10 Awesome Things I Remember About Computers
Great fun on Twitter today as I asked when folks went online for the first time in their lives. The answers were marked with the #goonline hashtag. Mostly just random reminiscing but it got me remembering the fun we had "suffering" in the olden days.
The best part, of course, is that my "olden days" aren't yours. Maybe you learned with punch cards or maybe your first machine was a *gulp* Pentium. Either way, it was different and now it's a part of you.
Here's a totally random, completely useless collection of things I remember doing/accomplishing/working on while I was "coming up" in computers.
What's your list? Is it a list of suffering? Of joy? Of great fun? Of accomplishment?
What's 10 Awesome Things You Remember About Computers?
Using QEMM to rearrange all the TSRs in upper and extended memory. Then getting better than QEMM and using intuition to get better results.
Stacker'ing a 40 meg MFM hard drive. Upgrading to DR-DOS and getting compression for free.
Running a multi-node WildCAT! BBS under DesqView. Later running it under OS/2, then OS/2 Warp.
Upgrading my PC/XT by meticulously adding dozens of DIPs to an QUADBOARD expansion.
Using a standard paper hole punch to punch another write-protect notch in a 5 1/4" floppy to make it double-sided.
Telling everyone to be quiet so the acoustic coupler on a 300 baud modem could do its thing.
Using a regular cassette tape to play games on a Commodore Vic 20. LOAD "*", 1, 1
Printing out 40+ page or more giant-posters of Mr. Spock created entirely in ASCII on a TSR-80 and a 9-pin dot matrix printer. It took hours.
Typing in games from the back of COMPUTE! magazine. I ended up hiring kids from down street to read the long list of HEX values and CRC codes to me.
Buying a printer to work with PaperClip and having to type the printer's control codes directly into the application.
What's yours, Dear Reader?
Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.
Or perhaps waking my parents by having BBSes return-dialling me for security confirmations.
Ooh I remember writing the first disk copy program that would let you copy an entire 160K floppy in only SIX SWAPS!!! It took like 17 minutes to copy an entire disk. Previous software took like 20 swaps and nearly an hour to do the copy!
I also remember snooping through the roms on VIC20 and C64 game cartridges looking for easter eggs! Ah, those were the days!
Re-naming command.sys in a vain, last-ditch effort to get X-wing to run on my 486SX25 (The first/last time I took a computer to a repair shop)
Playing the Styx MUD from dumb-terminals at the White Sands Missile Range while working graveyard to put myself through school (They weren't too happy when they found out, but we did helpe them discover a few security holes ;-)
9-Track tape errors during full backup's of 80's era BBN mainframes (3 reel backups took ~120 mintues and a tape error on the last reel meant you had start from the beginning)
Finding it cool to love Netscape over ("evil empire") Explorer until I actually had to code HTML - and then promptly inverting that sentiment.
Mac-Labs where sad faces meant "repeat the last three hours work" - only this time save every 5 minutes.
Cutting my teeth on tech support during the era of Packard Bell Navigator and Compaq desktops with telephone answering machine features - nastaaaay.
Amazed when I read Kevin Mitnick could actually vocalize telephone exchange tones.
- Writing programs in machine code (and I don't mean assembly language.)
- Getting an assembler.
- Upgrading from 64K memory to 128K memory, and using the extra 64K as a RAM drive.
- Writing my own printer drivers for WordStar.
- Reading the ROM BIOS listing in the IBM Technical Reference Manual
- Writing my own text editor.
- Writing a shareware program and making like $50 from it.
1. Playing Choplifter for the first time on an Apple ][ "borrowed" from my dad's work, with the analog joystick
2. Plugging a microcontroller board together and "programming" it with some dip switches. That was also borrowed from my dad's work in the 70s (he worked for a government organization that helped train people who were out of work; they had loads of cool stuff like this).
3. LOAD "sidea" on the Spectrum... Thro the wall would soon come into my life...
4. Writing "Space Invaders", in BASIC, on the Spectrum one morning.
5. Gettting a sprite animating around while a tune played, in Z80 assembler, on the Spectrum, despite having been wierded-out by the memory layout for the screen.
Z80 and 68000 assembler made my brain big-endian. This is a significant burden in the world of Intel!
640K was *never* enough :)
And being at school unable to buy a replacement. I had to spend a whole summer outside.
1. Guru meditation codes on the amiga.
2. The little bombs that would appear during a crash on the original mac and atari st.
3. Getting your compuserve bill back when they were charging like $0.10/minute for chatrooms.
4. Duke Nukem 3D (come get some!)
5. Telnet'ing to your isp so you can use archie, gopher, veronica and wais to find what you need.
6. Using pine for email and lynx for the web.
7. SLIP and PPP connections to your ISP
8. alt.binary.pictures.erotica.* :-)
Hard to explain people today why ed was designed the way it is unless you worked on a teletype.
4. having to kick my 8086 to get the 20mb hard drive running (yeah I mean kick hard with my foot)
2. working hours to install my first cd-rom trying every possible IRQ/DMA/Base-Address setting
3. allways looking for the smallest mouse driver and best himem.sys - config to run all those fancy games ;)
4. the beginnings of the internet and WWW - hype (1200 BAUD ... any questions?)
