What Was the First Computer You Ever Used?

September 14th, 2006 by Benj Edwards

Atari 800 SystemWhat was the first computer you ever used? Was it a mainframe? A hobby kit? An early consumer PC? An IBM clone? I've heard numerous neat stories of people's first experiences with computers since starting Vintage Computing and Gaming, but here's your turn to share one of your own. Tell us about your "first time" with a computer. What kind of computer was it? Where were you when it happened? Was it the first computer you ever owned? Post a comment telling your story, and let us know. I'd love to read them.

I think the first computer I ever used was an Atari 800. My father bought one as our first family computer, but it ended up mostly being used to play games (but some great games). My brother learned to program BASIC on the machine, and he's a professional programmer today, so it was definitely a valuable experience for him. Aside from playing games on it, my use of the 800 was limited to loading game binaries off of disks in Atari DOS, or perhaps even loading a BASIC program my brother had written. To this day, the Atari 800 is my favorite vintage computer because of the nostalgia it evokes for me personally.

Apple IIcThe next machine I ever interfaced with was probably an Apple II that my father had built himself by hand from a schematic using bootleg Apple II ROMS (quite a popular practice at the time, as it turns out). I don't remember if I did much with it, so my mind moves on to the Apple IIc we had later. We had a mouse for it — a peripheral I was unfamiliar with up to that point — but I absolutely delighted in using Apple MousePaint to draw pictures. It was so much fun that I was distraught when my father finally sold the Apple IIc, likely to get our Atari ST.

The first computer I ever felt like I "owned" was an Apple II Plus that my father bought for me (for probably about $20) at a local hamfest around 1990. It was my computer alone, and I was proud of it. He bought it as a starter computer so I could learn to program BASIC — and program BASIC I did. I filled up disk after disk with programs I had written (mostly novelty programs until later), and I had a blast with it. Not surprisingly, the Apple II still occupies a soft spot in my squishy guts today because of the experience.

Toshiba T-1000The first MS-DOS computer I ever learned to use was a Toshiba T-1000 laptop, one of the first clamshell LCD display-based MS-DOS laptops of its kind (some say it's the first, and they're probably right). My brother taught me how to boot it up, type "dir" to see what was on a disk, and type "tetris" to run…Tetris. Not too complicated, I know, but it was a major milestone for me, as it cracked open a whole new world of IBM PC-compatibles. Not long after that, I had my own PC-compatible and was BBSing up a storm. But that's another story entirely, for another day.

For now, tell us your story.



69 Responses to “What Was the First Computer You Ever Used?”

  1. Russ Says:

    Apple ][c.

    Probably about the 4th grade. I used to skip out of P.E. to go play with LOGO.

    Let's do the math here:

    Computer + Logo + No P.E. Classes = Yep, you guessed it: DORK!

    And, quite frankly, I'm good with that.

  2. Daniel Says:

    My first computer was a TRS-80 Color Computer - the one with the gray case and chicklet keyboard. Ah, memories. :)

  3. Derek Says:

    TI 99/4a. My father bought it betting that having a 16-bit CPU, it would become more popular than the other computers at the time. Needless to say, it didn't. But I learned to type on it, and I learned BASIC and hexadecimal on it (you needed to know hex in order to program in bitmaps for sprites).

  4. Johny Says:

    As bad as this will age me my first comp was a TI994A from Texas Instruments. It had a game/software cartridge system with no HD. If you wanted to save data you had to demodulate to an audiotape. Oh and did I mention no monitor. I had to use a 13 color TV to hook it up to. I wrote a program once that created a sound, showed a picture and wrote a word on the screen and it took almost 800 lines of code. Now that’s computing.
    Here’s the stats on it.
    Texas Instruments TI-99/4A
    Released: June 1981
    Price: US$525 (without monitor)
    How many: 2.8 Million
    CPU: TI TMS9900, 3MHz
    Memory: 16K RAM, 26K ROM
    Display: Video via an RF modulator
    32 characters by 24 lines text
    192 X 256, 16 color graphics
    Ports: ROM cartridge (on front)
    Data storage cassette
    Audio/Video output
    Joystick input
    CPU bus expansion
    Peripherals: Speech Synthesizer
    Peripheral Expansion Box
    Data storage cassette
    300 baud modem
    OS: ROM BASIC

  5. Literal Johonkey 3 Says:

    The first computer I ever used was my brain. :)

  6. Keith Rose Says:

    The first computer I ever used was our original Apple ][, purchased in 1978. The serial # is in the 9000 range. I still have it. I was a sophomore in high school who, until that time, had no particular vocation direction. After I discovered the delights of programming in BASIC (both Integer and Applesoft), there was no turning back.

