Author Topic: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?  (Read 44815 times)

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Offline Peter63

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #250 on: June 17, 2018, 10:28:43 am »
Commodore VIC-20, sold it 1988  :'(
 

Online tggzzz

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #251 on: June 17, 2018, 02:52:49 pm »
Clock rates have peaked, yes, but that makes things MUCH MORE interesting than any time since 1990! It's no longer enough for Intel to simply spend their billions on a new FAB process and lazily crank out the same design as last year but at 50% higher clock speed.

Now they have to actually *think*.

So far Intel have mostly been thinking "Lets put more of the same old cores on on chip". That's reasonably exciting. It makes tasks such as compiling software or video transcoding or responding to a lot of web requests much faster without a lot of effort, but it's a very interesting challenge to figure out how to use this for other things.

But even more exciting is that YOU DON't NEED TO BE INTEL to innovate any more. Basic CPUs aren't getting faster any more which means that speeding up particular tasks often now requires special hardware to directly implement the main part of the task, with a conventional CPU there as well to supervise and control it.

There is an absolute *explosion* happening in people building this special hardware inside FPGAs, and the successful and high volume designs migrate to custom SoCs. Sometimes this special hardware can be done as a co-processor with relatively loose coupling to the main CPU (and you can license ARM cores for that), but often it works better if you can hook your special hardware up to custom instructions in the CPU and incorporate it in the normal program flow in a much more fine-grained way. You can't do that with ARM.

Some companies are creating their own proprietary and customisable CPU architectures and that's exciting to see that happening again (like in the 70s and 80s). But even though gcc and linux etc are pretty portable it's still a lot of work to actually port them, and that work doesn't actually add any unique value to your company. So more and more people are grabbing an existing open-source and license-free processor design and customising that with their own special sauce.

Mostly now, that means RISC-V, which is getting very good momentum.

And so I've made my way to a RISC-V startup where our business is making customised CPUs and SoCs.  Exciting times!

Most of those efforts are merely variations on a theme, which run into the standard problems:
  • the processing power is limited by the i/o bandwidth
  • the embedded software languages haven't caught up with multicore systems (the latest C/C++ might be different, iff you can use that variant and the compiler correctly supports the language and the libraries use the new features and the engineers know the correct incantations)
  • real-time latency is difficult to guarantee
The only exception to that I'm aware of is the XMOS xCORE processors and xC. They have up to 32 core 4000MIPS chips with guaranteed instruction timings (IDE specifies the worst case, no measure-and-hope required), interrupt latencies typically 10ns, and solid inter-core comms and synchronisation built into the language.
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Offline Squarewave

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #252 on: June 19, 2018, 03:31:18 pm »
I think mine was a Wang computer. Green mono display, massive computer base to it with a hard drive referred to as a Winchester.

It didn't do much apart from some data base stuff and a word processor.

My printer was a massive daisy wheel printer.
 

Offline JimS

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #253 on: July 06, 2018, 07:34:30 am »
As I recall it was a Timex / Sinclair kit.
I do not recall the model number.
From searching on the web it it looks like it was a ZX80 in a ZX81 case.
It had a Z80 running at 1 Mhz with 1k sram.
I got the extra 1k sram and a video fix option/part(s) for it.
It did not have the second 40 pin chip like the ZX81 & 1000.
I replaced the Z80 with a Z80A and added extra ceramic caps to the power rails.
Traded it in on a 'trade in your old computer' special and get $100.00.
So my next one was a Commodore 64 with a floppy drive (cost more than the C64  ::)
I even modified my TV for a YC input for better video quality.
Thanks for the thread and bringing back fond memory's.
 

Offline luiHS

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #254 on: July 06, 2018, 09:25:21 am »
My list of computers, owned and used, in order of date are:

Owned:

1.- Sinclair ZX Spectrum
2.- Amstrad PC2286 (an expensive and very noisy compatible PC)
3.- PC compatible, several MCU up to now with Intel I7

Used:

1.- Sinclair ZX Spectrum
2.- IBM S36 5360, 5363 and 5364
3.- IBM AS400
4.- Amstrad PC2286
5.- PC compatible, several MCU up to now with Intel I7

I remember with fondness and nostalgia the IBM S36 5360, 5363 and 5364 with which I worked for several years until migrating to the IBM AS400 with which I was many years, until 2004. All the programming in RPGII and RPGIII language.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2018, 09:35:25 am by luiHS »
 

Offline spudboy488

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #255 on: July 06, 2018, 11:48:56 am »
My very first was a 8080 development/training board in college.
Then tried a TRS-80
Then used HP85 controllers (and their various iterations) for my job (followed by the 200 series)
Then built (from a bare board) an Apple II clone.
Then purchased a Sinclair ZX81 (I think I still have it)
Then purchased  a used Apple IIC.
Then built (component level) a 486 PC.
Then just purchased various other PC based laptops and desktops.
 

