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Jim Fogle

Computers Before The PC

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Comments in another thread got me to thinking about early home computers and the operating systems available before Windows.  What brand of computers did you have, what operating systems did they run?

My first home computer was a Coleco Adam.  The computer shipped with a digital cassette drive and keyboard main unit, joystick controller with numeric keypad, combined power supply / letter quality (daisy wheel) printer.  The default power up mode was typewriter and one button word processor mode.  It used CPM, BASIC and Logo operating systems.  It also played ColecoVision (a game console) games.

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Posted (edited)

                   

            My first computer was an Etch A Sketch . My next computer was a real Game Changer   . It even came with it's own Tech Support  .    

     5TFyLhX.jpg

Kenny

 

Edited by kennywtelejazz
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My very first PC was a Texas Instruments TI-99/4A. I had the optional cassette tape program loader/backup. A friend of mine who happened to be the music teacher at school had the optional suction cup telephone handset modem. I remember one time he connected to some questionable bulletin board in NYC and forgot he was hooked up. It ran for days and his phone bill was over $300 dollars.

You could get different modules for it such as games and operating system upgrades like BASIC. I had a few games but never did get the BASIC cartridge. I programmed everything in it's proprietary machine language using CALL commands.

I used to program animated artwork we call GIF's now. I made a drawing program one time that utilized the 9 pin din jack on the side so I could use my Atari 2600 joystick as a mouse before I even knew what a mouse was. I also wrote a program to turn the qwerty keyboard in to a musical instrument. I spent countless hours on that thing. The keyboards broke regularly. Radio Shack used to sell replacement keyboards for it. You can get an emulator for it now with all the ROM's of the optional cartridges.

TI99-IMG_7132.jpg.f7d621ee4bb5830f68644c7a44ca6d9b.jpg

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Not really a "home" computer as such, but the first one I remember being in the house was like this...

ead5a3099d462431681277924c2804ff.jpg&f=1

The printer was almost the same size and printed onto that green and white striped paper with the holes down the side. If you were feeling creative you could make a picture using carefully place x's or whatever. It had two games on it, Othello and Chess. I could win at the former, but not so much the latter. I did once learn to write a very basic program on it that asked you lots of questions where the next question would appear to be tailored to the last question like it was actually talking to you and taking the answers on board, but ultimately whatever you typed in it would come to the conclusion that having looked at your answers, you stink, which seemed very amusing to my young self. Happy days. :)

 

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This is close to what I started on in 1970 (a teletype machine with an acoustic coupler to a HP-2000 timeshare).  Except the ones I had access to (through my school district) were wider and used the normal green-bar paper.  It would default to 110 BAUD (the communication speed) but, if you whistled at just the right pitch, you could get it to connect at 300 BAUD!  *Woot!* 

Note that a BAUD is one bit per second and my current download rate as I type this is over a million times faster (312+ Mbps)!  For comparison, at 300 BAUD, it would take over 219 years to download the current 4 GB Windows 10 install .iso file!  (Which would then require an additional 2,000 years of updates... 😆 )

TITerminal.png

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Sinclair Spectrum then the Yamaha CX5 which I just used for composition and FM synthesis. Still got it. No idea if it still works though. I remember programming in half of a movement from Bach's 3rd Brandenburg Concerto before losing the will to live 🙂

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I still remember how both the Timex Sinclair and the PET were introduced with all of 1K of RAM!  When the Radio Shaft Trash-80's came out with 16K we thought we were swimming in memory!  (Note that it's 1K and 16K, not 1KB and 16KB!)  I still was able to code a nice Worm War and a mean Space Invaders on the Trash-80... 😁

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, paulo said:

ead5a3099d462431681277924c2804ff.jpg&f=1

Pretty much the same for me. Although by that time I was already programming in Fortran, Cobol and Basic on the HP-3000 Series III "mini computer" at work.

1200px-HP_3000_Series_III.jpg

Yes, it was referred to as a mini computer and compared to some IBM 360 installations I had seen, it was even though those units were just under 6 feet tall filled with sooooooo much air inside.

Edited by Bapu
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3 hours ago, aidan o driscoll said:

Not forgetting however the:

c64thumb-1598540563026.png

 

And remember those TEXT based adventure games like THE HOBBIT on C64 etc?

s2.jpg

Very simple, yet engaging, I remember spending hours on these with a buddy .. he had the C64 at the time. memories flood back :D

 

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Not home computers but first computer I used in the early 80's was  TI 770 intelligent terminal which we used as a standalone for processing survey data. You could get a 300 lines of 80 characters in each of the two files on a tape cassette! The company was a subsidiary of TI hence the unusual choice of hardware.

Not long after we also started using a HP 85 which was a bit slicker and I was introduced to BASIC programming. It still used the same tapes.

When we got the first PCs with massive 5 1/4  floppy drives it was a game changer.

I did not start using  computer for music until the 386 with the Cadenza MIDI sequencer program.

 

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I had a Texas Instruments that was smaller than an ipad.  It had a whopping 16KB memory pack that plugged into it and was about the size of an old mouse.  Shortly after that, I went to Commodore and never went back.  I had a VIC20, a 64 and a 128.  I didn't get the Amiga.  My buddy and I interfaced to the VIC 20 to create an 8 bay power supply tester.  He did the hardware AtoD converter and I wrote the software in machine language no less.  They sold an EEPROM blower so that we could make a cartridge that would start up the program when we turned on the computer.  Those Commodores were pretty powerful.  I remember spending a couple of hundred bucks at Lechmere on an old dot matrix printer that printed at about 10 characters per hour (LOL - slight exaggeration).  Then I got an IBM 286 and spent an additional couple of hundred on memory sticks that I think got me 8MB more RAM.  I also had a couple of huge monsters from Nixdorf that ran CPM on which I was able to play wonderful amber PONG games.

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Posted (edited)

1980 - HP 2116  / HP 2100 w/ 4K core RAM. when a bit got stuck you take it out and shake it and back in. programmed via front panel switches and mini bulbs. green tube dumb terminal and HP 7900 tapes for advanced stuff 🙂 

image.thumb.png.402be27ada935507e2c55d04a74d9439.png

Edited by Glenn Stanton

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14 hours ago, Shane_B. said:

My very first PC was a Texas Instruments TI-99/4A. I had the optional cassette tape program loader/backup. <...snip...>

TI99-IMG_7132.jpg.f7d621ee4bb5830f68644c7a44ca6d9b.jpg

That looks exactly like my first computer. ▲ꜛ▲

My second was an Atari ST - It had MIDI built in.

1200px-Atari_1040STf.jpg

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