  7. gnome Says:

    The first computer must have been the Ti94/A, closely followed by an ultra powerful Olivetti AT with a hard drive…

  8. Walker Evans Says:

    My mom purchased a Commodore 64 when I was 4 or 5 (back in 84 or 85). I don't remember exactly when it was, but I remember falling in love with it. Playing games was almost as much fun as typing in coding out of Compute Gazette to be able to have NEW GAMES via magazine! Wow! Who would have ever thought that magazines would eventually just package CDs/DVDs with programs on them? ;)

    My first IBM machine was a 286 with 8MB ram running dos 4 and a gui called HyperDOS. It had a whopper of a 40MB HD, a 2400bps modem, and a single-speed cd-rom cartidge. Fun!

    My first mac was my mac mini I bought this year. ;)

  9. Old Man Dave Says:

    The first computer I ever owned and could do something useful on was a Commodore Pet. I had built a computer(HA-HA) from a schematic out of a electronic hobbyist magazine. It was little more than switches and lights.

  10. Marie Says:

    my first computer was a vic20 w/a 13″ black and white t.v.. It needed a tape recorder to save anything. The second time i used it i plugged it in with the wrong cord and copletely fried the thing, oh, well i read the books that came with it and learned basic, fortran and cobol at school, but that little vic20 started it all.

  11. Rudy Says:

    The first computer I ever USED? I can't remember. How about the first computer you ever BOUGHT? Mine was an Epson Apex 80. Intel 8088 processor, MS-DOS 3.3, WordPerfect 5.0, Epson LX-80 9-pin Dot Matrix printer. Had a big 'ol 10Gig hard drive and a 5 1/4 inch floppy. But it had a color screen (16 color capable, I think). Spent about a grand for it when I was in high school. My friends had afterschool jobs to buy a car, I worked to pay off my computer. Yup, I'm a geek too!

  12. Rudy Says:

    Sorry, meant 10megabyte hard drive. Gigs were still years away…

  13. GameCollector Says:

    The first computer I ever used was probably an old Apple ][ in elementary school. At that point, they were used almost exclusively for some lemonade stand game or Oregon Trail. My brother also supplied me with copies of some interesting Apple games, most notably Leather Goddesses of Phobos. Lewd Mode at 13 years old held many fond dreams.

    My folks' first computer (purchased when I was in JH or HS) was an old 286 IBM compatible, with 16 MB RAM (got you beat, Walker!) and a 40 MB HDD, when 20′s were the norm. Not sure which version of DOS, but it had a menu-based GUI of some sort. I actually did some of my first PC 'surgery' on that menu program. My brother had left the 5.25″ floppy in his car on a hot, sunny day, and the disk had warped. I was able to slit the outer shell open, do the same on a blank, and swap the internal magnetic media between the two. Amazingly enough, it actually worked, and we were able to salvage the program by copying it to another disk.

    This was the system that I was introduced to QBasic and QuickBasic on, and I spent many an evening working on my own screensaver and casino programs. It was also the one that got me hooked on PC gaming — Ultima VI, Might & Magic, Phantasie I-III, and so on.

    Around that same time, my dad was taking programming classes at the local college, and I would go in with him once in a while and play around in the Apple and Mac labs they had. It was here that I saw my first networked game, a Mac version of EGA Trek, as well as my first strategy game, The Ancient Art of War.

    My folks moved up through a 486/66 and an original P-I. I eventually purchased a Gateway GX6 P2-400 as my own first PC, running Win98. My kids still use it. Or rather, they use what it has become — I've upgraded it a bit since then.

  14. John Hart Says:

    The first computer I used was the TRS-80; we had about ten of them in my college library. After that my room mate bought a VIC-20 and I bought a Tandy Color Computer.

  15. doug fink Says:

    My first computer was, like most here, an Apple ][+. I still have it in
    my mom's attatic…and the only software that still runs is a collection
    of what we now know as "screensavers"…I think it was called fire organ.

    I had a "fast" 1200 baud modem, dreamt of 10 meg hard drive, and
    get this, a huge fast Anadex line printer!

    All this and a black and white monitor cost 2000$.

    Funny how the current apple laptop that runs on the duo core is about
    the same price??

  16. Hernan Says:

    My first computer was a ZX Spectrum clone, the CZ Spectrum, made in my home country, Argentina.

  17. Ignacio Says:

    The first computer I used (not owned) was a MSX Daewoo. I was taking Logo lessons (yes… what a waste of money) then BASIC.