5. learning C++ and the MFC without knowing C (oh these nasty strings)
6. figuring out how those pesky viruses work and staying up all night to get my own .COM fun virus working (after this proof of concept I lost all intrest in this - .EXE files were just to much work - and of course it never left my system - but I could infect your windows and greet you before starting it up ;)
7. first seeing LISP ... man I had no clue what this is all about
8. playing a lot with my own mandelbrot generator - proud to have understood the math behind it - it's still one of the first things I write when trying to find my way in a new language or framework
9. Learning database basics - SQL looked nice back then - now I want to run out screaming when I have to do another data-layer - it gets boring
10. rediscovery of FP
11. seeing your blog entry ;)
- Wrinting a 'Tax Calculator' program and a small program that plays "Happy B'day...' in Qbasic.
- Playing Cat, Prince of persia etc was fun.
- Making Text banners using "Banner" and then print them using a dot-matrix printer.
- Wordstar, Dbase III Plus was one of the essentials those days.
- Few boxes of 5.25" Floppy Disks and collection of small programs.
I remember Cannon Fodder requiring some 612KB of free conventional RAM to run in DOS. I recall the pride feeling, when I managed to have a crazy 625KB free conventional RAM - with DOSKEY, Danish keyboard-layout and MSCDEX... This was almost as much fun as the actual games themselves.
Oh, and the day I got an email from Al Lowe! (who thought my Leisure Suit Larry website was pretty cool..)
Not forgetting the ZX Spectrum, which I will have at home in the loft.
Speaking of Commodore disk drives: I remember replacing some of the 1541's chips with custom chips made by "Dolphin DOS" in order to make the disk drive about as fast as... Apple II's disk drive. Commodore really screwed up with their disk drive interface.
A good explanation of the reasons for this (and other) mistakes can be found in the book "On The Edge: the spectacular rise and fall of Commodore". It's a great book for all people who started their "career" on Commodore machines (VIC20/C64/Amiga).
My brother had a Commodore Plus 4 (yup, not a C64), and I have many happy memories of using it to play FireAnt and Treasure Island, loading from a cassette deck. Having to play the entire game map backwards with long john silver running after you to win - got the heart going when you were 8 years old!
My parents got me my own BBC Master Compact (the one with the 3.5" harddrive! revolutionary for a BBC), and a Dot Matrix printer that I needed to ask a local electronics shop to craft a special cable for me to hook them both up. God bless my parents for buying me all this stuff they had no idea about, but which made me happy. I remember buying my first ugly mouse to go with it and the Paint program which came on a ROM to install.
I got my first PC as a Gateway 2000 486 DX2/66 and installed a Sound Blaster 16 and 4x CD ROM in it myself as my first foray into the exciting world of tinkering with PC hardware. Encarta was cool back in the day. Windows 3.1. X Wing, Doom, Wolfenstein ("Mein Laben!!") Eventually installed a new GraphicsStar graphics card from VideoLogic whose big selling point was the ability to scale AVI files - just in time for Weezer and the Porsche 911 clips on the Windows 95 CD!
Fond memories of visiting a local internet cafe (at the time a novelty for the UK) to download my own copy of Netscape and take it home on floppies to look at pages I cobbled together in HTML locally. Eventually got my own 28kbps Modem and connected up to the Gateway 2000 BBS's before moving over to DemonNet and the wonderful world of the web :)
School had a network of RM PCs (must have been 486's?), and some older 386 and 286 machines with monochrome screens that were abandonned which some friends and I cobbled a LAN together to play multiplayer Doom at lunchtimes :)
That same network also had a handheld Logitech scanner on one machine, and I still remember dragging that thing over photos and being really impressed that my photo was on screen in an early version of PaintShopPro!
Happy memories for a UK geek!
1. Dropping by the local hypermarket on the way home to play with the Commodores and Ataris they has on display (too expensive to buy my own in South Africa)
2. Loading Wordstar 2 on the computers in the lab at Uni to enter code for the 8088 developer kits at which point it was time to go get a coffee, these were Intel Series I machines running off 2x8" floppies and 6 terminals per unit
3. Sitting up in the same lab till 3am in morning typing in 8051 assembler for the cross-compiler trying to get my final year robot to work
4. Seeing Transylvania running for the first time on my friend's Apple ][ clone, and waiting for each screen to draw (and waiting, and waiting)
5. Buying my first XT clone when I started work, and then clubbing together with a bunch of guys from work to buy NEC V20s so we could upgrade our processors from 8088s to 80186 equivalents
5. Playing Space Quest I till all hours on floppy disk on the XT
6. Getting my 1st taste of Turbo Pascal during my post-grad course, what a relevation it was !
7. Seeing a Mac for the first time when a friend brought one
8. Getting an ADA compiler at work, complete with a full length ISA card with 4Mb of additional memory in order to run
9. Getting a 5 1/2" full height 10Mb hard disk for the XT
And many more.....
2. Using the Albatros ( http://ready64.org/museo/joystick_albatros/albatros2.jpg ) joystick on my Commodore64. BEST, JOYSTICK, EVER.
