3 Reasons Why You Never Forget Your First Computer

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your first computerI think for geeks, that first computer is a little bit like a first love. You remember it longingly, even though it isn’t anything that would make you at all happy today. It has nothing that you need at this point in your life, but you still remember all of those feelings. Those emotions that felt so strong and so powerful back then.

Yes, for geeks, our first computer is just like that.

My first computer wasn’t just a computer. It was an act of charity. My brother had grown up with childhood rheumatoid arthritis nearly since birth, and it had taken a toll on our family financially. There were massive medical bills, travel expenses, and everything else that goes along with a family dealing with a very sick child.

Times were hard, and in those days and in such a small Northern Maine town, when times get hard for one family, all families pull together. The town threw one of the biggest, most extravagant dances that any small town could pull off in the early 1980’s. You had Dire Straits blasting on the sound system, high school kids necking in the corner, and even the old folks trying to dance to the twist once that obligatory Hank Ballard and the Midnighters classic started playing.

I remember leaving early – I was only about 7 or 8 years old after all – but on the way out, I noticed that the money jars were already jam packed with “donations” people had offered at the door, the raffle tickets had sold out, and the bake sale table was bare.

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A week later, nearly all of the proceeds of that fundraising event – put on solely for my brother – went toward a brand new computer intended to help him with at-home tutoring. It was a Franklin ACE 1000, a cutting edge computer with 64K of memory, and dual floppy drives that could run some of the most amazing games imaginable.

I knew, the moment that the computer guy rolled that big white box with a keyboard into the middle of our kitchen, flipped the switch and the first monochrome green text flashed across the screen, that I was in love.

The Greatest Adventure Ever

At the time, since I was so young, I really had no idea what an “Apple Compatible” computer was.  I had no idea that the processor was essentially a Commodore, and that it ran off the fledgling Apple operating system. I didn’t know anything about the current state of the desktop computer industry, or that the Apple Computer company would eventually sue Franklin Computers and force the company to stop manufacturing its computers.

All I knew was that I could come home from school, flip the switch, and immerse myself into another world. And that’s exactly what we did.

There were some weekends when we would all sit around the computer like it was a television screen. It’s laughable now – but it was quite serious business back then. We would insert the disk with the label pronouncing “Adventure” into the floppy drive, and then start up the computer.

your first computer

After the ultra-cool ascii-art intro, we would all read the block of text from where we last left off the game, and then stare at the blinking cursor, racking our brains to try and figure out the answer to the next puzzle.

"You are in a 20-foot depression floored with bare dirt. 
Set into the dirt is a strong steel grate mounted in concrete. 
A dry streambed leads into the depression."

Every puzzle we collectively solved would lead to a round of cheers and an excitement as we read the text describing the next room or the next path. Sometimes there would be glorious descriptions of places beyond our wildest imaginations. Other times, there would be frightful moments when we were afraid we’d send our virtual character on a path to certain death.

It was the first virtual adventure I’d ever embarked upon. And when the puzzles became too difficult for people to crack and the novelty of this newfangled device grew old, people stopped coming over to play the games. After a while, there were more and more opportunities to sit at the computer all by myself, working away at the mysteries and the stories that were hidden within.

It was just me and my computer. It was like the world had become more wondrous and more colorful overnight.

Learning To Write Programs

Of course, that wasn’t where it ended. Once you discover your true passion, it rarely simply ends where it starts. No, it metamorphosed as both my brother and I got older. We tired of the text games, and were constantly seeking out newer and more exciting things that we could do with this amazing machine.

We started pouring over computer magazines at the library. Back then, they weren’t quite as easy to find as they are today, but we somehow managed to get our hands on some. They almost always featured cool programs that you could type into the computer to make it do something cool.

computer history story

I can’t say that those programs made a whole lot of sense to me as my brother and I would methodically type them into the command prompt one line at a time. I seem to recall a lot of “PEEK” and “POKE” commands. Nothing in regards to programming would ever really make sense to me until Pascal programming class during sophomore year of high school, but at age 8 – understanding didn’t really matter. What mattered was that when my brother and I typed the “RUN” command – that something really cool happened.

If it didn’t work, then we would spend hours sifting through the strange code to try and find out where our typo was. Once we discovered the flaw, the program would run. Most of the time it would just be some funny graphics along with music. I remember once, it was “dance of the sugar plum fairies”, or some other silly thing.

It wasn’t really important what the program did, only that it worked and that my brother and I had accomplished it together.

Games With “Awesome” Graphics

There are few things about computers that I remember quite as clearly as those first few months when we got that first Franklin Computer. I remember the next decade as a procession of slightly better computers that would always play dramatically better computer games with always-improved graphics.

It was inevitable that my brother and I would launch a new game that we had saved up for and then bought from Radio Shack, only to sit there mesmerized by the introductory scenes of the game, repeating over and over to ourselves, “wow….check out the graphics!”

your first computer

Kids these days, playing games with perfectly skin-toned soldiers toting booming machine-guns in a virtual world that’s almost indistinguishable from a real battlefield (save for the actual death of course), will never appreciate the wonder of watching computer games evolve from the text-based wizardry of the 1980s to the pixelated graphical genius of the 90’s and beyond.

I will forever be grateful to Electronic Arts for Sentinel Worlds, Lord British for Ultima, and to Sierra Entertainment for King’s Quest.

Now it’s your turn. Tell us a few of your earliest computer memories. Do you remember the first computer game you ever played? What computer did you first fall in love with? Share your memories in the comments section below.

Image Credits: vintage computer via Shutterstock,Brother Reading via Shutterstock, King’s Quest via Wikipedia, Advent Game via Wikipedia

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139 Comments - Write a Comment

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Adam Campbell

I think I am going to cry… -sniffle- My first computer was actually the first generation iMac (read into that whatever you will as in either I am relatively young or I didn’t get a computer until late in life…) anyway. Mac OS 8 was the most amazing thing ever. That was some of the most fun I have ever had on a computer.

Ryan Dube

My first girlfriend had one of those first generation iMacs, so I think I can guess how old you are! :-)

I remember when all of my Mac buddies were going crazy over Mac OS 8!

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Carlo Vincente

My first one was a TS-1000 with 1K memory! Later a 48k Spectrum came and after that, a Commodore 128. My first PC was a 486. Great memories!

Ryan Dube

Wasn’t it amazing the games you could play off those floppy disks? And the scratchy sounds they made when they loaded into memory? Good times…

Tom Sobieski

I had one of tose Ts-1000s that I bought JUST so I could play Star Trek

Tim Schluter

Ditto. PEEK and POKE programming. Cassette tape storage, and king of the hill when I added memory to have a full 2K. Loved the Z80 processor, but then that was a few years before “640 KB is more memory than anyone will ever need”.
I programmed mine to play chess, a game I could actually win, from time-to-time.

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James West

The first game i ever played was the original Duke Nukem. I would play that game whenever I could. The new Duke just isn’t the same. I believe the computer was a Compaq with less than a gig of RAM and a Pentium 4 i think. Bought it in 99 and it’s still running strong last time I checked.

Ryan Dube

Nice – Good game! I’m pretty sure the first person shooter I played was Wolfenstein, but I sure do remember Duke Nukem too!

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Jerry

Timex Sinclair 1000
4K RAM w/expandable 16K Pack
Used a cassette player to save programs
circa 1981

Ryan Dube

Jerry, I do believe you have my story beat. Wow man, that’s old!

bbale habibu

Nice story but some Africans still use such technology when it come to games.

Urb Gim Tam

Me too! And a watchmen screwdriver – fine-tunning data input by ear.
Man, those were the days.

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Adrian

Oh the memories! My first baby was a Commodore 64 with 1541 Disk Drive. The first ever game I played was Timeworks’s “Dungeon of the Algebra Dragons”. Thing is games back then didn’t have the Graphics of today’s games. But boy were they fun to play!