    The first computer I owned was a TK90X, a Brazilian ZX Spectrum 48K clone. It was almost the same as the ZX48K, but with a slightly different ROM. I had convinced my parents that it would be quite usefull to help me with my studies (ie. 'play games') so I got it on 1988 or 89.

    Anyone who knew the Spectrum remembers loading the games from cassette tapes. It's something of a lost art. Fiddling with the azimuth to make the sound as bright as possible. Then wait for 5 or more minutes while the game loaded. Usually, it failed to load (R Tape Loading error!!) and the whole process would have to be repeated.

    Anyway, it was fun. Later I moved straight to PCs (a 386sx being the first, and a Centrino Duo Laptop being the current).

  18. Sulperous Says:

    My first computer experience was my friends and cousins acorn electrons and commodore 64s, so many happy days playing (well watching) ghostbusters, damn that was a cool game.

    The first computer we own was in maybe 85 and it was a BBCb a real hieght of sophistication 32bit and no hard drive! required tapes and about an hour to load any thing. had the most sophisticated space sim ever tho, Elite. it was happy days when they released that baby on disk and we bought a disk drive!

    Then we had a spate of amigas, 5 man worms and Dynablaster (bomber man) then we had a mac… (nuff said). first PC tho was a 1gb 199 pentium (I think) I bought off an ex and played Dungeon Keeper on must have been 10 years ago.since then life has got better, I followed that with a athalon 600 2 years later, and then that got blown up by an electric storm that got through my surge protecter :( . then I bought an Evesham Laptop never again, their CS is dire and the Lappy has more faults than a tennis match. and a gross dual core crossfire machine (hmmm I think I'm in love!!)

  19. GameJunkie Says:

    My first machine was a Timex Sinclair 1000.

    Awesome!

  20. Squeedo Says:

    The first that I ever used was an Apple II. We had them when I was in jr high. When we moved to the high school we had IBM PCjr to work with and I was at home with a TRS-80 AND a TI99/4A (yes I had 2!!!!) After that it was all down the hill along the road to geekdom. :)

  21. Beth Says:

    1978 — 7th Grade — Austin, Texas — my first

    Would that be an Apple II? I am not sure… I just remember a monitor, keyboard, and a cassette tape for storing data.

    The thing I remember most was my teacher and his "Robin Hood" shirts with laces at the neckline. And the fact that the neckline was a little low for a man.. ugh!

    OK, obviously I am a girl geek.

    The first computer I ever bought was an IBM 286 clone in 1990. We bought it with money my husband inherited from his grandmother. The man we bought it from was building computers in his apartment. Later he opened a chain of computer stores here in Dallas and probably made a lot of money.

    Now I have 4 computers and still want MORE!
    But never, ever will I want a Robin Hood shirt with laces.

  22. Jurgi/Tristesse/Atari8.Info Says:

    The first computer I saw, in the mid-80′s, was Atari in Pewex shop. I was ten, I guess. In the communistic Poland of that time a computer was something known rather only from s-f books. I was going to stand there and watch the compy until the end of the world, but daddy took me out of the shop.
    The first computer I could touch and play on was Atari 800XL with tape recorder and turbo Blizzard. It was owned by the friend of mine (or rather his brother), it was right after fall of communism (1990, I suppose) and computers were available, but only for rich. Amigas were hitting the market, but even 8-bit was a dream. The first game I saw on friend's Atari was amazing Mission, one of the first Polish games and one of the best games for this compy ever. We were also playing Hammurabi.
    About 1.5 year later daddy bought me my first computer… Of course Atari! 65XE with CA12 recorder. I started to program BASIC immediatelly (I had some my first BASIC programs written on paper already - they didn't work, because fist I had programming manual for Spectrum ;>). A month later I bought two joystick and some games (of course pirate versions - but this wasn't illegal that times!). A year later I bought disk drive - Polish SN-360, I still have it!. Later I bought a printer. Not _just_ a printer, it was new and extra Epson LQ-100 model with amazing capabilities. I wrote dedicated driver for my text editor and did some DTP for shool-magazine. It looked much better than anything done on PC that times (scalable fonts and ESC-P/2 printer programming language ruled, yeah!).
    Yes, it was the time I touched first PC's in school. But I was still using Atari for many years… Moreover, I went on the demoscene, changed several Atari's the last one has +1MB of ram, stereo, 8-bit covox and many, many more gadgets.
    In 2001 (hm, ten years after buying an Atari) I bought my own PC. It's a bit old today, but I'm still working with it. And on the other side of the big table still stands my Atari, with two disk drives and good 1084S monitor.
    What will be next? I hope for a laptop… With Atari800WinPlus emulator, of course. ;>
    That's the story in short (and sorry for not-the-best English). };D

  23. Paul G Says:

    First computer I ever used was the Atari 800XL. The place we went on vacation every year got onto the home computer bandwagon in 1984 and installed a "learning lab" with about 40 of them networked.

