The first time I ever had anything to do with
any computer of any kind was when we punched
( blindly according to teacher instructions as we really
didn't know what it was were actually doing)
some program cards for something called
miniwaft ( I think this is actually a very old
computer package based on the Fortran language
but as to what computer it ran on I have no idea
but possibly it would have been some kind
of old mainframe or minicomputer)
and this was in an electro technology
optional elective unit/class that I did in my
final years of high school way back in the
After that I did my first computer/IT course
( Associate Diploma in Digital Systems and Computers
which covered analog and digital electronics,
microprocessor based systems, communications,
software languages from machine code, assembler,
1st, 2nd gen etc languages and on, hardware
build, software design and many other things
computer and IT related - very good
over two years in 1980/81 at the
Western Australian Institute of Technology ( WAIT)
which is now Curtin University here in
Bentley Perth WA.
On my computer/IT courses at WAIT
we first used one of the old
Intel MDK-85 trainer SBC microprocessor
boards which had an old Intel 8085
processor ( ran 8080 machine code also )
and we were learning the Intel 8080
processor machine code which was of course
compatible with the 8085.
That SBC had a HEX keyboard for input
and program input display/output and a nice RED
LED HEX display as well as a prototyping area
and some other general I/O capabilities.
We also used the facilities of the WA Computing Centre
which was an independant facility based on campus
which supplied distributed computing facilities to
WAIT, business and government and other orgs.
They had a DEC10 mainframe and possibly also
a PDP11 minicomputer ( also other PDP11s
elsewhere on campus).
Students at WAIT including me programmed
these computers using various interpreters
and compilers and languages such as
BASIC, PASCAL and Fortran.
There were many good kit oriented
and other old microcomputer systems
and home computers of many kinds
in those days such as Tandy Radio Shack
TRS80/1000, Pet Commodore/64, Exidy Sorcerer,
Dick Smith System 80, Hitachi Peach
and of course the Apple 2 etc and many others
but as a student I had little money and had to
wait for my first year of employment
in 1982 when finally I could afford something.
So finally in 1982 I bought my first computer system
which was actually based on a Dick Smith Electronics
kit computer called the Super 80 which was already
nicely built up by an electronics engineer I met
up with through my first computer job
i.e. I built it ready assembled by Jim from Texas USA
( who I only met a couple of times and he worked
for a firm in Osborne Park [can't remember their name]
and I haven't seen Jim since then.
His soldering/assembly work was good and the system
worked fine and it cost me around 80 dollars Oz ).
My Super 80 had a Zilog Z80 microprocessor
( not sure of speed ) with around 48KB of system RAM
and an in ROM ( or maybe EPROM not sure now )
monitor control program and BASIC
interpreter as well as very basic B/W TV display output
( had UHF modulated and composite outputs for video )
a cassette interface for storage and various other I/O
capability. Of course it had a standard qwerty style keyboard
of the day. It also had one S100 bus slot for various S100
expansion add on function boards. S100 was still very
popular back in the early 80s ( although mainly used
a lot back in the 70s when people were using things like
CP/M and CDOS etc ).
I built a nice pine wooden case to house my
Super 80 mainboard and also made the keyboard
covering/overlay from plyboard.
My brother inlaw was a Telecom ( Telstra now )
technician/electrician back then and he
provided a nice piece of clear plastic plexiglass
which was appropriately bent to the shape of
my wedge shaped case design and it screwed
on top of the wooden case.
It was great as I could observe all the cool
internal electronics as I used my Super 80.
I had a lot of fun with that first machine.
I did some BASIC programming and also messed
with the Z80 machine code and monitor program.
I didn't do that much programming but what I did do
taught me a few tricks about binary and hex code etc..
( wrote a block move machine code program
and other things ).
I wish I still had that old machine as I am into
old retro 8/16 bit micros these days.
Unfortunately I had to sell it years ago
during one of my many accomodational moves.
( that's life we all eventually have to move on).
After that my next computer was an IBM PC XT clone
( with Intel 8088 CPU, 64MB RAM, CGA video,
8 bit ISA expansion bus, 20MB hard drive
( yes folks that's 20 huge megabytes of storage.
I have an old rundisk USB thumb drive which has
64MB of storage and this is tiny by current standards)
with dual DSDD 5 1/4 " floppy drives, a dot matrix
printer and it ran MSDOS/QDOS/PCDOS OSes
and software. It had a number of other serial/parralell
etc I/O options and I had a few 8 bit ISA boards
plugged in ( bought in 1989 for over $ 1000 Oz ).
After that I didn't buy another system until 2000
which was an IBM desktop with a Pentium 70MHZ
CPU and Windows 95 etc etc..
I then purchased systems based on the Pentium
60MHZ, 100MHZ and up until I was running
mainly Intel Celeron based systems and Windows
95 and 98 ( all flavours ) and eventually Win Me
and now XP sp3.
I have worked on most IBM PC hardware/software
since the original IBM PC i.e. the XT, AT ( 286 ),
386, 486 (many different flavours), Pentium, Celeron
and other x86 compatible CPUs such as AMD
Duron/Sempron and Pentium.
Haven't done a lot with the multi core systems as yet.
I have worked with CP/M, CDOS, MSDOS, QDOS, PCDOS,
Windows 3.1, Windows 95a,b and c, Win 98 and SE, Win Me,
Win NT, Win2000, Win XP to sp3 and have had some exposure
to Vista and Win 7 ( not Win 8 yet ).
I like all the new smart phones, netbooks, laptops, tablet and
pad computers but have had less exposure here.
I have also worked with too many languages ( machine code,
assemblers, linkers and loaders etc, interpreters and
compilers, command processors ( all kinds ), script stuff,
batch files, 1st gen, 2nd gen, 3rd gen, intermediate etc etc ) to mention and this goes for all kinds of applications/OSes as well.
I have also installed and dabbled a bit with various
Linux distros such as Red Hat, Mandrake, Lycoris,
Linspire ( all this over 7 years ago ) and now
Ubuntu 12.04 ( which is just SO good. It's a pity
we have such a bad rapporte with Canonical
as regards Ubuntu and the Pi as Ubuntu is
a pure delight/dream to use and we should try
to remedy this situation ( fly a white flag or wave
the olive branch and invite Canonical in for peace talks)
if we can).
So now I have my R Pi B with it's Debian "Wheezy"
( or is that Rasbian ?) distro and am looking forward
to checking out other Linux distros on the Pi
( when they are finally ported to the ARM CPU )
as well as Android and XBMC
( someone also said they were looking into
a possible port of XP etc., ?).
Xubuntu with the LXDE GUI desktop looks almost
as smooth to use as Ubuntu so I want to check this
I am also playing with electronics and arduino these days
and also have my AMD Duron/Sempron
and Intel Celeron and Pentium 4 based systems
( onwards and upwards to multi core land
as well as mobile computing land).