Author Topic: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?  (Read 44782 times)

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Offline bitseeker

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #150 on: October 25, 2017, 08:33:39 pm »
Hmm, I suppose one could also convert a Selectric into a PC keyboard. Such a flexible machine. ;D
I suppose you could, but it would be a horrible thing.

The Selectric keyboard is completely mechanical and inseparable from the print mechanism.  Whatever you type on the keyboard is printed by the typeball.  The only electrons in the stock version were to run the motor for the mechanics.

Ah, that's a bummer.
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Offline Rolo

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #151 on: October 26, 2017, 03:44:28 pm »
ZX81 from Sinclair. And was happy with it. Even build a RAM extension that was piggy bagged on the original RAM.
 

Offline Naguissa

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #152 on: October 26, 2017, 03:48:51 pm »
First computer I ever used was a Turion or Athlon desktop from around 1996 - and about 512 MB of RAM. What a pig that thing was.
Add arround 10 years ti the date to let that machines exist...

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Offline TopLoser

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #153 on: October 26, 2017, 04:00:46 pm »
1978 Elektor SC/MP built on a scrap of veroboard, eventually upgraded to run NIBL basic.
 

Offline jmelson

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #154 on: October 27, 2017, 09:57:31 pm »

The Selectric keyboard is completely mechanical and inseparable from the print mechanism.  Whatever you type on the keyboard is printed by the typeball.  The only electrons in the stock version were to run the motor for the mechanics.
However, there were some units derived from the I/O Selectric, such as the IBM 2741 (I think I have that # right) and the Dura.  I had a Dura MANY years ago.  It had about a dozen small circuit cards in the back with discrete transistors and diodes that converted from Selectric code to EIA codes, and had a paper tape reader and punch, as well as I/O connectors.  I managed to get it to run as a printer on my CP/M computer for a while.  I managed to snap one of the bands in mine when something went wrong.  I just took it to the local typewriter shop, the guy measured it and gave me the correct replacement part.  Put it in, and it worked like a charm.  But, it was pretty slow...

Jon
 

Offline Richard Crowley

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #155 on: October 27, 2017, 11:04:41 pm »
Back in the late 1960s my school had a room full of 25-30 of the Dura-branded Selectric terminals with APL font balls, linked to a time-share server at UCI or UCLA(?)

We lab-assistants regularly demonstrated a stunt where we could take a program in any other language and translate it into 1/10 the number of lines of code in APL. Of course, while the APL code would run properly, it was nearly indecipherable to humans (including the one who wrote it).
 

Offline MarkL

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #156 on: October 28, 2017, 08:33:43 am »
We lab-assistants regularly demonstrated a stunt where we could take a program in any other language and translate it into 1/10 the number of lines of code in APL. Of course, while the APL code would run properly, it was nearly indecipherable to humans (including the one who wrote it).
For me, going the other way from APL to other languages was a bit of a shock.  What do you mean I have to iterate over each element of this matrix?

We called it "write-only" code.
 

Offline Astrodev

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #157 on: October 28, 2017, 01:56:55 pm »
Just been thinking back to the ASR33's (which I still have) and I remembered that I had the idea of making use of the spare space in the stand so made a chassis out of wood and mounted the TI 990/101 board I was using as a computer at the time in the stand making it my first "all in one computer" as well.

Funnily enough I still have most of the bits including the wooden chassis.
 

Offline raptor1956

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #158 on: October 28, 2017, 08:30:56 pm »
Commodore VIC-20 in 1981.  Then, a couple weeks after joining IBM in March of 1982 I order an IBM PC under the employee discount program which saved me, if I remember correctly, about 10%.  But, as an employee we were not a priority and I had to wait nearly a year before my PC arrived and during the interval I made a couple of changes to the order as IBM upgraded the PC.  When I eventually received it in January of 1983 it came with DSDD floppies of 320KB each.  I think the installed RAM was 48KB and I later installed a RAM card that added 256KB bringing my total to a bit of 300KB.  My Nikon D800E takes still images that average about 43MB/file in RAW so this first generation PC would have had no chance of doing anything with a file that large.  I got the PC with the monochrome display which had a resolution of something like 480x720 which was way better than the 320x640 color monitor I picked up a bit later.

If I added up all the PC's, both desktop and laptop, that I've owned over the years it would be well over 20 -- I still have about 10 in my possession though only about 6 of them work.  I think I've also had about 20 HD failures in that time as well.