    Even at 10 years old, I knew enough to know that these computers were related to the Space Invaders, Pole Position, Sprint 2 and Pacman arcade machines I spent most of my last several vacations shoving 10 pence pieces into, so I signed up, half expecting to spend the time playing games, and got a crash course in BASIC programming instead.

    Really they just read out the program they wanted us to enter, and we dutifully typed it in. Colours! Sound! Wow! It was really just a glorified "Hello World" exercise but it impressed me enough to harass my parents for a computer the whole time from summer until that Christmas.

    I didn't get an 800XL (nowhere local sold them), but instead got to play for 5 minutes with a 48k Sinclair Spectrum at the local store and liked it.

    I still remember the disappointment of nothing loading from tape on my ancient tape player (I finally got a new one a few weeks later), then realizing there was a whole world of programs in the manual for me to try out, and spending the whole of that Christmas break in front of a fuzzy black-and-white TV, and pleading for the occasional opportunity to plug it into the colour TV downstairs. :)

  24. RedWolf Says:

    Awesome stories, everybody. Thanks for sharing!

  25. DLOTSBANE Says:

    the first computer i used was a TRS-80. i have seen that a few on this thred also have used one. i cant bleave people try to tell me they never existed. didnt raido shak make them? (hence the "rs" in the name?)

  26. Jamie Says:

    I tried a Macintosh Preforma 630 or something like that (which for the time was really old) And then when I was 11 - 13 I had a normal PC from Toys 'r' us then I now have a Apple iMac at 14

  27. Rudy Says:

    Performa 630 was really old for you? I remember when the Performas were all the rage for new PC users. The 630 was smaller than the pizza box, but it wasn't the all-in-one (monitor/pc combo). Those were the 500 series I think. I used to work for Apple tech support when I was in college, and I remember supporting those little guys. Performas. Wow, that takes me back. That was right around the time that Apple was about to sport their new PowerPC chips. Must have been around 1993-1994, right? "7th Guest" and "Myst" were all they were mostly used for though. Rock on. Thanks for the memory trip.

  28. RedWolf Says:

    DLOTSBANE, yes the "TRS" in TRS-80 stands for "Tandy Radio Shack." The Tandy Corporation was Radio Shack's parent company at the time. Not sure if it still is anymore, though. In the mid-80s they switched to just going by "Tandy" alone on their computers (i.e. Tandy 1000, Tandy 200), probably because, by then, the colloquial name for "TRS-80″ among many people was "Trash-80″ — not because the computers were bad, of course, but because "Trash" was the best shortcut they could think of when trying to pronounce "TRS" like a word.

  29. Leon Says:

    The first computer I ever used (and built) was I believe a TRS 80. I may be wrong. It goes so far back that I may have actually forgotton the name and the model but I remember it came as a kit and when you put it together it was small, no bigger than a paper back book. It had a rectangle for a cursor. I have also owned commodores, ataris, apples. My God, how far we've gone in so short a time!

  30. RedWolf Says:

    Leon,

    I think you might be thinking of a Timex-Sinclair 1000 (released as the ZX81 in the UK), not a TRS-80, since no TRS-80 computers I know of were ever released in kit form. Check out this page about the TS-1000:

    http://oldcomputers.net/ts1000.html

    Thanks for your comment!

  31. Leon Says:

    RedWolf, you're right. Your memory is better than mine. I was never good for names anyway. Thanks.

  32. RedWolf Says:

    Leon,

    No problem, that's what I'm here for. :)

  33. Don Says:

    My first computer was the TRS-80 color computer (gray with the chicklet keyboard). It came with 16k extended basic and a tape recorder ro save/load files. Later on I subscribed to Rainbow magazine and the COCO magazine and learned how to modify it. The thing connected to a small 13in color tv I bought. What is funny is that the computer did not support true lower case for the characters. If you wanted lower case you would get an inverse of the character tather than lower case. I mentioned the magazines because they came with instructions on how to modify the COCO. I modified the rom to inverse the whole screen with a switch. Piggy backed the 16k ram to make 32k and eventually 64k. It had a rom cartridge slot for games and expansions. With one radio shack game (can't remember the game) I was able to copy its rom by locating its starting and ending addresses and load the section of memory in to the computers ram memory and play it from there. Later I got a 5.25 half-hight drive. Eventually I moved upto the coco-II and then a Tandy 1000sx. After that I started building my own computers. EVen then I liked to overclock computers because I had a 20mhz xt motherboard when 12mhz and 16mhz were the norm. (hehe)

  34. MegaKitsune Says:

    One of those all in one IBM computers with the monitor and everything. READER RABBIT FTW!