Offline bsfeechannel

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #256 on: July 06, 2018, 01:09:07 pm »
It was one of those Intel 8080 or 8086 training kits at school. It didn't have the fancy hexadecimal keypad or the eight-segment LED displays of later versions. Instructions  were entered in binary to an EPROM. You had a row of switches representing a byte and you had to turn them on or off to get your ones and zeros. If you made a mistake, you would have to wait for 30 minutes until the whole memory got erased under UV light. EEPROMs hadn't been invented yet. You had to "retype" your program byte by byte again because of a misconfigured switch on the 999th word. Fortunately things got a little better since then.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2018, 03:01:51 pm by bsfeechannel »
 

Offline exit_failure

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #257 on: July 06, 2018, 09:04:14 pm »
My first one was a Highscreen 386 DX-33. Complete with a 40MB hdd, 1.44" floppy and an externally attachable battery pack.

If anyone is interested, I can take a couple of pictures and maybe even take it apart when I'm at my parents' again.

 

Offline pamperchu

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #258 on: July 08, 2018, 01:56:47 pm »
IBM XT in 1990
 

Offline bsfeechannel

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #259 on: July 08, 2018, 04:58:52 pm »
9845 was the dream machine of its time.  You could have purchased 50 or so big board based computers for the price they brought.  Best I could do in that era was limited shared access to one, so I threatened to bring my own big board computer to work.  My threat, with others was what finally started breaking the ice on the company actually providing computers for engineers to use at their desks.

Back in the day we had an HP9845T in our lab. It cost US$20K. In today's money it would be more than $60K. They built a small closet with a locked door to house the computer and only me and other two technicians and two engineers had access to that room. It was used to run a program written by Brüel & Kjaer that calculated what in technical terms was called the "Verständlichkeitsgrad". It was an statistical calculation that gave you the percentage of words you could understand given the acoustic noise. Which was recorded using a calibrated microphone. The signal was analyzed by a sophisticated B&K piece of equipment that simulated the response of the human ear and gave out a list of data that should be fed into the computer.

What was hilarious is that, although the HP9845T could easily exhibit graphs, the program returned a table of values which the engineers would take to manually plot them using paper and crayons and so compare the results of their tests. This happened because no one knew how to program. In fact they had no idea that the HP9845T could do that. Although they were used to electronic calculators, computers were an absolute novelty to them.

I, on the contrary, the youngest in the lab (at least 10 years younger than the youngest until then) and a newcomer, had a background that included computers and programming. Even not being authorized by the management, I read the manuals and figured out how to plot the graphs--that the engineers spent their whole afternoons drawing like kids in the kindergarten--using that very crown jewel that they kept in that "vault".

I can remember one of the engineers that had previously rebuked me for "tinkering" with the most expensive item in the lab saying "Sensational!" when he saw his tedious work done in seconds by the machine.

In comparison to HP9845s back then, PCs, even today, seem nothing more than a cobbled arrangement held together by binding wire.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2018, 05:05:39 pm by bsfeechannel »
 
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Offline CatalinaWOW

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #260 on: July 08, 2018, 05:52:30 pm »
While much more mechanically robust, I don't think the HP9845 compares well with today's desktop machines.  They weren't very fast by today's standards.  The color graphics were far ahead of their time, but very pedestrian today.  RAM was nonexistent by today's standards and mass storage was magnetic tape.  In one way it was infinite capacity - if you bought enough tapes.  But slow, slow, slow.  The sound of those tapes winding as they went for data or a file at a distant section of tape is still with me.

While I still have a bit of lust in my heart for that dream machine of my youth, if offered the choice of a well configured workstation today or the HP9845 there wouldn't be even a bit of hesitation in selecting the new machine.
 

