What was your first computer?

  • Vivaldi Team

    I have always been fascinated by older computers. It is interesting how fast things move in our technical world. My first computer was a Sinclair ZX81. It came with a whopping 1kb of memory and my computer had an additional 16kb RAM pack. You can read about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZX81 It had black and white video output (RF) with a fairly special keyboard. When programming or typing in programs from magazines, such as Sinclair Programs, it was easy to crash the computer as the connection between the computer and the RAM pack was a bit wobbly. Hours lost. Not fun, but it was a learning experience. What was your first computer? Tell your story! Jon.

  • When I was about 12, my dad brought home a RadioShack TRS-80 color computer. I typed in the programs, but it wouldn't remember anything when it was switched off, so I had to use the cassette tape backup. (I think it was the economy model, which had no built-in floppy drive.) I could remember the programs, so why couldn't the computer? After a while I was convinced that computers were stupid, and spent my time tinkering with bicycles instead. 🙂

  • If I'm not mistaken my first pc was a Sinclair QL. Jon you would remember you owned it before me :-p

  • Vivaldi Team

    Yes, the Sinclair QL was a beautiful computer. Running the 68008 processor with a preemptive multitasking operating system, which fit in 48 kb. In fact the 48 kb OS size was a problem, as it was supposed to fit in 32 kb, which created some issues at launch. But it was a beautiful system with a basic windowing system, great Super-Basic programming language and a powerful office suite, made by Psion. It came with a whopping 128 kb of memory. Great computer!

  • The first computer I was allowed to run myself was an IBM 1620
    If I remember right, it was located on the sixth floor of the administration building on Blindern, but it was mostly used by researchers in Numerical Mathematics.

    This was in 1966, and the 1620 was still a marvelous machine. It was a BCD computer with operands a variable number of BCD digits - there was a flag bit indicating the start of a new operand, so we could use it for extremely large numbers. Integers and fixed-point numbers could be as long as the installed memory :woohoo:

    It had a FORTRAN II compiler. You punched your program on one of the IBM 029 punches in the basement of the mathematics building. Then you went to the admin building when your booked time slot was due. In the case of us undergraduates that was after everybody else had left for the day. A control card was placed in front and another at the end of the source deck, which was put into the card reader. Then a deck of blank cards was placed behind the source deck.

    You then hit LOAD, and the first pass of the compiler read your source deck. It then punched intermediate code into the blank cards. When that was finished, you had to place the intermediate deck back into the reader, followed by blank cards for the object code. The next pass read the intermediate and punched an object deck ready for the linker. You then read the source code again to get a printout of the source with either error messages or a symbol map.

    Then you read your object deck with the linker, and got a punched binary deck with relocated code and linked libraries ready to run.

    It was one of the computers I had most fun with - it even had a colour plotter which I could use for my physics lab work.

  • My first fomputer was like this БК-0010
    But keys was like in picture http://hrenovina.net/wp-content/bk0010.jpg

  • The Commodore VIC-20 was my first computer. 🙂
    I dread to think how much I've spent on my computing hobby since then. :ohmy:

  • My first computer was the RCA Cosmac VIP. It featured the 8-bit 1802 processor and programming could be done in CHIP-8 using the 2 kilobytes of RAM. This CPU was CMOS and static so it could be single stepped or run at a very low clock speed which was totally cool. It also became one of the first space hardened microprocessors and is still used today on satellites as a boot strap or watchdog.

    Naturally I forgot all about the Cosmac VIP when I got my Acorn Atom. It had an actual keyboard and I eventually got it up to 12 kilobytes of RAM. Ah the memories (2114's to be acurate 🙂

  • First computer I used was a Ferranti Argus 100 - 24 bit machine code with 4k of core store… When it was loading paper tape the clutch in the reader activated between each character it read while it worked out what to do, quite a noise. First computer of my own (years later) was the Compukit UK101 (6502) followed soon by a BBC B.

  • Moderator

    It was also a ZX81, with a 32kb memopack addon and a gum keyboard 😉
    Saving and restoring programs to/from audio tape was really acrobatic !
    I've also owned a Sharp PC1401 in the same old time (my first mobile computer).
    Later (1990?), it was a big and heavy NEC APC (8088@4.7MHz+8087) without hard drive.

