Hardware of Yore

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by dstrauss, Feb 7, 2017.

  1. dstrauss

    dstrauss Comic Relief Senior Member

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    I decided to take @Marty suggestion (dare? challenge?)

    http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/thr...for-surface-devices.70051/page-92#post-491294

    and start a thread on some of our (random) recollections of the stone knives and bear skins of computer history (five extra points for anyone who can ID the reference). To start, here was my first computer (if you can call it that). It was a Basic programmable calculator TRS-80 PC-1:

    [​IMG]
    http://oldcomputers.net/trs80pc1.html

    I had the cassette serial interface, and it was one cool device (in fact, I still have it around the office somewhere).
     
  2. Marty

    Marty Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    So what I'm really curious about, what was it like to be a geek back in the day? How did you hear about the latest tech?

    Without a local BestBuy, where did you even get your tech? (and were the salesmen still as clueless as today? :p)
     
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  3. Kumabjorn

    Kumabjorn ***** is back Senior Member

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    Byte? Wasn't there a magazine called Altair as well?

    Twitter is to communications as haiku is to literature.
     
  4. darkmagistric

    darkmagistric Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    ...those good old days of using dial up Prodigy as a kid. My dad got bit by the computer bug way before I did....but he always took me along to all the computer stores......Comp USA....Computer City etc....I remember one of the more notable days was the midnight release of Windows 95.......I was in elementary school at the time....but we were at that damn Comp USA literally all night....me wandering the store kind of bored with all the computer stuff and hardware kind of beyond my understand ...while my dad waited for the OS that would literally change everything. Even though they're were earlier builds of windows like 3.1.....our computer at home ran MS.DOS.....Win95 cemented the base Windows's OS as the default OS for pretty much everything. I remember my dad treated that time in tech in ways somewhat similar to how politics of 2016 are regarded. Not for the good or ill....but in the sense that it was a really exciting and unpredictable time for tech since this was all new territory and It excited my dad.

    I also remember he took me to computer shows where he would talk and meet up with his computer buddies. I guess that was how computer fans interacted before the widespread adoption of chat rooms and creation of Forums. I also remember it was around this time South Park came out....and as 6th grader...I found what was the holy grail for a kid....a floppy disk that had the unaired South Park Pilot episode somehow squeezed onto it and was watchable....I think it was the lowest of low quality real player encoding....but this is before the DVD market really came about and VHS was the way of video. I bragged to all my friends that I had the unaired episode none of them have seen. In a way it inspired me a few years later in getting into video encoding when I bought my first video capture card. At this point I was in high school and we had this laptop program where we all had laptops with CD drives and me being the immature little prick I was at the time.....I would rip movies and TV shows into digital format (Real Player), burn them to CDs and watch them on my laptop during class or study halls. Although DVD was becoming widespread.....most laptops didn't have DVD players so essentially watching what Video CD was really novel and unthought concept at the time. Although I do believe in other regions like Asia ...Video CDs were somewhat common...as least far greater so then the US at the time.

    Now as far as my first computer.....or what I considered to be a computer....the Sega Ir7000....it was during my 4th or 5th grade that pocket organizers were all the rage.....while it was a glorified toy.....in many ways it served the function of a laptop for me at the time.....so looking back on it....I can't help but consider it such.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2017
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  5. darkmagistric

    darkmagistric Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    It even says it like a mini computer on the box....so it's all fair game.
    IMG_1902.JPG
     
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  6. Sweetpea8472

    Sweetpea8472 Scribbler - Standard Member

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    You know, I've no idea... I think I was too young to even bother about that... My father got an Apple IIe at some point (he used it professionally). And that was my first taste of computers. The only way to play games was by typing them yourself, from a book.
    Later, we got a Commodore 64 (I think my father got tired of us hogging his very expensive Apple), and that one had the best way of copying games! Just copy it in the double tape deck, at double speed :p

    Oh, and my first use of a laptop was with this one.
    http://oldcomputers.net/compaqii.html

    I think I got my gadget-lust from my father...
     
  7. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Oh dear!

    Reminiscing, are we..?


    [​IMG]
    Here's my first -I was SO excited about my parents bringing this baby home, (my Dad was a Nortel engineer, and he knew this stuff, and he wasn't about to bring home something which didn't measure bang for buck appropriately.)

    We had a generous 16 kb of RAM -later modded by a genius tech friend of mine up to 32 kb for $50 in parts and labor. (Or maybe less..? It was the late 80's).

    The thing I remember most about this computer was the smell. -The (probably toxic) chemicals given off by the plastics and electronics had a vaguely sweet odor which I associated exclusively with Radio Shack gear.

    I wrote my first games on that thing in BASIC. -Badly. But they had great graphics! I worked out bitmap graphics on grid paper, and then used the "Line" command which worked by giving coordinates and "Go up 5, Left 3, Down 6" etch-a-sketch instructions. I made a whole fleet of monsters for a dungeon crawl game. -Which I never had the brains to finish. I got lost on the actual engine code. I could see at the time the beginnings of a promising future for artists in video games, but never thought it would turn into a billion dollar industry and pay for upscale lifestyles the way it does for some of the animators I've known!
     
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  8. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Shoot... When I think about it now, if I'd known a coder kid and had the right guidance, we could have easily set up a mail-order game business back in the day! Who knows what that might have grown into? The field was wide open!

    A whole other life path could have split off into another reality for yours truly!

    But then it would have probably meant not making any of the big comics stories I've done...

    Hmmm.
     
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  9. dstrauss

    dstrauss Comic Relief Senior Member

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    Being a "geek in the day" was a true hobby (obsession).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_PCjr

    The first real computer I bought, the IBM PCjr, was a real challenge for modding and upgrading. The add-on memory cards from third parties actually required the user to add their own memory chips - and hobbyist even added extra floppy drives and hard drives...building a computer in those days was a real adventure.

    [​IMG]

    http://www.brutman.com/PCjr/pcjr_mods.html

    Most of our "knowledge" came from local computer clubs, as well as Byte and PC Magazine. There was also a huge (I mean Sears catalog thick) publication called Computer Shopper - required reading:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Others have already noted the retail options - Computer City, Comp USA, Circuit City, and the king - Radio Shack! Yes, Radio Shack. In the day, any teenager interested in computers wanted to work at RatShack - definitely not clueless by modern standards.

    PS - look closely at that ad folks - THIRTY YEARS AGO - $2000 for a 12MHz PC with a 60MB (I've seen contracts bigger than 60mb) hard drive and a FULL 1MB of RAM! What a bargain.

    $1899 today gets you a Surface Pro 4, i7, 16GB Ram, 512GB SSD, touch/pen, etc. etc. - and we're not even talking about INFLATION ADJUSTED ($865 if you are curious)

    Just imagine what you guys will be playing with in 2047!
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2017
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  10. dstrauss

    dstrauss Comic Relief Senior Member

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