What was your first computer?

#1

Growing up in the 90s, my family’s first computer was a secondhand Laser 128:

It had a blazing-fast 3.6 MHz processor, and a whopping 128K of RAM. This was around 1996, mind you. We had a printer with the punched-out holes on the sides of the paper, and I remember spending a couple of hours printing a giant “CONGRATULATIONS” banner for my kindergarten teacher, when I found out she was pregnant.

We didn’t have any games that would run, unfortunately – this machine was janky as janky gets. It took 5-1/4" floppies, and my dad could never quite get it to run properly. It wasn’t until 1999, when we got a machine running Windows 98, that I really started to get into computers.

What was your first computer? What was your first experience with a computer?

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#2

Wowzers! That’s old! Well, the first computer I owned was one I built in tech school. It was based on the Zilog Z-80 8088 chip. I started that program the same year Blade Runner was released. :man_white_haired: But it was essentially a motherboard with DAC/ADC and other interface and control circuitry. No keyboard, no monitor, no storage.

When I started college four years later, my girlfriend bought me a LaserXT Portable from Sears for $750 - 5.0 MHz cpu with 640k RAM. One 5-1/4" floppy and no hard drive. You could carry it by a handle like a typewriter. It came with a 13" monochrome green on black monitor. I wish I still had it! I had to boot from the system disc and swap to the applications disc(s). I ran GW-DOS, GW-Basic, Fortran77 and TurboPascal. I learned an awful lot on that old box. Ah, Youth! Pass the bottle…

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#3

First PC that i loose my virginity was a computer from my granny work. She is an electicity machines engineer and they was one of the first places, that incorporated software like AutoCad for creating huge schemes for our coal mines. For sure I started with games. But I remember how I have a summer assesment related to geometry and I type myself a paper with 5-7 pages by hands. It was huuge accomplishment for me. I did it during 2 weeks and then it was a matrix printer that print 1 paper in 5 minutes.

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#4

My first (owned) computer was a ZX Spectrum 48K.

That computer has a Z80A 8Bit CPU running at 3.5MHz. Technically, the Z80 has a 16 bit memory bus, so it can address 64Kb. The first 16Kb were occupied by the ROM (BASIC interpreter included), from 0x0000 to 0x3FFF. The remaining 48K (starting at 0x4000) were RAM, of which the first 6K are mapped onto the display area. Writing values in that area make pixels in the screen to turn on / off (bitwise). Loading / saving data was done thought the cassette and took long 4/5 minutes to start playing a game. I think this was very didactic.

This computer was very successful in the 80’s in the UK and Spain and it had some clones in Russia, Brazil, etc. It became very popular mainly for its affordable price and possibilities (color, hackability, game catalog, etc). Like most microcomputers of their time, it came with an integrated BASIC interpreter. You just turn it on and the BASIC was there waiting for you to type orders directly (REPL) or to type an entire program (nowadays starting a programming environment is not that simple). Despite its limitations (which were overcome with creativity by game programmers) its game catalog was rather large and it was another selling point.

Currently there’s still an active community and still electronic hacks are being created. Even a Kickstarted ZX Spectrum Next is out there (it’s a modern FPGA machine with some backwad-compatibility with the original machine, but not an original one).

The most recent exciting thing was seeing the speccy in Netflix Bandersnatch movie (check its easter eggs :stuck_out_tongue: )

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#5

3.6MHz processor - Luxury!! I had a Commodore 64 with a cracking 0.985 MHz processor and a whopping 64kb of RAM. After a few years I was fortunate enough to get a 5" Floppy Disk drive, which was a quantum leap from the cassette drive in terms of performance and storage. Can’t say I used my computing powers or time for good, mostly gaming and the odd BASIC program before I had a break from computers for a while - did serve me well later in life though.

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