Ryan Dube

Do you know how many people I know that say they absolutely fell in love with their Commodore 64? More than I can count. That was a true classic.

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ReadandShare

Sometimes, first love can be just a ‘meh’ experience.

The first computer I bought was a Sinclair Z81 that didn’t (couldn’t) do a whole lot. Maybe I am just not the sentimental type, but I feel no nostalgic glow about that computer or its cassette tape reader or thermal paper printer…

Tom Sobieski

Bought one of those in a candy store (of all places) just for the kids to play with

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Gary Mundy

ya :) It was some kind of IBM clone that my brother built for me while in tech school in the early 80’s. 8088 what a tank that thing was. “Didn’t need a hard drive” and came with an amber monitor. What a laugh. But I used that thing for 5 years, upgrading when I could afford it (and some times when I couldn’t). Good times.

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Hildy

The first computer I ever saw and used was an IBM 1401. No games – it wasn’t very interactive and it only understood punched cards – but you could play primitive tunes on the 1403 printer by feeding it the right characters. The first interactive computer I used was a GE mainframe which our school communicated with using a teletype. It had Adventure on it and I programmed a Star Trek vector based shooting game for it on a long roll of paper tape. Years later I got my own computer, a Commodore 128. Now a dumb phone has more smarts and my Galaxy Nexus could out perform Apollo Mission Control.

Ryan Dube

Yes – but Hildy, didn’t it feel awesome when you accomplished the Star Trek vector based shooting game? I bet that felt pretty cool. I know what you mean about the progress of technology – if I could have seen one of today’s smartphones when I was 8 years old I probably would have gone comatose from shock.

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Ramandeep

MUO persons are nostalgic and I like them for that.

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Horst

Started with Commodore 64 back in 1984. I still remember entering endless lines of code from computer magazines, from standard BASIC commands to incomprehendible rows of machine code numbers with checksums.

First PC was a 286 with a whopping 12 mHZ and 20 MB harddisk.
A friend of mine ordered a copy of the first Wing Commander game and used my home adress for shipping, because he was away at school. The day that game arrived I unplugged the phone, closed all shutters and never answered his knocks at the door, so I could be the first one to play (t)his awesome game…

Kiril Vasilev

Very cool. I am 25 years and don’t remember things like 20 MB HDD.

Muz RC

Haha that old school memories…

Ryan Dube

Kiril – you’re making me feel old! :-)

Giovanni Garinian

Hahaha.. I’m 27, but i’m sure they were awesome times back then. I also played the Atari 1600 with the PacMan game, and Galaxian, and other cool games.

Later on, I sold the console and about 30 game cartridges for less than five dollars.

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Merlin

My first computer was a TI-99 4A.
Together with my friend I rammed in the codes for some (text)games.
After that we tried ourselves at the sprites.
Since the ram was limited to 16k, and we didn’t know machine language, the games we created were rather small or had limited possibilities.
I wrote a human versus human game of checkers on it with moving sprites.
There wasn’t enough ram to program a computer oponent.
Later came the C=64, C=128 and eventualy the whole range of IBM compatibles starting with XT up to the current models. I still have that TI-99 4A and C=128 laying around in the attick.

Hmmmm, those were the days.

Still it’s good that things evolved.
Only it’s too bad that my kids look at the old style games with that smurky look thinking: What a bunch of clumsy programmers, how on earth could they be making games like that while a (my) computer can do so much better.
They do not realise that technology evolved starting simple and then grew into what computers are today.

Mental Floss

Wow, mine was a TI-99 4A as well and I _NEVER_ see that machine mentioned anywhere. It’s like it almost never existed. I even had the Voice expansion module so my machine spoke to me. It felt like HAL 9000 in my living room, except I could switch it off a lot more easily when I didn’t like its decisions.

Ryan Dube

Weren’t the computer memory limitations back then so annoying? Your human vs human game of checkers program sounds like it was a fun one to write. I agree, it’s very good that things have evolved. :-)

Guest

I was watching one of the Encore movie channels when an ad for the original Tron (1982) came on. The narrator for the ad said that the whole movie was produced with an entire room of computers — an entire room — that collectively, “had only ONE TENTH the processing power of a modern iPhone.”

As I remember, that movie was still pretty awesome. Sad, but visually awesome.

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druv vb

Nice article there. It brings back those memories from 1994. Thats when I got my first PC. A 486, “the Desktop”, running Windows 3.1. My dad bought it from Singapore at that time. It was awesome. In fact, ours was among the first 50 computers in the country. Running that File Manager, “Green Cabinet Icon”, searching for Cards game, Minesweeper or loading Soccer from floppy disk with those scratching sounds feels nostalgic… And mine had a KeyLock! A key that was used to actually start the PC. Without it the, pushing the Power button would do nothing. My dad would keep that key with him, and we had to wait till he got home before letting us use the computer.

Ryan Dube

Oh wow, Windows 3.1. Do you know how long it took me to cave in and finally adopt Windows 95? Loooong time. I loved all the tiles on my awesome Windows 3.1 desktop. :-)

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ha14

ZX Spectrum were good in their times, i liked the game loading voice coming through the tape, it was like Message From Space.

100 ZX Spectrum Games
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkL1jNvkqVU

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Alan Wade

I have had an array of Computers and gaming consoles over the years.
The one that started it off me was the Commodore Vic 20 with its 5 Kb of RAM and cassette deck to load the game cassettes.I soon got fed-up of all the games with pre-programmed high scores that were close to impossible to beat so I learnt how to hack the games and re-program the high scores list, from there it progressed into making small mods to the actuall games.
From then until now I have had (in no particular order) an

Atari, a Sinclair Spectrum, a Commodore 64, an Amstrad PCW 8512 and a 9512, BBC Micro Model B, 2 Olivetti,s, a Sharps MZ721 and a MZ800, a Hewel Packard, a Dell and have built 4 machines for personal use.

The Sharps and the BBC were what I learnt to write small programs on, nothing fancy just Games loaders and machine boot loaders etc.

Ahh the good ‘ol days…….

Ryan Dube

I enjoyed reading the litany of computers – I bet you could find some of those in a computer museum somewhere. :-)

What’s interesting from reading all of these comments is that you can pretty easily date someone by their first computer, can’t you? It would be funny if it didn’t make me feel so old.

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Terafall

The first computer in my house was my father’s computer for work.I still remember I used to sneak to his room to try the computer and at one time,almost delete an important file

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Nikhil Chandak

I luv the graphics of those games !
can’t forget it ..

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Karin

My first computer was a Commodore 64 and I did “love my 64″! My father bought it for Christmas and it didn’t have a monitor so we had to hook it up to the television in the living room (which my mother just loved – Not!). It didn’t even have floppy disks yet – it ran off of a tape cassette. It would take an hour to load a program and I remember how excited my dad and I were when we made our names zip across the screen horizontally after writing our first program! ;) Wow I feel old.

Ryan Dube

Oh yes! I remember hooking up the Franklin to the television too…I believe the actual monitor might have come later. The monochrome green text might have come up right on the old TV set…thanks for reminding me of that! :-)

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Pam Slifer

My first was a Commodore 64! It was like magic! I had a whole stack of magazines that I would sift through and find just the right program to type in. Boy did it take a long time to type some of those in! Before I got the Commodore 64 I had always wondered what made a computer do the things it could do. After I got the computer I was not completely happy until I wrote my first program. I will never forget the gratification of making that computer do what I wanted it to do!!! I felt so very smart and powerful!! I will never forget that computer. It was Love at First Type!!

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Vicky Gregory Moss

My first computer was an Apple II. I would play a mystery house game (don’t remember the name) and a game called Taipan. I have found Taipan that can run on windows, and still play it from time to time just to relive those days. Great article!

