Special Issue

ISSN 1488-3163; PC Improvements © 2002
==== 2323 Subscribers in 61 Countries ====


Welcome to this special issue of PCIN. Several weeks ago I asked the subscribers to send me in stories of their first computer... how fast? how much did it cost? what did you use it for? Below are the responses. This special issue is quite long. If you would prefer to read it online, you can at http://PCIN.net/archive/2002/other/old_computers.shtml

Graham editor@pcin.net and Chris chris@pcin.net

My First Computer

Michael Davis
I worked for a company for 12 years that went bankrupt. After looking for employment in the same industry (Dental Equipment Sales & Service), the companies out there wanted to pay me around 25K a year. My mortgage was 23K a year. Really didn't want to start my own business, as I'm good at equipment, but not good at bookkeeping. Now, I see my kids come home from school, and they take "keyboarding"- I only took "typing". They tell me how wonderful computers are. Yeah right, these are kids. Now I also have a customer (a dentist) who has his patient records, office supplies, repairs, etc. all running on a computer, with something called DOS. He convinced me to start my own business, get a computer, and it will do all the math for me. I won't even have to learn DOS. There is an operating system called Windows, and it's real easy.
September, 1994, I purchased our first computer; a Midwest Micro 486 DX33. Ordered it with 8 mb RAM, 180 mb HDD, and a 3½" floppy and Windows 3.1?. By the time it came to us two weeks later, they automatically upgraded it to a 212 mb HDD. Got my first copy of QuickBooks, and started a new business by February of 1995. Had it for about 2 years, with upgrades like a really fast 2x CD ROM Drive, and put in $400.00 worth of 64mb RAM and Windows 95. (Even was one of those who had Win95 delivered to our door overnite, the next A.M. on the day it was released to the public- We were on the cutting edge!)
Out next purchase was a Quantex 200 Mhz, with a 850 mb HDD and 96 mb RAM. Think we were around 12x on the CD ROM drive by now. Gave the 486 to my son, who lived with his mother at the time. Then CompUSA had these specials: show up at 6:00 A.M., be the one of the first 50 in line, and we were able to buy Packard Bell Pentium 75's for around $300, after rebates. Gave one to my son, and one to my parents. The 486 went into storage.
November 1997, our home/offices burnt to the ground. No human causalities, and with Zip 100 backup disks kept off site, was able to get the business up and running again. Within a month, I went for a Quantex 300 Mhz, Pentium II. It now has a 52x CD ROM, an Iomega 12x10x32 CD-RW, still have a Zip 100, 328 mb RAM and a 13 gig HDD. Business is running from this machine, as is this letter. The 486 was recently taken out of storage, and it is set up as a firewall to our cable modem line. The "house" computer is a Quantex 500 Mhz Pentium III, but when it was purchased, we had no idea that Quantex was going out of business. (We would have made great reps for their company, as between family and friends, we "sold" for Quantex about 20 computers, as we were very satisfied with their products and service). So that 500 Mhz system is used primarily by the wife, and when the kids come home to visit to check their e-mail, but it is not too reliable, as it crashes way too often.
So to sum it up, that first 486 was truly useful, as I was able to run a business from it. It continued on up to the Pentium II today, as it is quite fine for my needs. (I run QuickBooks Pro 2000, Word 2000, Access, Print Shop III, I.E. 5.5 & Outlook) Never had a major problem, keep pretty good back ups, and after reading PCIN & Langalist, I'm ready to do some really serious backups, disk partitioning, etc. Still running Win98, with thoughts of upgrading to Win2K- not XP.

Peter H
It was a 486DX100, with 500mb hard drive and 16 mb ram, running windows 3.11. It took me nearly two years to get to a point where I needed extra storage capacity. I paid close to Aus$2,000 for this (including printer).
I now have K6-2 500, with two hard drives totaling 10gb capacity and 320mb ram. I know this is nowhere near current state of the art either!

