Amen! I learned to program on a Commodore PET so the VIC20 was limited in comparison but I could afford it as a student and it was MINE.
By the way, thanks to Windows 7, there's nothing unusual anymore about a computer that turns on in the middle of the night.
Where's this revisionism coming from? Even some former NASA employees are now crediting the Mac Portable as the first computer in space--it flew on STS-43 in 1991. But the GRiD compass was flying as early as 1989 (a slightly modified GRiD Compass 1101 may have been the first to fly, then a GRiD 1530 flew on STS-29 in March 1989, according to Wikipedia). GRiDs were laptops in the modern sense, with nice folding flat screens and weighing only about 10 lbs. And that doesn't count the programmable TI calculators that went up on earlier missions.
The thing about the ZX-80 design was how much was accomplished by so little hardware. It was a hobbiest machine. The CPU was involved in generating the video which is why it blanked out. See the Wikipedia article on the Sinclair ZX-80. A friend of mine loved hardware hacking with his.
The IMSAI was a clone of the original S-100 bus machine, the Altair 8800, as seen in Popular Electronics at the time. Most displays were variations on the TV Typewriter in those days with 40 characters orless on screen.
Too bad you missed the minicomputer and microcomputer era. You would have learned to apppreciate memory and peripherals! A lot of stuff could be done in 64K, and even 16K. You had to work with overlays and tight code, but there were high-level compiled languages and even interpreted BASIC.
Shucks, the first computer I ever used, and IBM 360 Model 25 in college, had 32K and my sophomore year they upgraded it to a full-blown 48K, the most it could handle! It was on the small size, but it was a mainframe.
I think IBM used it to test out programmable microcode, because it had some mag core called Control Storage. If you got a CSL (Control Storage Load) Check light during IPL, you had to reach for the deck in the bottom of the card cabinet, turn a dial, and read it in to remind the computer that it was a 360. The IBM 370 series used all volatile semiconductor memory and had to load its microcode from this neat new device, a 8" Floppy Disk.
I think the PET was marketed as a small business machine. I saw one in our agency's warehouse that had come back from a Medicare contractor.
Me too. Prices of brand name desktops have dropped, so I don't think I'm actually saving that much anymore by building my own. These days it's more about getting exactly what I want, down to every little hardware detail, rather than saving money.
I gave up on the retail machines pretty early on when I couldn't find a seller who used premium components, all of the others still charged more for their machines with inferior parts than it cost me to build one using the highest quality parts available. I have been building my own machines for the last 20 years and it's still the best route available for me.
The one that comes to mind was an IBM PC running windows 3.1 on a 286. It would hang quite regularly and if I had not saved my work, I would lose it all. The only way to get it back was to do a power reset. The infuriating thing was that when it rebooted, windows gave you the scolding about not turning the computer off properly!
To this day I save my work every few minutes.
I was hoping someone would bring that one up. Also remember that Sinclair came out with e very small calculator in about 73 or 74 that was smaller than a pack of cigarettes. The catch, you had to know scientific notation because that was how the numbers were done.
NASA's Orion Flight Software Production Systems Manager Darrel G. Raines joins Planet Analog Editor Steve Taranovich and Embedded.com Editor Max Maxfield to talk about embedded flight software used in Orion Spacecraft, part of NASA's Mars mission. Live radio show and live chat. Get your questions ready.
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