What was your first computer?

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by Chris.Rowland » Sat Feb 11, 2012 10:27 pm
My first computer was whatever Lancaster Uni was using in 1967.  Ferranti rings a slight bell, but the make doesn't really matter. I was taught Algol 60.

Coding was done by filling in coding sheets and girls would type it onto paper tape - even for undergraduates. If you really worked at it you could get three runs a day.

Later was some remote system that used punch cards, then a VAX VMS that would run Adventure and even space invaders on a VT100 terminal.

The inevitable ZX81, built from a kit - on which I wrote a Z80 assembler, also a Forth interpreter.

BBC Micro using 6502 assembler at work, then a DG Nova clone, using Fortran, assembler and ratfor. Then various versions of PCs running Windows, from 3.0 to W7 (except for Me or 2000). A rather nice Siemens 80186 microcontroller and AMD DSPs.

It's my opinion that the thing that made Windows so successful was Visual Basic.  It concealed all the Windows messaging stuff and allowed people who had a good idea for an application but limited knowledge of programming to produce applications.  The result was that there was a vast amount of applications for people to use.

The Pi looks like a good way to learn about Linux and I hope to be able to contribute in some way - if only as a representative dumb user.

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by Mozza » Mon Feb 13, 2012 5:11 am
The first proper one in house was a Commodore 16 that my brother got for christmas one year. Eventually I got a Spectrum 128 +2 and upgraded it with a 3.5 inch floppy drive. It was so big you plugged the computer into it.

From then on I inherited my brothers Amiga A500 when he got his A1200.

And then into PCs (I built all my own).

And now everything has gone portable (Laptop, Netbook, MID, PocketPC(s)) But its all windows unfortunately.
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by Cylon » Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:16 pm
I started with an Amstrad PCW512 then Oric 1, then a Amstrad cpc colour, then moved to a dragon 32 then Oric Atmos, then Acorn BBC model B. Acorn Archimedes 310, Acorn Risc PC600 (Awesome machine), Lowly PC 486.

I then saw sense and bought a g5 Mac, More pc's (I5 series), now im with a Mac Pro 8 Core.

And i cant wait for my Raspberry to come.

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by ariliv » Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:02 pm
I don't actually remember what my first computer was and just a wild guess, it was even a lot of notches down the Celeron!

I just cane believe that things worked rather well before even with the slow specs the hardware posted and when you come to think of it, most of the programs have those requirements because the developers set them that much and they could actually let them run on lower resources but that would defeat the purpose of upgrading.
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by garyk1968 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:31 pm
Ahh happy days, lots of innovation back then. Now its just more RAM better graphics cards and the same old stuff just getting faster.

When I started upper school there was 1 computer in the school. A research machines 380z which you had to load the BASIC interpreter off of tape. At home I had a zx81 with a 3rd party ram pack. By the time I left school in 1984 there was a dedicated computer room with 15 BBC micro's so alot happened in those three years.

I went from a zx81 to a vic20, briefly a spectrum, then a c64. After the c64 I had a couple of atari's (st and ste) and then got my first ibm pc clone (286) in 1993. Back then it was £40 per 1 megabyte of RAM!

I still remember the machines and those times with great fondness.

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by rcbishop » Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:33 pm
My first computer was a TI 99/4A... It did a lot more than I knew how to do with it at the time (I was about 7 or 8 when we replaced it, with a 386), but I did learn to write a few simple programs and make it do some stuff.

Fun times.
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by MegaGumbo » Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:19 pm
My parents bought a VIC-20 in 1984 and soon lost interest. So the machine ended up in my room and since every other kid in the street already owned a C64, I had my first lesson in computer technology: now you know the meaning of the term "upgrade". Still, I used the machine for three years to teach myself BASIC and it was fun. Then a C64 followed and I used it until I got my first PC somwhere in the early 90s. That C64 is still here, proudly sitting on my table and ready to use.

EDIT: I also had a short intermezzo with an Atari ST as well but eventualy the PC won.
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by tech_monkey » Wed Apr 04, 2012 7:57 pm
A ZX80 got it in 1980.

BBC Model B which then had various upgrades, floppy drive, then a case that had space for 2 built in floppy drives and the keyboard was in a separate case.The it got the expanded rom board with extra memory as well. I had the Wordwise ROM, and another but can't remember which one.  Played Elite and more Elite and then more Elite.

Picture from http://8bs.com/

Then in 1989 ish traded it in for an Archimedes A410/1.with 4mb of memory. Still have the manuals

Also got a Z88 from Sinclair a few months later.

1995 ish RISCPC 600 with a single slice I think, with co-processor board and  running windows 3.1,came on lots of floppies. It also had a hard drive which was a whopping 210mb. Still got the manuals for this as well. And it only crashed once and this was a due to a lightning strike at the main sub station. Booted up straight into a kind of safe mode and it sorted itself out. Having most of the OS in ROM made a difference to boot up times.

1998 Then built my first IBM clone, wanted to add more slices to my RISC PC to house it but ended up getting a boring tower.