Brian


 

Offline eugenenine

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #159 on: October 28, 2017, 10:50:33 pm »
I've surprisingly had very few hdd failures.  I had one get bad sectors when I moved in my house in 1995.  Then a laptop drive in 2006 that was in an external case my newborn got hold of.  And one last year in my daughters laptop but thats all I can remember.
 

Offline rhb

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #160 on: October 28, 2017, 11:58:24 pm »
Computers I've owned:

Vic20
C64
Generic 386SX w/ FPU
Sun 3/60
Sparcstation 1+
Sun 4/110
Microway 164LX DEC Alpha
Sun Ultra 20
Various x86 based machines too numerous and varied to describe
Various microcontrollers too numerous and varied to describe (most more powerful than a Vic20)

Computers I've worked on:

IBM 360/167 running MUSIC
IBM 370 series running  VM/CMS
Perkin-Elmer 3200 (nee Interdata )
VAX 11/780 w/ FPS AP-120B & Gould-DeAnza graphics display
MicroVAX II in BA123 world box
Sun 386i
DECstation various MIPS based
SGI various models
Intergraph Clipper
HP "snakes series"
AIX various Power series
Sun most SPARC workstations
Alliant FX8 and the i860 nightmare
Intel i386 Hypercube
Intel i860 Hypercube
CDC 6400 (???) UT Austin mainframe w/ custom OS

Operating systems I've used:

MUSIC
VM/CMS
OS32 (?) Perkin-Elmer
VMS
Sun OS 4.x
Irix
Clix (Intergraph)
HP-UX
AIX
Ultrix
Minix
Coherent
Linux
OpenIndiana
MS-DOS (only under duress)
CP/M
Windows (only under duress)
MVS/TSO (only under duress)
UT Austin CDC OS

Worst computers:

Alliant i860
Intel i860 Hypercube

Things they had at work that I didn't use:

Connection Machine CM2 & CM5
Stardent
Cray Y-MP
PDP11/??

I'm sure it's not a complete list, but it's pretty close.

Favorite CPU:

 6502
 

Offline oldtubeguy

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #161 on: October 29, 2017, 12:41:20 am »
   i was hired by IBM in Poughkeepsie NY (USA) in 1965 as a test technician. Systems Test for IBM 7090, 7094, 360 Model 91/95.
Moved into programming in 1968. Professionally programmed 1401 autocoder; 7080 assembler, 360 assembler, Fortran, PL1; IBM RS6000 Fortran;
Windoze assembler, basic, c, c++. First code was to enter debug routines directly into memory of 7090 via systems console.
    Wound up in IBM Consulting group, specializing in large scale data management for Mechanical design system (CATIA). worked for internal IBM HQ group responsible for Corporate-wide mechanical CAD systems. Finally did a lot of consulting for US Auto and US defense companies. Fully retired in 2012.
     It was a great ride, but not-so-great for current workers IT workers.

Originally I was a an electronics tech. Now I just screw around with simple electronic circuits, especially with Arduino.
FWIW for a few years I was buying broken HP 475 Oscopes on Ebay (works of art inside) and repairing/reselling. Lost interest and now I have a 1/2 dozen on the shelf.
Want to get rid of them, but too lazy to pack for shipment, so if anyone in Florida wants to take a drive, I will give them up fo free -  they are non-functional but complete. Usually a capacitor or two to fix.

 
   
   
 

Offline Specmaster

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #162 on: October 29, 2017, 12:54:18 am »
I may be wrong, but I have never heard of a HP 475 scope so I googled it and google also came up blank. I think you might mean Tektronix 475. If you lived in the UK I'd take you up on that very kind offer as I love to repair scopes as well, always loved them and currently have 5 working ones in my collection, 1 x HP1740A (just finished repairing it), 1 x Iwatsu SS5710, 1 x Goldstar OS-9100D, 1 x Rapid 1725A and Hitachi V-525 with undergoing repairs now a Hameg 408-1A.
Who let Murphy in?
 

Offline bitseeker

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #163 on: October 29, 2017, 01:09:28 am »
Hehe, when I saw "HP 475", my brain automatically filtered out the "HP" part. So, I comprehended the references as Tektronix 475. Only after you pointed it out did I realize that there was an HP there.
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Offline oldtubeguy

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #164 on: October 29, 2017, 01:25:32 am »
   Umm, Of course they are Teks. I had HP on my mind because I actually did have an HP unix-flavored computer that I played with for awhile.
At one time HP was another great name, but sadly like IBM and Tektronix  long ago put the Marketing Geniuses in charge. I will concede that it may be the time of well engineered, reliable (and expensive) equipment is over.