3. Adapting the same Albatros joystick for my PC
4. Buying an arcade joystick and playing MAME
Mmmm... are all my awesome moments related to gaming? Yep :)
2. Then spending days writing stuff all over the screen so my parents can show off to the neighbours
@@ @@@ @@ @@ @ @ @@ @@@@
@ @ @ @ @@ @ @ @ @
@ @ @@ @ @ @ @ @
@ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @
@ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @
(that's how my name is spelled in hebrew)
3. Cassete-recorder cleaners
4. When I was about 7, having friends over to play with my Space Invaders clone on the ZX-Spectrum, however game breaks with various bugs soon enough.
5. Staying home trying to fix the bugs while the friends went out to play hide-and-seek etc.
6. However somehow keep being friends with them (until today actually)
7. Hating Einstein word processor, then getting a copy of QText, then the floppy gets all bad sectors, then programming a WP in Turbo C 2.0
8. Learning how to program from Borland's Turbo Pascal help menu
9. Writing a data-driven application in Turbo Pascal 5.5, storing all data in text files, never hearing that there was something called SQL
10. re-formatting my floppies million times over using Norton-Format (NF.exe) to 'reduce' the number of bad sectors
11. Writing autoexec.bat files to show menus on PC boot, so friends' parents would think that "Word Processor" is what their kids use, while adding hidden options to CD into D:\WeirdCode\Games
13. Dancing to the sound of dot-printers
14. Tournament: How will spin a 5-1/4 floppys on one finger faster
15. Tournament: All-day-long Celtics vs. Lakers NBA games. Larry bird never misses from the corner, Kareem never misses.
16. Memorizing all 89' playoffs scores, as these was the basis for the game's startup question
1. first computer - my dad's green screen BBC micro
2. discovering that you could "hack" computer games to give yourself extra lives
3. spending hours typing in games from magazines and then countless more trying to find where the mistake was
4. discovering that "hard disk" didn't mean a 3.5" floppy disk
5. being distinctly unimpressed by my first go on a PC - where's the BASIC programming interface gone?
6. buying shareware by mail order
7. playing my first ever 3D game - Wolfenstein - found myself backing away from the screen in fear as guards came towards me
8. discovering minesweeper and losing all track of time
9. my first go on the world-wide web in 94 (using Mosaic) - reading everything of interest, and deciding I would check again in a months time to see if there was anything new
10. installing extra RAM on my soundcard
The TOS operating system on an Atari 520ST computer and bulding my own shooter. Playing Lotus 3 with friends.
Changing all the error messages in command.com so that it looks cooler. Playing Monopoly on the computer with 10 other friends. Ultima Underworld!
Creating a computer virus in under 200 bytes in the DOS Debug application. Being asked 5 months later to clean a computer of viruses and find my own there.
Turbo Pascal. Building a fire simulator in it. Building my first ANN in it. Creating a video compression algorithm for 256 color videos that was better than MPG and then getting screwed by SVGA.
The Fidonet BBS I ran and the interface in Mex. Late night chats with all the sleepless people entering the BBS.
My first CD-ROM 1x with a big plastic+metal case to put the CD in.
Ah, I give up! too many memories overflow...
- Adding a board to the Apple II Plus to allow lower-case fonts with "true descenders".
- Playing first color game on Apple II Plus, "Swashbuckler".
- Hacking an adapter plug so that the Apple IIc could successfully fire up in the car but not really being able to do anything with it since there was no display.
- Playing "Defenders of the Crown" on the Amiga 1000.
- Programming a talking grade-book on the Amiga 1000 that would speak what was typed for no-look validation.
- Programming a hurricane tracking chart in Windows 3 that sold a fair number of shareware copies.
- Compuserve online accounts from the early 80's.
- Building a DVR out of an old computer.
- Having customers "ooh" and "ahh" at your creation when they first see the program.
2) I remember playing StarTrek on Honeywell mainframe computers where we would submit orders on punch cards. We have a bunch of premade punch cards that represented each basic set of orders. I think we had to mix & match based on where we were on the grid. The best part was the permanent record of you missions (i.e. the huge roll of paper that had the printout of your game session). I would take that home and pour over it in my bed a night to devise new strategies!
Last summer I found my QEMM / Desqview/X floppies -and- my WildCat BBS floppies as well. Running a multi-line BBS was so damned fun just for all the tinkering opportunities :-) I was half-tempted to build it all back up in VM, but why... *sigh*
Remember the great old BBS door games? Legend of the Red Dragon? Global War? Tradewars 2k?
Anyone remember the DOS game version of 8 Ball Deluxe? That was probably the most pirated download to frequently cross my BBS.
1. Taking the punch card 'chads' and putting them in the frat brother pockets as a prank. Worked great as they would still be coming out of the laundry for months/years.
2. Figuring out the chat program in the computer lab and ask girls out for dates.
3. Jumpman on the C64.
4. Building a Timex/Synclair then 'typing' in a program.
5. Deleting that damn '.' and '..' files on my first PC.
6. Hooking up the shortwave radio to the modem to get programs.
7. Jumpman on the C64.
8. Programming the PDP 11-20 with switches.
9. Taking the COBOL final under the influence and scoring 104 (with extra credit, not just in my mind).
10 Tweaking the Commodore disk drive to have two connected at once.
11. Computer Club swap meets with the latest protection cracks.
Or maybe I just need some more coffee this am =)
I had a dirty Law of the West floppy that worked 20% of the times (at random) that I rebooted the C64 and entered LOAD "*",8,1. My neighborhood friends used to come over and we would--I kid you not--pray for it to work, over and over, until it did. That C64 got me on my knees as a 10-year-old.