  35. M. Peter Engelbrite Says:

    In one sense it was a programmable calculator in high school. This filled up an entire table and had a numerical readout in pixie tubes. For a time I worked at "The Retail Computer Store" in Seattle. They had Altairs, Imsai's, SWTP's, Chromemcos, and SOL's. The first computer I owned was a Cosmac Elf from a kit. It use an 1802 CPU and had 256 bytes (not MB, not KB, but bytes) of memory and it had a two digit display. You could hook it up to a TV and get it to show a very crude picture of the Enterprise. It had a single bit output port that I hooked a speaker onto. I programmed it to throw a random number into that bit and used it to make a white noise machine to help me sleep at night. It was the most amazing thing, and I loved it! Back then, owning your own computer felt like owning your own jetpack, or creating life in a test tube, or having a personal robot to do the housework. It was a major geek out. I still have it, but it probably doesn't work any more.

  36. YOUR FRIEND Says:

    I remember using what I think was an IBM in about the eighth grade. It had those HUGE floppy disks like records. I remember how protective the teacher was of the computer. I remember some comment from her like: "This is state-of-the-art technology." "This is the future." In 1977-78??? We just laughed. "Yea, right." Of course, this was around the same time that Steve Jobs was "secretly" testing his Apple II computer/word processor in colleges, etc. Only certain "geeks" were given the opportunity of using and trying out this marvel of woman & mankind. Wow! A paint brush thing!

  37. Shinderpal jandu Says:

    My first computer was a Toshiba 1200 laptop.
    Monochrome screen
    20 megabyte ( megabyte) hard drive
    8088 processor
    640 k of ram ( not megabytes)
    came with dos 3.2
    upgraded to dos 4.1 and then to finally 5
    Retail on the toshiba laptop was $ 3500
    The ac adapter went - replacement was $ 130 or so.
    With a 2400 baud modem it screamed on Compuserve.
    Recently I picked the same machine up a garage sale ( for sentimental value )
    $ 2
    All in all I did have a lot of with it even if it is primitive by today's standards.

  38. Robert Kurz Says:

    My 1st computer was a "commadore 64″ , I still have the moniter and use with a DVD & VCR players. It has an excellent picture.

  39. William Webber Says:

    The first personal computer that I ever used was and SDS 920 in 1966.

    http://www.computermuseum.li/Testpage/SDS-900-computer.htm
    Yes, this really was a single user personal computer with togle keys and an on/off switch. Infput was via paper tape with output to a teletype.

    This was followed in the 1970s
    by various Digital Equipment Corporation desktop mico computers. These coumputers came with the original ADVENTURE and STARTREK computer games.

    In 1980 I purchased an ATARI 400 with casset tape and used it mostly for developing and playing games. In 1984 I used this computer to test the speed of some sientific calculations. If the ATARI 400 was fast enough then, I reasoned, an IBM PC would work. I also discoverd that the ATARI Basic was very simlar to PICK/Revelation basic. Working with the ATARI gave me the experience to develop a database at work that is still in use today. In fact, although I have retired, I was called today by my former employer to return and do some maintence on this very system.

  40. RedWolf Says:

    Thanks for the great story, William. You've definitely got us all beat as far as earliest first computer usage is concerned. :)

    I'm curious as to what language you wrote your former employer's database in, and what hardware it runs on today. Could you fill us in?

    Fascinating stuff! Thanks again.

  41. Carrie Says:

    The first computer I used was a Texas Instrument TRS 80 using BASIC and recording on a cassette tape.

  42. William Webber Says:

    As I said in my eariler post, ATARI basic wa very similar to PICK/Revelation basic. PICK is a computer operating system for use as a database management system. In 1984 Cosmos released a Pick-style database called Revelation for DOS on the IBM PC.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Pick

    It was the Revelation database management system that I used to develop the system for work. The programing language is a version of BASIC (R-BASIC) specifically tailored to handle databases.

    In fact the commercial Revelation product was developed recursively using R-Basic and the Revelation product itself. There is only one 95 KB executable file for the entire system.

    New versions of this product, Advanced Revelation, have been developed over the years. The latest came out in 1996 and can be found at http://www.revelation.com (no plug intended).

    The system is an MS-DOS program and can run standalone on and IBM PC or mutiuser (with record locking) by installing it on a MS-Windows 2003 Server. It is extremely fast and can handle hundreds of tables and tens of thousand of records in each table with ease.

