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Author Topic: What our first computers did for us  (Read 5076 times)
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« on: May 02, 2009, 07:38:27 AM »

Greetings All,

In a reply here I went into an entirely new topic, namely this one. It occurred to me one of the big reasons I got into computers in first place. The utter fascination was a big motivator. And not just games either, but many of the other things. The communications methods, the graphics & wordprocessing that helped me with work, school and other hobbies. That is that computers are an unusual thing in one very important way. They do not do a single thing but can do a great many things. A computer is not just another tool. A hammer drives nails, a screwdriver drives or removes screws, a train moves cargo or people, each of those does just the one thing.

For me computers go beyond that in other ways, the computer itself holds fascination for me. How it does all the things it does is as important as what it does. Programming and the the Electronics side have occupied much of my time from the 1980's to the present in my spare time and in my work, it is my work.

Why computers of the 1970's and 80's are favourites of mine is they had variety, they were not, are not identical white box commodities to be used up and thrown away. More important than that many of the companies that made them were started first by hobbyists and small companies who did a very important thing. They made small computers that could fit on a desk in a bedroom or living room and could be bought and used by many individuals. This is just what mini-computers had done for companies who found the big iron mainframes out of reach.

For me personally it was the same. I first had access to computers at school and trying them out in stores. But there were limits on what I could do and for how long. In school there were few computers at first and most of the time with them was limited to teachers and the "elite" students. Even when I could get time on one of the school computers there were restrictions on what I could do, namely their "educational" programs. Those were good enough but that was not all I wanted to do. I wanted to do my own programming, be able to do my homework without having to retype many pages to fix errors. Not having to drop quarters into the arcade machines was a bonus too. Soon enough I realized I could do just that. Like many kids of the 80's I had a paper route at first followed by jobs in fast food joints later. That provided me with the cash to get my own computer. After months of saving I did manage to get a Commodore 64 with a datasette. That night and every night for some time after I'd be up later than usual learning the workings of basic. Typing programs from books & magazines and trading some with friends. This was during my high school years and it not only affected my education but everything I did. The computer crept into my other hobbies, rpg's electronics and so on. It also provided a means to meet people I may not have talked to otherwise. Especially in the bbs world. That modem era also gave a new opening to those with hearing impediments had a whole new means to communicate as well.

Here I am 25 years later and still interested and using these "old" computers. They are still doing for me what I expect of them way back then, and a few things I had not thought of. These days I find myself what got others into this hobby and what keeps us here all these years later.
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« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2009, 06:25:18 AM »

My first computer liberated me and my mind from the rules and regulations at my school.

See, we got these Commodore PETs.  When they got them, we were only allowed to run programs they had approved, and the time I spent on them was very limited.  We were not allowed to program them, for fear our programs might "Break" them.  The ignorance factor was really high.  Once a week restricted in the confines of what they wanted me to use it for wasn't enough for my budding mind.

The Vic 20 was my liberator.  With it, I could actually write my own computer programs.  Even though they weren't very good, they were still mine.  I could use the computer whenever I wanted in my free time, for whatever I wanted to use it for.  The 3.5k memory limit was far less restrictive than the terms and conditions of using those PETs. 

"Life and death are of supreme importance. Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost. Each of us should strive to awaken. Awaken. Take heed, do not squander your life." - Dogen Zenji
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« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2009, 07:05:32 AM »

It occurred to me one of the big reasons I got into computers in first place. The utter fascination was a big motivator. And not just games either, but many of the other things.
     Agreed.  When I got the C64 in August, 1983, it was fascinating.  Not long after came the many different, monthly Commodore and non-specific computer magazines and the software that was on the newsstands.  It was a treat to go to the local B. J. Dalton bookstore and see what was available every month.  Those were the days!

                  Robert Bernardo
                  Fresno Commodore User Group
                  July 25-26 Commodore Vegas Expo - http://www.portcommodore.com/commvex
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