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Old 10-26-2014, 04:16 PM   #21
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I set out to change that, and did.[/QUOTE]

These are the important parts of life!

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Old 10-26-2014, 04:29 PM   #22
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Apple II - C. I typed in code out of a magazine so I had a game to play. The listing had bugs, so I had to acually learn something! Saved my code on a cassette tape.

Was in the last quarter of students at U of F to use punch cards for the FORTRAN class.

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Old 10-26-2014, 04:31 PM   #23
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Started in the Air Force in 1967 with the Univac 1050-II. Transitioned to civilian life and a Banking NCR Century 200. Our unit got outsourced and I then worked on a Burroughs B-100. Finally I transitioned to voice and data communications until I retired in 2000. Quite a ride!
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Old 10-26-2014, 04:58 PM   #24
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I can partially attribute my successful ER to my earliest computer experiences. I was a junior in college in the late '70's when I bought one of the first consumer videogame systems, the Bally Astrocade:

One of the cartridges was "Bally BASIC" which could address the screen bitmap and tone generator, so you could program simple graphics games like Lunar Lander and Biorythms. You could save your BASIC program to an audio cassette. I got obsessed with this toy and BASIC programming, and meanwhile earned a BS in Microbiology.

Upon graduation my degree afforded me a miserable low-paying job in a blood products factory. Meanwhile my programming knowledge, science degree and mostly some nepotism permitted me to get my foot in the door at an aerospace company as a "Computer Programming Assistant II". Since I was now programming code for engineering applications, I learned our field of engineering (electro-optics) on the job and was able to progress to higher programming positions and finally to acquire a bona fide engineering position. And I enrolled in the voluntary contributory pension program...

Worked there for 31 years and at age 55 was eligible to retire from my Senior Principal Systems Engineer position. With a multimillion dollar lump-sum pension payout.

Thank You Bally!
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Old 10-26-2014, 05:08 PM   #25
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The first computer I owned was the Texas Instrument TI99, early 80's. It had 64k memory and used a TV as a monitor. I remember writing programs in Basic language for storm drain design, and it wasn't hard to exceed the 64k! Also, data was saved on cassette tapes!
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Old 10-26-2014, 05:16 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Bikerdude View Post
Started in the Air Force in 1967 with the Univac 1050-II.
Yep, used one of those too.
Records stored on an IAS Fastrand unit (think of three-foot lengths of sewer pipe covered in iron oxide) with 64 floating read/write heads that would routinely crash into them whenever the building got vibrations.

We used to boot them by flipping toggle switches on the operator console to make instruction words in octal.

Actually kind of hard to believe today!
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Old 10-26-2014, 06:12 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by BreathFree View Post

Trying not to geek out too much here but was it intentional to include the Enterprise and Star Wars in the same sentence?
Wow, yea, how did I do that!
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Old 10-26-2014, 06:31 PM   #28
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I'm a relative youngster. When I was in HS I recall my dad got a TI calculator and I recall getting one for college. The cost about $70 back then. You can get the same functionality today for $10 or less. In college, I remember taking the obligatory BASIC class and doing some simple programming using punch cards.

As a newly minted accountant, the firm I started with assigned me a calculator that had a carry case the size of a small suitcase. That calculator was about 8" wide, 10" tall and 12" long and weighed a lot. It could add and subtract and multiply by repeating adding but don't even think about division.

My first work computer was a TRS-80 with 9" disks that I shared with the rest of the office in 1980. I recall bringing it home for the weekend to design a database to track costs and using Visicalc on it. Later, we migrated to Wang PCs with RBase and MultiPlan. Lotus 1-2-3 came later and was a big upgrade from MultiPlan.

In 1984 I started grad school and bought an Apple Macintosh 512k for my school papers. The Mac and a printer cost about $2,500 as I recall and Mega helped finance it since they wanted employees to become more fluent with computers. I recall a Lotus product called Symphony that could integrate word processing, spreadsheets and graphs much like MS Office does today (in fact arguably better since it was a single application.

I was also very into the Newton when it was around. I was an early adopter back in those days, but am now the opposite... I'm quite happy with my Samsung Galaxy S2 which is a few generations behind the times.
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Old 10-26-2014, 06:33 PM   #29
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This is a loaded question for computer geeks like me.