Since then I have built a fair few windows boxes. Did have an HP pavillion for a while running Windows Multiple errors (ME) worst machine I ever had. After that decided to go back to building my own.

Out of all the machines I have had I miss the Beeb and the Risc PC. Used to write my own music visualisation programs for the beeb and then plug the output of my amp via a small level control box I built to the analogue port. Produced some very cool graphics back then. Also played around with anaglyph 3D graphics as well. Even thought about trying to write a patch for Elite to turn it into anaglyph 3D. Didn't actually get round to doing it though. Got into displaying fractals and some fern leaves.

Ahh those where the days. Real computers you could get your soldering iron into.
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by philos31 » Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:21 am
1st experience with programming was with pen and paper, programming in basic, learned from a book from my brothers school.
After that I bought a Timex Sinclair 1000 (US ZX81) with 16Kb, paid for it with my own money. Had to work the whole summer just to buy it. I think I was 13 or so.

After the Sincair I had a lot of computers:

Commodore Vic 20

Commodore 64 (With later the 1541)

Commodore 16

Mattel Aquarius (Yes, I had 1 of 2 sold hehe)

Sinclair QL (what a beautifull looking machine, but what a bad machine to type on)

Bull Micral 30 (With MS-DOS)

Then after a long time without I bought a 486SX25 my 1st IBM-Compatible
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by Axel » Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:12 am
Oric Atmos

So although being French my first contact with personal computer was english.

I have never understood what happened to british computing industry, you had so much succesfulll brands: Oric, Sinclair, Amstrad, Psion (i still miss my Psion Revo) ...
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by gordon@drogon.net » Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:32 pm
First: HP 9800 desktop "mini". Ran BASIC. c1978.

Then I helped my school evaluate Apple II, Pet & TRS80 - and we quickly discarded the latter 2 and The Apple II won out. About the same time remote (acoustic modem!) access to the local compting centre - running BASIC on a TTY33, then on their new operating system (Mouses!) That was an Interdata 7/32. Prime minis and a PDP11 at uny, then bought myself a BBC B.... Built my own 6502 based systems, used lots of others - 8080 based, etc. it's all a bit of a blur after that..

I've just recently bought myself an Apple II (and a BBC Micro) and written my own BASIC for that authentic nostalgia experience :-)


Somehow I have no desire to even think about the primes - ever again, but if I could afford it, I'd buy a PDP11. I think the Apple II was better than the Beeb, even though the beeb was more capable and a bit faster. Really not sure why though and I'm not even an Apple fan today (no iDevices) I had a nice Beeb too with the separate keyboard thing, but it got stolen which I was quite upset about at the time...

Gordons projects: https://projects.drogon.net/
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by griz » Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:56 pm
First CPU in our home (arrived under the Christmas tree!) : Atari VCS

First *real* computer : Commodore Vic 20
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by johnbeetem » Thu Apr 05, 2012 6:50 pm
GordonH said:

… but if I could afford it, I'd buy a PDP-11…

I was a huge fan of the PDP-11, and was very sad when memory got so cheap that 16-bit computers became obsolete.  For that PDP-11 experience, you might try a Texas Instruments MSP430 16-bit micro-controller.  Its instruction set is clearly inspired by the PDP-11 and you get an FRAM experimenter's board for US$29.  FRAM is ferro-electric RAM, the closest you can get nowadays to good old core memory.
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by gordon@drogon.net » Thu Apr 05, 2012 7:06 pm
John Beetem said:

GordonH said:

… but if I could afford it, I'd buy a PDP-11…

I was a huge fan of the PDP-11, and was very sad when memory got so cheap that 16-bit computers became obsolete.  For that PDP-11 experience, you might try a Texas Instruments MSP430 16-bit micro-controller.  Its instruction set is clearly inspired by the PDP-11 and you get an FRAM experimenter's board for US$29.  FRAM is ferro-electric RAM, the closest you can get nowadays to good old core memory.

Interesting, thanks... Of-course then other thing I need is time ;-)


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by julianrich » Thu Apr 05, 2012 7:27 pm
My first computer was an Early BBC model B i think it was number 35 or so

Most interesting was HP 1000L series, with core memory and paper tape reader. I rember working out the load address in OCTAL at 2am after waiting 3 hrs for the operating system to load from a Mylar tape.
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by Andre_P » Thu Apr 05, 2012 7:44 pm
I've just interpreted this in a different way.

My first 'processor' (questionable as to it's Turing Completeness) was to analyse Section Information in Digital TV broadcasts. It was a 'parallel' machine that context switched on every clock. Note it wasn't a General Purpose CPU and it was programmable.

The second machine was a 32 bit core that was general purpose.

The third machine (Trinity) , which is still on going, will when it's completed be a series of pipeline sharing ALU functions. Then these 'groups' of pipelines will form a matrix using high speed interconnect to communicate.It's homebrew but that means I don't have a commercial deadline :)
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by SN » Thu Apr 05, 2012 7:46 pm
My list of "home" computers can be seen in my tag line.

