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Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 7:02 am
by Heater
Anyone remember the Starlider game by Jez San's Argonaut Software on the Atari ST circa 1986?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starglider

Image

As you played that your "Starglider" would inevitably get destroyed and the game would give you a score and a ranking as a Starglider pilot. Starting at "rookie" and working up as your game improved.

After some days and many hours of play I managed to hit the maximum score of 100, 000 points.

At which point the game ended and showed me my ranking. It said "Cheat"

I was so miffed at that, I never played it again or any other computer game since.

Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 7:18 am
by ejolson
Heater wrote:
Fri Jan 17, 2020 7:02 am
Anyone remember the Starlider game by Jez San's Argonaut Software on the Atari ST circa 1986?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starglider

Image

As you played that your "Starglider" would inevitably get destroyed and the game would give you a score and a ranking as a Starglider pilot. Starting at "rookie" and working up as your game improved.

After some days and many hours of play I managed to hit the maximum score of 100, 000 points.

At which point the game ended and showed me my ranking. It said "Cheat"

I was so miffed at that, I never played it again or any other computer game since.
It would appear time to install an Atari ST emulator on the Pi to see if you can achieve that high-score again.

Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 7:39 am
by Heater
No way. I don't have the patience for that anymore.

I remember being fascinated by the real-time 3D graphics of Starglider. Perhaps the first time I had ever seen such a thing. No filled polygons, just line rendering, hidden line removal an all. Jez San was one of those guys who could do in assembler what no compiler could do.

What I did not know until checking just now is that Jez San also helped Nintendo develop the Super FX Graphics Support Unit (GSU) for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES).

Was that the first 3D GPU in the world?

Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Tue Jan 21, 2020 2:17 am
by Rapscallion
My first PC is the Acer Aspire 4752Zg Laptop.

CPU: Intel Pentium B960 (2.2 GHz, 2 MB L3 Cache)
Memory: 2 GB DDR3
HDD: 600 GB

Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Tue Jan 21, 2020 10:16 am
by Strongsoul
My first computer was like that
Image
It was a present and I remember my first PC games for this od friend.

Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Tue Jan 21, 2020 3:10 pm
by ejolson
Heater wrote:
Fri Jan 17, 2020 7:39 am
What I did not know until checking just now is that Jez San also helped Nintendo develop the Super FX Graphics Support Unit (GSU) for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES).

Was that the first 3D GPU in the world?
Maybe the first 3D GPUs were the Geometry Engines shipped in the Silicon Graphics IRIS 1000 and 2000 workstations.

http://www.sgistuff.net/hardware/graphics/iris.html

Wikipedia tells me they were introduced around 1984. I think the first personal experience I had was around 1987, but I don't remember the model---maybe a 3000. Today, we have OpenGL and the XFS filesystem, which descended from those workstations. Somehow the only thing I remember is the wacky 3D menu system, the spinning demos of a VW Bug or teapot and a flight simulator. It would be amusing to see some of those running on a Raspberry Pi.

Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Tue Jan 21, 2020 4:30 pm
by George441
hp- Intel Pentium 4 - 2.8GHZ / 1GB Memory.

Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Tue Jan 21, 2020 7:34 pm
by Pytha
Translation by moderator (mahjongg) with Google Translate from the German post:
Huiiii, I built my first computer myself, at that time IBM didn't even know that it would one day
would sell a "PC". There were already CP / M systems (extremely expensive) with Intel 4004 (2235 transistors),
8008, 8080 and Z80 processors, ... and memory circuits with 1/2/4/8 KILOBIT
The computer memory address space was a maximum of 64 kilobytes.

My first (small) computer had an 8-digit seven-segment display and 256 BYTE! I wrote 2 games on it.
The larger self-construction was made of self-designed, woven-wrapped boards in an 8 "rack, up to a TV interface
64 lines of 64 characters. Programming in machine language (which could handle up to 600 hex commands from the Z80 processor
I memorized over time - I obtained knowledge from the first two (American) computer magazines
Dr.Dobb's Journal and Byte, which I had until my "tons" of waste paper disposal from No.1.

The first computer I bought was a SUPERBRAIN, green screen with 25 lines of 80 characters, no graphics,
but with TWO thick floppy drives with 5.25 "floppies at 160 kilobytes. On it (under CP / M) ran the first text
processing program WORDSTAR. Companies like ALTAI, IMSAIR, INTERTEC came and later became thanks to IBM
gone again. Commodore PET, Tandy, Apple were the "first". There were no hard drives yet, the first ones
thick, big and heavy, had 5 MEGABYTE storage, my first HD had 20 megabytes.