It was way back in the very early 80's. My wife and I were in a toy store and there was a display for an Atari, a Texas Instrument and a Vic 20. We had a sense that now might be a good time to learn about computers so we flipped the proverbial coin and came away with the Vic 20.
I tried to use the Vic to catalog my file of stock photographs and quickly realized that data input to a slow tape storage was just too time intensive; but the Vic's big brother, a Commodore 64, looked like it had more potential to serve that business purpose.
We invested over $2000 into a Commodore 64 with two external disk drives. For several years that machine served our purpose for cataloging, invoicing and word processing.
The replacement for the Commodore was an IBM PS2 with a huge 10MB HD, a 5.25 and a 1.44 floppy drive purchased via a business lease for close to $3000. That machine served its purpose for several years.
Next stop was a mail-order SCSI machine from Micron with a (wow!) 500mb HD. That machine (upgraded with two higher capacity HD's) is still in service on my home network which now includes a DELL Inspiron laptop with a 25GB HD and three other non-brand name desk machines.

Bill Blackburn
I was a California Highway Patrol Officer assigned to a rural office in way-northern California. It was 1987 & two Sergeants in the office had purchased Tandy 1500LT portable PC computers at the local Radio Shack store. One of them was a good friend, & both of them had been after me to improve the handwriting in my arrest & accident reports. They convinced me to also purchase one, I think it was around $1500 (?). It came with two 720KB floppy drives (A:\ & B:\), located just above & behind the keyboard. The screen was blue & white monochrome & hinged in the middle of the unit, just above the floppy drives. The whole unit was half again deeper than today's notebooks (laptops) & weighed about 15 pounds. There was no hard drive; an MS-DOS v3.2 boot floppy diskette was included. I carried it on the back seat of my patrol car for at least 3 years thereafter & used 'Professional Write' word processing program to write the narrative of all my reports. It also led to my becoming a computer hobbyist, & taking a few computer classes at the local Junior College. Years later I was appointed to be the computer training Officer for our office when we started getting departmental desktop computers for all the Officers to write their reports on. I retired just before the CHP started providing laptops for field Officers (something I'd long waited for).
In all I've owned 6 notebooks & 11 desktop computers, since 1987. These include my current Micron P-450-II desktop, plus a computer I built a year ago with an Intel motherboard & P-800-III processor, & a Gateway Solo 9550 notebook I recently purchased. Of computer brands I've owned more Gateways, but have been happy with my previous Dell purchases as well. Last year I even purchased a used Mac from a friend just to see how the other side lives... ;-)

Roy McElhiney
My First computer was an Apple IIe. I purchased it to learn computing. I paid 3500.00 dollars for it and an Imagewriter printer. I kept it for 10 years. When I got rid of it, I donated it to a High School in Jay, OK. It was the most useful computer I have had to date.

James Batchelder
I worked at a General Motors plant in Flint, MI. in the mid 80's. When they first started buying computers for the various departments out on the assembly floors, I found that I, as a Supervisor, did not have the time to spend learning about the computer. I got a little familiar with the IBM that we were given but wanted to learn more and be able to finish projects that I started at work. I used mostly spread sheets at that time (Lotus 1A) with an occasional need to write a memo or report on various projects. Some of the Supervisors were given training on company time, but it was not available to employees on 2nd shift, which I was working and had worked for 20+ years.
I finally purchased an IBM compatible Kaypro. It was very basic and had two 360K floppy drives, 640K of memory and no hard drive with a 12"green monitor. It was switchable to run at 4.77mb or 8mb and came with DOS 3.2, Wordstar and a few other small utilities, all made to run on only Kaypro machines. When I first read the Manuals, I still didn't understand anything. It was all Greek to me. Eventually I made some headway and was able to complete the projects that I wanted to. I paid approx. $1550 dollars for this machine. I eventually added two 30MB, RLL hard drives. I paid $350 for the first one and I believe $199 for the other several years later. I retired in June 1992 and moved to FL. It stayed it the box for the first year and then I set it up and used it for another 3 years. I still have it, including all the books, Disks, and the green 12" monitor, which I had replaced with a color unit many years ago. It still runs, however I am down to only one HD, as one has quit. I believe I may even have the original packing box. I purchased an Epson printer (FX-85) for an additional $350 when purchasing the computer. I found a wide carriage Epson LQ 1070 at a Flea Market for $20 and after purchasing a Manual and new ribbon for it, I have around $45 in it. I still have it also. If you haven't already guessed, I'm a packrat. I almost never get rid of anything once I get it.
One of the things that caused my to by this machine was the way it was constructed. It has a basic Motherboard and all the components to make it an XP or AT were on one board, which could be switched out so as to upgrade it to AT status at a later date. When I checked the price of the board two years after purchase, I found it to be $225, if you could find one. I elected to stay with what I already had.
About three years ago I purchased a Magitronic 486DX 33VL from friends after somebody had given it to them. No monitor or keyboard. It has one 1.2 floppy and a 1.44 floppy. It also has 4mb of memory and a 214MB hard drive, running Windows 3.1. I didn't know anything about windows and figured I couldn't hurt it any. I gave $50 for it. After running it for several months, I figured I would buy something to get on the Internet. I now have a two year old Compaq with Athalon 500 CPU, 19"monitor, Windows 98SE 384MB memory, 20GB HD, CD-Rom and CD-RW drives. It has 4 USB ports and 2 firewire ports. Including printer, I paid almost the same for this complete unit as I did for the first one--without any hard drives. Prices sure have come down.
One of these days I may upgrade again. I just have to figure out where to put these old machines first.