Being pretty young (8-9 IIRC), I didn't really know what to do. So, I got my parents to drive me an hour to the nearest Radio Shack with a "Tandy Computer Center" and reported it there. At the time, I assumed these people working at Tandy must be computer gods and could inform the correct parties with a nod or their head. Of course, they were actually just sales associates who didn't know or care anything about programming languages.
I later moved "up" to a VIC-20 and then Commodore-64 (I adore my 64, my Commodore - 64)
Epyx Fast Load Cartridge - thank you Epyx
I still have a few issues of Compute! and Compute's Gazette stashed away somewhere.
Cassette drives (and how that 1541 changed my life).
CompuServe at 1200 baud.
Getting my Mom to read to me from Compute while I typed.
Restoring the escape sequences in 7 bit ASCII text to get the Japanese character encoding to work (to read about anime on BITNET)
Epic Summer Games
2. My first ISP had a whole section of adult pictures accessible to anyone
3. Hacking my MSX joystick controller with extra electronics to cheat on Decathlon
4. Asking my printer's manufacturer for windows drivers and receive a blank stare
5. Installing Turbo C++ from 14 diskettes
6. Editing Gorillas.bas for extra fun
7. Dr Sbaitso
8. Using Turbo Pascal and BGI calls to draw 3D shapes
9. Configuring dip switches on the motherboard (for IRQ? not sure anymore)
10. Funny characters on the BBS chat when the phone line was noisy
Concentric Data Systems R&R Report Writer. What a great product at the time.
AST memory boards
Compaq 286 Deskpro! look at how fast the directly listing scrolls buy!
Buying a very early PC XT with a 5mb harddrive. DOS 2.0 wasn't yet available. I vividly remember the salesperson saying, "Don't worry. You don't need it. The only thing it adds is directories."
Dan Bricklin's Software Garden. He had a great little product that drove PostScript for printed output.
Peter Norton Utilities. Who could live without 'em?
(on the BBC B Micro, and then the Atati ST/FM).
And yes Scott, I too remember QEMM, Stacker and paying 120 UKP for a 108meg HD while in college for a DX25 (you have a DX?! wow!)
Beagle Brothers software
300 Baud to BBS systems
TRS-80 with 8 inch floppies and a power switch at knee level
Olivetti computer with a 40 char x 2 line display and a built-in thermal printer
IBM XT with 10 MB hard drive
Drooling over the Osborne 1 luggable
Watching the 'demos' that the European warez community included with all the game cracks.
Feeling really old now....
Writing my first multilanguage app on that PDP-8J in BASIC. Converted the numbers 0-999,999 to Roman Numeral.
Writing a sub search (10x10x10) game
(These were tough as we only had 1.5K of memory left after boot strapping the machine)
Seeing/palying on my first networked machine at Western Washington University - playing Star Trek of course (just like sub search - only better)
Building a Z80 computer and writing an extremely basic OS to make it behave as a controller for lighting an intersection (class lab)
My first Kaypro computer - what a luggable!
Skipping right past the acoustic modem to the 96 baud RS232 modem.
Working on Citadel BBS code (later TurboCit, TwitCit, MavenCit, Centauri's Citadel, etc) - http://anticlimactic.retrovertigo.com/ (a lot of my best friends from that time are listed here). Also running a Citadel derivative BBS called the BBI (Buckaroo Banzai Institute)
And this just gets me towards the end of the 80s...
2. Dancing to the tune of novell netware loading on diskless nodes
3. Creating Ram drive of 64 KB and loading applications into them
4. Programming on Z80 using Mnemonics, with no "F1" to help when stuck
5. Writing code in Norton editor and then crossing fingers to see the errors churned out by the compiler.
6. Using 123 to load my spreadsheet
7. Harvard Graphics for creating presentation
8. Getting awed by Digital Research' s (Dr. Dos) to be able to use mouse
9. Creating POS application in dbaseIII
10. Installing external Hayes Modem
10 PRINT JAMES IS KING
20 GOTO 10
for the first time.
3. My first boot sector virus infection. I was less worried about the results of the infection than I was impressed by the author, and immediately wanted to write my own.
4. Using POKE to cheat at games.
5. Compiling my first .exe executable, a floppy disk duplicator. Once I had a .exe on disk and it ran successfully, I pretty much knew that I was going to be a programmer. I loved that program. I pimped it out with ANSI colors, ASCII art, progress bars, and just about every bell and whistle you could have in DOS console apps.
6. Trashing my partition table while installing Linux, the first of very many such occurrences. This taught me the value of secondary data hard drives and backups.
7. Downloading WinZip with 2400bps modem from a long-distance BBS. Was my first online file transfer. What a rush....My parents were less enthusiastic of the concept, as the phone bill was a few hundred dollars in the first month that I discovered BBS's.
8. Waiting ages for a game to load from tape, only to have it fail, my brother having recorded some music over it in revenge.