Offline bsfeechannel

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #261 on: July 08, 2018, 07:42:18 pm »
Of course I'm not comparing the technical performance of an HP9845 of yore with that of a PC these days. That'd be ridiculous.

What I'm discussing is from the perspective of the user's experience.

PCs these days keep on being the same P.O.S. (and I don't mean Point Of Sales) they have always been.

People do not complain much because they know nothing better. Those of us privileged enough to happen to have had contact with such a consciously engineered work like the HP9845 can assess how far PCs (especially those running MS Windows) are from decent computing.

While I'm posting this message I've been struggling for three days with an update and a backup of a PC running a licensed OEM Windows  7. That's ludicrous.

The experience I had with HP9845 made me boost my career for serious work. The experience I have with PCs makes me loose precious time and money. Sorry.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2018, 07:47:07 pm by bsfeechannel »
 
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Offline MK14

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #262 on: July 08, 2018, 07:55:58 pm »
Of course I'm not comparing the technical performance of an HP9845 of yore with that of a PC these days. That'd be ridiculous.

What I'm discussing is from the perspective of the user's experience.

PCs these days keep on being the same P.O.S. (and I don't mean Point Of Sales) they have always been.

People do not complain much because they know nothing better. Those of us privileged enough to happen to have had contact with such a consciously engineered work like the HP9845 can assess how far PCs (especially those running MS Windows) are from decent computing.

While I'm posting this message I've been struggling for three days with an update and a backup of a PC running a licensed OEM Windows  7. That's ludicrous.

The experience I had with HP9845 made me boost my career for serious work. The experience I have with PCs make me loose precious time and money. Sorry.

I agree with you.
What upsets me, about the modern day PCs. Is that they are all so similar to each other.
I could sit by my PC and do stuff on windows (not that I use it much, or at all, it varies), then fly to Australia and use someone else's. Which to all intents and purposes, the experience would be, almost exactly the same.
This is not very good, as I'd prefer there to be much more variety.

Whereas, you look back over this thread, which shows many of the computers, which have been available in the 1950s (maybe), 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and later. There is a tremendous range of completely different looking, computers and operating system/software etc.
With many of them, I just wish this was a futeristic virtual reality (game), which would let me click on any of the images and then be immediately transferred/teleported (via virtual reality), into a big room.
With just me, that fantastic looking computer system, and some free time on my hands.
I could then just jump in and play around with that nice looking computer. Watch its flashing lights, mess and change its front panel buttons, hear its disks whirring and spinning up. Feel the huge warmth from some of the older computers and smell the hot electronics at work.
Play around with paper tapes and punched cards again (The paper tapes are/were way more fun, than the cards, in my experience).
Then when/if I eventually get fed up, waft back into the present (2018), and back home.
Only to find another computer system which I just love the look of and then go into that scenario, in the same way.

Alternatively (in real life), I have to either go to one of the computer museums or choose one of these computer systems, that is practicable for home use. Then try and buy it on ebay, then play with that. A bit like Dave's video on the HP85.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2018, 08:00:06 pm by MK14 »
 

Offline exit_failure

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #263 on: July 08, 2018, 09:36:40 pm »
I agree with you.
What upsets me, about the modern day PCs. Is that they are all so similar to each other.
I could sit by my PC and do stuff on windows (not that I use it much, or at all, it varies), then fly to Australia and use someone else's. Which to all intents and purposes, the experience would be, almost exactly the same.

How is that a bad thing? If there is anything good in the (still ongoing) monopolization of the OS market it is exactly that. Being able to sit down in front of a device and recognize a familiar user interface and thus being able to pick up the operation of said device relatively quickly is something that is almost universally lauded.
One of the few ways one could complain about something like this is, if your usefulness relies on other people not being able to operate the device you are basing your livelihood on and that would be a pretty weak argument.

Having worked with machines that were so completely different that you basically had to start from scratch to do exactly the same thing has always been a pain in the arse.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2018, 09:39:21 pm by exit_failure »
 

Offline MK14

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #264 on: July 08, 2018, 09:52:48 pm »
How is that a bad thing? If there is anything good in the (still ongoing) monopolization of the OS market it is exactly that. Being able to sit down in front of a device and recognize a familiar user interface and thus being able to pick up the operation of said device relatively quickly is something that is almost universally lauded.
One of the few ways one could complain about something like this is, if your usefulness relies on other people not being able to operate the device you are basing your livelihood on and that would be a pretty weak argument.

