Ahhh ... memory lane
August 22, 2003 4:28 AM   Subscribe

Obsolete computers 1975-89. There's my first baby.
posted by MintSauce (50 comments total)
Pictures of C64s are everywhere, but it's good to see a 1541 disk drive... I was beginning to think i was the only person who owned one.

Ahem. Owns one...

I wonder if it still works... suddenly I have a great urge to play BuggyBoy.
posted by twine42 at 4:43 AM on August 22, 2003

TI Extended Basic! Cut my programming teeth on that language. OOP my ass.
posted by drinkcoffee at 4:45 AM on August 22, 2003

And mine, but with cassette deck storage rather than floppies. 16K RAM, 16K ROM, all for C$1399.

10 PRINT "Eat me! ";
20 GOTO 10

Good times, good times.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:48 AM on August 22, 2003

I miss my C64 from time to time, and when I want to remember... I go here.
posted by grabbingsand at 4:50 AM on August 22, 2003

Pah! Johnnie-come-latelies! I hammered on this 'til the keys wore blank. No lower case, unless you POKEd 59468,14. God, WHY do I remember that, and regularly forget my 'phone number?
posted by punilux at 4:57 AM on August 22, 2003

Geekalicious site!
posted by JanetLand at 5:03 AM on August 22, 2003


Built it with my dad. Used loops to play music through an AM transistor radio placed next to it.

posted by donpardo at 5:26 AM on August 22, 2003

Here's a similar site/thread from a while back.

And when y'all get tired of those piddly little peecees, wander on over to the pole-barn Cray Museum for a gander at the Big Iron. Now dem dere's a supercomputer, doncha know.
posted by MrBaliHai at 5:28 AM on August 22, 2003

Mine. Still have it, too.
posted by Cerebus at 5:57 AM on August 22, 2003

TRS-80 emulator. My kickass code runs!

*wipes a tear away*

That's it, I'm going to have to play some of those games again.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:58 AM on August 22, 2003

Now, I didn't actually own this, but I got a lot of face time with it. My friend's father worked for Rockwell, so we got a lot of hand-me-downs throughout the years.
posted by thanotopsis at 6:21 AM on August 22, 2003

I had a Trash-80 too. We wanted an Atari, but dad said a computer was better. If I had only stuck with it I could have been a dot-bomb millionaire...
posted by JoanArkham at 6:21 AM on August 22, 2003

I have fond memories of playing Voodoo Castle on my father's Exidy Sorceror.
posted by skryche at 6:26 AM on August 22, 2003

Mine. Then a circa-1986 Zenith portable with a pop-up LCD screen, which I can't find a picture of. Then this, which I linked to the Zenith with a null modem, since the disk drives were different. LAN, 1989.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:46 AM on August 22, 2003

Like cerebrus, mine was the Timex Sinclair 1000. I wrote a program in BASIC that drew a tennis court and made a ball bounce back and forth across the net.
posted by jpoulos at 6:49 AM on August 22, 2003

Mine's not on here. I had a TI-99/4A in the early 80's, but our family's first computer was one my dad built in 1979, a H-89 from Heathkit.
posted by eilatan at 6:58 AM on August 22, 2003

This was our "family computer" in the early 1980s. ("Portable," my foot.) It was used for exactly two things: Wordstar 3.3 and MS Flight Simulator 1.0. Then Dad brought home Jet 1.0 and a new 4-color CGA monitor, and nothing was ever the same.
posted by brownpau at 6:59 AM on August 22, 2003

$7300 when new in 1989, and without the fancy 1 meg ram upgrade. Found by me in a dumpster in 1996.
posted by machaus at 7:06 AM on August 22, 2003

The Compaq Portable was the first 100% compatible IBM computer clone....

Problem: Compaq couldn't just copy IBM's BIOS to make their new machine guaranteed IBM compatible, this would be illegal, and easily proven by IBM.

Solution: Reverse-engineer IBM's BIOS. Compaq used two sets of programmers, one group who had access to IBM's source code and another who knew nothing about it.

The first group closely looked at the original code, and made notes of exactly what it did.

The second group took these notes, and wrote their own BIOS that performed exactly the same.

After one year and a million dollars, they were successfull. They had a legal BIOS identical in operation to that of the IBM computer.
That's brilliant. Is that a standard practice in high tech?
posted by jpoulos at 7:17 AM on August 22, 2003

Ah, I remember Wordstar. *sigh* Those were the days. The days when RAM cost $100 per MB and when we knew how to use a computer by typing commands at a prompt. The days before GUIs and even mice. Back when only nerds knew how to use computers. Boy, I miss those days. Not.
posted by dg at 7:24 AM on August 22, 2003

Ahh, the old TI 99-4A. I think it's still in my parents' basement. I learned about binary and hexadecimal on that thing - you had to enter graphics using hex codes of 4-digit binary.