Started with IBM 1130 in high school in the 70's. This was very unusual and very forward looking for a high school. It sealed my career choice. Yes, it had core memory (see above). The computer was fragile and the core cabinets on our computer were open because "it only worked that way, don't touch it." Great stuff to look at. It was all punched cards.

At the local library, they had a Commodor PET. Cool and unique machine. I brought my cassette tape to save my BASIC programs.

My history since then is huge. I won't go through it. But suffice it to say, today I still w*rk and I "create" hundreds of computers each day using a "Virtual Machine" process. It is nice. I create my computer (with 100s of Gigs of memory) and save it. If I don't like it, I throw it away. If I like it, I may clone it.

It is a different world.
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Old 10-26-2014, 06:57 PM   #30
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I remember BASIC, and dropping a stack of punched cards that I had failed to number. Everyone did the card drop - once. Those punched cards made nice Christmas wreaths, remember?

My favorite professor pointed to the one desktop computer the college owned and predicted that someday nearly everyone would own a personal computer and that it would change the world. I thought that was pretty outlandish. Why would that happen?

I hope he invested accordingly!!

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Old 10-26-2014, 07:16 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Act2 View Post
My favorite professor pointed to the one desktop computer the college owned and predicted that someday nearly everyone would own a personal computer and that it would change the world.
Yep. The USAF sent a team out to our 8 person office to install the first computer there and show us how to use the software. It was a Zenith Z-150 (8086-based machine) with a removable hard drive platter--10 MB. I figured we'd NEVER fill up 10 Megabytes. It came with a big daisywheel printer (for good-looking letters/fitness reports, etc) and a big high-speed dot matrix printer. Anyway, he told us someday we wouldn't have to share a computer, that they'd be on every desk. Crazy--why would we need that? And where would we fit them all in our office? We'd have to get rid of the ashtrays to make room. No way.
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Old 10-26-2014, 09:15 PM   #32
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I have an assortment of early computer memories, some of them similar to those mentioned here already.

First, as a high school student in the late 1970s, we dialed into BOCES' central computer system using actual rotary phones and models we would stick the handset into after we heard the "handshake" tone at the other eand. If someone accidentally touched the phone after it was plugged in, the transmission would get messed up. Our 2 terminals were continuous-feed paper coming from boxes beneath the terminal. We learned BASIC and I wrote a bunch of programs. This is when I began to enjoy programming and it would become a key part of my (former) career.

The school also bought a Commodore PET PC which was not connected to the BOCES system. It was small but still pretty cool to an impressionable HS student like myself.

In college, we had a computer center I went to so I could write my programs and print them out and run them. At least we were passed the punch-card era which wasn't that long before I got there in 1981.

A friend of mine, Bob, had a PC, an old ATARI system. He had to use a cassette player to load some programs. My favorite was a Star Trek game written in BASIC. It was slow to load and run but fun to play. Bob figured out how to make the game a little tougher by changing a few lines of BASIC code.

In 1983, I became a "computer counselor" at a day camp I worked at that summer. This consisted of hauling out from a nearby storage closet 4 large color TV monitors along with 4 keyboards and 4 cassette tape players to load some software. For the younger kids, we stuck some game cartridges in the back so they could play, sitting 3 kids at each workstation. For the older kids, I taught them some BASIC so they cold write a few simple programs. Not only did this look good on my resume, I used that experience when I taught SAS to coworkers in the later 1980s and into the 1990s.

Early in my working days starting in the mid-1980s, we had mainframe-only terminals and a few scattered PC-only terminals with one person having a terminal which could do both, useful if we needed to download or upload something from one to the other. The diskettes were those 5 1/4 floppies but it wasn't long until the smaller 3 1/2 diskettes came into being. Some of the PCs had both types of disk drives which was crucial for those of us who needed to copy files from the older, soon-to-be-obsolete floppies to the smaller, newer ones. Eventually, the newer PCs which came in had disk drives only for the 3 1/2 diskettes. I remember when the company bought some laser printers and how wonderful that was. But the old Lotus 1-2-3 (Version 2.1) software could not print landscape easily so we had to use something called "Allways" to print landscape. A later version of Lotus (for DOS) had something called WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) which enabled us to more easily print Landscape.

My parents got an old Commodore 64 some time in the 1980s, one you had to attach to a TV. It had a disk drive for a 5 1/4 floppy. I could program BASIC on it but do little else. They also bought a dot-matrix printer, an OKIDATA 180. I still have these items.