Cameron Cook
Well, my first computer was a TI99-4a from Texas Instruments. Wow! It even had 16K of memory!!! That was FOUR times the puny 4K of the TRS-80 from Radio Shack. Even bought a tape recorder to record the programs I typed in and could save them to a cassette! Wow.... that was neat! Oh, btw, I still have it.
Now for my next, uh... real computer was a Radio Shack 386SX with a whole two megs of RAM. Wow! What an improvement over 16K!!! And an 85 Meg hard drive. What could I possible do with that much storage! Windows 3.0 came on four floppy disks! I eventually doubled the ram to four megs at a cost of about 30 bucks per meg!
Next came the present Pentium Pro 180mhz. However I have an AMD XP1700 on order with 256megs of DDR ram! And all the other goodies! I can't wait.

Stephen Green
My first PC was a Packard Bell (circa "95) with an enormous:-)1.5 gig hard drive, Pentium 1, 133 mhz processor and Win95 (Agoura release). And it set me back a pretty penny too! I can't recall what that PC cost originally, but I'm sure that I paid a lot less
for the newest PC ( H/P Pavillion) that we have now. That old machine is still in use,rebuilt partially, and running Linux Mandrake. As I've grown weary of Microsoft after all these years...

Richard Holt
The Commodore 64 or (-64, which sort of looked like their logo
In 1984, while on vacation to the USA, my brother, a high school history teacher, told me about his great Apple IIe with Visicalc. He also wrote letters on it, an electronic calculator and typewriter. I studied some magazines and comparisons and finally bought a (-64, because I thought it did better graphics, was a bit cheaper than the Apple IIe, and was available for about $2200 from a friend who had a video rental store in Anaco, Venezuela.
The Multiplan spreadsheet was mind boggling. About a month previously, I had to prepare a report for one of our clients reflecting different blends of products: detailing cost of product, freight, nationalization, etc., for about 100 blends. Spent a week dreading it, and then a week doing it. After I finished, one of my partners asked, "What if ...?" I answered him with some choice expletives, and we forgot about modifying the report. And then, I got Multiplan for the Commodore.
In the documentation, they suggested using some report format that you were familiar with as a first project. So, I reworked my report: Between learning the program and getting it to print, it took a couple of days. The first time I copied a range of 40 formulas and watched them recalculate, I was astonished. I called my brother in the USA to tell him that this was the greatest thing since cooked food. Where had these things been all my life! This was truly, a useful computer, even if you had time to go get a cup of coffee while it saved a fairly large spreadsheet -- about 2 or 3 minutes.
It was also a lot of fun. I typed in the Compute! magazine Speedscript code to get a word processor. I think it was about 31 kb -- several pages full of 3 digit numbers. Learned Commodore basic, the user groups offered loads of free programs, and were really lots of fun. There were many programs in magazines and books: games, utilities, editors, assemblers, tricks, etc. Only problem was typing them.
My son was about 16 at the time. He used to come to my office in the compound to wait for me to go home so he could play with basic and games. He was the recipient of the second (-64 and was the first to get online, but ran up about a $300 phone bill at my sister's house in the states a few years later, which got him kicked offline for quite a while.
A friend helped me transfer, via cable, my essential data to the Kaypro CP/M format. My son continued to use the (-64 for several more years, until it finally gave up and was eventually sent to the dumpster. Gave a bunch of disks and a couple of drives to some kids.
Kaypro 2 (64 kb ram, CP/M 2.2, had two 390 kb floppies)
About 1985, I got the K2 from the same guy as the (-64. He wanted to put his video rental business on computer but didn't know that the software didn't exist. He worked a deal to get two Kaypros so I'd help him computerize his business. (Maybe he did know that the software didn't exist. At any rate, I began a dBase II programmer and he got his video rental program. I later rewrote it in TurboPascal with the TurboAccesss database engine which, considerably modified and ported to TurboPascal on the PC, is still in use in about eight locations, today. Though it needs a rewrite in Delphi, which I've been meaning to do for several years. I really didn't think it would be useful, for so long.
I gave the K2 to a guy for his son who was in prison in Texas. Maybe still is?
Kaypro 10 (64 kb ram, CP/M 2.2, had a 10 Mb hard disk & 1 x 390 kb floppy)
This was my first really, truly useful machine. Did everything the K2 did only much, much faster. It ran our accounting for about five years, served as my programming machine, and we sold it to somebody to replace their old Televideo CP/M machine for their accounting.
This was my "hacker" phase. For various and sundry economic reasons, I had the time and inclination to do a lot of really enjoyable programming. Loved the all-nighters, searching for the perfect, most elegant algorithm, testing, and debugging code.
I bought a Tandy Radio Shack PC clone (640 kb ram, 2 x 360 kb floppies, MSDOS 2.10). Without a hard disk, this was, basically, a useless machine. I sold it and kept using the Kaypro 10.
PC-XT, AT, Pentiums, etc.
I eventually got a clone PC-XT with Ms-Dos 2.10 (640 kb ram, 30 Mb hard disk & a 360 kb floppy) which replaced the Kaypro 10. And then on to the 386s, 486s, Pentiums, etc. It's been a lot of fun.
I guess I would have wasted more time, if personal computers had come about sooner, but it was certainly fun for me while it lasted; though I know it was trying for those with whom I worked and lived.

