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Vintage Computers Any vintage computer systems, calculators, video games etc., but with an emphasis on 1980s and earlier equipment.

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Old 14th Jul 2023, 2:50 am   #201
ortek_service
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

The full & expensive commercial-use Segger J-Links are now used by most 'embedded software' etc. Engineers at work, as they are fairly universal and not tied to any particular manufacturer / microcontroller. However, you can get much cheaper J-Link 'Education' use units, that are just as good for hobbyists etc that are not needing to use these commercially.

Also, many ARM uC manufacturers give you a free licensed J-link debugger/programmer on their development boards, that cost very much less than even the education-use Segger J-Links.

Many ARM uC manufacturers also have their own low-cost programmer / debugger (Like Microchips PICkit4, that supports most Microchip & now former Atmel uC's) such as ST-Link V2 at < £30 (Or only a few pounds for copies on Aliexpress etc) for their popular STM32 uC's.


When ARM's were first being used, you needed to spend thousands on ARM's / Keil (who they later bought?) / IAR's etc. tools. But many development systems are now using the free gcc C-Compiler and Eclipse IDE editor etc.
And the free Arduino software also supports many ARM uC's such as the Seeeduino Xiao ARM 'postage stamp size' <£5 modules
- I bought one 3yrs ago, to have a play with, eventually getting Arduino's IDE / drivers going on Win-XP
The BBC Microbit also has two ARM uC's (One, the most powerful, to provide the deugger interface) on these, with free dev. tools
There's also the RPi RP2040 small ARM uC, at < £1 each / a bit more on a ready-built complete small DIP module.

So ARM uC's are often cheaper than many traditional 8bit uC's. However, as they pack so much into these, they can be much more complex. And whilst the ARM-core is standard, all the extra built-in I/O the peripherals are different across each manufacturer, with often 1000's of pages datasheets on their use. So if trying to write 'bare-metal', there can be a bit of a steep learning curve where even experienced programmers need > 1 week to get familiar with the library routines for the particular chosen uC's peripherals.

With recent chip-shortages, some have also started switching to ESP32's which were still easily-obtainable and ae amazing value. And can get small modules with fairly-large integrated Memory + Bluetooth / WiFi etc. for a few pounds (and low-cost programmer you can DIY + free dev tools): https://www.espressif.com/en/products/socs/esp32
So now being widely-used for home-automation systems, where you may have 10's of these on a wireless network.

There probably aren't many uC's (like many FPGA's these days) where you now need to spend thousands on development tools / emulators etc.

Last edited by ortek_service; 14th Jul 2023 at 2:58 am.
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Old 14th Jul 2023, 11:33 am   #202
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

The first one I had was an Oric 1 - few remember those. Long gone now.

Not to be confused with Blake's Orac
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Old 14th Jul 2023, 12:04 pm   #203
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

My first owned computer was a microprofessor kit. Binned it years ago.
My 2nd owned computer was a zx81. Binned it years ago.
My 3rd owned computer was an AT&T 3B15, skipped (would not fit in bin ) it years ago.
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Old 14th Jul 2023, 12:28 pm   #204
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Phelan View Post
The first one I had was an Oric 1 - few remember those. Long gone now.

Not to be confused with Blake's Orac
Yes, Oric has more components but considerably less computing power (or attitude) - and I have one in my collection (Oric, that is... not Orac).
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Old 14th Jul 2023, 12:43 pm   #205
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

bigfathairyvika, I wish you had given that uProfessor to me instead. I always liked them, especially the 'book cover' case design. Never had one.

The little radio and TV shop I first worked in decided to stock a few ORIC-1s and I got the job of writing an 'attract mode' program to show one working in the shop window. As we all know they didn't really go mainstream so I think we were forced to let them go at a loss. They were perfectly nice machines although I wasn't really a fan of the little ticky-tacky keyboard buttons. What I would really like is an Oric Atmos, basically the ORIC-1 in a redesigned case with a 'proper' keyboard, but I think you have to be more than casually interested nowadays as they only sold in small numbers compared to ZX81, Spectrum, C64 etc so they are much rarer and correspondingly more expensive.

This is one of the stranger aspects of the retro-computing scene - machines which weren't very popular in their day are correspondingly more valuable now.
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Old 14th Jul 2023, 4:18 pm   #206
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

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Originally Posted by SiriusHardware View Post

This is one of the stranger aspects of the retro-computing scene - machines which weren't very popular in their day are correspondingly more valuable now.
That is not necessarly true in my experience. I suspect a genuine ZX80 would attract a higher price than a PERQ, if only because few people remember the latter.

To go back a few messages, I remember the Oric. It had BASIC keywords 'ZAP', 'SHOOT' 'EXPLODE' and 'PING' which produced the appropriate sound effects. I have an ORIC 1 and an Atmos together with the 4-colour printer/plotter (ALPS mechanism of course) and a 3" disk drive.

