I've had a computer for 20 years now--boy am I old.

I first used a computer – an Apple – in about 1983, at school. I remember the competition for who got the one with the COLOR MONITOR…ooh, COLOR!

We had a Commodore 64. I wish I still had it.

AppleII – 1978. My wife would make me hide it when neighbors came over because she was embarrassed to own a “mainframe.”

Used it for some programming, but basically as a terminal to get into the University of Chicago computer system so I didn’t have to drive from 5200N to the south side just to do program assignments. It had a tape recorder to load software.

I don’t even remember how slow the modem was – 120bps or 300bps.

My complaint to AOL in 1992:

“Your service is slower than a DECwriter!”

To all that haven’t had the pleasure, a DECwriter is a computer with no CRT, all your input was through a keyboard attached to a big line printer. Of course everything you would normally see on a screen was output on the printer. I think DEC owned International Paper then.

Oh, and I forgot about the TRS-80s. In 1981 my college offered it’s first Micro/Mini computer class. We used TRS-80 Model II that had 8 inch floppy drives–I had to drive 35 miles just to buy a blank. Later that semester, we got a Model III with 5 1/4 in floppy drives.

We each had to give a demonstration using the computer with a commercial version of software. (This concept was new, btw, at that time. Most software you either wrote yourself, or bought a magazine and typed it in yourself.) I got to demonstrate VISICALC . (The original spreadsheet)

Who knows who ended up buying that company?

If you’re feeling nostalgic, you can download a copy of Visicalc for PC here.

Visicorp was the marketer for Visicalc, which was originally developed by Dan Bricklin. Bricklin has an excellent website with the history of the company here:

I was working at Zenith Data Systems (a PC manufacturer) at the time and Visicorp tried developing a character-based Windowing scheme called Visi-on. That drained substantial assets.

Visicorp had also set itself up for entirely retail distribution and was willing to sell to OEMs like ZDS or IBM for $197.50 per copy – exactly what they charged distributors. Supercalc was developed and Microsoft developed Multiplan to encourage competition in this market.

Eventually, on the brink of bankruptcy, Visicorp assets were sold to Lotus Development Corp., the developer of Lotus 1-2-3.

My father had some sort of Apple that ran on tapes. In 1983, I got a fancy-ass KayPro 4 that was very expensive and had a tiny green display. There was a cover that could clamp onto the front, making it “portable.” It was a great little machine that never gave me any headaches, unlike my various HPs and Compaqs since.

Do you live in Virginia? I’m pretty sure AOL didn’t go nationwide until 1994. What their name was before that escapes me at the moment but it wasn’t AOL. Apologies if I’m wrong.
My first computer was around 1990. I was 9 years old, it was a Tandy. Definitely no modem, and I’m pretty sure it didn’t have a hard drive. It had a 5.25 slot and booted to a B:\ prompt IIRC.

1992 - We got a “Super Computer” (that’s literally what we called it at first.) 12mhz 386sx CPU (25mhz on turbo!), 4MB RAM, ~250MB HDD, 2400 Baud modem. 16 colors, no sound, no CDROM.

I used PROCOMM to dial up to local BBSes, but I really didn’t know what I was doing. My parents wouldn’t pony up the money to buy credits for games and such and no one else I knew was online so I couldn’t email anybody. I mostly messed with the free features and talked with a few random people just for the novelty of talking to someone over a computer.

We have a Texas Instruments TI994A home computer. The console cost like $129. Bill Cosny did the comercials for this back in the early 80’s. It had something like 64K ram once you turned off the power all program info was lost.

It used programs that could be bought in cartridges like the games come in today for Playstation. We still have some of the programs but we had mostly games like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong.

IT also came with an optional Speech Synthesizer which seriously sounded like a roborice voice although you caould make it somewhat human by adjusting the picth and tone of the voices.

You could backup data you had programmed in the computer onto a Cassette recorder and during this you heard that weird computer sound similar to a modem noise.

We still have one these beasts new in the box with the originally manualls and it still works!

My first was a TI 99/4 (not the /4A, the /4, its predeccesor). This about 1979 or so. First online service was the source, which was owned by readers digest. But I spent most of my time on BBS’s. At 300 baud.

I had a Leading Edge Model “D”:

7.14Mhz 8088 processor
Dual 5.25" floppies (I couldn’t afford the $600 10Mb harddrive - yes that’s 10 as in TEN megabytes)
VGA monitor

The only software I had was a database and word processor made a company called Time Works. It was actually pretty good considering that each program cost $29.95.

A few years ago, someone gave me another one WITH a 10Mb harddrive. It now resides under my bed.

Being a bit younger than a number of you, I was introduced to computers somewhat later… probably around 1989 or 1990, at 4-5 years old. This was probably the first time my dad let me touch our old Macintosh. He bought this computer, the very first Apple Macintosh, in 1983 when it came out and upgraded it over the years to about the level of a Mac Plus. It was just this little beige box with a screen that I will generously estimate to be 11-13 inches. It was in black and white, and getting it to even boot up was a challenge - half the time it would work, half the time it wouldn’t. There was a trick to it.

There was a time when my dad brought home a big box and explained that it was something that computers used to talk to each other. He then had to try to explain that they didn’t actually talk to one another, they just sent signals back and forth, but this was lost on my little six or seven year-old mind. I assume this box was some kind of early network hub, 1990 style.

