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Poll: When did you first start using a personal computer?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / July 13, 2007 6:22 AM PDT

When did you first start using a personal computer?

1960s (Was it even a personal computer?)
1970s (What computer was it?)
1980s (What computer was it?)
1990s (What computer was it?)
2000s (What computer was it?)
Just starting now (So what do you think of it?)

If you have a story behind your first personal computer use, get nostalgic and tell us all about it! We'd love to hear about it.

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I feel old now, but...
by Willy / July 13, 2007 9:10 AM PDT

My 1st brought computer was a PCjr.(don't laugh). At least I was able to transfer alot of pgms. and data later to a PC clone. I did play with Atari and AppleII for awhile but felt s/w was limited as in my budget at the time. However, I do remember playing with a PET(Comadore?) in HS. I thought this was only a toy at the time, but it got me out of another boring class. I did work on Burroughs(1st computer job, late 70's) systems for awhile, but only in sections of it and really it was shared system for the repair depot/center at the time. It's been so long, I don't rememebr the model#'s any more, I think 90 or 900. Many of these were used banks & govt. sites, so fixing them was serious business. PCs didn't show up until much later in any common use. But, repairs for Tandy one(you know the 1st useful system)systems were done and users really put them to tasks outside of what thier mainframe or mini-system couldn't and for some dept.. That's my story. -----Willy

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I also...
by jackintucson / July 13, 2007 9:37 AM PDT
In reply to: I feel old now, but...

did work on Burroughs machines but started in 1969. First PC was an IBM "Classic" upgraded to 256mb of memory and 2 single-sided, single-density 5.25" floppy drives. Epson 80 character dot-matrix printer. I later upgraded to a 5mb hard drive. Cost me over $600!

Talk about feeling old!!

and life goes on...


p.s. Hey Willy, wanna reminisce?

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Burroughs systems
by Willy / July 13, 2007 2:16 PM PDT
In reply to: I also...

I worked at the depot here in Ohio. Many a componet or device was sent back for repairs/rebuild. The logic modules on devices were before ICs became common, descrete componets and I replaced many a "top hat" xsister. Fixed many a "decoder" for the teller machine for banks. Did you use any "Marvel Mystery oil" as some techs did to help keep the solenoids from freezing and thus not change a decoder. I cut my fingers on those dang steel bands!!! An old bench tech taught me the quick and easy way to replace and bother it made a difference. Saw the 1st tape cart drives, Plessley drives, cermanic drives, huge printers, huge HDs, heck the compressor alone was good for home projects. Thanks for the trip back... -----Willy

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I wasn't on that...
by jackintucson / July 14, 2007 7:13 AM PDT
In reply to: Burroughs systems

side of it. I was a systems tester in the USAF. Tested operating systems before they were released AF-wide. In other words I broke them until they were fixed. Let's not go there. First Burroughs was a B-263. Card input/output. But we digress from the topic. Better quit before Lee sends me a nasty note. BTW: That 5mb hard drive was the first time I cracked open a case and installed it myself... with hands sweating, heart thumping and wife looking over my shoulder with a frying pan in her hand in case I screwed it up... and our $4,000 investment.

and life goes on...


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Hey, let's hear it for the old guys & Burroughs
by BlueKnight / July 18, 2007 8:54 AM PDT
In reply to: I wasn't on that...

Wow, you guys are stirring up fond memories.
The first system I worked on was a GE S-200 series. The next system I worked on was the Philco 900 which got replaced by an RCA Spectra 70... that was our DMV's first on-line system. Mag cards were pretty cool.

In 1967 I went to work for a service bureau as a computer operator on a Burroughs B-260. It had a whopping 4.8K memory, 2 card readers, a punch and a 700 LPM drum printer. A while later I ended up working with a Burroughs B-1700, B-3500 and the B-4700. Burroughs had some pretty neat things in their OS, but the hardware was not very reliable.

Oh for the days when RSI was unknown.