    The ATARI 400 was bought with my year old son in mind. He went on to use the ATARI and later on an IBM PC running Novel DOS-7 and IBM OS/2. When he was in school they asked the students which version of dos they were using. He replied DOS-7. The teacher said that he must be mistaken since version 6 was the latest version of MS-DOS on the market.

    He went on to work for a goverment agency installing and repairing computers including one used by a Nobel prize winner. I still have the ATARI but my son is gone.

  43. Billy Ford Says:

    My grandfather brought home an Imagination Machine made by APF Electronics Inc. I believe the version he had came with 4K but I just looked up the specs and it says it came with 9K. Either my memory is wrong, or they upgraded the memory in a new release. Here is a link I found about it: http://www.armchairarcade.com/aamain/matrix/detail.php?id=79

    It played simple games and I had my first experience trying to program with it. I found the code for a game for it and spent two days entering it in one finger peck at a time. I was only in 4th grade at the time and I was so excited when I finished entering it all that I typed "RUN" before saving to the cassette. Of course I had probably made a thousand typos and the thing froze up immediately. I didn't know how to break out of it and finally had to turn off the computer. I had to start over from scratch. That was my first taste of the agony a computer can cause.

    No one will believe this, but I didn't learn much from my experience. I started over almost immediately with new determination and it took me just one day to enter it all again. I had learned there was a key command to break out of a running program and felt confident that I had rechecked all the code for errors. I guess you could call it pride or just plain stupidity but I typed "RUN" again without saving. In my immature way I was trying to bravely stare fate in the face and not flinch. Well, fate won as I couldn't break out of the program when it froze again. At least this time it put some mines and characters on the screen before it crashed.

  44. Shaun Stevens Says:

    commadore 64 ?
    With an "a"
    Must of been a memorable event in your life leading to a life long career in the "lucrative " computer career field !!

  45. RedWolf Says:

    Hey William, thanks for the reply. Sounds like your DB work was pretty impressive, especially if it still runs well under Windows 2003 Server. Thanks again for sharing your story.

    Oh, and to everyone else: I haven't forgotten you either. Excellent stuff all around, thanks for sharing! By the way, anyone is welcome to chime in; it doesn't matter if your fist computer experience was in 1966 or 1996.

  46. Ed Cohen Says:

    My first was a single board, hexadecimal keypad and LED output.
    Made by Mostechnology, makers of the 6502. 1 K of RAM.
    First "real" machine was kit form from SWTPC. It had 16 K, of RAM and a 8 K ROM. Graduated to a Gimix. The power transformer weighed in at 25 pounds. Made the cabinet heavy
    at one corner. This had a maximum 56 K of RAM. Two 8″ discs
    from Midwest Scientific was mass storage. Great software from
    Technical Systems Consultants. TSC Basic, Text Processor, and
    others I can't remember anymore. Later on I got a COCO II.
    great little game machine. Good old 6800 and 6809.

  47. Wiley Wiggins Says:

    The Timex Sinclair. I would spend hours keying in the basic monopoly program, only to have it never save correctly to audio tape, and then be lost when the power was turned off.

  48. Chris Rusanowski Says:

    I have no idea of the actual name of the computer, but in 1980 my best friend and I found a portable computer that my friend's data had gotten through army surplus.

    It weighed about 50 pounds, had a 6 inch screen with the keyboard built into the lid of the suitcase like case. It had CP/M on it, and a 1200(?) baud modem. We ran a BBS on it, and spent hours chatting with people that logged into the BBS.

    After that, we upgraded the BBS to Apple ][c and started playing games!

  49. Scott Says:

    Let's see.
    First computer I used:
    Commodore PET (either at school or at the Lawrence Hall of Science (www.lawrencehallofscience.org/) on a school trip)
    First computer I owned:
    Radio Shack MC-10 (gift from my grandfather sometime between ages 9 and 11)
    First online computer:
    Apple Macintosh connected to Pacific Bell's early online trial of "Project Victoria" (a pre-ISDN vector graphics based online system tested in my hometown of Danville, CA)

