Thursday, December 28, 2023

40 years of computing

The first computer I got new, was a Commodore 64.

I'd got a couple of malfunctioning hand me down TRS-80s (from a client of my grandfather's that couldn't get anyone to fix them properly, so they just replaced them, and my grandfather then gave them to me) that I got sort of working before I had the C64, but I consider the C64 my first real computer. 

Though I had played around a little bit with the TRS-80, the C64 was the first fully functional computer I owned, the first I really learned, and the first programming language I learned was Commodore basic on the C64. 

It was also the first computer I got commercial software for (a game, "The Search for the Most Amazing Thing" which I still remember quite well... It was a good game too), or any peripherals for (we started with a printer, and a monitor, and then later bought a datasette, and a disk drive, and were gifted a modem).

As it happens, that was exactly 40 years ago, this past Monday... Christmas of 1983. 

I started learning Commodore basic from the manuals the next day. By the end of the week I was keying in games for it from the back of computer magazines. 

So... Yeah... You could say this week is my 40th anniversary of really working with, and learning, and programming computers. Wow... Weird to think about it in those terms.

I don't think I've been without a computer ever since... Going from the C64, to a C128, to a used Atari ST given to me by a friend, to one of the Apple 2c clones ( a Laser 128), to an apple IIGS that was technically a friends, but he didn't know how to use it so I did... that was around 1986 I think? Maybe 1987?

My first online service access was CompuServe, after getting gifted a modem for my birthday in 1984. 

I also got access to the Internet and to UNIX the first time in either 1985 or 1986, I can't remember exactly... But it was through the state gifted children's accelerated education program, and local universities offering dialpad access... I remember the server was a leftover PDP-11/780 that had been replaced with a VAX, so they had made it available to students to use. 

Then my first MS-DOS PC, a Kaypro 2000 I got second hand from an uncle... Which I think was in '89, at which point it was already 3 or 4 years old... But I also had access to a bunch of tandy 1000s at the school computer lab.
At some point we got a generic 386, with one of the first versions of windows.... I seem to remember the name being "Redline PC" or something similar, but I may have that wrong. It had a turbo button, that usually caused it to glitch if you pressed it while running, I do remember that. 

In 1991 I first started being paid to work with computers, setting up and networking computers for local lawyers and doctors offices, starting with my own grandfather's office, then getting referrals to his friends and clients.... Beginning my now almost 35 year career in information technology. 

Then beginning in '93... 30 years ago this past August... College exploded my horizons into IBM, SGI, DEC, and Sun Unix machines... All of which I would then work on regularly until Linux basically completely displaced them from the enterprise market about a decade ago... Pretty much exactly 20 years, from 1993 to 2013... 

The PC I first got for college in 1993, was a 486... I think it was a dx2 66mhz... But it was defective, and thankfully I had bought the deluxe 3 year upgraded warranty and service package...  After several warranty replacements over the course of a full year (I think I had the thing fully replaced 4 times in a year) in fall of '94 they just upgraded me to an entirely new model; one of the early pentium machines, with windows... 
Which is also when I first started working with Linux... Beginning with Slackware in 1994, installed from downloaded floppy images...(I had tried getting Linux working in fall of '93 but never got it working right), and I've been working with it personally and professionally ever since. I was also working with BSD at a local ISP as a side job as an Internet installer, tech support and assistant admin (eventually I was the primary admin). 

Then  I started working NT and 95, both of which I got academic copies of, through my college... And the replacement Pentium died within a year as well, and they gave me a final replacement in... I think it was early '96? But anyway remember that I got several times my monies worth, as by then the PC that I had originally bought as a 486, had been upgraded multiple times to, I think it was a Pentium 166mhz MMX at that point ? Or maybe the earlier non mmx? I can't remember clearly. 

So... Yeah... I've had computers of one kind of another the entire 40 years since Christmas of '83... And an unbroken line of x86 machines since '93... Wow...