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Peter Bryenton

My dad took me to an office party in the late 1950s where a big stack of brown punched cards were fed into a computer tue size of a house. Lots of men in white coats applauded when it played “Jingle Bells”.

Ryan Dube

Ha – I love that story.

Tim Schluter

Ahhh, the day of punch cards. I also remember ASCII graphic pin-ups and playing songs on a line printer (at the FAA).

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Nasrin

Yes! I too remember the thrill of owning a Commodore 64 with a floppy drive, and hooked to an old-fashioned TV. And I was absolutely crazy about a game called ‘Championship Lode Runner’. Remember that anyone? Have looked for it time and again and can’t seem to find in a newer avatar. Ah well. Happy days…

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Mihovil Pletikos

oh my commodore 64 and 286 with hercules graphic card…..

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Camm

I got my first personal computer in 1978. It was a TRS-80 Model I with 1k of memory. You could load and save software via portable cassette player. I played some text adventure games on it. Two years later, I moved up to an Apple II+. One of the games I liked on it was Apple Panic. We could hook it up to the TV and would play it for hours. I purchased a 51/4 floppy for it for $485!

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Matheus Pratta

My first computer was one my family was gifted, back in 1996… It had a 100MHz processor, 32MB RAM and 1.2GB hard drive.
It was on it that I got my passion for computers… :)

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Glenn Hyde

Wow! Talk about bringing back memories! My first was a Commodore PET (Personal Electronic Transactor) back in 1979. Sequential access tape drive – what a pain – a massive 8K of RAM and all put together in a bundled package – pretty cool looking too!
I took it off my desk one day to clean the desktop (the real wood one – not the virtual one) and placed it on the floor next to the doorway. My two year old wandered by without diapers because he had some bad diaper rash that day – he leaned up against the door frame and casually peed into the keyboard. After that, I bought a 48K Apple clone with a floppy drive and then came an Amiga and then a 486DX33. It was at this point that the graphical internet came into being as before that we had to talk command line UNIX to get anywhere. Very cool, very cool!

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John

Copts and Robbers. Not the first, but a fun game. Dark Castle is another fun game. Before those, Zork.

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Pat Gillin

Apple first portable; an Osborne with CPM, hooked up to CompuServe; and a Wang. First spreadsheet set up on the Osborne by my 2 teenage boys circa 1982. The basic formulas have not changed.

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Kobi

What a great article! Can’t recall first game but first computer was an Apple Plus II e if I recall. Just all text games, and I found them thrilling! I am pretty sure that years later when in college and had my first laptop, they were just created…it was a Toshiba Satellite. 486 processor …grey scale….(blk & white) for which I soon got a big 14″ color monitor to attach! Sierra at the time was by far the absolute best for games! Im pretty sure I played everything they made! They had some fantastic adventure games! I remember while in college I stayed up an entire weekend playing and completing one of the adventure games. Leisure Suit Larry was fun and always good for a laugh!
Nice trip down memory lane! ;)

Ryan Dube

I agree – I was so hooked on Sierra games! King’s Quest, Hero’s Quest, Police Quest…. Stayed up all night playing those too. Played Leisure Suit Larry when I was a teen so you can imagine how much I loved those!

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SD

My first computer was an Amstrad 464 CPC. Watch for the C before PC = cassette…along with a green screen.
Those were the days….

Mike (sinewalker)

yes! i was hoping there would be another Arnold user in the list. First computer i met was a BBC model B – they had three or four at my Primary (grade) school and also a friend’s dad would bring one home occasionally (maths teacher at a high school). we played Donkey Kong on it when we weren’t programming graphics. The beeb didn’t have a flood fill but could fill triangles pretty quick.

first computer that our family owned though was an Amstrad CPC6128 with internal 3 inch diskette drive (yes 3, not 3.5). you can Google the spec and even get good emulators today that make the drive noise and everything. Still have it and the magazines. best computer manual ever written too.

i remember lusting after a friend’s Amiga 1200 around 1989. Should have upgraded to one of those instead of the 286 PC clone we got in 93 – that was such a let down after the CPC, even with the 40 MB hgard drive. a whole megabyte of RAM, but DOS only used 534k of it!

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Shmuel Shimshoni

Before I bought my first computer i checked around and asked a few experts at work what i should look for in order to get MAXIMUM enjoyment from my investment.
Well after I put together all the advice I ordered a computer with two floppy disk drives that took 4.5 inch floppy disks; got it to start with DOS 2.; made sure to have a word processor that would write in English and Hebrew, so that was Einstein. Letterix gave me the choice of several fonts.
But best of all I was advised to make sure to get a 20 mega hard disk that would give me maximum storage space for a long time. of course the first printer that I got to go with my first computer was a Canon Swift Printer.
It was not long after my acquisition that I felt i should have gotten a T floppy drive but that would have meant changing the motherboard and processor, making too expensive at the time.
I still remember the great joy I experienced when i was able to write fancy letters and embellish them with clip-art pictures.

Ryan Dube

Isn’t it amazing that we still remember all of those details even after all these years?

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John O’Mara

My first computer had an 8088 chip, 2 x 360 KB (5.25 inch) floppy drives, CGA monitor, IBM DOS, and a eventually a 5MB hard drive.
When the HD came and was inserted in the machine I thought I was the luckiest PC user in Melbourne.
Including a word processor and spreadsheet total cost was ~ $10,000 Australian (I don’t know how many dollars that relates to today, but it would be a great deal of money)
Eventually it was a lot cheaper to buy new gear than just update things

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69588f5c7a8de428b109b0de88fe4ce4

My first computer was a Radio Shack TRS-80 Model III. It was monitor, keyboard, and processor all in one unit. It came with Basic and we added Fortran. It had word processing software, Scripsit, and an electronic spreadsheet, VisiCalc. Boy, was I uptown. It sure beat the IBM Selectric typewriter with memory!

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John

First computer, Atari 800. First PC, 386DX (maybe an SX, but I can’t quite remember). It was the bomb at the time. Doom was on 4 HD floppies too!!

Ryan Dube

Yeah – I think at one point they had a King’s Quest game in the series that took something like 6 floppies to run!

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BoloMKXXVIII

My first computer was a 286 wit 1 MB of RAM, EGA (monochrome) graphics and a whopping 20 MB hard drive. I sold it for exactly the same amount I paid for it after using it for a couple of years. The next machine was a 386 with 8 MB of RAM and 80 MB hard drive and color VGA graphics! No sound, no CD-ROM drive and a 33 k modem. Now my phone can run rings around those old boxes.

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Cheryl Kissell

My 1st computer was at work in 1976…don’t recall what it was though. My 1st personal computer was a commodore 64…never played games on it though…was too busy on IRC chats online :-)

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vjack3230

The first computer I worked on was a Bendix G15. It used a drum memory (spinning magnetic drum) and used paper tape as input which you created on a Friden Flexowriter. The output would be on paper tape also. I think the clock speed was about 1Khz. No fancy gadgets like a printer or anything. see: http://www.computermuseum.li/Testpage/Bendix-G15-1950s.htm

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Debra Beshears

Your article brought back so many memories. My first computer had Windows 3.1. We have come a long way since then. My sons and I had many hours of pleasure on that first computer.

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Jim Spencer

This article brings back memories for sure, my first computer was a Commodore 64, which whetted my appetite. The first one I built was an Am486 DX4-100, AMD based 100Mhz mid-tower, and I thought I had arrived. The memory was exorbitantly priced, the hard drive was a whopping 640MB, and the video card was a whole 1MB Trident. Since it was all I could afford, I made it work, and from there I have built too many to remember now. But yes, you do tend to remember that very first computer build.

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Lynda Sanders

I am old, so my first computer was a Timex, then Commodore-64. I loved that computer and could do everything on it. Even learned how to turn floppies over and punch a hole so you could use both sides. I was in heaven when I got a 100mb Zip drive. Today need a 3 terabyte backup drive.