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Using Computers
by NKKapur / July 18, 2007 9:43 AM PDT
In reply to: Burroughs systems

As a Mechanical Engineer, I worked in Research Wing of Indian Railways in Lucknow (India) from 1968 to 1971 and was given a week?s training by IBM in FORTRAN-IV. Then I started developing programmes for the Railways, traversing on alternate days, all the way to IIT Kanpur ( About 50 miles away, local transport, rail and then again local transport), punched cards there, got them listed and submitted them to the computer center (Main Frame 4406 or some similar number. I am not sure now) spending almost whole day, and would get the result on my next visit, again to revise and re-submit for further run.
Left Railways in 1971 to join a steel plant and had nothing to do with computers for next 30 years. Now I am retired, own a PC as pastime, initiated by my NIIT trained daughter, have learnt *** bits of C++, made a few programmes, and run them by F4 and F9, a matter of one or two seconds, performing a task which necessitated commuting for whole day in 1968-71.

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Kilo not Mega
by Zensphere / July 13, 2007 2:58 PM PDT
In reply to: I also...

I believe this gentleman means Kilobits of memory not Megabits... I needed {4} pieces of 256K to make 1M of SIPP memory... And I thought I was a Hot-Rod at the time

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Yep... shoulda said kb...
by jackintucson / July 14, 2007 7:06 AM PDT
In reply to: Kilo not Mega

and not mb. See below.

and life goes on...


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Roaches we called them - and a board full of them
by Mr-Opinion / July 17, 2007 4:51 PM PDT
In reply to: Kilo not Mega

You should be right and the killer was it took 4 for 1 meg - BITTs and therefor we ended up with 4 x 9 per megabite - 4 meg of memory took the space of a laptop - well floor space anyway - obviously not height.

Ah the old times

and if these guys whant to talk about pre-PC's lets see at my Fathers NCR operated office 64 K of actice memory was the size of a desk and Hardrives like washing mashines with individuall platter units stacked on a spindel that was dropped top loaded into the darn thing - 14" mad tape reels ruled the world. It all took about 1000 sq feet do do less than my HP-21 calculator (except for storrage)

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IBM Classic
by PhotoAnimal / July 13, 2007 9:34 PM PDT
In reply to: I also...

I really doubt it had 256 MBytes of memory. Probably (And this really dates us!) 256 KBytes of memory. Happy I think the max you could put in the machine was 640K...

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You are correct...
by jackintucson / July 14, 2007 7:01 AM PDT
In reply to: IBM Classic

I should have said 256Kb instead of 256mb. My error entirely. Back then I thought I was in hog heaven with that much. The machine came with 64k and since I was programming in COBOL back then I felt I needed 256k for the compiler. I did. But it still took 30 min. to compile a few hundred lines of code. Thanks for the correction... 256mb.... geeeeez what was I thinking?

and life goes on...


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No one could need more than 640 K of Memory
by sauerbach / July 14, 2007 7:04 AM PDT
In reply to: IBM Classic

Those famous words were spoken by one Bill Gates. The PC had a max of 1 meg of RAM but the top 360K were reserved for stuff so the max usable was 640K. Then they stuffed things into the "unusable" part and we had EMM386.
Oh yeah that was fun....

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256mb memory in 1969??
by ehwah wah / July 15, 2007 3:01 PM PDT
In reply to: I also...

Maybe 256kb memory in 1969?? My first IBM PC didn't even have a hard disc and the next one, an IBM PC XT had a whopping 10mb/MB? hard drive but still a pittance of RAM in the very low kb range which was awesome for then. I did have an IBM AT and put an expanded memory card which got to 512 kb. Oh well, most of the phone and cable vendors will argue that their service is 6 MB/s downstream when it's really 6 mb/s. Let's don't get sticky, it's only 8X's different! Who cares, it's only performance! Happy
Let me know if I am wrong...I gotsta know!

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First Computer
by jaqflash2 / July 13, 2007 12:52 PM PDT
In reply to: I feel old now, but...

My first 12/1969 Commador VIC 20, 2nd 03/1980 C-64. I miss my C-64,
that was a great little machine. Ran all the Atari games and accepted the Atari Joy Stick. The color was great. My favorite games were ChopLifter,Zaxxon, and Zaxxon 3D.

Anyone know if either of those games were ever made for the PC?

I may just have to by another C-64. I looked at all the Retro's but no one has produced those 2 games.

Message was edited by: admin to remove email address to prevent spam bots from picking it up

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C-64 games
by kiswa22 / July 13, 2007 2:02 PM PDT
In reply to: First Computer

Hi ya...My first computer was a C-64. Then went on to a 286, 486...etc. You can download Dosbox and use it to play lots of those old games. Ultimate Wizard was my favorite C-64 game. Check out for lots of links. Have fun!