  50. dave Says:

    absolutely an c-vic 20

  51. John Beirne Says:

    Thanks for the great topic. I appreciate William Webber's insight and his skill as well as his background. It takes a lot to make an application that will withstand the test of time and still be useful. Thank you also for making me remember the excitement of some of the old days, when these things weren't so automatic.
    There was a certain excitement in seeing the Enterprise being blown up out of the field of stars by the Klingon torpedo, on a TTY machine. (If you don't know what a TTY is, ask your grandfather, or think of a printout machine for hearing challenged people.) STARTREK ruled the student computer room!, even though it was banned on campus, as being a waste of resources. Some things will never change.
    I saw an amazing number of demonstrations of the Atari's graphics capabilities when the PCs were still in their infancy. I couldn't believe that they didn't take off and stay on the market. Jurgi Tristesse isn't the only one who has held on to their old machines because they are still good.
    In one of the other posts Chris Rusanowski talked about a 50 pound (110K)grey suitcase running CP/M with two floppies and a 5 inch (12.5CM) screen. That is an Osbourne, which is the first "Portable Computer". It was not something that you would consider putting on your lap, in fact, you wouldn't considder putting it on many of the computer desks that are sold in discount stores today. It came with Word Star, and dBase II were hot right then, when it came out, in the 83-84 time frame.
    My first computer was a Timex-Sinclair 1000 which sold for almsot $100. It had 2K of memory, and I had to buy a Radio Shack mono Tape Player to save my programs. It provided me with hours of programing enjoyment, and fun, and my wife with countless reasons to complain that I was hoging the TV. When I went back to college I gave it to a friend's son, who had the same problem, so I gave him something else. An extra TV, not my wife.
    Since I was a poor college student for 4 years, I didn't buy another machine, until after I got out and got hired by a company. I bought an IBM PCjr in 1984. They were giving generous employee discounts. It wasn't until years later that I realized that they sometimes gave employee discounts for products that don't sell well on the outside. My kids were raised with a computer in the house from the time they could reach a keyboard. It has done both of them some good. But like Mr. Webber pointed out, sometimes the teachers don't like it when your children are more informed than they are.

  52. .jon. Says:

    The first family computer was a Mac Performa 630. We got this in 1995. It had a CD-Rom drive and everything. I would use it for typing up papers/stories for elementary school (where we had Power Macs).
    I would play Castes II: Seige and Conquest, Wacky Jacks, The Oregon Trail (Fuck yea!), Specter Challenge, this 5 a day eat healthy game that was actually fun, and i played a few other random games i downloaded, pretty much just hyper card games.
    In 6th or 7th grade we got AOL. I remember not having away messages, when you were online you were online. I would mostly just chat online. There wasn't much of a web at the time anyways. I would download like clips of songs, this was right before any of that fancy compression, so I would download a large .wav that gave you about 5 seconds of a song and I would think it was cool. oh, i would also get people to send me pr0n. it was popular in the chat rooms to trade whatever pr0n pictures you had with one another, so i had to beg for free ones at first, then i was able to be like, i have all these ladies you wanna trade. oh AOL ::shakes head::.
    Even though i loved that computer, i became frustrated with how dumbed down everything felt to me. there was no command line, i wasn't thrown into BASIC when i turned the computer on, i didn't feel like i had control over the beast, and AOL had its own issues, heh. I didn't understand anything about the computer and i didn't have to.
    It's still at my parent's house. I tried networking it last year so that i could maybe get internet on it for fun, and maybe play some games, but i think the ethernet card i got off ebay is el busted, plus i have no idea how any of that shit works in System 7.

  53. RedWolf Says:

    Hey, no problem, John. Thanks for sharing your memories with us.

    Chris Rusanowski's machine sounds like an Osbourne to me as well. It was, indeed, the first of what people humorously call "luggable" machines. They were supposedly "portable" at the time, but in hindsight, after all of the tiny laptops that followed, that term applied to a 50 pound suitcase computer seems pretty funny. But oh, what a first computer to have. I wonder what the Army was ever doing with it?

  54. Tony Says:

    My first was a Heathkit H8. Yeah, that's *kit*. The kit construction started with doing 500 solder connections to make the motherboard! (It got more interesting after that).

    The H8 came with NO RAM. Yeah, RAM was extra. There was a separate board. The first RAM I bought (from "Godbout") was $200 (late 70s dollars) for 12KB. The 12KB was made up of 96 chips, each of which held 1000 bits.

    The terminal was also extra. While I saved my dollars, I used a teletype machine for a terminal (lots of teletypes were in use at that time, even in University computer labs.) Later I bought the video terminal (yep, another KIT!) which would do I/O at the OUTRAGEOUS speed of 600 bps.

    It was all tons of fun. Great learning experience, although most of what I learned was obsolete in two years!

  55. Shaun Stevens Says:

    My first computer was a Commodore Vic 20

  56. adb Says:

    We had an Apple IIe before I was born in 1985. First thing I remember using.