Ryan Dube

Oh yes, I remember that trick about punching holes on both sides of the floppies – totally forgot all about that…

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Chris Theodore

As a lab tech in the mid 60’s – my first computer was a PET – we used it to do Quality Control on. Once I learned it, I moved to Apple – got very involved in programming and never really did do any gaeming on it – Database got me hooked – then moved to and early IBM and the rest is history – wound up working for Oracle as a Database Designer and Developer. Still not to keen on ‘gaming’.

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Mark Sofman

My first work computer was an IBM PC-AT with a 40MB hard drive, 5″ floppie drive and and Epson dot matrix printer with a tractor drive. The whole deal cost the company north of 8 grand. My first home computer was a IBM PC with two 5″ floppy drives, it was surplus and it cost me $150 to buy it from the company. About 6 months later I acquired a Dell portable (actually more like luggable and suitable as a laptop for maybe somebody the size of Shaq) for $200 from surplus at the company. User ergonomics were terrible, so after connecting the prior monitor and keyboard it made for a passable user experience.

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Mac Witty

Mac Plus and flying toast as screen saver!
Later the screen saver had the floating messages “When I grow up I’ll be a SE30″
Spent hours on Snood – the new one on Mac App store look ugly and not as sweet as it was in the past

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Steve

TRS-80 with cassette storage. Basic used to drive me nuts. First serious game? I was all about the original Zork. I must have lost months of my life to that game.

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Shmuel Mendelsohn

My very first love was an Apple IIe with two 5 1/4″ floppy drives – I programmed “graphics” on it in BASIC; I even taugh kids to do it in a “computer camp.” I guess that remembering your first computer is all a part of the geek experience.

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Hector Santana

My first computer was and still is a Radio Shack 4k Color Computer, later upgraded to a whooping 32K of memory. I said still is because it sits in my garage, along with the rest of my once amazing machines, Commodore 64’s, Apples, Ataris,Pc’s etc.
Somehow I can’t seem to part with these things that brought me so much joy and countless sleepless nights, so every now and then, I remove one of them from the storage box, fire it up and loose myself in it, and it feels so good. I hope someone in the future finds them and marvels at how far we have come in such a short time.

Ryan Dube

Says a lot about how well you take care of your stuff if all of that old stuff still works and you can enjoy it again even after all these years. That’s fantastic!

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Shmuel Mendelsohn

There was a button on the front of the old 286’s that switched it between 32 and 64 mHz – but the first time I opened one I saw that all it did was change the number; they were all really 32.

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Storm

My first pc was a 386 but I used to play the super cool games that Commodore 64’s tapes offered at my cousin’s home (my parents thought that playing games was NOT a good reason to buy an electronic device). I still remember when at the library a guy explained me how to use internet (and how amazingly fast the 56 K modem used by the library was!!), and why it was so cool to use it… the MULTI USER DUNGEONS!!!
I still remember the awe of Civilization (I still have the pirated floppy) and the extra cool (but ineffective) anti piracy system it used.
Eternities to download a pic, eternities to download an email, viruses that destroyed your data but couldn’t take your money, gazillions of floppies everywhere, but how cool it all was!

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Tim S.

First game was “Bouncing Babies” on a Tandy 1000 (from Radio Shack) back in the early 80s. Quickly found Wizardry. Then spent like 2 years playing Gettysburg. Then when my buddy got a computer, we would stay up late at night with the old 1200 baud handset modem playing Modem Wars all night long. That was such a blast! You actually had to make the things work. You didn’t just open the box and stick in the cartridge. A lot of the time we had to “build” the solution to what we wanted. …And when Prodigy! came out, we were one of the first to be ONLINE!!! Awesome times!

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Anonymous

Wow! After reading the comments, wonder if I should even attempt. So many earlier that me.

My first two computers were a Trash 80 (TRS 80), and then a Commodore 64. Hooked up to a regular TV and then start creating sounds. I play a piano, so I stated making it play simple tunes. Real simple. The cassette tape to hold what we created. Used to go up to my brothers, a doctor, and he would show me how to write code to create programs that he used in his medical clinic.

Things went about like that until 1992 when I got my first real PC. It was a Zeos 486DX II, and I still have that, and the PC Magazine that came out that stated on the cover that it was so fast it would leave skid marks on your desk. That thing had a 240MB hard drive. Man I didn’t think I would ever be able to fill that up! No sound card, no CD drive. Had the 5 1/4 floppy and the newer 3 1/2 floppy. It ran DOS 6 and Win 3. I didn’t even go into Windows for quite awhile. I was used to DOS, so that’s where I stayed. That has helped me to this day. By learning all the different DOS commands, I can fix computers the old fashioned way. Then one day I typed WIN, just to see what all the fuss was about. Didn’t rally impress me too much, but as I kept reading I knew that’s where it was heading, so I typed WIN again, and didn’t look back. :-)

Remember going onto the Net and using the different protocols. Veronica, Archie, Gopher. Then saw the HTML and that didn’t turn me on at first. Still too used to typing all the commands and such.

But did things ever change. Once in awhile I will still fire up that old Zeos. Haven’t fired up the Commodore 64 in a long, long time though.

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TheoAZ

All I can say is xxzzy!!!!

Ryan Dube

haha – that is pretty much my entire college experience summed up in one word.

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Giovanni Garinian

Wow! Awesome and very interesting story!!

Well, I’m not as old as you, and I’m not a techy geek (don’t know why people let me abandon the idea) but i have some blurry memories.

I remember (maybe at age of six by 1990 o 1991 maybe) that was standing in my house a very cool computer I guess, really don’t know (it’s was for my parent’s work), but it had this yellow colored text with black screen as background. It was awesome because i remember myself typing my full name every time I got a chance to sit in front of the keyboard.

Then we got broke later and my parents divorced and don’t know what really happened with that machine. Then the time and the years passed down and remember the era of the NES and the SuperNES where a rich friend had maybe a Windows 3.1 or Windows 95 machine and that funny game called “Jezball”.

My first computer came at last at 1998, not for me only, but for my family, for making homework. They ask us if we prefer (my brother and I) a PSX or a computer and of course, i chose the computer because we would make our homeworks in it, and still play games. It was an Unbranded 64MB RAM, 450MHZ Pentium III Processor and 6GB HDD, too good for that time here in MĂ©xico, for a while. By then i was a year before High School and had a class called “Informatic Wordshop” or something like that, where we learn the basics with programs like PW (Professional Writer) and Works Spreadsheet (for MS-DOS).

So I came the tech-savvy in my house and it was my job to teach everybody in my family how to do common tasks in the machine. Also it was my job to deal with viruses, -reinstalling windows, etc. Ah, we start with a weird OS, something like Windows 98 Plus which had a game very funny called Marble Plus or something like that.

I learned something trying to steal games from the computers of my school, games like CaveMan (awesome), Doom, Carmen Sandiego, Tanks, Gorilla Banana (or something like that), Mario Teaches Typing, and don’t remember the others.

At some point everything started to became obsolete when at Y2K i manage to obtain a cracked copy of Age of Empires I. I played that game for countless hours. You know then it comes Age of Empires II, III, Starcraft… then a time of darkness, until World of Warcraft became very popular and know it’s dumb that we are getting a lot of fun with a game so dead simple and additive like Minecraft. Well it’s not so simple when you try to run a server for multiplayer and lookout for plugins, textures, etc. It’s like a LEGO in steroids!!

Well, I’m now quite far from the original topic. Love your post.