When PC boards etc came up, I built about 15PCs myself, but then gave up because finished PCs came cheaper.
Back then I had a lot of games, especially the first graphics games from SIERRA, Leisure Larry, Kings Quest, Space Quest ...
gigantic resolution of 320x160, then 640x480 in SIXTEEN colors.

For years I have been working on Medion PCs, notebooks and tablets, I know all programming languages ​​(started on large computers
with FORTAN), ADA, PASCAL, BASIC, UNIX, LINUX, tens assembler, systems CP / M, DOS1, ..DOS6 ... Windows 1 (with 2 rigid windows),
Windows 3.1, WinXP, Win95, ... Win7, Win8, Win8.1, Win10.

My current PCs are over 5 years old, run like clockwork, nobody comes into the house, I have tested all of them
Operating system (Win8 ... Win10) felt as a fart, deleted - and now everything runs under Win7 Ultimate.

THANK GOD is no longer supported as of yesterday Win7, finally no more updates! The PCs + accessories have me in the
last 40 years surely cost well over € 100,000 - worse: 100,000e hours, mostly night time, mine
I already work as an author of specialist reports in German and American journals (well over 250)
hung up 20 years ago.

Hello people - don't get me wrong, I do NOT want to show off, but the "computer" probably has a lot of nice ones
Cost 1000 hours of my life (nobody should imitate it!). Studied at the Technical University in Vienna ... later Switzerland,
there I sat at the Technikum Winterthur (long without knowing it) at the armchair / table the previous decades
Albert Einstein sat before going to the patent office in Bern.

For me, PCs run 24 ... rather 25 hours a day ;-) ... I am also on the road, I live in the most beautiful area of ​​Austria.
Other "passions" (my wife died, my children live in California, Bern ..) are currently photography
(I have around 100 cameras (IDIOT!)), 3D printer (only 4), laser engraver, 5 Raspberry Pi ...

Handy / Smartphone??? Why - my phone for € 11.90 with a prepaid card is enough.

So that's enough ... was a bit more than my first computer ... you can also overdo it :-(
My first - bought ... 32KB RAM, Z80 CPU 2.5 MHz, 2x floppy 160 KByte, no graphics,
text only 80x25 characters

Huiiii, meinen ersten Computer habe ich selbst gebaut, damals wusste IBM noch gar nicht, dass sie einmal
einen "PC" verkaufen würden. Es gab schon CP/M Systeme (schweineteuer), mit Intel 4004 (2235 Transistoren),
8008, 8080 und Z80 Prozessoren, ... und Speicherschaltkreise mit 1/2/4/8 KILOBIT
Der ComputerSpeicher war maximal 64 Kilobyte gross.

Mein erster (kleiner) Computer hatte eine 8-stellige Siebensegmentanzeige und 256 BYTE! Darauf schrieb ich 2 Spiele.
Der grössere Selbstbau war aus selbstentworfenen, gewirewrappten Platinen im 8" Rack, bis hin zu einem TV Interface
64 Zeilen zu 64 Zeichen. Programmierung in Maschinensprache (die an die 600 Hexbefehle des Z80 Prozessors konnte
ich mit der Zeit auswendig - Wissen bezog ich aus den beiden ersten (amerikanischen) Computerzeitschriften
Dr.Dobb's Journal und Byte, die ich bis zu meiner "tonnenweisen" Altpapierentsorgung ab No.1 hatte.

Der erste gekaufte Computer war ein SUPERBRAIN, grüner Bildschirm mit 25 Zeilen zu 80 Zeichen, keine Grafik,
aber mit ZWEI dicken Floppylaufwerken mit 5.25" Floppys zu 160 Kilobyte. Drauf lief (unter CP/M) das erste Text-
verarbeitungsprogramm WORDSTAR. Firmen wie ALTAI, IMSAIR, INTERTEC kamen und wurden später dank IBM
wieder gegangen. Commodore PET, Tandy, Apple waren die "ersten". Festplatten gab es noch keine, die ersten waren
dick, gross und schwer, hatten 5 MEGABYTE Speicher, meine erste HD hatte 20 Megabyte.