-tony
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Old 14th Jul 2023, 4:58 pm   #207
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

A genuine ZX80 would also attract a far higher price than a ZX81, even though the ZX81 was a much refined version of the ZX80. There just weren't so many of them sold.
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Old 14th Jul 2023, 5:17 pm   #208
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

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A genuine ZX80 would also attract a far higher price than a ZX81, even though the ZX81 was a much refined version of the ZX80. There just weren't so many of them sold.
A few years ago i saw an unmade ZX80 Kit for sale which must be pretty much the only one in existance that had never been assembled!
The seller wanted nearly £1000for it! no idea if they ever sold it ,but the ZX80 has always eluded me in my collection in any shape or form.
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Old 14th Jul 2023, 5:18 pm   #209
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

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My first owned computer was a microprofessor kit. Binned it years ago.
Not my first. But sold mine (cheaply) at Retrotech.
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Old 14th Jul 2023, 5:23 pm   #210
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

Honestly, I think there is nothing sadder than an unbuilt kit, be it Airfix or Electronic.

Quote:
sold mine (cheaply) at Retrotech.
Wish I'd been there to grab that, Duncan.
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Old 14th Jul 2023, 10:29 pm   #211
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

NASCOM II - it worked with machine code, none of your BASICs or assembler. We counted clock cycles per instruction back then….. my pals and I sneered at the Sinclair jobbies - toys, we called them, while we got on with proper computing using a proper Cherry keyboard.

Unfortunately the NASCOM was sold quite recently to someone who’s still an enthusiast.
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Old 22nd Jul 2023, 11:02 am   #212
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

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Originally Posted by Mike Phelan View Post
The first one I had was an Oric 1 - few remember those. Long gone now.

Not to be confused with Blake's Orac
I think most people in this forum area will recall the Oric 1 (and maybe the later enhanced keyboard 'facelift' Atmos, if you weren't a fan of the original's thin sloping keytops) - Even if it is now largely unknown by the general public / probably wasn't really sold outside the UK, unlike its C64 / Spectrum and also Acorn BBC (+ Amstrad CPC ?) rivals.

In the battle of these systems, the Oric was a relatively minor player - Maybe like V2000 in the VHS vs Betamax battle back then.
- But then again there were so many other UK etc. companies in the UK 8bit home computer market back then, who weren't that successful, like Newbrain, Dragon, Tandy TRS-80, Jupiter Ace, Enterprise, Tatung Einstein + all the Japanese MSX ones. And even Apple (II) + Atari (400/800) didn't sell that many of these early systems in the UK market back then.

I nearly bought an Oric-1 back, for my first computer, liking the inbuilt sound / commands. And I did use one a friend had bought.
- But in the end went for the Spectrum (that most others had, due to much wider choice of software & hardware produced for it) - the last & only computer I've bought new.
However, I did pick up an Oric mainboard (unfortunately missing ULA) and an Oric-1 + Atmos (but missing some keytops) cases, many years ago. And more recently discovered the ULA's being sold v.cheaply on a certain Auction site by a seller in Bulgaria!
So I bought a couple, and need to see if I can get a complete one running again.

Back in the mid 80's, it was fairly-soon that I wanted something better and more-expandable than the Spectrum, so I moved onto a (used) BBC Computer, that I still have working. And used this regularly into the early / mid 90's before moving onto various PC-Compatibles (mostly an assortment of thrown-out old models / buying motherboards and other PC system components and assembling my own units I still use every day)


I also recall watching Blake 7 and Orac - inspiring me to add a flashing LED's circuit I'd built to the one I made for my Junior-School's 'robot' building from plastic containers etc activity.

Last edited by ortek_service; 22nd Jul 2023 at 11:12 am.
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Old 22nd Jul 2023, 4:42 pm   #213
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

Your post prompted me to go looking to see if there are any Oric Atmoses lying around for sale for about £20 and of course there aren't, £100 or more is more like the going rate. But I was intrigued to notice that there had been a Bulgarian clone of the ORIC, which no doubt explains why remaining stocks of the ULA are being sold...

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by a seller in Bulgaria!
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Old 22nd Jul 2023, 8:19 pm   #214
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

This thread has got me thinking about my first computer.

After searching Google for 'old HP laptop' I eventually found it, a HP 510 from 2008. I was around 12 at the time.

I can't remember the circumstances around its purchase. I must have been a surprise gift.

It ran Windows Vista Home Edition which worked OK on a 1.4GHz Celeron with 512MB RAM. It looks like XP was available as an option. The thought of downgrading to XP would have never occurred to us.

I remember using it to play The Sims 2 and to write the occasional Word document. It worked well for this but eventually started to slow down. A 1GB stick of RAM was ordered from Mr Memory and installed with Dad. Things were much better after that.

The laptop came with an official HP bag which I should still have somewhere. I'd always but it back in its bag when not in use!

I also remember my first flash drive, a 1GB Philips! It died a long time ago but I still have it.

The laptop was replaced in 2010 and sold to a friend of Dad.