Workwise from 83 onwards I worked on ICL"s DRS20, DRS300 & DRS6000 minis, 2966 and Series 39 VME machines. I did a stint with Sun 3/270"s in 88 (connected to JANET, uk academic internet) and in the early 90"s developed on SGI Iris machines coupled to PDP-11"s fabulously bizarre combo). Progressed through Data General Aviions and DEC VAX and Alphas running VMS before doing my last real hands on coding work on Compaq ML370 Windows NT4 boxes. Currently responsible for more HP Red Hat blades than I can poke a stick at ;-)
Steve N – binatone mk4->intellivision->zx81->spectrum->cbm64->cpc6128->520stfm->pc->raspi ?
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by Golem » Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:32 pm
I don`t know if this has been said before on this thread (I didn`t have the energy to cruise all of its 13 pages) but one day this question will be answered by many with: Rapberry Pi!

So, to everyone involved with the R-Pi and Gertboard I say congratulations!

Oh, and my first computer was an abacus…
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”
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by Tass » Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:56 pm
@Golem I'm going to make sure my son's first computer is a Pi!  He's going on 4 now, so just about ready for Linux I think  (he grasps the concepts of my windows laptop - keyboard & mouse)

As for me, the first computer in my house was a 286 - 640KB RAM with a 20MB HDD.  My first OWN computer was a PI 166, 32MB RAM & 80MB HDD.  Good old Windows 95!
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by RuudKuin » Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:15 pm
It was a Compaq Presario 5724, a bulky futuristic casing, with Windows 98, 256 Mb Ram, 450Mhz processor, 32 Gb HDD.



Compaq Presario 5724
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by mahjongg » Fri Apr 06, 2012 10:16 pm
The very first thing I owned that was supposed to be a computer, but never really worked, :mrgreen: looked something like this, :D although no actual pictures of it exist anymore:
Image (open the picture in a new windows to see it full scale)
Actually I never progressed beyond building the memory system, (256 bytes using eight 2102 RAM chips) Image I could load the RAM with a bunch of toggle switches, and read out with LED"s, I planned to add a CPU next, but it never happened, instead I did help build an older friends Z80 system. Built from scrap on wire-wrapped eurocard boards with a backplane, but mostly copied after the Exidy Sourcerer
I ported a BASIC interpreter I found the sourcecode of in a German magazine for it, and did a lot of wire-wrapping, the boards actually were home brewn, single sided PCB's, with only power and GND traces, the rest of the connections were wire-wrapped.
Image with a tool like this: Image. In the end this nameless computer worked well, and could draw nice "highres" (512x240) pictures in monochrome.

The first working computer I myself owned was a KIM-1.

Actually it also wasn"t really a computer, but more a development board, (not unlike the R-PI) but it used a 1MHz 6502 microprocessor, with 1K RAM. No HDMI (or any video output) in sight, it used six 7-segment LED displays. Input was a hex keyboard. I built a "glass teletype" for it, which gave it a 40 x 16 video display.

My next (first real) computer, after the KIM-1 was built from a kit, it was the LNW-80 a TRS-80 clone (with high resolution color graphics). I added two 5 1/4" floppy disks, with NEWDOS80.

P.S. Post edited, when the pictured didn't work anymore, and appended it somewhat, one of the perks of being a moderator. :P
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by SroyII » Sun Apr 08, 2012 3:56 pm
TRS-80,  it was brilliant @ the time.
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by bobc » Sun Apr 08, 2012 5:36 pm
Ah nostalgia... first computer I owned was an Acorn Atom, assembled from a kit. My mother used to proudly tell her friends that I "made my own computer" which was not strictly correct...

I think the first computer I used was either an ICL 1904 or 1906, I'm a bit hazy on dates. The 1904 was at Loughborough university on a "Programming Appreciation" course, which meant FORTRAN programming with punched cards. The 1906 was an interactive service for schools provided by the Birmingham City Council, via a Model 33 teletype. 300 bps dial up and paper tape! When not playing Star Trek, mostly programming BASIC. I definitely did not write PLAN assembler code to hack in to the GEORGE 3 OS! That was the other guy (the headmaster's son in fact!).

I later went to work for ICL Mainframe Systems Division, so it wasn't all a waste of time, despite what some people said, including my Maths teacher!
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by tomf » Tue Apr 10, 2012 9:49 am
first PC i had was a tulip a dutch knock off of an ibm. first console was an atari with a wood finish both dismantled to find out how they worked .
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by gordon@drogon.net » Tue Apr 10, 2012 10:29 am
tomf said:

first PC i had was a tulip a dutch knock off of an ibm. first console was an atari with a wood finish both dismantled to find out how they worked .

Did it work afterwards though?

Never convinced that taking electronics stuff apart is always the best way - my grandfater gave me and old B&W TV to take to bits once - I think I was about 10 at the time. Not sure I really understood it all back then!

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