Lise Houle
I got my first "real" computer......not counting the vic24?? of course.....but an old Packard Bell 8086. I bought it, used, in 1992 for $400 and the reason I bought it was because it was 'only' 400.00 LOL
Computers ran into the 3000's back then so this was a real 'deal'. But I just wanted to know if I'd keep up with it before I sank all that money into it. It had alot of software on it already, like Harvard Graphics, Wordperfect, Lotus 1-2-3 which was a real bust when I first opened it up....like...what the hell is THIS for?? and cool games like Pong, Captain Keen and a fortune teller. LOL I kept that for a year and actually did my accounting on it with Bedford Accounting which I installed and was a hit with the familly with the custom familly calander everyone got for Christmas with all their birthdays, anniversaries etc I made with Print Shop?? It ran pretty well and only crashed a couple of times in that whole year. But the real find on it was Publisher 2. I fell in love with that program (I'm up to Pub2000 now) and have made so much with that first Publisher program. Even a 14 page program for our Motocross Track c/w pictures, which I scanned myself and ads and info articles etc. After a year, I sold it for....$400.00 to another newbie and I bought a brand new Packard Bell 486 which was "all I'll ever need, guaranteed!" LOL

Joan Anderson
Mine was Win 3.1 - 486 with a Sharp dot matrix printer - 13" monitor - a clone and I had it for 4 years while I worked my way through Guelph University Independent 4 years home course - then gave to my grandson who used it for 2 more years - now it is a boat anchor (ho!) I loved the old thing but then when I saw the IBM Aptiva's 5 years ago with Pentium II - I was a goner - Now I still have an IBM Aptiva - but a big job - and I just love it.

Ken Wolf
My first computer that I can remember was a Sinclair something or other; I can't remember the model. It has 16K of memory and did essentially nothing well! It soon became a closet item.
My first real computer was a 486 SX 25 with 8 meg of RAM. It was pretty slow even in its day, but it was adequate. I was running a DOS based dental software program for my office patient databases, accounting, etc. I am still using that software today! It does everything I need and does it as well as the Windows based programs that have come along. Now I run it on a PIII 850 with 512 meg of RAM and a 40 GIG hard drive. I do other things on it as well!