Having worked with machines that were so completely different that you basically had to start from scratch to do exactly the same thing has always been a pain in the arse.

I agree with you (but disagree a bit or more, in another sense).

I agree with you, that as a usable tool. Having, consistency, between different computers (PCs), is a very good thing. It means people can write software for these devices. People can get familiar, with the sorts of user interfaces, and hence they can be very productive and efficient.

EDIT: But on the other hand, Windows10 and some other stuff, don't seem to be good things as such. I wish there was decent completion on the Operating System front, so that us users, could buy a decent/useful/sensibly-priced PC operating system. There are Linux's/MACos/Android and stuff, so it is not that bad a situation.

But what I meant, was from a point of view of having fun with computers, enjoying and admiring all the flashing lights, and whirring tape drives, on older machines. They are almost a sort of artwork, very appreciated, by at least myself, and probably other people, perhaps with similar interests, especially.

Analogy:
If you want a powerful, modern, available, cheap, tiny, mosfet transistor, you can buy whole reels with thousands of surface mount ones, on a reel, ready to solder paste onto you own PCBs, with pick and place machines or by hand.

But if you want a large collection of Transistors and Valves/Tubes, going back to early last century, for your own collection (small, private museum). You want to obtain, a wide range of large (through hole), transistors/valves, produced in quantity over the years. They will come a wide variety of packages, and sizes.
Which you can then mess with, look at, and put on display, for your own amusement.

You could, instead, buy a x3000 reel of surface mount transistors, for perhaps £20/$30. Then put just that up, on display. But I argue, that reel, would be considerably less interesting.

tl;dr
It is NOT a bad thing, it is a good thing for most purposes, except for enjoying the immense variety, types and operations, of computers, over the years.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2018, 10:07:48 pm by MK14 »
 

Offline Richard Crowley

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #265 on: July 08, 2018, 10:21:26 pm »
What upsets me, about the modern day PCs. Is that they are all so similar to each other.
I could sit by my PC and do stuff on windows (not that I use it much, or at all, it varies), then fly to Australia and use someone else's. Which to all intents and purposes, the experience would be, almost exactly the same.
This is not very good, as I'd prefer there to be much more variety.
You mean like Linux?    :-DD
 
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Offline exit_failure

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #266 on: July 08, 2018, 10:24:41 pm »
tl;dr
It is NOT a bad thing, it is a good thing for most purposes, except for enjoying the immense variety, types and operations, of computers, over the years.

I'm sorry. I misunderstood you. Its just that I heard "every dumb idiot can use a computer nowadays" a lot when talking to other people about old computers.

But I agree with you. Seeing the inner workings of this old tech and recognizing the ingenuity that went into the solutions they found with the limited resources they had back then is fascinating.
My university has a computer museum and one of their most precious pieces is a fully working ZUSE Z23. I must watched them run it half a dozen times now and talked for hours to the people who rebuilt it.

https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=de&sl=de&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.iser.uni-erlangen.de%2Findex.php%3Fort_id%3D329%26tree%3D1%26inventarnummer%3DI1325



« Last Edit: July 08, 2018, 10:27:01 pm by exit_failure »
 
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Offline MK14

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #267 on: July 08, 2018, 10:37:27 pm »
You mean like Linux?    :-DD

To some extent, Linux does do things better than windows.
But to another extent, Linux does not really perform as easily/compatibly/usably as windows.

I use Linux a lot (I'm typing this message out, on a dual-boot Linux computer), and like it a lot. But it can be a real pain at times, and cause difficulties which are very difficult to resolve. Which windows tends to NOT do.
Many things such as programming, virtual machines and servers (web, NAS etc), seem to work out very nicely, on Linux.

But gaming, is best done on Windows (I much, much prefer win7 to win10. But latest hardware can force win10 on me and others, as win7 lost support for latest hardware, especially cpus).
Many applications either run best under windows, or even only work on windows, unfortunately.

I try and avoid windows10 like the plague. But can't always avoid it, for various reasons.