Then there was the IIgs...
posted by notsnot at 7:40 AM on August 22, 2003

That's brilliant. Is that a standard practice in high tech?

you're joking, right?

cough DMCA cough
posted by andrew cooke at 7:42 AM on August 22, 2003

Ah, the memories of the TI-99 4A. My family bought one with proceeds from a garage sale. Never forget the time my dad helped me "debug" a BASIC program by restarting the computer... before I had a chance to "save" to cassette tape.
posted by MediaMan at 7:43 AM on August 22, 2003

... The days when RAM cost $100 per MB....

I think you mean $100 per kilobyte. It was a while before any desktop system had more that 640 kB.

My dad knew fuck-all about computers but he couldn't figure out why TI didn't give away TI-99/4a computers with the purchase of a certain number of software titles. Could've locked in those early adopters more tightly.

I cut my BASIC teeth on a TRS-80 Mod I ... didn't own it; just happened to be friendly with the Radio Shack store mgr who let me come in and write code. I was walking abt a mile each way after school. What a great time that was!
posted by alumshubby at 7:52 AM on August 22, 2003

I started on a C64 as well. My first printer is more interesting though. It was a four color Okidata plotter that used 1/2 inch long pens to right to a 6-inch-wide roll of paper. It basically had no practical application but I made one hell of an electronic spirograph.
posted by putzface_dickman at 7:55 AM on August 22, 2003

mine... it was years before i realized that "learning how to use a computer" when i was 5 had essentially meant "learning to program in basic" which was why all this computer stuff seemed so simple to me as an adult.
posted by hob at 8:01 AM on August 22, 2003

Mr. narrator, this is Bob Dylan to me.
posted by gwint at 8:17 AM on August 22, 2003

Mine. One kilobyte! But when you're typing 6502 machine code in hex, even 1K seems like a lot. BTW, old-computers.com is way better than oldcomputers.net - they have all the British stuff too, most of which is absent from the latter.
posted by pascal at 8:38 AM on August 22, 2003

Anyone ever buy an IBM Portable? Naah, didn't think so. Hey, stop laughing, I really only bought it for the classic beige and green box files containing the very important looking DOS and BASIC.
posted by grahamwell at 8:47 AM on August 22, 2003

That's brilliant. Is that a standard practice in high tech?

It's called "clean-room engineering".
posted by fuzz at 8:57 AM on August 22, 2003

There was a family TI-99/4A (with a special edition TI cassette recorder for saving data) but the very first computer that was all my own was old school Woz and Jobs. It really was kind of portable, you could attach it to any old style television, the kind with two screws for grounding the antenna.

I never would've purchased it for myself, but it was a gift. It was handy for two things, though: word processing (anybody else remember Bank Street Writer, a happy piece of kiddy software?) and zoning out after a hard day with a vigorous game of Lemonade Stand.
posted by Dreama at 9:09 AM on August 22, 2003

Mine. My grandpa bought it because he thought it'd be important for me to learn how to use computers at a young age. Smart man.

I also had a C64 later on. Ah, memories.
posted by bedhead at 9:22 AM on August 22, 2003

They didn't include my favorite. A Nubus card with TI's LISP chip inside a grey-painted Mac II. Note the TI logo on the case. (Did Apple ever allow anyone else to co-brand a Mac?)
posted by joaquim at 9:28 AM on August 22, 2003

I think this is the thing that's hanging around my parent's basement. The first computer I ever really got to know was a Mac Classic, so count me out of this particular geekfest...

Mr. narrator, this is Bob Dylan to me.

gwint: Punk rock changed our lives.
posted by jokeefe at 9:30 AM on August 22, 2003

Me and my sister washed cars and did everything else we could think of to save up for a ZX81: in England I think they were 49pounds. It seemed amazing, but it always crashed after more than three lines of programming (BASIC, for god´s sake!). And trying to save something onto the cassette player was impossible. But still... we were awed by it.
posted by bibizee at 11:53 AM on August 22, 2003

We had the TRS-80 Color Computer that plugged into the television. I still remember writing BASIC code to control the tape drive. Then quickly there was an original Compaq portable, into which I eventually put a 30 MB hard drive, acquired from the back of a magazine for the princely sum of $300. I only disposed of that computer about two years ago.