When I started at my elementary school, it was actually a step back in technology to Apple IIes. Nor harddrive on these babies; you even had to do word processing on a disk. My computer class in fourth grade was a joke; here it was, 1994 and we “preparing for modern society” on machines that were literally 15 years old and more.

In 1993 my dad brought home a new computer: the Macintosh LCIII, with a color monitor! Getting a chance to play on the new color computer (16 colors!) was the incentive to do our chores. Later, we bought a CD-ROM drive to go with it :eek:. The thing was about a foot or more long, and it was HEAVY. Amazing technology though!

My first was a TI99 with tape drive

Then an Apple //e with floppies!

in the mid/late 80s, I was really into music and got a Mac (later a Mac II) ((also a Phrophet V, a Simsonic, a Yamaha DX-7, and somebody’s sequencer)) (((My God, I went thru some money!)))

My first computer was a Toshiba T1000 laptop that my dad brought home from work. It had a 1200 or 2400 baud modem, and we bought a CGA monitor to hook into it. It had a 1.4 MB flash-card memory chip for a hard drive - I could back up all of my files (which weren’t much) onto one disk. I dialed into Prodigy and got online to play games.

Shortly thereafter, Dad got a Powerbook 140, and that became my new toy. Eventually he brought home a Mac Plus with a 40 MB hard drive for me to play with, and when I was in the third grade we bought an LC III with a 14" monitor! 640x480! I cancelled my subscription to Prodigy before we got the Macs, and I remember being upset at the guilt trip they put me on… “Are you sure you want to cancel? We’re sorry you’re leaving us.” Traumatic when you’re 7.

At school, we used Apple II’s to draw things with LOGO and the turtle. We got Macs in 2nd or 3rd grade and did KidPix, Oregon Trail, word processing in ClarisWorks, and typing instruction. Dad bought a Quadra 650 from work, and later on a Performa 6220CD with a TV tuner - so cool, and my first Power Mac! Then a few years ago I upgraded to the original beige G3, which my dad just gave away and replaced with a new iMac… and I’m typing this on a G4/450. Computing’s come a long way.

Oh, and I cancelled my subscription to AOL too… except this time, no guilt trip. Just a general pain in the ass.

Whoa, childhood flashback.

My first computer was a 16k spectrum too & I remember playing all those old games - used to really, really love Jet Set Willy.

I actually had a few games published in those magazines when I was 12 or 13. I wrote one in hex machine code which got published as game of the month. I had visions of all these people trying to type in enough hex codes to cover about 3/4 of a page of A4 without making a mistake. Must have taken them ages and I bet very few ever got it to work. If they did, it wasn’t even a particularly good game so they would have been highly pissed I suspect. Still, I think I made about 50 pounds out of it.

sirtonyh: I hated typing in hex code. Often the type-in would look like a photocopy of the listing as produced by a ZX printer, and you couldn’t bloody work out if the character you were meant to type in was 0, 8, or B. Drove me nuts, especially when trying to enter several hundred lines of code.

Do you happen to remember which mag your proggie was in?

The first PC I used was probably in school, circa 1986 or so. IBM 8086’s, IIRC. We had one hour of computer class per week, meaning starting up the thing, doing basic word processing stuff.

A couple of my friends had PC’s at home, mostly MSX’s and Amigas (the Amiga was an awesome computer for its day, IMHO).

I guess in about 1988, my father bought our first home PC. A no-brand 8086 with a 7 MHz processor, a whopping 256 KB of memory, and two 5.25" floppy drives. Amber monochrome monitor.

My dad donated me that PC when I went to college in 1991. I used it until 1996, during which period I upgraded the thing by doubling the memory, adding a 23 MB hard disk (all scrapped from another old IBM PC I found in the basement of one of the houses I lived in), and later adding a 3.5" floppy drive (that didn’t take the modern 1.44 MB disks, but the ones prior to that, the 0.72 MB ones).

Then in 1996, with my thesis coming up, I assembled a new PC together with a co-worker (I was a part-time supervisor at the student computer lab). Man, that thing was cutting edge. Pentium I 100 MHz, 16 MB of RAM, a 2 MB video card! 15" monitor, in colour! a 1.7 GB hard disk! A 4 speed CD Rom player! I was in heaven!

That computer lasted me until 1998 or so, when I bought my current one. A Pentium III 550 Mhz, originally with just 64 MB of RAM, now upgraded to 384 MB. It came with a 10 GB hard disk, but now has a second, 40 GB one as well as a normal CD rom player and a burner (both were standard). The sound card has been upgraded, and it has lots of peripheral stuff like a scanner, a PDA cradle, the digital camera, the webcam, the optical out for MiniDisc recording… it’s quite an OK set-up, really. Oh, a nice 17" Panasonic monitor, too. What amazes me is that after nearly 5 years, it still functions quite well. With a few upgrades, it’s running Windows XP, and is able to deal with the fast ADSL connection just fine. I might get a new PC next year or so, but this one has definitely earned its money.

I should add: I got it at a clearance sale from a bankrupt computer shop. Payed 1500 Guilders for it, without a monitor, keyboard, mouse, or software. Some $650. A very good deal.

Sorry, can’t remember the name of the mag. I don’t think there were too many out there in the early 80’s though, at least not dedicated to the ZX Spectrum. I do remember it paid for each program that was published and the program of the month got more money. I remember the mag adding a checksum to try and help people type it in correctly, which I’m fairly sure had absolutely no effect at all :smiley:

I still use one at work. I figure a fairly good museum could
be made out of their equipment. I think we finally quit using
our last CP/M machines.