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by teddy18104 / July 13, 2007 4:54 PM PDT
In reply to: First Computer

A good old C-64!!
I remember trying to format a 5 1/4 floppy disk and just couldn't do it! The command string in the book was wrong! Remember that??? When I got the correct string I was as happy as a pig in (MUD) hehe

It used to break about once a week so it was back to the store where I bought it to get it replaced. I got smart after the second one that I took the circuit board out of and swapped it with the first one then took the first one back and got a new one! I did like the 64 and had fun with that thing.

I did like choplifter so if you find anything about it PLEASE let me know. I found one close for a PC but that sure was a simple fun game.
Do you remember a game called stroker64? I won't go into details just yet but it was funny as can be. The good old days are gone forever! Life goes on.


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C64, and before
by Phacops / July 13, 2007 6:19 PM PDT
In reply to: c64

Hi! I'm a C-64 nostalgic too, though the first computer i got close to was a SWTZC6800 (motorola 6800 based computer) with NOT built-in tape interface, which had nothing pre-loaded : you had to load basic langage first, from a regular tape recorder (not a special one) plugged into the above mentioned interface which looked like a boeing control board. Once basic was loaded (several minutes), you could begin programming... or load your program from the same tape recorder. The funniest about it was, guess what, it had no screen! No kidding, the user interface was...the printer : a telex printer with a keyboard that did the noise of a trash crusher truck : teleprinter ksr430 : look at this
it was the computer's age of bronze (not stone).
Later I got a C64 that was customized (a reset button was added close to the joystick port). At school, they had some apple II (C and e I think), I still remember the magic of Simon's Basic!! I remember Stroker 64 too. lol.
At university, I worked on a vax with VT240 and tektronix terminals, while at home, the PC niagara began : 8088+8087 (math copro), 80286-386-486-pentium I,II,III,pro, and on and on....

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by newkiwi / July 13, 2007 6:48 PM PDT
In reply to: C64, and before

I never experienced a computer with out a display except in the automobile. It took a second when you said Vax. Out of Mass. this company made many mini computers. When I worked at the Health department we pulled the old 911 emergency services computer out of the warehouse and setup a patient tracking system using MUMPS. The storage was the old disk packs. 4 or 6 plates to a pack, with I believe about 250 megs of storage. The environment was a raised floor room with its own environmental control.

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c64 and before EDIT
by Phacops / July 13, 2007 6:51 PM PDT
In reply to: C64, and before
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Long Live the Commodore 64 K
by buddhak0n / July 16, 2007 11:23 AM PDT
In reply to: C64, and before

Long Live the Commodore 64K , Basic and whatever that crazy old IBM Model was with the big ole off white mouse kinda thingy with the blue button...

LOL I even forget what stuff was called. The Original Macintosh was all the rage but to me the thing looked like a 1000 dollar toaster oven with a stupid little smiley face on it.

And let's face it.. Did i use my first PC to program stuff to save the world from endless repetitive tasks or to professionally format that book report on Catcher and the Rye I submitted to Mr. Edwards in 6th grade?

ABSOLUTELY NOT. What I wanted to do was kill as many aliens as possible and figure out just the perfect way to sneak that little body blow into Piston Hurricane as he came sneaking back up after the "come on come on" Call out....

Not much has change... By the way.. The new MacBook Pro is awesome. Sorry I keep gushing but this thing is the best thing since American cheese came sliced thin <g>.

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My first computer
by Masterfitter / July 13, 2007 9:52 PM PDT
In reply to: First Computer

My first was a Timex-Sinclare, It didn't do much but I had a lot of fun with it. Next was the Vic-20 then Commodore 64(which I still xhave), nest was the 128. Shortly after I graduated to the Apple II, Learned Basic, Fortran and Pascal.....What's that??

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old C=64 games
by chrisjw1234 / July 14, 2007 3:14 AM PDT
In reply to: First Computer

It's easier to down load a C=64 emulator from the net than trying to find old machines and working software (the magnetic disks deteriorate). Try googling emulators C=64.