My first computer was an IBM-PC. I don't remember the date exactly but early 80's sounds about right. I paid so much for it that I couldn't afford a printer. I soon learned that a printer was indispensable, but I still couldn't afford one. Software was almost unavailable, except for business oriented programs. Peachtree word processor was over $500 bucks. I spent my time taking small programs, written for other computers (Atari, etc.), and modifying them to run on my machine. I justified buying the thing by telling
everyone I got it to give my daughter a head start in the computer world, and that really wasn't such a bad idea, except that she wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. After a year or so we moved and I was very busy remodeling, landscaping and pursuing other interests. When I finally unboxed it, I saw it for the joke it was and I gave it to my daughter to use as a prop in a school play. At least I didn't waste my money on a damn printer!

Jeff Weiss
Our first family computer was a Packard Bell we got as a hand me down from my brother-in-law in 1990. From what I remember it was a 66 mhz processor, 2x or 4x CD-ROM, 1-2 gig HD, and ran Win 3.1. I was illiterate with computers and had to call my brother-in-law for tech support when I came upon a problem. As it turned out he was not as knowledgeable about computers as I thought he was.
So off to the Des Plaines library I went and checked out every book I could find about computers. Now he calls me for advice along with other friends and family. Since then I have built approx. 15 computers for friends and family for the sheer enjoyment.
I am very rarely compensated much, beyond the cost of parts. It is my belief that a family with children needs the technology in the household for the children to excel in school. Which have enabled these children to turn in projects and assignments that look very nice.

Mike Kratz
Going back I have to start the list of my first computer with a couple of programmable toys that kind-of acted like computers.
The first was the Big Trak by Milton Bradley. It had a programmable computer in it and you could program up to 99 commands to have it move, turn, shoot and dump a load with the trailer accessory.

Then I had one of the first video game consoles, the Odyssey 2 by Magnavox. It was basically for games but it had a keyboard that you could use to input text and a voice option that could make it talk. You could type words in and it would say them back.

When I was in grade 11 my high school offered its first computer course,(It was for grade 9 students but I went back and took it any way). The entire class watched on a TV that had one Radio Shack TRS-80 computer we all shared. It had 4k of ROM for the TRSDOS operating system and 4k of ram memory for the program that you needed to type in. It also had a tape drive so that after typing for an hour you could save the program you typed in.

Our school then progressed to Commodore PET computers. I learned about floppy disk drives. They were tremendously faster and more reliable than tapes. We even did basic networking, sharing a dual disk drive and a printer on a local six computer network. This computer still only had the monochrome black and green text screen.

The next year was a big thrill. For Christmas my parents bought my Brother and I a complete computer system. I was the Commodore 64. I got the computer, monitor, 1541 floppy disk drive and a 9 pin dot matrix printer. Later we got a 300 baud modem and my brother ran a local BBS out of the house. This set my parents back $1600.00 at the time (the modem was $300.00). I still remember my Father complaining that it was a big waste of money. "What would we ever use a computer for?" and "Why would anyone need a computer in their home?"; Today my Brother is a Systems Administrator with a large bank and I have worked in and out of the home computing business for years. So I guess it worked for the best. I really feel now that my parents did us a great service giving us kids the latest technology that no one else on the block had.

The Commodore 64 was a Huge leap in computer technology. It had colour graphics at 300 X 200 res. and sound with 3 voices! It was the best computer at the time and not even IBM could make a computer that would touch it. I used this computer at home for many years. I created programs for it, like text based adventure games. I got pretty good at programming basic. I also printed my resume on this computer that got me my first real job.
I used this computer for 10 years until I bought my first Dos 386 clone.
This has been a lot of fun going down memory lane, but now I have to go and play some games that I found for the C64 on the internet that I can use with an emulator. I remember Dino Eggs like it was yesterday...

Mike Yeomans
My first computer was a Sinclair Spectrum 48k hobby/home computer which was very advanced as at the time I was using an Apple 48k for work. It cost £125 UK pounds in 1983, I think. Everyone was buying them, back then as they were the cheapest computer on the market with by far the best colour graphics although it only had a rubber keyboard!
I mainly used is for database work and games (which were mercilessly copied and swopped with everyone at the time. Having an interest in amateur radio, I could also use the very crude sound generator to send random practice Morse code. I still have the Sinclair Spectrum, although it has stopped working since my kids played with it.