...PDAs used regular batteries (AAs usually)?
...BASIC had line numbers?
...computer magazines published type-in programs?
...a box of floppy disks cost $20?
...Atari made computers?
...2400 baud was high speed?
...going online meant dialing up a local BBS?
...hard drives were an optional accessory?
...printer paper came with tractor feed holes?
...computers only ran one program at a time?
Dropping a stack of punch cards!
Sending a network chat message via VAX 750 to a colleague on another Tektronix screen to ruin his graphical display that was taking minutes to draw.
Writing a thesis on a Commodore PET with a daisy wheel printer, and adding all the non-ASCII characters by hand with a technical drawing ink pen.
- changing the code for 'breakout' on the original apple II on THE high school Apple II to impress all my friends with extra lives, new colors
- starving myself and my new family for a couple months to buy my very own apple II
- oh, loadrunner you wasted so many hours of my youth
- hand assembling my own 6502 programs (what's an assembler?)
- my very first XT and very first (5mb?) hard drive.
- asking my buddy what he meant by 'downloading files'
- Getting a 2nd telephone line just for my BBS habit, and hosting my first BBS (yay Fidonet!)
- BBS 'Doors'
- desqview as first multi-tasking environment - "I just want to play games while downloading files!!!"
- being amazed that 'email' could get a message to someone in europe in a matter of minutes when it would take fidoMail a couple days sometimes.
- staring at my monitor in utter amazement when I discovered Lynx.
- OS2 - so pretty!
- rebuilding machines from bits and pieces left over with every upgrade. I don't think I bought a whole computer for like 15 years.
- 'healing' literally hundreds of infected floppy disks on one dark and lonely night.
Man, I could go on all day. Love it.
Well, it was an "awesome" price. Just not in a good way. :-(
2) Discovering the first remote desktop, a program called Co/Session, which cut my support calls from 2 hours down to 10 minutes.
3) Compute Gazette and the C-64, those were the days...
4) Zork I, II and III, plus Hitchiker's Guide (I'll have some No Tea, please)
5) Novell 3.11, the best network OS ever
6) I was a 386Max guy (3 reboots to get the right configuration!)
7) The *original* MSN (my email address dates to the beta version circa 1994, believe it or not)
Rearranging people’s punch card "decks" when they weren't looking at college too many years ago. It got so bad that people had their decks wrapped with elastic bands and stuffed down their pants. We always wondered why the girls were looking at us ;-)
-Eventually upgrading to a 300 baud Hayes modem and the wonderful AT command set!
-Using CompuServ and Chatroom and watching Whiz Kid on TV!
-Writing BBS code on a Model IV with 64K extendeded memory and two 5.25" single-sided floppy drives
-Buying my first Amiga 1000 when I saw school host their PBS using it and a Toaster; and of course having a 3.5" floppy drive
-Upgrading to an IBM XT AT 4.77MHz box with 1MB of memory
-In 1990-1991 learning/reading "Teach Yourself C" by Herbert Schildt and using Borland Turbo C to write my own DOS programs.
-Earning my highly appreciated Novell CNE and not failing any of the 7 tests! I believe our company was rolling out Windows NT 3.1 around 1993-94 to replace our Novell servers. NetWare 3.1 ruled! I remember folks appreciated looking at the "number of days online" in Novell without a reboot.
-Learning Borland's TASM - Turbo Assembler and loving Tom Swan's "Mastering Turbo Assembelr" and "Mastering Turbo Debugger" books!
-Upgrading to 386SX and going to Montgomery Wards about 10 times (varoius stores) in one week swapping out a crappy Packard Bell computer that had an awful mouse bizerk
behavior when trying to use a mouse in Turbo C. Funny thing was that I returned the PC and got another of the same model and the inside was slightly different on almost every one of them. I eventually just got a refund because I couldn't take the mouse issue any more.
-Around 1995 re-certifying for Novell CNE 4.0 and learning NDS.
-Upgrading to 486DX, Pentium (when Intel stopped naming their processors by number due to AMD), Penitum II, Pentium III, Pentium IV, Pentium IV with Hyper-threading, Core 2 Duo, and finally now a Quad Core with 8GB of RAM and 7TB of storage!!!
-Around 1998 earning my NT 4.0 certification and later later Windows 2000 learning Active Directory.
-Somewhere along the way, I upgraded from 300 baud, 1200, 2400, 9600, USR14.4, USR38.8, and USR56K modems and using PCPLUS and Qmodem for file transfers! I think around 1997-1998 when I finally got Cox broadband in my house and could throw away the dialups!
-Around 2000 using VMware workstation 1 or 2 to run a M(Mumps) banking application on Linux for sales folks and basically running a full end of day for multiple banks on the box; effectively doign the same thing we paid millions of dollars for for an IBM RS/6000.
-Around 1997 installing SQL Server 6.0 on an NT 3.5 system. Yeah, I hated having to rebuild a database that you made larger over time. You had to keep track of how big you made it each time in order to restore a backup to a new database. Fun Fun Fun
-Around 1997 moving all our banking clients from Bisync transmissions of work to FTP and developing a mechanism for files to be sent to us FTP and server converting transmission to bisync to mainframe. This allowed customers to use new technology and we could continue to receive bisync to mainframe.