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by trilldax42 / July 14, 2007 6:55 AM PDT
In reply to: old C=64 games

A friend of mine had Vic-20 and that piqued my interest for computers. It was about the time the C-128 came out, so I waited for it instead of buying a C-64. Ended up running the 128 in 64 most of the time! Another friend took an C-64 and set it up and ran a small BBS with it.

Those emulators work great. Its like playing the real thing. The one I use even simulates the wait time for those programs to load from the floppy disk! Sorry I cannot provide information about it, because I bought it at a trade show and there is no identifying information on it.

Does anyone remember the Compute Gazette! magazine written for Commodore? Thats where I got a lot of my games. The aforementioned CD has all of the old Gazette! programs. No more bleary eyes in the wee hours of morning trying to sort out my gobus from gosub

Aaaaah, the good ole' days!

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by dokken2 / July 16, 2007 9:49 PM PDT
In reply to: First Computer

Friends and myself had a number of early personal computers- Atari 800/800XL, Vic-20, C-64, Timex/Sinclair 1000, Commodore 16/+4, not to mention the early video game consoles- Atari 2600/5200, Magnavox Odyssey2, Colecovision, Intellivision, and the best system at the time- the original Nintendo NES.

Most of these golden age home computers have emulators available that run pretty well on a pc, you just need to do some searching to find them. ie: for C-64 try the VICE emulator-
and there's good emulators for Atari and other computers as well.

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Burroughs E103
by PhotoAnimal / July 13, 2007 9:45 PM PDT
In reply to: I feel old now, but...

When I was in college, we simulated (we wrote a 100,000 line Fortran program) the Burroughs E103. It was the first "desk" computer. It was the desk. It was programmed by putting metal keys through holes to make connections. We ran the simulations on a Xerox Sigma 7. Not sure this computer had a hundreth of the compute power this laptop has and we had 100+ students compiling Fortran and Pascal programs on it simultaneously.

My first 'bought' computer was a Compaq 'portable' (Probably weighed in at over 40 Lbs). Had 256K of memory, 10Meg (wow, who would ever need this much space!) Hard Disk and a black and white cathode-ray screen built in. Put a 1200baud modem in it. Whole thing cost almost $6,000. I remember paying for it with a car loan...

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An old ti 99
by jon_2002 / July 14, 2007 3:35 AM PDT
In reply to: Burroughs E103

I used a TI 99 added cassette back up and when they had it a 360 floppy disk. Those were the good old old days


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TI- 99 4A
by BDJA4 / July 13, 2007 12:24 PM PDT

I think this was the model of my first computer, A TI-99 4A. They sold them cheap about 1980. The only storage system was a tape recorder with a counter so you could retreive your program. The computer sounded like a modem when it stored the programs. We used an old TV for a monitor. I remember it a programming similiar to Apple-soft. It came with a program to make a man on a screen. I modified the program so he would move. It would be 4 years later when I used Apple 11e that I learned how to use a disk drive. I programmed my own word processor in Applesoft Basic. The next year I had a friend who bought an IBM 286. It had a 20mb hard drive. At the time, people thought no one would need a bigger hard drive. Bill

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apple 2 c
by dkgoody / July 14, 2007 2:31 AM PDT
In reply to: TI- 99 4A

and played zork, used bank street writer

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Dito here
by Dango517 / July 14, 2007 4:18 AM PDT
In reply to: TI- 99 4A

Remember those magic words....if then, for next, goto. I think your talking about Sprites. Little more then animated icons. Do you remember the chess game? I thought I was in tall cotton when I bought it, about fifty bucks as I remember. Boy did I want one of those peripheral expansion boxes with space for two floppy drives as I recall, maybe even a modem. I used it for about three years. Taught myself how to type with it. Anyone remember the little planes with the words on them. It had modules you could plug into the thing that did various applications. Had advanced basic too for about $75.00 dollars. If memory serves me didn't the Apple cost about $3,500.00 when it first came out. You could buy a good used car for that amount of money in those days. It was certainly worth the $200.00 dollars I payed for it.

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Me Too
by hhoytjr / July 17, 2007 2:10 PM PDT
In reply to: TI- 99 4A

Still think that the TI 99/4A never reached it's full potential. The TMS 9900 chipset was top flight military chip. Had full system with peripheral expansion box and hard drives. TI marketing never appreciated the product and gave feeble support. TI extended basic Gave very high accuracy decimal calculations, like a scientific calculator.

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