Duncan Long
My first computer was an Apple IIe. First on the block (ha) around 1979 or there abouts.
I bought it for a publishing business I had started on a shoestring. It was to replace the IBM typewriter I was using to crank out small manuals that were printed and marketed via mail-order.
The Apple IIe was a real step up because it did word processing, thanks to a special card (that made upper AND lower case letters) and a program called "Easy Writer" that was an early word processor that fit on one, one-sided 5-1/4 inch floppy. I had to have TWO floppy drives (which were separate from the case of the computer), one for running DOS and word processing and one to save material on. The keyboard was in the front of the computer itself, sort of like a typwriter. Atop this went the two floppies and then the monochrome monitor.
The Apple IIe didn't have a shift key as such, so at the front of each sentence or whereever I needed a cap, I had to do some weird key combination, now since forgotten. This seems horrid to even think about now, but coming from the IBM where each mistake meant an ordeal with white out or even retyping a page, the ability to easily correct, block and move, and other features made such things a small consideration indeed.
I used a Centronics printer with this comptuer. When the printer ran, I could use the computer for anything else as all the computing power even though I had "splurged and got some extended memory (giving me a total of 48K of RAM - yes, that's a "K" there) was needed to control the printer.
Maintaining the Apple IIe was sort of like being a barn stormer. From time to time you had to quit the stunts and tear into the thing to keep it running. In the case of the IIe, that meant taking all the boards out of the computer and cleaning them with an ink eraser as they got tarnished and then everything got to malfunctioning. The drives also seemed to need to be replaced on a regular basis; they weren't overly durable.
Eventually we moved and the Apple IIe just quit working. By then it was several years old so I upgrade to the new, up-and-coming IBM PC. Since then I've always owned a PC or clone since it seems like they offer more options with programming. But that little Apple IIe will always have a place in my heart.

Marlin Pace
My first computer was a Compaq-an 8702 I believe. I paid $1999 for it. I had it a total of 8 of the most miserable weeks I've ever had. I used it mostly for internet use. It was totally unstable and kept blowing the drivers out. Compaq's solution--format and re-install everything. Compaq replaced the modem twice and the hard drive once. They replaced the software (restore) disk 3 times. All this in 8 weeks. The day after their tech was at my house to replace the hard drive and the software the computer blew the drivers when I turned it on. This was the first power-up after the tech left and NOTHING had been installed or changed. I went screaming to Best Buy that evening and after an hour and a half of arguing they gave me credit on another machine. When the manager checked with his people he found out that that series was giving them a LOT of complaints--it wasn't just me. Nothing was on sale so I got no deals on the replacement machine (an HP7320). Machine and monitor set me back $2800-but it worked and was stable. My computing experience improved greatly after that. Needless to say, no Compaq product will ever enter my house again.

Cindi Taylor
When I was about 8 years old my parents bought me my first computer. So it must of been either 1986 or 1987, and I was ecstatic when I received the TANDY 2000. This was a Radio Shack computer and was really only good to play games on. Although it did come with a manual that taught you all these neat commands for multiplication, division, drawing etc. It was helpful when I needed my homework (math) done in a hurry!! About 3 or 4 years later the computer went out of commission after receiving the Michaelangelo virus.
The Michealangelo virus was totally cool...we would show all of our friends the weird things that were happening to our computer. The screen would turn red...then the all different words would appear about 100 times on the screen, while the screen was flashing really fast. Then the screen would go blank, flash a few more times and then an image of 3 men would appear with a big M in the background. The image was all blue, and it was an outline of their faces!
I suppose we would have been a bit more disappointed in contracting this virus if the computer was actually good for anything!

Jack Flynn
My first computer was a IBM Aptiva,. It had 8 Gigs of hard drive, 64 Megs of RAM , 26K Modem. With speakers, 17" monitor, Cannon 4400 printer,printer cable , and surge protector, the price came to about 1300.00$.
I used it mostly for email and surfing the WEB, also a couple of games.

