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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 6th Jul 2023, 10:37 am   #161
ortek_service
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

The first computer I had myself was a Spectrum 48K, which I then got replaced under Warranty by the later Plus recased model. Before I later sold it, and got a got a used BBC Model B with DFS fitted, and I fitted Econet to - Which I still have, and recently had running at the TNMoC Econet weekend.

If you count games consoles, then before that we briefly had a Binatone? cartridge-based games console. But I don't think there were ever many cartridges for it / it wasn't very reliable, so returned it and then got the famous Atari 2600 VCS (Original 'Woody' version), that all our friends had back then, so could swap cartridges.

I'm not exactly sure what the first computer I saw / used was. One friend's dad brought some obscure CP/M machines home from his work at Kalamazoo, before my friend got a ZX81 kit himself.
And another friend's older Sister's boyfriend had a UK101 then a Ti99/4a , followed by a Beeb. With other friends having Spectrums / an Oric-1.
I also recall using the original TRS80's in Tandy's.
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Old 7th Jul 2023, 4:49 pm   #162
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

My first computer to own at home was the ZX81 I built from a kit (I had built a Hex keyboard and was working towards a homebuild before that). It sadly had an expired ULA year before last (BOO) but, Phil kindly sent me a new one (YAY) which is on the project list (TYPICAL).

The first ones I used though were the TRS80 and ZX80 of the school maths teachers and a mates Dad's PET. Of cousre I made heavy use of the Alpha that was at college as well where I learned a lot about real operating systems and how to use Punch Tape, Teletypes... etc.

I then acquired a Spectrum 48K as soon as they were announced and a Dragon 32 soon after.

Since then I have had pretty much anything you can name having regrettably thrown away such wonders as Sun Sparcstations, MAC classics etc... Still acquiring new to me stuff.
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Old 7th Jul 2023, 6:22 pm   #163
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

The first comuter that was 'mine' was a Sun Microsystems SPARCstation 2 (I still have it).

The first I used was probably a Commodore PET.
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Old 7th Jul 2023, 7:27 pm   #164
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

A few people have added first used etc. For me, first used was a PET. After that, my school bought a TRS80, which me and my friend broke by POKEing into ROM. Tandy replaced it under warranty. I don't remember for sure the next, but it was a mainframe with about 20 terminals for students, I think possibly PDP11? Then after getting my VIC, a very odball, possibly one off, Harris mainframe which I believe was an odd 14 bit architecture.
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Old 7th Jul 2023, 8:43 pm   #165
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

My first computer, 1983, was an Epson HX-20 with the built-in printer and micro cassette recorder. If I wanted any software, I had to write it myself. Great for learning. Still got the HX, and it still - barely - works, saving/loading progs etc to the laptop using .WAV files. Got a dual floppy disk drive for it, TF-20, still got that but needs 'fixing'. Next machine was an Amstrad PCW 8256, still got that, but MUCH expanded from it's original config. Also still working, and used. Late 80s I got to use an IBM System /36 mini, but too big/heavy to take home!

Geoff
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Old 7th Jul 2023, 9:17 pm   #166
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

My first computer that I retained was a 6800 Motorola development system.

I went on a 3 day Motorola "Seminar" with Plessey Avionics in 1977 and the participants each received the development Kit.

Before that I built a couple of 8080 development systems but they were retained by my employer, one was used to program 1702A EPROMS.

ISTR it used MIKBUG and relied on a serial terminal having no keyboard or display of its own. It won't have been powered since 1979.

The workshop was stacked out with KSR33's so I used one of those and at home a Creed 7B.

I Still have 2 examples one I made up as part of the seminar and a second unbuild example gifted to me by a colleague who had no interest in microprocessors.

I never really was much of a coder and I especially struggled with the 6800 instruction set.

Although still rubbish at coding I found the 8080/Z80 instruction sets more to my liking.

If I can find one or both I will share pictures.

Cheers

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Old 7th Jul 2023, 11:35 pm   #167
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

The first computer I used was the Modular One computer in the Elec Eng dept at Loughborough.

No hard or floppy disks, all programmed via punched tape, code typed on ASR33 onto tape, then compiled using a compiler loaded off punched tape to produce the object, then linked via a linker off punched tape, to produce an exe on punched tape.

The VDU was a bistable screen XY plotter thing.

Talk about hard work.

The next computer was the Commodore PET that the QA dept bought to do statistics on video tape production.

The IT lot wanted to take it off us. ROTF.

The third computer was a General Automation GA16-220: hurrah! hard disks at last! All 20Mb of them.