I know the above isn't strictly 'vintage' but I can't help it.
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Old 22nd Jul 2023, 8:21 pm   #215
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

Well I got an Atmos case (although missing a keytop - and the mainboard for £1.50, and the PCB (minus the ULA) with an Oric-1 case for around that. Also the Alps-mech plotter for < £1. But that was > 20yrs ago, when there were lots of old Computers being got rid of and they weren't very sought-after.
Although I've never seen the Disk Drive (I thought they might have never actually been released, but it does seem there are some out there).

However, it was only a few years ago that I saw a complete Oric-1 being sold at a rally for < £30 - With seller saying they were fetching more on an online auction site (the amount of times I've heard sellers saying that, has made me wonder why they didn't just sell it on there, if they could get rather more for it!).

Although, at least as a online buyer, using the right payment method, you've usually got some protection against it not being as described. I've recently seen a VIC-20 etc up for sale at >> £100 by the same seller at several rallies and would be surprised if anyone paid that much, on a bit of a gamble if it worked (Even if VIC-20's & C64 have rather less IC's to fail than the PET!).
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Old 22nd Jul 2023, 9:33 pm   #216
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

Well, umm, almost forgotten memories reloaded:

1. In the middle of the 70s I got a chance to attend a semester on "Algol", running a Zuse Z25 machine with Siemens T100 typewriter for I/O. No crt monitors in use back then. Unfortunately the machine (size and noise of 3 Maytag Commercial Washers!) got scrapped soon after.

2. Next came a Wang 200 system, I think it already ran Pascal or so and had a green crt.

3. As soon as available I got a Commodore C64. Traded it later for a C128.

4. Still got that one and a C128D

One of my sons dug these out lately: All working!

Regards, Joe
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Old 22nd Jul 2023, 11:03 pm   #217
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

First computer was a ZX81, subsequently added a dk'tronics 4K RAM board, before exchanging that for a 16K RAM pack.

First computer I had my hands on was the solitary RM 380Z at school, where they ran a lunchtime computer club. One teacher was the proud owner of a new Acorn Atom, and tried his best to convince me that's what I needed... couldn't stretch to that though.

First one that I still own is a BBC Master 128, plus lots of kit. Its in the loft, with several others
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Old 23rd Jul 2023, 9:55 am   #218
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I know the above isn't strictly 'vintage' but I can't help it.
I think computers are a special case: Nothing becomes vintage faster than 'Modern' technology - I'm mainly thinking of computers, but mobile phones are in the same boat. It amuses / depresses me when I go into the 'technical' section of a mainstream museum and see a display of 'historic' mobile phones - the display will invariably include a Nokia 3310, which until just a few years ago I was still using as my main mobile phone. I only stopped using it when the NiCD / NiMH batteries for it became completely unobtainium.

Over on VCED, (The Vintage Computer Federation website) early to fairly recent (Pentium era) PCs are very much considered vintage and there is a lot of interest in retro gaming and preserving or rebuilding era-appropriate hardware to run old games and other applications on.

I still run a couple of Laptops from the period your laptop is from, mainly because I have old hardware, particularly my EPROM programmer, which needs a computer from the same period to run it.
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Old 23rd Jul 2023, 12:03 pm   #219
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

Mine was a ZX81, bought from Dixon' s I think. I quickly learned BASIC and wrote a few simple shooting games including a *very* stripped-down version of Space Invaders with only one moving target and a fixed gun. I longed for something bigger, better and faster so we discussed spending £399 on a BBC-B.
A week later I found myself marvelling at the extra horsepower of this machine and it seemed to run at light-speed compared to the Sinclair. I wrote some much more ambitious stuff for it, including a weatherfax decoder and a test card generator for my amateur TV activities, all in BBC Basic. Happy days indeed.
Still got it and it still works, but it's a very long time since I actually used it.
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Old 23rd Jul 2023, 1:32 pm   #220
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It's nice that you still have that machine that you have such fond memories of. I still own nearly every computer that I ever owned from new, and several more besides. If you ever have time you should replace the RIFA capacitor in the PSU before ever turning it on again. If all the anecdotes are true they seem to have something like 100% failure rate if left for long enough. It's not a question of if they will go bang, but when.

I own two complete BBC model Bs + disc drives but I've never really played with them properly because I bought them, as much to 'rescue' them as anything, when prices had fallen to the very bottom of Owen's 'bathtub curve'. I paid about £5 for each of them. They both worked fine at the time (mid nineties) but they will also need the RIFAs attending to before I do anything with them nowadays.

I did get to play with the BBC B when they were contemporary because two friends of mine had them, one of those two friends was interested in programming so we did a bit of 6502 coding using the inline assembler which was a useful feature in BBC BASIC. They were really nice machines, nice hardware architecture, proper keyboard, as a Sinclair man throughout the first half of the eighties I was very envious but I just couldn't justify the cost of a BBC B, especially not with a floppy drive. I think that's partly why I bought the two I have, just to be able to finally own something which I could never have afforded when they were current machines.

To be honest I feel a bit selfish for hoarding them for all of this time, but I suppose the upside is that they have survived for a further 25+ years. I'm still working at the moment but when I eventually retire I hope to be able to give them the attention they deserve.
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