Carlos A. Román
You just brought my memories back to 1984 or 1985 when I bought my faithfull Radio Shack Color Computer. It was the original one, gray box with chiclet type keyboard. Just 16K of memory. It runs in a Motorola 6809 CPU with RSDOS Operating System. I remember how this little gadget evolve into a 32KB computerr. I replace the keyboard with a third party one, add the then bulky 5 1/4 Single Sided, Single Density Floppy Drive. Later, I replace it with the new Color Computer II with 64KB along with the OS2 Operating System. With the OS2 Operating System this little computer from Radio Shack became one of the first computers in the market to offer your UNIX like capabilities and the ability to connect a terminal and login as second user (the OS2 Operating System allows for two simultaneous users). I learned UNIX basics with this computer and OS2 Basic (not for beginners, believe me). I used to play games, run productivity applications like check register, recipes, and so on, amid the various games software available at the moment.
I just had great fun and great memories with my first Color Computer from Radio Shack. Ah! And I still have it with its Color RGB Monitor. And still works.

Mary Lou Latini
My first computer was a Sony Vaio Pentium with MMX purchased May 1997.
Although I hate to admit it I bought my Sony because 'I liked the look of it/color combination. (Now you know I'm female ;-)
Cost: $2199.92 for PC + $899.99 for 17" monitor
Strictly for at home use: surfing the 'Net, family genealogy research, medical research, finances, doing taxes etc.
I still have this Sony, I use it for backing up files, music program installed etc.
I purchased a second Sony Vaio in June 2000 because I needed more memory, speed, larger hard drive and just better features in general.

John Hewitt
I'm now 70 years old and have retired to Spain having spent my working life in England where I had a succession of Pub/restaurants and a Restaurant,in and around Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. When I retired to Spain my three daughters thought it would be a good idea to buy me a computer because as they were on the internet we could keep in touch at the flick of a switch.
My two eldest daughters looked around and decided on a Dell pentium 3. They were on offer from about £1,300.00 sterling down to about £900.00 sterling.It was shipped from Ireland or was supposed to be but unfortunately they got their wires crossed and daughterNo 2 had to spend some time chasing them up.They eventually got it right and as compensation upgraded the hard drive and transfered the guarantee to their Spanish office foc. This will be my first and only computer, I suspect,and as previously stated I use it to communicate with my family and friends in the UK,the USA and Spain.I bought a scanner which now enables me to send and receive photographs.It has a fax and phone answering facility which I have yet to work out how to operate.One day!!I have joined a local computer club which I hope will enable me to use and enjoy the many other facilities which this machine is capable of.

So my first computer eh: well xmas 95 my brother gave me his old 386 with 16 megs of ram and a huge 80 meg hardrive(lol). Needless to say it gave me the got to have more power bug. FIve months later I built my first pentium, an asus mb with a whopping 75 meg pentium and a 2.2 gig hard drive and 32 megs of ram. then i got upgrade fever and turned it into a P223 mmx with 128 megs of ram and a humongous 8.3 gig hd.(if we only had had a clue then eh) Well now i'm running a p3 450 with 512 megs of ram, 32 meg vid card and a 15gig and a 30 gig hard drive and looking to upgrade to a new cpu(at least a 966 p3).
When I look at how far home systemns have come in a few short years it makes my almost nostalgic for the simplicity of my old 386 with win3.1 running it. All that in 6 short years, from no computer to having 3 running at once(my P450, amd k6 400 and p266mmx)in my house and wishing I could afford to go grab the newest,latest, biggest, fastest systemn out there.

Peter Haug
My first computer was bought in either 1981 or 1982 for about $50. I can't remember the name, but it was invented an marketed by a guy from the UK, I believe, and it used a TV for a monitor. It also supported a regular cassette tape recorder for storage. Beyond that, I don't remember much about it.
The story is in my next computer. I bought a NEC with a color monitor, OS, software, and printer in the fall of 1982 for around $5000-6000. The printer was an Epson, I think, with a daisy wheel and a few different fonts. It ran the CP/M operating system. The computer itself and monitor were in the same case, with a separate keyboard. It looked kind of like a modern Apple, but bulkier with a smaller screen. It ran WordStar, dBase II (there was never a dBase I), and SuperCalc. I thought I was in high cotton with not one, but two, disk drives, one for the OS and the other for applications and storing data. Each one of those eight-inch floppy disks held a cool megabyte of information!
I bought this because I was hoping to sell them and I needed a demonstrator. I'm not a salesman, and this turned into an expensive hobby for me. Although I began programming in grad school using FORTRAN on a CDC mainframe in 1966, I had gotten away from computers for a number of years, and had never used one interactively. (I was weaned on punch cards and batch processing.) The first time I tried to use the computer I had to format the other floppy disk. The CP/M OS commands were the opposite from DOS (which was just beginning to emerge as a competitor). I don't remember the exact sequence, but I wound up formatting the OS disk and erasing the OS! I had to get a second OS disk and copy the files back again.
I got a lot of word processing use out of the system and my kids and wife kind of cut their teeth on it. THe spreadsheet was also pretty good for its time, and the resolution and color were excellent. In fact, several years later when my agency at work began buying color computers, I brought the NEC in to show off its screen. Unfortunately, it didn't run DOS, so I eventually gave it to my son-in-law.

