Thursday, February 26, 2009

My First Computer

My very first computer was a Video Genie (aka Dick Smith System 80). It was a clone of the popular TRS-80 (often called the trash 80). I was a student at the time and paid for it with money earned working on the weekends and school holidays. It took me a whole 3 months to save up to buy it. The guy I worked for could not see the point.

For those who don't know the machine, it had a cassette player for saving and loading programs in Basic.

The first game I remember playing was Hunt the Wumpus which I entered by hand from Creative Computing. I wrote my own version of the game with 3 interlinked layers, but sadly I have lost the code.

Very few of my peers had computers of their own. One guy (David ????) built his own computer and had to programme it by hand one step at a time, although I think this was before I got the System 80.

The second computer I owned was a Sinclair ZX-81. I was working by this stage and I bought an after-market keyboard and disc drive to augment the cassette drive.

After that it was onto a MicroBee, which I mainly bought because it had a Zilog Z80 microprocessor and I wanted to learn assembler. This was with the aim of making a Z80 based controller for my ICON IC-720 amateur radio transceiver. The unit had a bi-directional data port on the back, and I initially built a discrete controller with about 30 integrated circuits. I still have it and it still works!

I never did get around to building the Z80-based unit, but I found the chips and data books in the garage a couple of months ago.

One odd memory I have is of selling the ZX-81. The guys who came to house to look at it all had beards - not sure why I remember that - and seemed intensely interested in all the details of the mods I'd made. At the time I thought they were a bit 'odd', but these days nothing out of the ordinary in the software world!

I was PC-less for several years after that - I thought I'd spent too much and got more interested in music (CD's had just come out).

What was your first PC (link from the comments)?

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