-Yeah, I miss those days and if I could do half the stuff I can do today back then, I'd probably be a millionaire by now. God I wish ASP.NET and SQL was around in 1995!
-Appreciating the whole Y2K phenomina as it finally force our cheap banking customers to upgrade their old IBM XT based machines with 20MB HD to newer machines that actually had more capacaity and we didn't have to resend a 4-5 hour bisync transmission of reports back to them the following day because their HD was full!
-Getting tired of the whole certification and recertification scenerio since it seemed it was only good for about 2 years and quickly lost its importance. I use it today as a baseline for comptency for my folks more so than they're a master of anything.
-OK, I've been around. Things are way better than before, but I seriously wish Microsoft and the rest of the world woudl take about 8 years and stop developing and just improve on their existing products and make them more stable. I'm tired of the constant change and as soon as something starts to work or becomes useful, something better comes along and the trial-and-error process starts all over again... Very frustrating. Heck, Windows 95 was cool!
@David White: Yes, dropping those big stacks of punch cards could be a revolting development. I found a stack in the attic a few years ago and it had a diagonal pencil line down the side, kind of a manual way to resort them!
The mention of the VAX also brought back some memories. To get a graphic output it meant waiting minutes for the Versatec machine to print out its nasty monochrome output.
The fact that when you used to get a new computer, there was a whole new class of things you could do with it:
1) Z80 computers - Wow! A computer! I can play games and type and have a calculator and program!
2) IBM PC - Wow! I can finally do some serious word processing and exchange disks with other people at the office!
3) 286's - Wow! EGA graphics! It's almost arcadelike! And with this newfangled 20 MEGABYTE drive I don't have to wait for my disks! Hey, wow, what's this BBS thing?
3) 386's - Hey neat! VGA! 256 colors! I just downloaded some naughty pictures from that Warez/nudie BBS!
4) 486's - Look at this "Windows" thing! It actually runs pretty good now. I can use this. Hey, wow, my documents look just like the way they'll print on my laser (ha, you know you had a dot matrix) printer!
5) Pentium - Hey wow! I can download naughty little movies over this new Internet thing that I dialed up to.
6) Pentium II/III - Wow, the World Wide Web! Awesome! Hey, and some of these games are not sucking so much with this newfangled 3dfx graphics card!
7) Pentium 4/Core2/i7 - Hmm. More of the same. A lot faster than my old P2/P3. Hey, at least my JIT compiler is working acceptably.
As an aside, I think that the ability to do NEW CLASSES of things is what is making Apple so successful now. Never mind that you can do most of the stuff on a PC that you can do on a Mac, but not so seamlessly or effectively. Now you aren't limited by your CPU or RAM, you truly are limited only by your software. Apple knows this, and when they sell computers, they're selling you iPhoto, iMovie, and GarageBand, and knocking your socks off with them in the showroom. They're selling how well their lifestyle products integrate with their platform. Microsoft is selling an Operating System.
Paying $200 for the first 2x CD-ROM drives
Paying $1499 for a Pentium 133(Mhz), 1 MB Video Ram, 4x CD-ROM Drive, and 14" Monitor, 64 MB Ram, 14.4 Data/Fax modem
Staying up late-night mastering Pirates!, Lesure Suite Larry, Ultima, F-117A Stealth Fighter
Watching Star Wars at High School Video Production class on an huge Video CD Disc (over 12")
Not admitting guilt for frequently crashing the family computer.
Being amazed by the quality of graphics in the 1980s, and 1990s, now considered pixelated.
Creating microscopic cheat sheets for History Class on a HP Laser Printer 3P.
Including cheap Word Art that filled up an entire page, for my English essays.
First computing memory was playing AppleTrek (Klarnons etc) :) After than got into basic & 6502 assembler, then C, Z80 assembler, C++, x86 assembler, FoxPro, Delphi, COM & C#...
Most immoral thing... Writing a background keyboard capture utility to find out my school teacher's password (BBC Micro)...
Coolest BBC Micro thing... Wrote loads of utility ROMs; loved using my eprom writer (& eraser) to burn them and put in 'puter (or in cartridge on Master)... Cleaning dirty eprom pins with isopropyl... Yum!
Earliest commercial project... Biscuit / cookie counting and time recording utility for Ryvita (BBC Micro again with some weird thing in the analog port).
Every new programming language learned, always wrote same "bank balance" app for my dad (like MS Money) :)
Writing my first program in Applesoft
Storing and loading said program via cassette player
Thinking I had plenty of room with the 16K of RAM it had
Being completely syched when I got 2 x 5 1/2" floppies for it...for $500 eachGetting my first Compaq luggable PC, complete with carrying handle, small orange screen, and 2 floppy drives
Thinking AMI Pro was the best word processor on the planet
Writing dos programs for 640K, and loving life when I discovered dos extenders
Loving my new 32K modem...hating modems
Being in heaven with my first 40MB hard drive
Composing music on my Atari using SMPTE Pro
Now I feel old.
Sending my programs by the post (on 5.25 in disks, no less!) to Compute magazine.