Lynn Brock
Had to think a while about this one, but I think my 1st computer was a Commodore 386. My wife and I were in a department store at the time in Warrick RI just shopping to kill time when we ran across it in a Sears or something similar. It had all the newest technology at the time, I believe it was in 1982 or 83...I had to ask my wife because my memory isn't all that great.
We brought it home and I carefully set up the computer, monitor and keyboard. This model included a printer as part of the promotion and by the time I had it all set up and running on our dresser, it took me about 3 days to realize I didn't have any earthly idea what I needed it for so we packed it up and took it back to the store. About all I can remember of the set was that I thought it was so neat to do word processing and not have to use a typewriter or correction tape. No games or software was available at the time, only the early Dos boot disk it required to start up the computer....Boy if I had only kept it, I would love to toy with it now.

John McQuillan
My first was definitely a games machine that my daughter conned me into buying; a Sega. It had a keyboard however and I learned that you could program in BASIC.
It was my initial learning experience and, from then on, I was 'hooked'.
Next came an Apple but I hungered for something more useful. The Commodore 64 and even the Amiga did not attract. Finally I stumbled on the Atari ST and joined a computer club. Progressing to an STe and finally a Mega STe 4, this was my first 10 years in computing.
When Atari folded, I went fallow for 18 months until withdrawal symptoms kicked in at last and I purchased a PC - A Pentium II with a 4 GB HDD. This machine has had minor upgrades - bigger hard drive (20GB), CD burner (Acer) more RAM et cetera.
For geriatrics like myself, it's a great hobby. I use VB 6, Paint Shop Pro 7 and soak up all the information I can digest.

Ken Schaefer
Was an SX-64 by Commodore in 1985. I paid almost $400 for it (but thats not too bad considering it had a built in monitor and a floppy drive, which retailed for $199 all by itself). I had it for at least two years, and used it onboard the nuclear submarines SSBN 629 Daniel Boone and SSBN 631 Casimir Pulask.(can you tell I was in the Navy back then?) I also had a 9 pin printer from Commodore that the officers all thought was so great, I ended up creating and printing forms and such for them. It was better than the IBM Selectric II we had onboard!
Later, I bought an Amiga, and actually lugged it and a 1084 monitor down the hatch. At that point (late 1987), it had (with only 2 880K floppies and 512K RAM) almost as much storage and actually more memory than the Fire Control system that I worked on that programmed and launched the ballistic missiles. :->

Chris Empey
My first computer was a Texas Instruments TI99/4a. This had a whopping fast 3 MHz processor with 16 Kb of RAM. It had no disk drive, although once was available. We had a few games for it, Meteor Multiplication, an Asteroids like math game and some cat and mouse maze game, the name eludes me though. The TI99/4a also had a speech synthesizer you could purchase separately. We had it, but did not have much luck with it.
My first 'real' computer was a Leading Edge 486 DX/2. It came with 4 MB of RAM, a 400 MB hard drive, Windows 3.1, no cache, no sound card, no modem. I eventually added all of those, as well as an additional 16 MB of RAM for a cost of $503.00. This was marked down from over $1100 due to the lowest price policy of a local superstore. Over it's various modifications, I retired it with 20 MB of RAM (this was 30 pin RAM, old stuff!), 256 KB cache, 1.03 GB Hard drive plus the original 430, and Windows 95. Surprisingly enough, using the software available at the time (Win95, Office 4.3 or 95) the computer really did not perform that bad. For simple word processing and trivial tasks, once the programs were loaded, performance was too bad.


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