What a wonderful blast from the past! Isn"t it amazing to know how much all us geeks have in common?
My first was a Super80 – a kit computer published by Electronics Australia in 1978. 2 MHz Z80, with 16k DRAM and a 64x20 display (from memory). Cassette storage using the Kansas City Standard (1200/2400 Hz). A horrid kludgy BASIC without arrays, floats, and non-renumberable lines. I loved it!
I actually hid it under my bed while I built it, to show mum & dad that I could follow something important through…
Then a Motorola D2 kit -a 1MHz 6802 with 2k SRAM, a hex keypad and 6 x 7-segment displays. And it all fit in a monstrous black suitcase! I still have it, and yes, it still works beautifully.
Next was an Epson QX10, courtesy of my new job as a computer salesman. Magical keyboard, beautiful.
Then a Beeb Model B, that I had upstairs (I lived in a flat above the shop, so I was never allowed to be late!), followed by a cast-off Apple Lisa, with 2 SSSD 8-inch floppies, a big step down from the Beeb!
Then I built a Little Big Board, courtesy of Electronics Today International, an Aussie staple of the 80"s. I liked it so much, I got a job with the manufacturer! It was an STD bus-based 4MHz Z80, with 64k DRAM, built-in FDC (WD1797), 2 serial terminal ports, RTC, running CP/M 2.2, and later TurboDOS. I still have two working, with 1.4M floppies, and a 20MB Tandon TM262 – the world"s first commercial 3 1/2" hard drive! That still works too, although the bearings are shot and it has to be manually rotated to start up these days! (a bit like me in that respect…).
I still develop and maintain code on it, in Turbo Pascal 3.01, MBASIC, DBASE II, and Wordstar 3.1. M80 and L80 still compile all my assembler code.
I remember being paid the princely sum of $200 by the Pulsar boss for designing an upgrade for the LBB, using a 10MHz (yes, ten!) Z80H and 256k (I nearly wrote M!) bank-switched memory, and a digital PLL for the floppy…
Then I got into designing AT motherboards, and lost my love of life… It"s been nothing but beige since then, I"m afraid, which is why I keep the LBB system running smoothly!
Oh, and a few side-tracks : a Microbee 64k Premium (and I"m about to receive one of the new Coldfire/Z80 "Bees from the new Microbee developers, woo hoo!); an Amiga 2000 (which I had to leave behind in our last house move ), an Apple IIC that I did bring with me, and plenty of self-designed Z80 single board computers, plus PIC, Atmel, and even a 512k ARM SBC at one time…
And you know, I"m more excited than I can say about my soon-to-be RPi-B!!!
I do like my silicon. I think many of us are truly "silicon connoisseurs"!