They got published too :)
Regarding your image at the top of the article, is GOGO (line 200) a BASIC command I missed? Maybe it is GOTO but faster? :)
2. Command to format a 720K disk in 1.44MB drive: Format A: /T:80 /N:9
3. Using Turbo Pascal to write a TSR program to put the time in the upper right hand corner of the screen in DOS.
4. Instead of using QEMM, I used to hand tune EMM386 and mem commands in the Config.sys and Autoexec.bat to get better Memory usage than QEMM was capable of when loading NDIS and Netware drivers (dual stack) under DOS and Windows 3.1 Somewhat trial and error until you got each PC with enough memory under 1 MB to work correctly.
5. Entering Debug and issue the command to a Western Digital HDD controller to run the firmware to partition and format the attach 10MB drive.
I will save a few for the rest of the fans. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!
I've done at least something from every one's post and they all put a smile on my face.
1. It took me an hour or so, and both sides of a tape, to save just a single program of mine on a Commodore 64...
2. I was playing with so-called "sprites" on Commodore 128 to develop my first moving object...
3. I was investigating "Simon Basic"...
4. Wishing to have an Amiga instead of C64...
5. Developing some TSR programs on my first (and last) 80386 machine...
6. Buying my first co-processor...
7. Installing my first 1x CD-ROM Drive and it's associated ISA sound card that was actually useless in MS Encarta...
Yeah, I remember those amazing days...
But my first real attempts at programming were using Borland Turbo C 2.0 on my Amstrad PC1512 (MS-DOS 3.2, DR-DOS 4? and GEM Desktop; 512Kb RAM - upgraded to 640 and later on - revolution! - added a Filecard hard disk which was 20 Mb).
I was 13yo the 1st time my
printf("Bonjour Monde");worked. What a joy!
I also miss collecting "rent" from my downstream nodes that I called to deliver FidoNet mail. Remember now, it was call "plus" fees. :-) Man we had it made.
- My first TI99/4a with the Extended Basic cartridge and that little black cable to plug into your tape record (all of which had to be purchased separately...$300 for the TI in 1982 as I recall).
- Discovering Sprite graphics on the TI99 (CALL CHAR "995A3C3C2424" drew a little stick figure I used in all the games I wrote)
- The very LOAD "*",8,1 command you mentioned on my Commodore 64
- Playing Pirate Adventure on the TI (say yoho!)
- Modifying the source code on Quest for the Holy Grail on the Apple ][e to make my character's likeability, gold, hit points, etc. have many, many zeroes after them...
- Playing Castlevania on the Apple ][e (Halt schweinhund!!!)
- Thumbing through BYTE magazines in the library looking for game source code to type in (and then spending hours trying to figure out what I screwed up)
- The first time someone brought a copy of Doom into work ("graphics don't need to get any better than this")
- Fiddling wiht IRQ's and HIMEM and lsl, 3c509, odi, this fancy new thing called ndis and every .ini file known to man trying to get the netware stack to load
- Meeting one of the scientists on a flight to Hawaii 15 or 20 years ago from the team who built Univac (he noticed I was reading the book for my (xinu) operating system theory class and tapped me on the shoulder) and listening to him talk about how 10k of memory took up an entire room and they cooled it with an old airplane propeller
- 1985 - Failed to save up for a Macintosh and settled for a Commodore 64 (no regrets, still have it).
- Programming music "apps" on the C64 using the 3-voice SID synthesizer, and playing around with voice using S.A.M. (Software Automatic Mouth)
- "Hacking" the Star Trek game so I'd never die.
- Using Di-Sector to recover my dad's important document after a crash (C64 power supply overheating problem)... my introduction to HEX.
- Using a bucket of ice to prevent aforementioned overheating issue.
- Cracking open the power supply only to find all electronics sealed in hard blue epoxy, impossible to remove!
- Finding and reading my dad's old BYTE magazines from the 70's.
- Using my C64 monitor all through university for watching TV. Great great monitor.
- 2009 - Still saving up for a Mac. One day.
Trying to solve Zak McKracken on monochrome, when all you had to do was following that blue line through the labyrinth...
"You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike"
You need to get Milind to read this entry and post.
I remember a game programmed in Basic called 'Desert Racer', where you'd use keys to move an object to pick up food and you'd have to hitting some obstructions and losing lives. Other classic games were 'Brick' and a Basic version of 'Hangman'.
In high school, I used a program called 'Speedscript' to write and print out lab reports. I'd run into problems because if a line of text started with a period or a dash then it would be an indicator of how big margins should be. So I had to be careful with my formatting.
Milind and I made a 'trade' which gave me possession of his Commodore 64. I ran into a problem though because some of the keys got busted in shipping. I fixed this by placing some rubber bands below the keys so that when they'd be depressed, there would be contact with the bottom of the keyboard and the letters would appear on screen.
Boy, what memories. At the same time, it really makes me feel old :-(.
2. Destroying joysticks with Olympic Games
3. Discovering graphics with Simons' Basic
4. Amazed how fast a 2400bps modem was, after 1200bps
5. Ultima IV for C64 (lost 2 years for it, until found out on what sector the stats were)
6. Buying MC68010 for Amiga 500 to make it faster (no help)
7. My first ST506 MFM HDD - 28ms access time and plenty of noise, but 20MB.. wow
8. Lattice C compiler - almost integrated editor and compiler (better than Manx)
9. Guru Mediation
10. Sleepless nights while trying to make PC Support, Netware and Windows coexist
(and lots of more)
I was in technical nirvana when I was finally able to run XFree86 on my $3000 486 and play netrek over 2400bps SLIP connection.