 

Offline brucehoult

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #165 on: October 29, 2017, 11:11:38 am »
Favorite CPU:

 6502

You were doing so well up until that point! :-) :-)

What criteria do you use in deciding that? Other than being the CPU in the first couple of machines you personally owned. (and me too .. I still 35-40 years later remember the hex codes for a lot of the common instructions: 20, 60, 4C, A9, A5, 85, B1, 91, D0, F0

The 6502 was cheap, and got a lot of performance bang out of a minimal amount of random logic and given speed of DRAM (much better than 8080/Z80). But they're really awful to try to write large well structured programs with, and a terrible compiler target (worse than 8080/Z80, far worse than 6809).


My favourite CPU of all time? If I have to pick a single model then ARM7TDMI.

Cortex is better of course, but new. And RISC-V is better than Cortex, and (currently) covers the range from M0 - A53. That's my new love.
 

Offline rhb

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #166 on: October 29, 2017, 01:03:33 pm »
Favorite CPU:

 6502

You were doing so well up until that point! :-) :-)

What criteria do you use in deciding that? Other than being the CPU in the first couple of machines you personally owned. (and me too .. I still 35-40 years later remember the hex codes for a lot of the common instructions: 20, 60, 4C, A9, A5, 85, B1, 91, D0, F0

The 6502 was cheap, and got a lot of performance bang out of a minimal amount of random logic and given speed of DRAM (much better than 8080/Z80).

I like the architecture. It's elegant in its simplicity.  It also maps neatly to forth. And then there was the cheap and cheerful aspect ;-)

Bear in mind that I used to read processor manuals for entertainment and have read 3 of the first 4 editions of "Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach" by Hennesy & Patterson in their entirety.  So I'm clearly a bit twisted. 

The real horror was the i860.  An acquaintance made a good bit of money hand coding FFTs and similar for that thing.  When the salesman said, "And this is how you dump the assembly language so you can optimize the code." I backed out of the room and left the i860 hypercube to torment someone else.

Today the agony is trying to figure out how to keep the cache from thrashing while doing a few million sums of a few million values each with execution order basically unknowable.  Don't get me wrong.  Things are *much* better now, but there is always the desire to squeeze a few more FLOPS out of the machine.  This is especially true with problems that take 10,000 cores a week or two to finish.

The last machine I really got down and dirty with was the Alpha 164LX.  Quite a marvel in its day.  It was 3-4x the fastest available x86 while running at 533 MHz even though the x86 was clocked much faster.  It was a real pity that HP disbanded the Alpha team.
 

Offline richnormand

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #167 on: October 29, 2017, 04:44:38 pm »
IBM 1130.
FORTRAN, COBOL and assembly.....

 ::)
 

Offline forrestc

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #168 on: October 29, 2017, 05:02:16 pm »
The first computer I used was an Apple II while in elementary school.

The first one I owned was a Timex Sinclair TS1000 (aka prebuilt ZX81 w/NTSC modulator and 2K Ram).   Complete with 16K plug pack and printer.   I think I got the 16K plug pack and printer as they were closing them out somewhere.  Don't really remember for sure.   One note:   The crappy keyboard was there for a reason - at some point I modified the computer to use a real keyboard, and I could type faster than the computer could handle..... and of course anyone who used the plugpacks knew how mechanically unstable they were...

Sometime shortly after, my parents bought an Apple IIe at home (which I also still own), and sometime in the same period I bought an Epson PX-8 laptop.  The PX-8 ran CP/M.   I've got that around here somewhere too.   

I kinda miss the days of unique computers.....
 

Offline SeanB

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #169 on: October 29, 2017, 06:05:33 pm »
Anyndoy here ever work with the IBM 360/44? Or wind any ferrite memory arrays?

did fix broken core wires and replace broken cores, though that was a lot smaller core, just 16 by 16 array. There was a new version being developed when I left, using a whole 2k of Dallas battery backed RAM in a Timekeeper, with the use only being in the top 1k of the memory to avoid the RTC address space. Had to be compatible with the old memory as a drop in, so there was a lot of work done on emulating the core read and write operation, spreading it out over the timekeeper address space and using only a single data bit. 1 Timekeeper, and then a half dozen TTL chips on the board did it, plus a load of resistors to emulate the core lines and attenuate the data level to not saturate the read amplifier. Still only did 16 words as well, but at least was not unobtanium and almost as reliable.
 

