Friday, March 03, 2006

My First PC

When I was a kid - maybe 7, so 1975 - I had an analog computer. A friend of the family gave it to me; it was gathering dust in his garage. It was a plastic shell that had I think 10 lightbulbs across the top, and rows and rows of holes. You would connect sets of holes with wires, and there were plastic sliders that would activate or de-activate parts of the circuit that you had built. It came with pre-designed "games" and "utilities" that you could (after sweating and swearing with wires for 4 hours) plug in to the board and play. You could also write your own programs for it, if you were some kind of frickin' genius (or so it seemed to me at the time).

Thanks to helpful old alumni friends, I found it here. Lots of other cool computers at that site.

Also, as a boy, I wrote a program designed to be entered on punch cards. (It was a lunar lander simulator.) The cards were not actually physically punched - the campus mainframe where I was taking the computer class had just been outfitted with a state-of-the-art teletype terminal, where you could actually type in code without having to punch the cards. But they still taught us how to do the cards, because it was "a valuable job skill".

Yes, I am old. I am punchcard old, and my temples are white.

When did this happen?

1 comment:

emily1 said...

my first pc was a tandy 1000 with 256K ram and no hard drive. but, it did have a monitor that displayed four colors. it was an expensive paperweight. if my parents had actually known anyone with techie skills, they might have arranged for my brother and i to learn computer programming. i dabbled with it, but the usefulness of the BASIC programming manual that came with the computer was limited. as it was, after a few weeks of initial interest in the computer, we forgot about it and let it collect dust for several years.