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William Smaling

Vic 20 was my first baby and with the help of the days computer enthusiast mags like COMPUTE! and Family Computing, which always featured program listings to type in. Made the diminutive Commodore computer into something that a youngster such as myself could afford to fill with useful programs and fun games! Wish I still had all my old rigs from day one. Sometimes I think about how far computers have come since I first powered on that little Vic 20 but truthfully, nowadays, everything is much tooo easy to get done. There is almost zero challenge to getting things done, even computer upgrading and maintenance is child’s play these days. After reading this I think I’m going to see if my Apple 2c is ready to wake up from it’s 25 year nap. Now if the floppies still spin and get read, then I’ll be in heaven.

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automan 1

Oh man, my first computer I worked at was an IBM keyboard outside or the main Atlanta computer for businesses at Ga. State University in downtown. Basic language courses required and slow as can be possible and still be a computer.
My first computer I worked on was a Pentium 75 that I had to learn to fix because my wife worked at home and I couldn’t afford to call a tech for an 80 mile call to come out and fix the computer, as they say about necessity. I learned by going on tech forums and early web sites. Used Windows 3.1 then and boy what a mess at times.
Gave that dinosaur to a nephew when I did my first AMD based full build for my wife and I. Still have both those babies but rarely used them for anything but back-ups.
Biggest deal today is staying up with the rapid changes in technology and programming. Would like to learn more about linux programming just for fun.

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Igor Rizvi?

My trusti old intel celeron 1.8 with ATI Radeon 9550…good old time :(

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CrimsonCrow

My first computer was an Amiga 500. And I spent hours, up late, playing The Faery Tale Adventure. It was the only game I got totally into and actually completed all levels. I have never been pulled into a computer game since, though I have tried several of the “best” games. Never got my attention like that first one. My “fun” on the computer is learning new software of making digital art. I loved that the machine was an Amiga, not Amigo. It felt wonderful, being a woman, to use a “female” machine. And I had a “machine” crush on her. My next computer was a Power Computing machine. Then Apple all the way. I am writing this on my MacBook Pro (SnowLeopard).

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Anonymous

My first was as a college freshman working part-time at an engineering consultancy. The president purchased a DEC pdp-11 (second-hand) and I soon became the system admin/programmer. It shared 124k with 8 users, and had a pair of whopping 10Mb removable hard drives (15″)! When DEC donated a pair of new VAX computers to the University for student use, I soon realized that the VMS operating system was almost identical to the RSX os I was used to, so I quickly became a ‘lab God’. Changed majors & never looked back. Rode the pdp hard, until the company purchased Sun servers & workstations. Ironically, Unix (and C) was invented on the pdp!

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Simon Reidy

My first computer was the magical Commodore Amiga 500. A few of my friends had Commodore 64’s, and my family couldn’t afford a computer at the time. However I was lucky enough to win a brand new Amiga with monitor two joysticks and 10 games. To say I was ecstatic is an understatement! After being used to the 8-bit graphics of my friend’s C64, the 16 bit graphics and 4 channel stereo sound was mind blowing. I still remember the first time I put a disc in and marveled at the graphics of the latest Batman game.

I got years of enjoyment out of that computer (Sierra and Lucasarts’ adventure games being among my best gaming memories) and became a big fan of Commodore in the process. It was only at the time of their financial demise that I reluctantly switched to a 486 PC. Have been a PC\Windows man ever since :)

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Anonymous

Bought my first PC used from my older brother. It was a 486DX-33 with Windows 3.1. It had a whopping 16 MB of RAM and, if memory serves, a 240 MB hard drive. No 5.25″ drive, though, I was styling with two 3.5″ drives AND a CD-ROM! A co-worker buddy in school for his A.A.S. in programming tried to teach me how to use my new toy. Unfortunately, every single time he touched the keyboard, it seemed that half the contents of my hard drive would simply disappear. His ineptitude had me so afraid of destroying my computer, it was over a year before I figured it out on my own. My first Internet experience was via AOL (prior to unlimited usage). I paid something like $9.95 a month for 20 hours. Thought that WAS the Internet! My first game was “Doom.” At 2 in the morning out in the impenetrable woods of rural Alabama that game could scare the living crap out of me! Long before surround sound systems for PCs, I could hear things sneaking up behind me ready to rip me a new one. Man, those were the days…..

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Sirjhswin

My First computer was 486 DX-2 66Mhz(maybe..?) with 8MB memory. I still remember MS-DOS 6.0 and 6.22, rhythmical floppy sound, Windows 3.1, and really fun and impressive games.

I will never forget these warm, sentimental, touching, nostalgic feelings and memories.
Really Good Old Times!

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Anonymous

Used to run Ye Olde IBM 360/30’s and 40’s at a security site in Frankfurt, Germany. That was about 1971-’73. Back home in 1981 I finally got an Atari 800 and became a big fan of the Atari line back then… A whopping 48k RAM, added to this I had an Atari 810 cassette drive, and after what seemed ALONG time an Atari 1050 diskette drive ! Figured I was flying then….. When a friend got me interested in BBS, the first modem I had ran at a blistering 300 Bps. (You could watch each letter form across the 80 column screen…. lol… But it was great unless you ran up an enormous phone bill… ANYWAY…. (sorry ’bout all that..) I believe the first game I played on that machine was called “Moonbase IO”, and shortly sometime in there the company INFOCOM, started pumping out many Great text based adventures, like the Zork series, Deadline, Witness, etc. etc. Yep ’twas alot of fun and I still have ‘em…in storage though…..

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Tony Cerda

What a neat story! Thanks for sharing!

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Anonymous

Hi from Croatia, my memories are back from 1981, when my “PTT company bought firs “on line” computer (replacing punched card IBMs…) , legendary VAX780…As young programmer on very rare applied language on VAX machines, which was PL/I, I had a chance to met, for a first time with something called “computer games”. Our vendor, “gave us” opportunity to play legendary game: “Space Inviders”, which run smoothly and extremely fast on VAX…. Fascinating game-experience, for hours and hours after working time….

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dragonmouth

My first home computer was a Apple II+ with one 5.25in drive, 48k of memory and a green on black Zenith monochrome monitor. Never played games on it, not a game player. I remember when Apple came out with a hard drive, a Winchester, for the II series. The thing was the size of a VCR, weighed a ton and had a whopping 5 Mb of storage. Man, what I could do with all that space! Alas, never got one. The price tag on that HD was a little bit less than that of a new car.

The first computer I ever worked on was an RCA Spectra 45 mainframe. It was upgraded from 65k of memory to 131k just before I was hired. It had 5 clothes washer-sized disk drives with 29 Mb removable disk packs and 8 refrigerator-sized tape drives. When we did a disk sort, the drives, if they weren’t tied down, would “walk” across the floor they shook so much. Every once in a while we would have to sort our master database. It took six tape drives and 4-5 hours to do the job. Needless to say we played a lot of Pinochle that day. Now my cheap runner’s watch has way more memory than that mainframe.

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Robin Monroe

My first computing experience was on an IBM system 34 in 1982, I learned to program in BASIC. I thought, well that’s interesting. In 1988 I returned to college and the jc had a new computer lab so I took classes in dbase, Lotus 1,2,3, and WordPerfect. I fell in love. The computers in the lab at school had dual floppy drives and the professors were so proud! I ordered a custom built Swan 286 from Swan Technologies in College Park PA. It had 512K ram, and a 25MG Hard drive – my instructors were in awe. They could not image that anyone could possibly ever use that much hard drive! It had a 900 baud modem and I was one of the first 5000 people on Netcom. That computer set me back a cool $3K; but it changed my life forever. BTW- for anyone who wants to complain about cell phone bills… back then the internet cost $3/hr and it wasn’t hard to rack up very large bills just for the novelty of IRC chatting with a few people from other places.

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Anne Ollamha

TS 2000, it had 2k ram, used a tape recorder for a drive, and a B/W 10″ tv for a monitor – sigh

When it died, I got a Commodore 64, fancy Commodore tape recorder for a drive, and the same old B/W tv for a monitor. I was happening!