Plus punched cards and punched tape for ATE programming.

£5k for adding a dual 8" floppy system (it would have been cheaper if we'd realised that we only needed SS diskette drives rather than SS & DS drives, the DS never being used).

4th computer was the Intel Blue Box MDS.
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Old 8th Jul 2023, 1:27 am   #168
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

ZX81, bought from WHS. The modulator stopped working and I bought an Amstrad PCW 8256, soon upgraded to 512 memory, second 3" internal drive and external 3 1/2" drive with software to allow import/export of ASCII text files from/to my work PC. First proper PC was a Gateway 2000 with Win 98.

The ZX81 was converted to a (non-working!) laptop for use as a prop for a school play by making a hinged lid (black linen adhesive tape hinge) from heavy black mounting board and sticking a colour print of a screenshot of the Gateway desktop screen on it, covered with shiny transparent self-adhesive plastic film. It must still be somewhere in the bottom of a cupboard in my daughter's old bedroom. The PCW is stored in the garden shed, and was working the last time I tried it. The Gateway is still used regularly for scanning documents as it came bundled with Kodak (Wang) Imaging software that is very quick and convenient to use when adding new scanned pages. When I enquired about getting a copy for my XP laptop a few years ago, it was priced at over £400 so I have carried on using the Gateway.

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Old 8th Jul 2023, 4:49 am   #169
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reelman View Post
I always remember my 2nd IT manager asking me “What do you use a PC for?” I could not think of a serious answer then, thank good the internet came along!

Peter
I feel the exact opposite way to that.

The older computers that I grew up with, and have collected since then, are simple enough for me to understand. I can program them. I can make interfaces for them. I used them to help understand other machines (writing assemblers/disassemblers, etc), to control things I'd made, and so on.

The machine that I'm using now gets me on the internet. And that's about all. I do not understand it. I can't program it. And I certainly can't interface it. It does what the manufacturers want, not what want.

I do not consider this to be progress.

Incidentally, I have a lot of the computers mentioned in this thread, such as the Epson HX20 (and TF20 floppy drive unit, essentially a dedicated CP/M computer), Intel MDS800 (and MCS8I before it), PET....
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Old 8th Jul 2023, 8:23 am   #170
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

I think one of the aims of the Raspberry Pi was to restore the ability for users, especially youngsters, to interact with their computers in a way that people probably haven't been able to do since the 8-bit era, and crucially to be able to do it without any fear of upsetting the delicate OS of their parents' 'proper' computers. If you somehow manage to trash the OS of a Raspberry Pi, you just put another SD card in and you are up and runnning again.

They (usually) run some form of Linux so they are quite usable self contained computers but they do at least allow for a bit of 'physical computing' with their many I/O port pins, some of which can be programmed to function as specialised serial interfaces such as I2C, SPI, etc which in turn gives easier access to special function ICs which have those types of interface.

I only wish the designers had tried harder to provide at least one 8-bit wide parallel port which could be written to and read from in a single simple move, as parallel communication is arguably the simplest of all possible interfaces for a newcomer to understand.

If this thread somehow survives in some form for another 40 years, I wonder for how many people the answer to this question will be 'Raspberry Pi'?
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Old 8th Jul 2023, 4:33 pm   #171
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffB17 View Post
My first computer, 1983, was an Epson HX-20 with the built-in printer and micro cassette recorder. If I wanted any software, I had to write it myself. Great for learning. Still got the HX, and it still - barely - works, saving/loading progs etc to the laptop using .WAV files. Got a dual floppy disk drive for it, TF-20, still got that but needs 'fixing'. Next machine was an Amstrad PCW 8256, still got that, but MUCH expanded from it's original config. Also still working, and used. Late 80s I got to use an IBM System /36 mini, but too big/heavy to take home!

Geoff
Now that reminded me. I also used, and borrowed an HX20 from work, as a trainee. I used it on the train down to London to learn about it. Didin't feel much like learning on the way back having just been thrown off my Uni course.