I'm sorry. I misunderstood you. Its just that I heard "every dumb idiot can use a computer nowadays" a lot when talking to other people about old computers.
No problem, and a very nice looking computer, you have posted there. I'm temped to go and see it, if I am ever near, there.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2018, 10:41:13 pm by MK14 »
 

Offline exit_failure

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #268 on: July 08, 2018, 11:49:06 pm »
No problem, and a very nice looking computer, you have posted there. I'm temped to go and see it, if I am ever near, there.

They showcase it every second Thursday. The dates for the next month or so can be found here:
http://www.iser.uni-erlangen.de/aktuelles/ISER-Fuehrungen.pdf
 
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Offline bsfeechannel

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #269 on: July 08, 2018, 11:50:26 pm »
To some extent, Linux does do things better than windows.

For instance, make Intel's hardware look less pathetic.
 
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Offline djos

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #270 on: July 09, 2018, 12:34:40 am »
To some extent, Linux does do things better than windows.

For instance, make Intel's hardware look less pathetic.

Dont you mean make windows look like a huge resource hog?

one thing I miss from the 80's was seeing what different systems were up to - it was exciting seeing what new systems from Amiga, Atari, Acorn, IBM & Apple could do! Heck I even got excited when Windows NT 4.0 was launched, my dad an I actually when to a convention centre to see the launch! I could care less about Windows 95 because I new it was just lipstick on a pig, but WinNT 4.0 was actually a big deal. Likewise OS/2 before it, I went to the OS/2 Warp 3.0 launch and was super impressed (I ran 2.x then 3.0 for a few years before switching to WinNT 4.0).


These days the landscape is pretty dull for the most part, There's Windows PC's, Apple Mac's and Linux. I run all 3 OS's in our house but Windows (server) and Linux (ubuntu) are both relegated to Server duties and the two Mac's are our daily drivers.

The only real fun stuff to be had in computing these days (imo), is with RasPi's and Arduino type devices.
The impossible often has a kind of integrity which the merely improbable lacks.

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Offline bsfeechannel

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #271 on: July 09, 2018, 01:57:41 am »
To some extent, Linux does do things better than windows.

For instance, make Intel's hardware look less pathetic.

Dont you mean make windows look like a huge resource hog?

I was being a little sarcastic. But yeah, you can look it that way.

Quote
I could care less about Windows 95 because I new it was just lipstick on a pig

Microsoft lost me with Windows 95. For those seriously working in the field that meant much more than a useless OS.
 

Offline djos

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #272 on: July 09, 2018, 02:14:42 am »
To some extent, Linux does do things better than windows.

For instance, make Intel's hardware look less pathetic.

Dont you mean make windows look like a huge resource hog?

I was being a little sarcastic. But yeah, you can look it that way.

Quote
I could care less about Windows 95 because I new it was just lipstick on a pig

Microsoft lost me with Windows 95. For those seriously working in the field that meant much more than a useless OS.


To true, I couldn't comprehend why many folk thought it was so great, it's so called plug and play was just garbage - Mac OS and OS/2 had real plug and play that actually worked and it's multi taking was not really better than apples crude cooperative system. OS/2 also had true pr-emptive multi taking.

I could go on  :-DD
The impossible often has a kind of integrity which the merely improbable lacks.

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Offline exit_failure

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #273 on: July 09, 2018, 02:28:17 am »
To some extent, Linux does do things better than windows.

For instance, make Intel's hardware look less pathetic.

Dont you mean make windows look like a huge resource hog?

I was being a little sarcastic. But yeah, you can look it that way.

Quote
I could care less about Windows 95 because I new it was just lipstick on a pig

Microsoft lost me with Windows 95. For those seriously working in the field that meant much more than a useless OS.


To true, I couldn't comprehend why many folk thought it was so great, it's so called plug and play was just garbage - Mac OS and OS/2 had real plug and play that actually worked and it's multi taking was not really better than apples crude cooperative system. OS/2 also had true pr-emptive multi taking.

I could go on  :-DD

 

Offline djos

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Re: What was the very first computer you owned or used ?
« Reply #274 on: July 09, 2018, 03:48:14 am »
 :-DD
The impossible often has a kind of integrity which the merely improbable lacks.

Visit my Tindie store for Tandy 1000 Adapters for EX, HX, SX, SL, TX & TL etc
 


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