I also remember fondly playing Colossal Caverns at work on the mainframe (Honeywell) with the rest of the programmers, with sheets of grid paper to plot our maps. When the company upgraded to a Hewlett-Packard with a 5 meg hard drive (a 2x2x3 ft cube in the air-conditioned computer room), we were as excited and giddy as kids…

Anonymous

I remember the cassette-tape storage; we had one for the Apple II our boss brought in to the office. Not very reliable–sometimes it was easier to re-type the basic code (we were running math algorithms) from scratch after a re-boot than try to load from tape!

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Kaycee Byron

Clone 286
512K RAM soldered to the mb
51/4 floppy
20 meg hard drive
ega graphics
14″ monitor
$2500
Not really that nostalgic

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Joan Mershon

I was around computers long before I was able to have one of my own.

I remember going to a friend’s job where he worked the graveyard shift. He had a special phone number and a couple of electronic gizmos and would call into a mainframe system. Once in, we could play Adventure or Star Wars all night….of course that was when 300bd was screaming fast, so it would actually take all night!

Another friend about the same time had built his own computer – at least that is what he claimed it was. To me it looked like a small metal box with toggle switches & tiny lights. He was able to make it do things, including running a BBS…but I did not understand most of it. I did not actually learn what a bulletin board was until years later.

When I eventually got my own computer it was a Apple IIgs – not be cause of the stats, but because I needed it to be compatible with he IIe they had at school.

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Greg

Judging by the responses, i arrived late to the pc party. I bought my first pc back in late ’93, a desktop with a 486DX33 AMD processor. I fell in love with this style of pc when i first saw it about a year before. It was all black and looked so cool (desktops up to that point were the off-white egg color boxes. I bought it from Crutchfield (the same people who had the car stereo systems and now sell practically all home and geek electronics). It came without a modem and had Windows For Workgroups 3.11 on floppy disks.and a nice 3 speaker subwoofer system. I paid about a grand for it . Being a tech person already, I bought a 14.4 modem and was constantly on the “pirate” BBS systems of the day, along with Compuserve and my fave at the time, Prodigy and the early AOL. Brings back some great memories (and frustrations with all those IRQ conflicts and the OS reinstalls i had to do). I built my first desktop back in ’96, and build 2 new ones for myself every 4 years or so. Geeks forever,Unite!! .

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Francois

Ahh, my first computer! Great article and all very very true. My very first computer was the Commodore Colt (IBM compatible) 8088 processor with 2 – 5 1/4 ” drives and 640K of RAM. No hard drive, but that did not stop me from playing the very first SimCity with CGA graphics! Awesome.

My best friend and later roommate used to play this game to all hours of the night. I spent many hours playing Wasteland from EA and Starflight all on that Commodore Colt. Later when Modems became affordable, I was able to connect to local BBS’s at 2400bps and “chat” for long hours and download files.

Those were the days.

Thanks for bringing back the memories!

Dhasi

Wow!
I tottally have no idea what you folks are talking about. Commodores and stuff.
There was actullay a windows 3.1? First computer I ever used run on windows 98, I was 9. First computer game; mine sweeper.
Am I really that young?

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ReĂ˝ Aetar

where is the like/+1 button that was a great article lliked it :D

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Rajaa Chowdhury

Hailing from Kolkata, India, where personal computer penetration was negligible with the masses during those days, I was really looked up to by the near and dear ones and was treated like an alien. After my graduation, I signed up for a Post Graduate diploma in computer application, and it was a part-time one and half year courses. Computer was not mainstream at that time and no regular courses was present with the school, colleges and universities and as almost the early generation embracing the new field of personal computing, premier private institutes were the only option and likewise I joined NIIT Limited. I remember we had 3 days a week, 2 hour classes and two were theory and one was the practical class which we really looked forward to and used to jostle for our favorite computer at the laboratory. I also remember, two guys used to share a computer each. The year was early 1990. Uncannily, those computers used to look exactly the same like the one in the picture in the article. They were IBM compatible PC (HCL brand, an Indian company), with no HDD, Monochrome monitor, 5.25″ dual floppy drive, 256kb RAM, no HDD and Intel 8088. From one floppy, we used to load MS-DOS and in the other floppy, used to find the joy of structured programming with COBOL compiler or the first famous personal DBMS the dBaseIII. Also the Monochrome display used to have black background, with white or green or orange text. I used to particularly like the orange display. Later that year, HCL replaced those PCs with the 80286 systems and I remember they had a 40MB HDD. We were flabbergasted on how and where to utilise such monstrous space. Hahaha. Those were the days. That charm doesn’t exist anymore.

Nuke

Haha, That’s cool to know. I would agree with the last line. Every person have computers these days. I am not that old or something, was born in 90s. My Dad had computer in 95. I still remember MS-DOS & Wordstar & things he worked on. The i386 processor or something like that. Those were classic days, though I was too small. I got my first experience when I was like 9, I think. Windows 98, Still those days had charm, People wanted to learn, Things were revolutionary. Now is a different matter, I don’t know for good or bad but yeah, the charm is gone.

Rajaa Chowdhury

:) How could I miss out on Wordstar, that famous word processor. Started with Wordstar 4 and progressed to Wordstar 5. The nearest competitor to it was Wordperfect on the MS Dos platform, which was way ahead of its time supporting Postscript and was meant for advanced formatting capabilities and people with Laser Printers supporting Postscript. Then with the advent of Windows 3.0 and the windows platform becoming popular (I did even see a Windows 2.X which looked more like a DOSShell) and arrival of MSWORD 1.0 for Windows, the death knell was sung for the beloved Wordstar. However, Wordperfect made a successful transition to the new Windows platform and this was the period when it peaked in popularity. Wordstar did later release a half-baked windows version, but it never was the same, never looked it’s part on the new platform and totally out of depth. The beloved word processor fizzled out. In the mean time, Wordperfect for windows become very popular word processor and spreadsheet was ruled by Lotus 1-2-3. So, then the brilliance of Microsoft strategy came forth and they combined all their individual offering then to come up with a suite now the famous MS Office and practically killed the competition with the offering and taking the wind out of the then competitor Lotus who later came along with the SmartSuite but could never catch up. Hence the Microsoft juggernaut started rolling.

Guest

WordStar was also the favorite word processor of the late, great author and political commentator William F. Buckley. You’re in good company.

Rajaa Chowdhury

BTW all this on the follow up comment should be during 1992-1993 as I recollect. Though wordstar 4 and lotus 1-2-3 I was using since my NIIT days during 1990-1991. :)

Rajaa Chowdhury

Read John Sculley’s Pepsi to Apple, you will like it. Talks of early Apple and Microsoft days.

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Márcio Guerra

Don’t understand… It says to me to log in, and I cannot do it, no matter the account I use to connect, Fb, Twitter, Plus, MSN, Y!… Lets see when posting if it gives me mistakes…

Anyway, my first pc was a Timex 2068, the one with cartdriges, then a desktop pc, but without a HDD (everthing went with floppy disks), then a proper pc, Pentium 166MHz, 2GB of HDD, 16 RAM (which I’ve upgraded later to 96MB, is not mistaken), a laptop, 1,6GHz, 20GB HDD, 256MB (upgraded later to 512 or 1GB), another laptop, Dual Core (Acer Aspire with Santa Rosa processor) 2GB or RAM, upgraded to 4, but only reading 3, if not mistaken, with Vista, and some phones and smartphones more or less at the same rate since Nokia 5110 in 1998.

Well, now I am expecting life to be a little better to upgrade, but I do not want Windows 8. It reminds me back in 95, when looking for a computer, and I, coming from MS-DOS, not wanting Windows 95 and asking vendors about that… Ehehehe!

Time…

Cheers!