Als PC Platinen etc aufkamen, habe ich etwa 15PCs selbst gebaut, dann aber aufgegeben, da fertige PCs günstiger kamen.
Spiele hatte ich damals viele, vor allem die ersten Grafikspiele von SIERRA, Leisure Larry, Kings Quest, Space Quest ...
gigantische Auflösung von 320x160, dann 640x480 in SECHZEHN Farben.

Seit Jahren arbeite ich auf Medion PCs, Notebooks und Tablets, kenne alle Programmiersprachen (begonnen auf Grosscomputer
mit FORTAN), ADA, PASCAL, BASIC, UNIX, LINUX, -zig Assembler, Systeme CP/M, DOS1, ..DOS6 ... Windows 1(mit 2 starren Fenstern),
Windows 3.1, WinXP, Win95, ... Win7, Win8, Win8.1, Win10.

Meine jetzigen PCs sind über 5 Jahre alt, laufen wie geschmiert, neuer kommt keiner ins Haus, habe alle getesteten
Betriebssystem (Win8...Win10) als Furz empfunden, gelöscht - und nun läuft alles unter Win7 Ultimate.

GOTTSEIDANK wird ab gestern Win7 nicht mehr supported, eeeendlich keine Updates mehr! Die PCs + Zubehör haben mich in den
letzten 40 Jahren sicher weit über 100.000€ gekostet - noch schlimmer: 100.000e Stunden Zeit, meist Nachtzeit, meine
Tätigkeit als Autor von Fachberichten in deutschen und amerikanischen Fachzeitschriften (weit über 250) habe ich schon
vor 20 Jahren an den Nagel gehängt.

Halle Leute - nicht falsch verstehen, ich will NICHT angeben, aber der "Computer" hat mich vermutlich viele schöne
1000 Stunden meines Lebens gekostet (keiner solls nachmachen!). Studium an der Technischen Uni in Wien ... später Schweiz,
dort bin ich am Technikum Winterthur (lange ohne es zu wissen) am Sessel/Tisch gesessen an dem Jahrzehnte zuvor
Albert Einstein sass ehe er ans Patentamt nach Bern ging.

Bei mir laufen PCs 24 ... eher 25 Sunden am Tag ;-) ... ich bin auch unterwegs, wohne in der schönsten Gegend Österreichs.
Sonstige "Leidenschaften" (meine Frau ist gestorben, meine Kinder leben in Kalifornien, Bern ..) sind derzeit Fotografie
(habe sicher an die 100 Kameras (IDIOT!) ), 3D Drucker(nur 4), Lasergravierer, 5 Raspberry Pi ...

Handy/Schmartföhn? Wozu - mein Telefon um € 11.90 mit Prepaidkarte reicht.

So das reicht ... war ein bisserl mehr als mein erster Computer ... man(n) kanns auch übertreiben :-(
Mein erster - gekaufter ... 32KB RAM, Z80 CPU 2.5 MHz, 2x Floppy 160 KByte, keine Grafik,
nur Text 80x25 Zeichen

https://www.google.com/search?q=interte ... 47&bih=759

Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Tue Jan 21, 2020 10:28 pm
by Heater
ejolson wrote:
Tue Jan 21, 2020 3:10 pm
Maybe the first 3D GPUs were the Geometry Engines shipped in the Silicon Graphics IRIS 1000 and 2000 workstations.
Durp, durp, yes, I was forgetting such things.

But wow! I mean holy s**t, when I said 3D GPU I was thinking of a single chip or integrated into the SoC as we have today. Not this beauty:

Image

And the other 5 similarly huge and complex boards that went with it!

Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Wed Jan 22, 2020 4:29 am
by ejolson
Heater wrote:
Tue Jan 21, 2020 10:28 pm
And the other 5 similarly huge and complex boards that went with it!
That's a fantastically sharp image. I can read the markings on almost all of the chips and recognize them. Here is what a GPU looks like today:

Image

Interestingly, boards like this still go along side 5 similar boards in high-performance applications.

Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Wed Jan 22, 2020 1:48 pm
by Heater
ejolson,
That's a fantastically sharp image. I can read the markings on almost all of the chips and recognize them.
I was checking that out too. An ocean of run of the mill 74 series logic chips and dynamic RAMS. Pretty much jelly bean parts for the day. Except for those 4 big AMD 2903 bit slice chips, with their beautiful ceramic packages and gold plated lid and pins.

Of course there is no need to obfuscate any of that, all the magic happens in the custom chips under those blue heat sinks on the GF2 board.

Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Sat Jan 25, 2020 6:50 pm
by bensimmo
Heater wrote:
Fri Jan 17, 2020 7:39 am
No way. I don't have the patience for that anymore.

I remember being fascinated by the real-time 3D graphics of Starglider. Perhaps the first time I had ever seen such a thing. No filled polygons, just line rendering, hidden line removal an all. Jez San was one of those guys who could do in assembler what no compiler could do.

What I did not know until checking just now is that Jez San also helped Nintendo develop the Super FX Graphics Support Unit (GSU) for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES).

Was that the first 3D GPU in the world?
I would guess starglider was the precursor to StarFox on the SNES.
Something you can emulate easily and even buy and play on a Nintendo switch/wii-u today.

As an note, the Super FX was a RISC chip.

Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Tue Jan 28, 2020 9:51 pm
by HvdW
Nice story @Pytha
Especially the time spent and the time lost for living a normal life.

First computing experience feeding the mainframe computer with punchcards @university.
First owned TI-99/4A
Second Amstrad PC1512
Spent very much time on an old 80486 computer with Freesco freesco.info as a router to protect my LAN @work.
Most loved RPI 1, RPI 2 and now RPI 3B

Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Sun May 24, 2020 6:17 pm
by cpcbegin
My first computer was an Amstrad CPC464, I sold it to buy a CPC6128 than I still use with a gotek (USB floppy emulator).
Image
Also I made a script to install several new Amstrad CPC/PCW/PC emulators in raspbian.

Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Sun May 24, 2020 7:30 pm
by ejolson
cpcbegin wrote:
Sun May 24, 2020 6:17 pm
My first computer was an Amstrad CPC464, I sold it to buy a CPC6128 than I still use with a gotek (USB floppy emulator).
Image
Also I made a script to install several new Amstrad CPC/PCW/PC emulators in raspbian.
Woohoo! Thanks for not posting spam to this thread.

I've never used an Amstrad computer. How did it compare with other home computers of that time? It seems you liked it enough to buy another. Was that to run a software library you already had or because you were familiar with how to operate and program it?

Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Sun May 24, 2020 7:50 pm
by Heater
The Amstrad CPC464 dates from 1984.

At that time it was massively cheaper than an IBM PC and a lot more tolerable in a home environment. Apple Macs were also crazy expensive.

Not only that if I recall correctly those 8 bit Z80 machines could still outperform an IBM PC and the graphics were better.

Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Sun May 24, 2020 8:06 pm
by ejolson
Heater wrote:
Sun May 24, 2020 7:50 pm
The Amstrad CPC464 dates from 1984.

At that time it was massively cheaper than an IBM PC and a lot more tolerable in a home environment. Apple Macs were also crazy expensive.

Not only that if I recall correctly those 8 bit Z80 machines could still outperform an IBM PC and the graphics were better.
My memories of the IBM PC are a bit biased because the one I had access to was equipped with 8087 floating point hardware and later one of the NEC CPUs with fast integer multiply. It was in use for about 15 years after surviving a leaky NiCad-backed clock card which resulted in a number of jumper wires all being added to the motherboard. I wish today's machines came with full schematics and were as easily repairable.

I also wish I had thought to keep the 8087, as the 10-byte extended precision of that FPU is responsible for part of the IEEE standard and it's a good reference for comparing the floating-point units built into modern processors.

Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Sun May 24, 2020 10:26 pm
by LTolledo
ejolson wrote:
Sun May 24, 2020 8:06 pm
My memories of the IBM PC are a bit biased because the one I had access to was equipped with 8087 floating point hardware and later one of the NEC CPUs with fast integer multiply.
Seems the same IBM PC that I had access to.... (one with 8087 co-processor and the NEC V20? one)
and we were doing design using AutoCAD 2.18 at that time....
did the schematic of a Z80 based micro-computer board using that combination...

Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Sun May 24, 2020 11:30 pm
by scruss
ejolson wrote:
Sun May 24, 2020 7:30 pm
I've never used an Amstrad computer. How did it compare with other home computers of that time?
I had one too as my first computer.