Ironically, I'm now looking ahead to the day a few years from now when a small, fanless PC channels its video output through a large, high-def display in my living room...
posted by coelecanth at 11:56 AM on August 22, 2003

These all seem positively modern compared to the first computer I purchased. But there was a lot of power in that 1K machine. Enough to play chess.

Come one, come all to the Vintage Computer Festival on October 11,12 at the great new Computer History Museum building and play games and touch those old computers one more time.
posted by Geo at 12:39 PM on August 22, 2003

My first. Pretty high-tech with it's IR keyboard and 300 baud modem! I spent a lot of time writing little programs in cartridge BASIC to draw concentric circles (FOR loop - wheee!) and stuff.

The fact that it had no hard drive led to some confusion on my part when I was eventually introduced to an IBM PS/VP - couldn't figure out at first why you needed a hard drive. :)

Compaq's creation of a 100% compatible IBM machine opened the doors to IBM clones and eventually lower priced PC hardware and the dominance of the PC in the computing world today.
posted by ukamikanasi at 1:11 PM on August 22, 2003

Our school computer lab had TRS-80 Model 3's, a printer, but no disk drive unless you had special access. Computer games were forbidden.

However, we had a series of small BASIC games, code printouts passed around by samizdat. The code had to be short, because the more time you spent typing it in, the less time you had to play.
posted by kurumi at 1:17 PM on August 22, 2003

I started out with this, but I have one of these beside me right now. I've been meaning to figure out how to get lynx on it.
posted by timeistight at 1:19 PM on August 22, 2003

Ah, yes, the .com site definitely seems to be better. Found my first computer on that site, the Heathkit H89. I remember building the thing with my dad. I believe we eventually upgraded it with the upgrade to double the cpu speed.

I also had both a TI-99/4 and 4a back in the days. Eventually we ended up with a Tandy 1000, still predating the days when hard drives started becoming more available.
posted by piper28 at 2:19 PM on August 22, 2003

Personally, I always say theres no such thing as an obsolete computer. I just recieved a compaq presario 1020 laptop the other day. It's monitor is hard to read but it's suitable as an mp3 player. I'm listening to it right now. I also put copys of all my favorite old eyecandy on. If your imaginative there's lots of things you can do with old computers.
posted by Fidel at 3:16 PM on August 22, 2003

My first computer. Cut my teeth on BASIC with it. And, yes, I had both the cassette interface and the printer/cassette interface. I still use it to this day. It's my favorite calculator. Last year I found another one (with the cassette interface) at a flea market for five bucks. Now I have two!

Later, before I started college I got one of these (the TRS-80 version). That was a cool computer. I remember dialing into the VAX-11/780 at Purdue at 300 baud (!) so I could do my programming assignments at home instead of waiting for computer time in the lab. I still have it in the closet, and it still works. I also have the Multiplan and Write-ROM rom chips somewhere. I had the Disk/Video interface too (gave it a full 25x80 screen and a 5-1/4" floppy drive) but that got trashed for parts years ago. There was a whole third-party industry that bloomed out of this computer. Software ROMs, external disk drives, "wafer" drives. Portable Computing magazine. Those were the days.
posted by AstroGuy at 3:18 PM on August 22, 2003

I'll bet, though, that none of y'all had one of these.

I even had the "Computer Programming" cartridge, complete with Intel 8048 assembler and one-line display. What a blast.
posted by Cerebus at 7:18 PM on August 22, 2003

Cerebus. my neighbors owned an Odyssey2. They had the cartridge that let you type in a word and it would play it in a synthesized voice through the television speaker. I think we wore the poor F, U, C, and K keys completely out, among others.
posted by samuelad at 9:46 PM on August 22, 2003

No Sinclair ZX Spectrum?
posted by Blue Stone at 8:25 AM on August 23, 2003

Cerebus: I had the Odyssey2. Pick Axe Pete, baby! It looks like we've led parallel computer lives.
posted by jpoulos at 9:11 AM on August 23, 2003

(I had the voice-synthesizer, but not the programmer.)
posted by jpoulos at 9:13 AM on August 23, 2003

Yes, but did y'all have this little gem of an Odyssey2 game?

I wish I still had it, but we sold it at a garage sale years and years ago. More the fool I.
posted by Cerebus at 12:15 PM on August 23, 2003

Yes, yes I did have that game. It came in a very cool package, if I remember correctly.

I have no idea what happened to my Odyssey2 system, though.
posted by jpoulos at 8:52 PM on August 24, 2003

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