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Tom Sobieski

Just the sense of awe that first computer game inspired

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Christine Satchell

I still remember my 386DX. It rocked a whopping 4mg of RAM. It later led me astray loosing years of my life to an early version of Sid Mier’s Civilization. Looking back, i probably should have upgraded it to the revered Pentium before playing Civ because it crashed every 20 minutes and took about another 20 to reboot. Good times!

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Maxwell Lockett

I remember the first pc game I ever played… MINECRAFT!

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Maxwell Lockett

My first PC was a Emachines PC with 512 MB of RAM and a slow single core 500mhz processor. It ran Windows XP Media center edition… Now I have a quad core Samsung laptop running Linux Ubuntu. It is fast as heck. The only thing I don’t like about it is the Windows program incompatibility. Thank goodness for WINE.

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Gorby

Hi guys! Great times! But you were really lucky at that time: almost all of you are talking about something “64” or “48” or – in the worst case “16”, which means usually the amount of RAM in Kilobytes…
In my case, my 1st love was a SHARP PC-1251 with 4 KB and a bizarre half a Megahertz fast C-MOS processor. Speed was an issue; the CMOS-processor consumed quite a lot when running on its full speed. Reason, why the operating system contained lots of NOPs (No-Operations, resp. waiting for nothing). However, in maths we were allowed to use a calculator and almost everyone took our teacher’s recommendation: a Texas Instruments 57 (which turned to be a mess a couple of months later because of its poor keyboard). Also in my case, money was scarce. My mother was ready to pay for a crappy TI-57, but I knew that I had to catch the computer-train, that was really steep accelerating during 82-84. So it got crucial in my life to get one of those “Computer-kids” by being able to program a Homecomputer. Finally I found the SHARP PC-1251, which fulfilled both requirements: a calculator and a computer in the same time. When me and a colleague stepped into the classroom with our brand new 1251, we seemed to be Ghostbusters with a bioblaster in hand. The 60 year-old teacher (a dinosaur of that time) didn’t know how to handle that situation. Was it really a calculator, or was it a computer? And after a 20 days’ negotiation we finally got the green light – because we managed to convince him, that there was NO artificial intelligence built in… But the 1251 was even though astonishing, somehow lightyears ahead in all aspects. It was indeed a computer! And what a computer! E. g. it came with a complete operating system, which included also a series of extremely useful undocumented commands like SETKEY, SETCOMMAND and SETBAUD, SEND and RECEIVE. Last one indicated it’s capability to communicate with the world through an RS232 (remembering those famous hackers plugging in their acoustic-coupler to a public phone like Axel F…). And in fact, saving happened by using a triggered analog I/O-interface, on which was built-in a piezo-laudspeaker. It signalised a well performing datatransmission with a nice little whistle. Yes! you could verify, how good data was saved and received. Simply by listening. Finally the acoustic-coupler and its battery was much bigger than the 1251 and hacking from public phones was more a joungleurs act, than other. Obviously all Interfaces were so expensive, that we started an own production: a couple of wires, a condenser and all glued into a plug. That was it. Finally we had the brilliant idea to hang an IR-diode on the RS232 (well, it worked, because CMOS allowed 20 mA and the 4 GPIO’s were triggered!). A TTL-system like a Z80 or the C64’s Rockwell 6502 would have gone to Valhalla pretty soon. The aim was to bribe during exams by exchanging the answers, but the 1st application turned to be a tragedy: In fact we lost more time in establishing the data transmission, than to write the exam. And the note was a biblical punishment. Later on, we knew why: the sun shining directly into the classroom was killing quite a lot of the IR-signal. That was a couple of years before Sony came out with the CD and HP with its 48sx – which contained that IR-data transmission! At this point we discovered how far we had been in technology.
PEEK & POKE was almost natural. CALLing assembler routines were taking a big part of our daily life. Programming games was always hard – sometimes just impossible. 4 KB RAM was not that much, and the half-megahertz-processor needed those NOPs – otherwise it crashed because of missing electricity, when batteries were old. So developing algorithms was always a balance act between speed and use of RAM. Nevertheless, those extreme constraints led us to the habit of programming short and fast code – a notion, that today’s programmers don’t know at all; look: writing “hello world” in MSWord and saving it will produce a 1MB-file… Quo vadis, programmer? ;-)

Greg Soravilla

Nice! Now that’s an early computing experience!

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Bob Counts

My first was a Commodore 64. Then a home built 286. The PC had a N.E.A.T. chipset which means it would access memory like a 386- almost. Some programs didn’t like the chipset, especially windows 3.0. I used DR DOS for the operating system, and ran Quatro Pro and Worperfect 6 for DOS for years. The next was a 486. I also used a Timex Sinclair with the expansion pack. The Sinclair was a kit and I had to solder it all together.

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Robert Backlund

My first computer was a Commodore Amiga 1000 that I purchased the summer of 1986, in its day it was simply amazing. The Apple Mac was an integrated design, the monitor and computer all sharing the same housing had a whopping 9″ black and white screen and if I remember the IBM PC’s of the day came with an amber or green text only terminal display some for lots of money could display 256 colors. The Amiga 1000 could display 4096 colors out of a maximum pallet of I think 69k on its huge for its day 12″ color monitor, but my memory is not as good as it once was. It was by anyone’s definition far advanced technologically from its competitors and it is only because of the inept bungling by Commodore that it is not the dominate computing platform today. Its OS was very interesting, it was one of the first windowing environments available on personal computers, not sure about what Apple was doing back then but I think the Amiga was the first PC that was capable of true multitasking. Though I cannot prove it all of Microsoft’s recent claims of patent infringement by the Linux OS were all ideas fostered way back then when I do not believe any one was patenting software and if they ever actually sued anyone in court most if not all of their claims would be proven that it is all prior art and that a lot of their patents should never have been granted. Why do you think Microsoft has never sued anyone over what is in Linux.
When I bought it I knew nothing about a computer, hell I had a hard time learning what an icon was or a widget on a window. All I knew was that this was an amazing machine, I still have my Amiga 1000 unfortunately it no longer functions, I have kept it because of what it meant to me and my sons and also to remember how far we have come in a relatively short amount of time. The first time I opened up my 1000 I was amazed to see on the inside of the cover all the signatures of everyone involved in the design of the Amiga 1000 molded into the plastic. Even though my 1000 doesn’t run any more I did find a disk called Amiga Forever produced by a company that has the legal license to include all of the Amiga Kick start rom’s as well as the different versions of the OS itself, the desktop was called Workbench along with a lot of the past software much of which is now PD. So now I can relive old times by running this environment on my current Windows machine.

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Greg Soravilla

My first Computer was a Commodore VIC-20. Software was stored on cassette tape. I broke it in high-school trying to learn electronics. Went on to college and got a computer related degree. I eventually taught myself electronics and last year fixed that very VIC-20 I started on. It may not have the speed and resource of today’s machines, but it has personality no machine today has. The games are still fun, even if they look simplistic now. And with today’s tech someone even made a cartridge for it that contains all the apps that used to be available for the machine, plus memory expansion! Imagine every single app on one cartridge. That’s cool!

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James West

Sometimes I wonder what our kids will say about today’s computers 50 years from now.

Greg Soravilla

I’m not concerned with what they think. There is already little respect in society for older generations, yet these are the very same people that have built up what we take for grated. Some kids will mock it and some will try it out. I think if you can’t respect what came before than you don’t deserve what comes after. I also tend to think that it’s not the same when you start on a PC, since they have almost always been a commodity item that is a vanilla box running PC software. For the most part, there are no machine-specific personalities. Only if you started on other machines like Atari, Commodore, Apple II, Tandy TRS and CoCo, can you really say you experienced the uniqueness of early computing. Without that they have no vantage point and so their opinion doesn’t really mean anything on this subject.