And those are my earliest computer memories.
Retired in late 2008 at age 45. Cashed in company stock, bought a lot of shares in a big bond fund and am living nicely off its dividends. IRA, SS, and a pension await me at age 60 and later. No kids, no debts.

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Old 10-26-2014, 09:27 PM   #33
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I always thought it would be a hoot to take my laptop, tablet and smartphone back in time to myself as a 21 year old graduate and show what we would have in 35+ years.

I seem to recall a saying that there is more computing power in my wristwatch (ok, I'm old-fashioned) that existed on the case of the earth on the day I was born in the mid 50s.
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Old 10-26-2014, 09:34 PM   #34
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To continue my first computer experience was a fortran class in the fall of 1968 where we used teletypes to a Ge computer at Ford, as well as a CDC 3600 (punched tape for the teletype, you punched your program in during the day and ran it at night, cards for the 3600). Then after working with computers in grad school, went to work where a CDC 7600 was located eventually to a Vax, then to administering a Convex and a number of Sun/IBM/SGI workstations. Eventually got my own PC, in 1993. One of the things that amazes me is this machine had 8 mb of memory, while the pc I have today has 1000 times more. On disk it had 500 mb and todays machine came with 1 tb and has now 7 tb of disk. (A good bit of that is backup space). So over the 46 years there has been a lot of change.
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Old 10-27-2014, 12:25 AM   #35
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I remember that my first sale was a 4K memory upgrade on an NCR system. Also sold core memory systems.
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Old 10-27-2014, 03:40 AM   #36
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TI-99/4A for me, so not that far back in reference to some here!
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Old 10-27-2014, 05:14 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
AN/FSQ-7, also known as the SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) computer, used at about half a dozen locations around North America to control air defense.

My first office was INSIDE one of them.
My first real experience with computers was the AN/GSA-51 BUIC, the back up for the SAGE system. Saw it at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, MS in 1975 where I became a computer repairman. Ended up staying there an extra year as my first assignment to keep the computers at the school running. The BUIC was relatively small compared to SAGE, only took up one room and I think it had 6 1K memory modules, each the size of a refrigerator.

Most impressive, there was a speaker connected to one of the flip flops which gave a very distinctive sound depending on what the system was doing at the time. You could listen to maintenance routines and immediately know if something failed.

My family thought it was neat that I learned to work on computers but they were really impressed when I brought home a cassette tape recorded from the BUIC after someone had written a program to play Christmas Music on the speakers.

From there, I went on to work on computers that had 16K of memory and were "only" the size of a microwave! This was a great experience as we learned not only how a computer worked but all the basic electronic skills that were needed to fix them down to the component level. Our basic electronic portion of training was nearly 3 months long I remember and it took a full year to finish school as a computer repairman. As I was leaving the Air Force, they were transitioning to a more task based training process where you didn't have as much of the basic background and had to rely more on maintenance routines.
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Old 10-27-2014, 06:12 AM   #38
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My first experience was coding Fortran in college circa 1972. Waiting overnight for the error list was a PITA. My next foray was a Timex Sinclair sometime around 1980. 2M of RAM IIRC, with programs stored on a cassette tape recorder, and display on a TV. It was fun. After that I ignored the damn things at home and used them strictly at work until late 1993 when I get interested in the Internet. Then I bought a PC and bought an online Unix shell account. Then pseudo SLIP, then installing a TCP/IP stack and the Cello Browser. By mid 94 I had built a family website on the Unix site and was hooked.
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Old 10-27-2014, 06:56 AM   #39
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I may have had my first computer experience on an Apple I but likely it was an Apple II. I was seven, it was 1977 and we were at a college professor's house (friend of my parents).

I guess the odds it was an Apple I are pretty slim.
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Old 10-27-2014, 08:10 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by ls99 View Post
My earliest is the DEC PDP-8 with a whopping 2 K of memory. Later upgraded to a huge 4 K. Was in an 8' tall rack. with winky blinky lights showing tha computing process. On a research ship. Punch tape for data and program input. Teletype for data output in addition to punch tape.
One of my first programming assignments in college was to write a program using PDP-8 assembly language, convert by hand to machine language, then input the program using the switches on the front of the machine. If I recall correctly, there was a set of switches for the memory address, and another set for the data. Set both of these then hit yet another switch to store the data at that address. One of my best learning experiences ever.

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