  57. Nostalgia Manila Says:

    APPLE ][ E!!!! You've got a GREAT blog! Well written info, really enjoyed reading. Would love to do a link exchange. :)

    http://nostalgiamanila.blogspot.com

    Cheers!
    –Nostalgia Manila

  58. dreggy Says:

    when i was 5(in 1995) we had some very old Apple ][c's, i was always messing with them and had no ideah what i was doing but it was fun, but then one day they were gone, and my teacher wouldent tell me what happened to them.

  59. David Says:

    im not very old so my first computer was windows 3.0

  60. Michael Says:

    memories memories my first computer was a compaq althouhg i am only 12 i had lots of programing memories it was a desktop one of the first computers compaq made it was called something 750 i learned to program and hack using its ms-dos

  61. farthead Says:

    the firts computer i used was my butt

  62. Brett Says:

    First Computer: ATARI 800

  63. Raphael Barbosa Says:

    I used a brazilian TK-90X, it was the first ever. I think it's Sinclair "anything" in USA. It was a friend's spare computer! The first computer I had was MSX Expert (brazilian too) and after that I had a clone of Apple II with green video and 2 drives.

  64. Esteban Says:

    I used several Apple ][s in school growing up, but MY first computer was a Tandy 1000HX with 256k RAM. My parents gave it to me for my tenth birthday (in 1990) with a major caveat. It was my birthday present, but it wasn't my computer. It went in the living room, and I had to share with my little sister. Still, I was the main user of the system. It came with Tandy Deskmate, a crappy Windows knockoff where the entire desktop worked like the sliding puzzle game for the original Macintosh. One thing I miss. This computer had MS-DOS 2.11burned into its ROM, so it booted up instantly. Those were the days.

  65. Aaron M Says:

    The first computer I ever used was a VIC 20 - my brother learned BASIC on it and I wanted to but I was too young. By the time I was interested in it it was packed away and we lost the power adapter in a move. Still, it would have been fun.

  66. Mark Says:

    My friend had a TI-99/4a way back in the early 80′s. I was hooked straight away, I had to get one of these. I paid one off over a short period of time. Finally I had one, this was the first computer I had ever owned. I still have fond memories of the countless hours of gaming and programming.

    I had this for quite a few years until I sold it in 89 I think it was, A decision which I now regret. I have just recently acquired another one and am working on building up a collection to equal that of which I had or better.

  67. Chert Says:

    Heh well the first computer i ever saw was a trs 80 a rich friend had. He played some kind of dungeon game it where the computer gave text descriptions of the dungeon. Some time later my brother bought a Hurceles something or other with DOS.
    The first computer i ever owned was a toshiba something or other SL. This had a nice blue monochrome screen, MS DOS 3. something in a rom chip, and a high density floppy drive. I think it had 168 k of memory. I bought it at a yardsale for 80 dollars. I was thrilled to be able to write on it with some basic text editor. Way better then a typewriter. Wow even had italics! Learned all about save save save! I had several fun little programs that my brother loaded on floppy disks for me.
    This machine worked great until the floppy drive bit the dust. The battery had died also but still could be plugged in. The keyboard was fabulous.
    By that time I had purchased a new toshiba with 330 megabyte HHD and windows 3.1 with MS Word.
    In fact i found this site by looking for a picture of that old toshiba.

  68. Jessi Says:

    My first computer experience was at about 5-6 years old on my dad's CompuAdd. It was pretty nice at the time, with a built-in 3.5″ floppy drive, DOS, Windows 3.1, original SoundBlaster, dot matrix printer, and later on dad would buy Sony Laser Library, with an external (1x?) CD-ROM drive. You would have to put the disks in a plastic case and insert the case into the drive. I LOVED the Mixed-Up Mother Goose CD-ROM, and spent hours playing Broderbund's Treehouse game. I also played things like Reader Rabbit, Math Blaster, Commander Keen, Astro Grover, Carmen Sandiego, etc. I also recall a program with a crudely rendered parrot that would "speak" lines of text typed below.
    I used the machine for school until the mid-90s. Unfortunately, it was completely obliterated due to a startling mistake on my mom's behalf (putting the computer OUTSIDE for no reason — I came home during a rainstorm to see the now-destroyed whole system sitting next to the door step, being pelted by water).

  69. LongFellow Says:

    Old thread but my first computer was a Commodore 64c that I cobbled together from 3 machines. I had gone to a local electronics store where the guy who owned it would let me mess with one he had on display. I wanted one so bad but could not afford it.

    He was a repair center for Commodore so he lots of machines that had bit the dust due to owner mishap so I asked him what he did with those. He said he usually scrounged working parts from them and then tossed them. I talked him out of 3 busted machines and over a period of a month I managed to get a working machine out of it. I am proud that it still works today :)

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