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Efi Dreyshner

Too young for those stories XD
My first PC was Intel P3, 15GB HDD, 256MB RAM
As 16 YO, it is very old :D

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Anonymous

Good Old times…

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Arshad Hasan

nice article

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Jim D

Brand: Gateway 2000
Model: P5-100 “Family PC”
Intel Pentium 100MHz
8MB Ram
4x CD-ROM
28.8k Modem
PCI and ISA Slots (what’s an ISA slot?!)
Creative SoundBlaster 16-bit Stereo PCI Card
Windows 95

… That’s about all I can remember as far as specs, haha. I spent hours playing with Microsoft BOB because that was the only interesting thing installed on it out of the box. That, and Space Cadet Pinball.

Then I eventually got Sim City 2000, Need for Speed SE (DOS and Win95 compatible!) and Wolfenstein 3D.

To be fair, I think we had a Commodore 64 before that, purchased at a yard sale, and used a Black and White 13″ TV with it, but I was probably 6 years old or so and I only very vaguely remember it.

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Shahbaz Amin

You started programming as part of a school course/module?! WOW, thats amazing. I don’t think that happens here in the UK. :S
You are one lucky guy!! :)

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Rudi Niemand

My grandfather handed me down his Apple II e (complete with one floppy disk drive and a box of about 20 discs containing old work data and a few games – Frogger FTW!) when I was about age 6. They were removing them from their offices to make way for new shiny Windows 3.1 machines – I don’t blame them, the Apple was pants compared. Wish I’d kept it as it’s probably worth a bit on ebay, but it got chucked to eventually make way for a Windows 95 machine, where I met the delights of Tomb Raider :-)

Guest

They say works of art increase exponentially in worth after the death of the artist. Original Mac 128Ks were selling for MILLIONS in the wake of Steve Jobs.

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Anthony Piti

For me, my first experience with computers was the Tandy TRS-80. I loathed it so much, I spent the next several years running AWAY from computers. To emphasize the point “never say never”, I now work with computers every day.

Rather poignantly, I went to the Smithsonian Museum a few years back, and Lo-and-Behold, found a TRS-80 sitting in the “Computers and Technology” section. Grrrroooaaannnn

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Red

My first computer was a blue & white G3 (powermac.) I saved up for it and bought with my own money and for years it was proudly displayed on my desk. I still have it as an OS 9 machine and don’t ever want to get rid of it.

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Guest

My first computer was a Mac Performa 450 given as a seventh-birthday present in 1993. My parents bought it at Sears, when retail stores entered the Macintosh “Home & Education” market to make Macs a consumer product for schools and families alike. My younger brother was born that same year. His favorite “game” to watch (not play) was not the popular Broderbund kids’ games, but actually the antivirus app Disinfectant 3.5. In the about screen is a scrolling list of the programmers who built the app, which gets squished by a giant foot at the end of the credits as the Monty Python theme plays. My Performa never got a virus, but I kept Disinfectant installed just so my brother could watch the Flying Circus foot squish the names. My father, a huge Python fan himself, got a “kick” out of it too.

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SkateNY

Nice piece.

My first computer was an Amiga 1000. I fell in love with it watching their TV ads. I remember thinking, “A computer can do all that?”

It took time for me to find a good reason to buy one. Entering graduate school was the perfect excuse.

Soon after its release, Commodore was having trouble selling them at ~$1300.00, a bargain compared to Macs with the same chip set at that time. An electronics store in New York City was selling them for $699 (128K with an option to upgrade to 256K for $75) and I jumped at it.

I nearly fell from my chair when, after booting it with a WorkBench disk, there was an animated mouse on the screen, waving while saying “Hello!” I bought several games and taught myself how to program as well. My favorite game (can’t recall the title) was a first-person thriller set in a haunted house. Compared to today’s game, the video was extremely choppy, but I loved playing it all the same.

Oh yeah. My Amiga also served me well in my school work. What a pleasure to simply type and print! It was like magic. And I learned to touch type at a very fast rate by using an ancient program, Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. The typing assignments were embedded within games to make it interesting, particularly a road racing game. The faster you typed, and the fewer mistakes you made, the faster your car went. Beautiful.

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Sam Klappstein

First computer was a Power Macintosh 5000 series with a 100MHz PowerPC 603e CPU, a CD drive, floppy, and a 1 GB hard disk which seemed huge at the time. Still runs fine amazingly.

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Hugo Shepherd

My first computer was a Commodore64 which I enjoyed immensely, so that I went on to buy an Amstrad 1512 Computer (whilst other guys from England with a higher wage than I) bought a “Big Blue” computer from IBM which was more of a ‘server’ or ‘Office’ type of computer than a Home one. Eventually, I got an Imac4 and a Mackintosh Pro tower later still, which both had the “Jaguar” operating system on. They were and are almost prehistoric from a modern perspective – but they still work and I occasionally use them, still, with respect to my photography. The “1512” is long gone but now have a reasonably modern PC Tower (Hewlett-Packard design) with LinuxMint 14.1 (Cinnamon) 64 bit on it. I also have two laptops, one sporting Windows 7 Premium, and the other sporting LinuxMint 14.1 (Mate) 64 bit on it. I’m pretty much a sysadmin in a small way and know where I’m going now.

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Hugo Shepherd

One of my many Occupations was working for Plessey PLC where I had a run in with one of the first fragments of Unix in the early 1970’s (in connection with a contract with NASA) shortly after it was passed on to Berkeley University, California, from Bell Laboritories, where it sprang from. Much later, I returned to Linux via Suse Linux 6.1 (whilst it still enjoyed being a part of Germany), before it was taken over by Novell. I have been with Linux (in one form or another) ever since, though I still use Windows seven mainly because of software from Nikon and Adobe which I use in editing my ‘raw’ Negative images from my Nikon Cameras.

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Hugo Shepherd

When I first used the Commodore 64, I was using a tape drive before I went the whole hog and bought an extension Disk Drive which held ‘eight inch’ floppies. I eventually got a drive that held the familiar Five inch floppies and a Modem cradle on which I would place the handset of my phone, to get the Internet. Back then the Internet was very slim on the ground using programs like Gopher and Mosaic to get anywhere online. The first ‘big’ internet browser was “Gem” (with the Commodore 64) but others such as Compuserve and Microsofts Internet Explorer were around back then too (though it had more security holes than a Collander back then as it does today) were around. When working in Plessey in Liverpool, I used to connect with Compulink Information Exchange (CIX) and the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) and ARPAnet (from which the experimental Network on which the Internet was based as part of my job. Of course when an Englishman by the name of Tim Benners-Lee (now a KCBE), invented the World Wide Web (WWW) and gave it to the Network for Posterity’s sake, the Internet as we know it today really exploded and took off!

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John Koch

The first PC game I recall playing was F-15 Strike Eagle on the family Commodore 64.

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Jim

I can still remember my first computer… the 2011 iMac, with 1 TB hard drive and 4 GBs memory. Good times.

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Roger Lakner

In the early 80s I purchased my first computer. I bought an apple clone called a Laser 128 from Sears & Roebuck for I believe around $800. I would add a picture of the unit here if it were possible. I could also write an article about the computer and my experiences with it for Make Use Of if interested. Just let me know the proper email address for sending.

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BiG eViL…….

my first computer came to our house in 1992, a 486! with 4mb RAM, 120mb HD, MS-DOS and a windows 3.1 and 33Mhz processor with Turbo Boost ! lolz, but i wasnt old enough to actually use it. i started using it in 1994 and i was used to play Doom on it like crazy, then went on to Doom 2. played other games as well such as Solitaire on windows, black thorn, Cars, epic pinball, Indy 500, Fifa 95 and Stunt Island. the sound effects from the games were crappy in the games from the built in motherboard so we got it upgraded with a sound card, just so i can play Doom 2 with full sound. I still remember Doom 2 installation used to take long, it was on 5 floppy disks. Great Memories

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