Offline Kilo Tango

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #170 on: October 30, 2017, 04:45:35 pm »
The first I had/built was the Wireless World SC80 designed by John Adams. It had a Nat Semi number cruncher and ran BURP ( Basic Using Reverse Polish).

I then built his SC84, a CP/M machine. I found a pair of 35 track floppies that caused a lot of fun storing stuff high up on the floppy !.

Ken
 

Offline bd139

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #171 on: October 30, 2017, 07:24:03 pm »
The first I had/built was the Wireless World SC80 designed by John Adams. It had a Nat Semi number cruncher and ran BURP ( Basic Using Reverse Polish).

I then built his SC84, a CP/M machine. I found a pair of 35 track floppies that caused a lot of fun storing stuff high up on the floppy !.

Ken

Was that the massive scary thing built out of a metric shit ton of UMUT PNP transistors?
 

Offline rrinker

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned ?
« Reply #172 on: October 30, 2017, 08:55:33 pm »


The RCA1802 microprocessor, has some special (unique at the time), properties (if I remember correctly). It was both CMOS and certifiable for spaceflight/satellites.

1802 Membership Card Powered Up by Todd Decker, on Flickr

And if I remeber correctly, it could also operate at Vdd = 15v.
Which was kind of pointless, because the available memory devices ran at 5v.

I also had a Cosmac 1802 board.

 It also has 16x 16 bit registers, and ANY of them could be the program counter, any of them could be the pointer (index) register. And you could change it in the middle of program execution - this formed the basis of RCA's standard call and return for subroutines. And any micro with the mnemonic SEX (for SEt X) is an automatic winner.

 A prior message mentioned the 6502 as a favorite - of the four 8-bitters I learned, the 6502 was my LEAST favorite, such a pain to work on compared to the 1802. The lack of registers and the absolute need for a stack for even fairly trivial programs made is so in my mind - I had to code a large part of my Apple II program in high school with assembler because it ran far too slow in BASIC. At the time I already knew 1802 and Z80, in college I did some 8080. 1802 was very elegant, 91 total instructions and since many of them referenced the 16 registers, or one of the 7 I/O ports, the first hex digit was a family and the second digit specified the register.
 
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Offline ebastler

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #173 on: October 30, 2017, 09:58:43 pm »
Not my first computer; but since we are drifting towards the topic of "favorite CPU":

My favorite CPU is the 68000, due to its relative simplicity and regularity. And the first 68000 machine I owned was the "DTACK Grounded" board for the Apple II. Anyone remember that one? Hal W. Hardenberg of Digital Acoustics was probably best known for his strong opinions on Intel's processors and Apple's 68000 computers, as voiced in the DTACK Grounded Newsletter, and for his great humour in expressing them.

The original DTACK Grounded board had a whopping 96 kByte of painfully expensive static RAM. No wait states here, thank you very much!  :)
I still have mine. Note the elegant tilt of the SRAMs, which made taping down those bus traces so much easier for Hal... ;)





 

Offline Kilo Tango

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #174 on: October 31, 2017, 09:10:10 am »
The first I had/built was the Wireless World SC80 designed by John Adams. It had a Nat Semi number cruncher and ran BURP ( Basic Using Reverse Polish).

I then built his SC84, a CP/M machine. I found a pair of 35 track floppies that caused a lot of fun storing stuff high up on the floppy !.

Ken

Was that the massive scary thing built out of a metric shit ton of UMUT PNP transistors?

No the SC80 design was a clever design using a Z80 and an MM57109 number cruncher chip to do all the math. I think it used 1K x 1 2101 static ram. It was quite good. PowerTran offered a kit for it, and I bought one that didn't work and managed to get it going. There was a user group for it, pretty good, I learned a lot.

Then 4 years later out came the SC84, a 3 board design, CPU card, Video card, and floppy/serial channel card. It ran CP/M and so you had access to all the software on the CPM user group.  Some of us overclocked the processor up from the original 4MHz to 6MHz, most of the Z80A's would run at 6MHz, although whether you noticed the difference was debatable.

I've still got it tucked away somewhere, " just in case " !

Things have moved on a bit since then .....

Ken
 


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