So I got on to another more practical course at Cov Poly. Final year project typed up on a PCW8256. The project itself partly done with one of those Amstrad PCs, that also caused me to learn the hard way about backups when it physically damaged a floppy with my work on.
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Old 8th Jul 2023, 4:49 pm   #172
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

Mine was a BBC B. Often used by my then 14 year old son and younger brother for games and occasional homework.
Together with a tractor feed printer it was used to write up my submission of evidence regarding my redundancy in Spring 1990.
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Old 12th Jul 2023, 11:21 am   #173
stevenkw2t
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

My first computer was a Microbee I built from a kit in 1982. 16kb ROM which included a BASIC interpreter. I couldn't afford a monitor so I connected it to a black and white TV. Data and BASIC programmes could be saved to a cassette deck. I wrote a programme to calculate very large prime numbers. I left it running over the weekend but was disappointed on Sunday night to find it had reached only 47287
Edited: yes I still have it

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Old 12th Jul 2023, 2:10 pm   #174
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

Late 70s me & a pal at work had a joint sc/mp project but my own first proper machine was a kit-built Nascom-1 in 1978. Sadly I skipped it decades ago

I owe my entire career to that Nascom-1 kit I bought from Lock Distribution in 1978.
£197 was a huge investment at the time, we'd only just got married and money was short, but it was clear that these microprocessor thingies were the future.
I still have the receipt, see attached scan.
That poor board was expanded to death with the dreaded buffer-board and clumps of vero, it was amazing but so unreliable...
As a ham (G4PHL) I used it for CW and RTTY, with a Creed 7B which shook the house to pieces. I still have some 40-year-old printouts from the Creed which the Nascom group members have asked me to re-type, quite a task, maybe a winter project .
At work we had a laborious process which looked ripe for a computer and I convinced then to pay for a Nascom-2 kit - it was the very first desk computer in BT, or at least in our region of BT.
Fast forward to September 2021 and a really nasty motorbike accident and many hours confined to bed watching Youtube, where I discovered Neal's FPGA Nascom.

I would dearly love another Nascom-1 as it had such an impact on my life, but now, retired on a low income, theres no way

Cheers
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Old 12th Jul 2023, 2:28 pm   #175
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

I'm surprised no-one has done a NASCOM repro PCB... unless, of course, anyone knows differently?
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Old 12th Jul 2023, 2:47 pm   #176
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

Neal's superb FPGA Nascom-4 is the only one I'm aware of G.
I'd love a genuine Nascom-1 though as its particularly meaningful to me
life would have been very different without that 1978 investment!
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Old 12th Jul 2023, 3:25 pm   #177
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

I think the microprocessor programming course in what was Gwent Institue of Higher Education at Allt-Yr-Yn Newport used the Nascom 1 with a b&w tv as the monitor in the now dim & distant days of 1979/80.

All done in hand assembled Z80 assembler typed in hex on the keyboard.

I can't decide if that was better or worse than using the Modular One computer at Loughborough in 1972.

Eternal Thanks to the Digital Deity for inventing floppy disks.
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Old 12th Jul 2023, 5:43 pm   #178
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

I've probably told this story before but when the MK14 was my first and only 'computer' we heard that someone high up in the computing dept at what was then Newcastle Poly was going to come into our school and give us a talk, so I grabbed my MK14 which at the time was very nicely installed in a hard briefcase with a white perspex panel set into the lower half and the MK14's keypad and display extended into a calculator housing mounted on top of that. It looked incredibly swish, probably the prettiest and neatest it ever looked in its life - and I took it in to show the guy who came to give the talk.

He also had with him a computer in a briefcase, and what that turned out to be was a fully fitted out NASCOM. At the end of the talk, which I enjoyed, I took my neatly cased MK14 over to show him and to my surprise he was quite negative about it and said I'd wasted my money and should have bought something like the NASCOM. I asked him how much money he thought a typical school kid had, and said that if it wasn't for the MK14 I still wouldn't have a programmable device to play with, and that as far as I knew I was the only person in my year who had one. Needless to say, I didn't go to Newcastle Poly to study computing.

The ZX81 which came along only 3-4 years later also comes in for quite a lot of retrospective flak, slow, bad keyboard, tiny memory, but again it did what it did for its owners what the MK14 did for me, it made owning a programmable device financially possible, and like Phil with his Nascom, set many of them up for careers in computing hardware, software programming or I.T.
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Old 12th Jul 2023, 8:23 pm   #179
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

I remember reading an old review of a 'portable computer' which actually was an unexpanded Nascom-1 inside a nice carry-case. Obviously very limited with its 1k RAM, and simple monitor rom, (no BASIC etc) so I dont know what you'd manage to 'compute' with it...
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Old 13th Jul 2023, 12:07 am   #180
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Default Re: What was your first computer and do you still have it?

In those days anything with a microprocessor in it and some sort of human interface to allow it to be programmed was a 'Computer'.

Didn't Karen do a Babbage on the MK14? I'd say that counts as computation.
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