  • Vivaldi Team

    Got a Sharp MZ731
    from my parents when I was 15 - spent many fun hours programming in basic and then decided I wanted to be a Computer Scientist.

  • Mine was the Timex version of the ZX81, with 2KB of RAM… What got me hooked wasn't Sinclair's BASIC, although it was quite good — for what it did in 8KB of ROM. It was the manual! Specifically, the Index portion that specified the character set: Giving the op-codes for the Z80 processor's instruction set.
    I remained a fan of machine code and assembly-level programming for many years…

    In fact, when I finally got a Macintosh, I was disappointed to be constrained to Pascal or C. But that's another story.

  • My first home computer was a Commodore VIC-20. Bought it for the money I got on my first summer job, as that job was also the first time I touched a computer at all - an ABC-80. Instantly hooked 😛 I loved my VIC-20, especially when it got a RAM extension cartridge hooked in, expanding it from 4KB to massive 20 KB. Who needs more 😉

  • Boy, I'm young. My first computer at home was a Pentium 100 in '95 or '96. 🙂

  • My first computer was Fujitsu-Siemens Scenic

    Internet scared me. Fortunately, after a year of using Maxton met Opera, was 2005 year 🙂
    I studied opera intuitively guide and on forum. In 2010, I developed the expanded menu for Opera and completed for the next versions of Opera.
    I'm not a computer scientist, but love Opera!

  • Vivaldi Team

    My first computer was an Amstrad PCW8512 in 1985. It has been named "the bargain of the decade". It was ready to use out of the box and came with a printer. It ran the elegant CP/M operating system which I thought was the best since sliced bread!

    I adored that machine and took it much further than it's intended use as a word processor. I used it for invoicing in my business and I even for Soccer betting in Norway, "Tipping" running a system that I actually won quite a bit with. The Amstrad filled in the betting coupons and printed them for me. Something that would have taken days to do took me a couple of hours.

    The video rental business was about to take off and I created a video renting software solution used in several businesses at the time all running on the Amstrad PCW.

    I still have the Amstrad up in an attic. I bet it would just work if I brought it down and plugged it in. It always did! 🙂

  • @Frenzie:

    Boy, I'm young […] 🙂

    Nah! Some of us are old!

  • I started my first programming (and programm destroying) experiments with my father's Texas Instruments SR52 or TI-59, you know the calculator with a red LED display and the magnetic strip/card reader.

    Soon after I used to examine and play with his Sharp PC-1500A, the one with the 4 colored plotter attached and an external compact cassette ”mass storage“ connectable (which can well be emulated by a nowadays computer's soundcard). Have it still in working condition, thouge the plotter does not work without the built-in batteries which themselves are broken.

    The real ”hacking“ began on (again my father's) Commodore PC-10, an IBM PC compatible 8088 CPU machine with 4.77 MHz and (I think) 512kiB RAM, 2 5.25" Floppy drives. I explored DOS on this thing, edlin'ed config.sys and autoexec.bat, used GW-BASIC to programm (or rather design) an ASCII art adventure style computer game (which was lost on floppy failures later. :()

    So those were the beginning – which of those qualifies as „first computer“? 🙂

    I didn't change my machines like underware later, so then only came three (besides other of only historic value):

    • An Amstrad PC3286 80286 CPU 16MHz, 1MiB RAM, SuperVGA with a 40MB hard disk. Ran under MS-DOS 3.3, then DR-DOS 6.
    • Windows 95, later ME running a custom built Pentium 166MHz with several RAM upgrades up to 512MB probably; several hard drive upgrades from 2GB up to 8GB + 2GB.
    • The thing I still use since a decade: A custom built AMD Athlon 64 X2 DualCore 3800+ with now 2GB of RAM and 250GB + 1 TB hard disk space. Win XP/32 as primary OS.

  • My father had an IBM Datamaster. His company purchased the 5150 for him, and I inherited the Datamaster. It was so heavy that I could not move the machine, so it sat for a few years, unloved and untouched by me. I eventually got around to working with it in the mid-80's, by which time the Datamaster was a dinosaur.

  • Vivaldi Team

    My first box was a Commodore C64… great introduction!

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