Decent machine: 4 MHz Z80A (3.3 MHz effective after video refresh), fairly crisp graphics (CGAish: 320x200x4, 160x200x16, 640x200x2, all from a palette of 27 TTL RGB values), adequate sound (3 channel square wave + noise) and a very acceptable BASIC from Locomotive Software. While not quite as fast as BBC BASIC, it was closer to MS BASIC-80 in syntax. Locomotive BASIC was notable in that you could have (soft) interrupt-controlled sound and programme control. It also had multiple 'soft' text windows that you could use as output channels. Rather nicely done, especially since the whole thing was put together in about eight weeks. Like the BBC, you could have "sideways" ROMs to add features. Latterly, my CPC464 with dual disc drives had so many ROMs hanging off it (assembler, debugger, word processor, spell checker, disc utility and BCPL compiler) that the screen scrolled a bit on startup.

The CPC 464 was tape based, and the later CPC 6128 was disc based. Amstrad chose the slightly unusual Hitachi 3" drive for its disks. While these were reliable and fast, they were also (even by UK standards) extremely expensive. File handling was extremely weak from AMSDOS: it didn't even support random access. Fortunately, CP/M was only a reboot away.

The CPC didn't have the fastest graphics handling (16 K of screen RAM with no sprites or graphics chip to help out), but its games were good and the machine was nicely designed. The documentation was excellent: not merely did it come with a good BASIC tutorial/manual, but the optional Firmware Manual listed all the ROM routines you could need.

It wasn't faster than PCs of the time, but was pretty popular. The Amstrad PCW machines - dedicated word processing machines based on a Z80 and bundled printer - were immensely popular because they were cheap. My wife wrote her PhD thesis on one: 450 pages from two floppy drives, proofed on the loudest daisywheel printer on the planet. By that time, the Amstrad machines had switched to 3½" discs. I think I still have (and can read) her thesis files …

Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2020 10:37 am
by Beinglis23
My 1st computer was Dell Optiplex Gx1 Pentium II 400 MHz desktop Computer

Image

Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2020 2:11 pm
by ejolson
Beinglis23 wrote:
Sun Jul 05, 2020 10:37 am
My 1st computer was Dell Optiplex Gx1 Pentium II 400 MHz desktop Computer

Image
Welcome to the forum!

Does it still work? I wonder if it is faster or slower than a Pi Zero. If you install Raspberry Pi desktop for x86 on it, it would be interesting to know the results of running the Pi pie chart program.

viewtopic.php?f=63&t=227177

Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2020 3:15 pm
by Heater
It's amazing anyone stayed with computers and computing when their first experience of it was such ghastly machines :)

Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2020 3:34 pm
by ejolson
Heater wrote:
Sun Jul 05, 2020 3:15 pm
It's amazing anyone stayed with computers and computing when their first experience of it was such ghastly machines :)
I think the yellowish-white colour in the photo is not how it originally looked.

Historically, Pentium II based machines ran Linux well as did 486 computers. To my recollection 16MB RAM was about the minimum for a reasonable desktop experience, while Windows 3.1 could get by with about 8MB. I used a 486 with 20MB RAM as a desktop for many years.

The processor and software under Linux were not fast enough to decode and play mp2 sound files. I was living in student housing at the time and 10 Mbit Ethernet was fast enough to offload the decoding to a DEC alpha server across campus. It is now 2020 and I still don't have as fast a connection as back then or a fixed IP with resolvable Internet hostname.

Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2020 4:23 pm
by W. H. Heydt
Hmmm... I suppose I ought to mention that the first machine my sisters got to write programs on was an IBM 7094. Card decks were loaded to tape on a 7040. The tapes were then run on the 7094 and the output tape was taken back to the 7040 to print the outputs.

Re: What was your first computer?

Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2020 4:40 pm
by ejolson
W. H. Heydt wrote:
Sun Jul 05, 2020 4:23 pm
Hmmm... I suppose I ought to mention that the first machine my sisters got to write programs on was an IBM 7094. Card decks were loaded to tape on a 7040. The tapes were then run on the 7094 and the output tape was taken back to the 7040 to print the outputs.
If it didn't run Linux or at least BASIC could it really be considered a computer?

I remember using the interactive text editing system called WYLBUR to submit virtual punch card decks for processing and picking up the output sometime later. It's good that social distancing wasn't needed back then, because people stood in the queue as often as the punch cards.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/ORVYL_and_WYLBUR

I think our queue was serviced by a Pi clone made by Amdahl.

Later I spent time writing multiuser code running under CP/CMS. There was a monitor called cpwatch that could display CPU, swap and other system resource usage interactively on an 3270 display terminal. I've been looking for screen shots of cpwatch for years because I remember the layout being visually quite impressive. Any ideas?