump to print about 4.5 inches wide and I found it took 3 hours to print. I rewrote the code to do the printout in about 30 minutes. The first people kept switching pens, where I stayed with one color and printed out every location of that color before switching colors. It was a good example of where charting the program before writing one can save a lot of time. I felt sorry for the thousands of people that used that original program. The printer could go into a graphing mode too that could handle some charts.

Well, something on my family’s first computer was 512k, because I saw that every time it booted up. It would actually do this little thing where it counted up to that number. If I saw that once I saw it a thousand times, so I’m sure I’m not misremembering it. I was just a kid and might very well have misunderstood what it meant, though.

That was the POST (Power On Self Test), and told you the amount of memory (RAM). No device ever counted the size of a hard drive that way.