1. Writing my first program in BINARY for god's sake for a 1401 IBM mainframe. It was part of a class and we rapidly advanced to assembler.
2. Translating IBM1401 Autocoder into COBOL. Not nice!
3. Writing what amounted to re-entrant code in IBM360 Basic Assembler Language; had to fit into the 32K "executable" partition on the IBM 360. We used a lot of NOP's - self modifying code, if anyone remembers what that was. Almost impossible to debug.
4. Reading Hex (Hexadecimal, base 16 numbering system used in old IBM machines) in coredumps as easily as decimal.
5. Getting one of the early PDP-11/45s. Toggling in the bootstrap loader in octal.
6. Writing a bitching letter to the DEC sales manager, complaining about the service letters addressed to "Dear Sir". Explained I wasn't a "Sir". Suggested alternatives, not including "Madam". Received response from a VP and subsequent letters addressed to "Dear Customer".
7. Seeing early PCs and wondering what in the world anyone would do with one.
8. Getting an "under the table" copy of UNIX from Bell Labs in 1975 and going nuts.
9. Learning C from Kernahan and Ritchie
10. Being delighted that nearly everyone in the "developed" countries is computer literate. Never thought it would happen.
1.The TI-99 4/a, which was going to take over the world because it was a 16-bit machine in a time of whimpy 8-bit boxes.
2. My Timex-Sinclair 1000, and the big Z80 assembly language book I bought for it that baffled me for the longest time. I can't believe I typed on that chiclet keyboard. at least I havd the 16k RAM expansion though!
3. Like many of you, typing in games by hand. It wasn't until some time after that I realized all the POKES were actually often inserting assembly code.
4. my Poor-boy's journey through commodore. Several VIC-20's, several C=64, to C-128 (& CP/M!) to my A500.
5. PC Pursuit! (the real precursor to the internet IMHO)
6. The entire circus of piracy around the C=64, and reverse engineering copy protection schemes. Some assembler with the name Wizard in it?
7. The SnapShot cartridge for the C64, and the first time I heard the Peter Gabriel pan flute on the amiga - video and sound on that machine was light-years ahead of everything else.
8. the major upgrade from 300bps to 1200bps.
9. Running CNET bbs's trying to keep up with much beefier IBM clones running stuff like WildCat.
And I'll throw one in from my PC-clone era:
10. Norton Desktop! (come to think of it, why don't we have a Norton Desktop for Vista?)
Finding two pencils that were both about the same length and each had a good, clean, sturdy eraser on it in order to code BASIC on a Commodore Pet that had those silly keyboards that seemed like they were for a calculator.
Getting an assignment back in a Pascal class and finding I lost points because the floppy that I had turned in had a “virus”!
Liesure Suit Larry.
Seeing the animation of the disc doctor dry-humping the hard disk on the early Mac version of the Norton Utilities while it was running the disc check.
Seeing the face of my insufferable co-worker restarting Tango (an old electronics CAD program) on the single ‘286 that we had in the lab only to find that none of his changes to the options that he had spent almost half of his time on the machine changing remained, because he liked to change all of the customizable settings such as the colors of the different layers of the PC board being designed, which confused other users like me, and I liked to set the read-only flag on the settings.ini file so options would remain default.
Drawing the logo of the San Jose Sharks in Windows Paint (on 3.1) on a VGA monitor completely by hand.
Norton desktop! man that was an awesome bit of software. Folders on your main desktop in win 3.1 days? fantastic!
I often wondered what happened to them after windows 95. It looked *very* similar and I always hoped Microsoft either bought the product or Nhad some kind of ip protection/licensing for their stuff.
But yeah - what a memory, takes me right back to university days - which also reminded me of buying Borland's C++ / OWL (I forget the version) on like 13 floppies from Blackwell book store in oxford. Student version was 35UKP from one of the most amazing book stores ever that has rooms running under trinity college. OWL was awesome, you can still spot applications written in it - they have the big green tick and red x on the ok/cancel buttons!
2. As previously noted, spending hours typing in hex codes from Compute magazines.
3. Using a freeware C64 D&D character generator (which I can�t remember the name of) that included a great equipment purchase module I�ve never yet seen the equal of, even in equivalent modern programs (free ones, anyway).
4. Computer games packaged in Ziplock bags.
5. Two words: Babel fish.
6. Three words: Gold Box series.
7. Creating fonts for the C64 GEOS system, based on Goudy Old Style, and the lettering on Pink Floyd�s The Wall album.
8. Luxuriating in the massive storage space on my first hard drive, a 10 MB Amiga drive.
9. Watching the C64 and Amiga sections at Babbage�s dwindle down, until there was nothing left but PC and Mac.
10. The friends made on GEnie�s Writer�s Ink Roundtable.
The salesman told me that is used to speed-up my 14MHz XT computer :)
My second PC was 486DX (!) running at 40MHz with 200 megs of hard drive. All my friends told me I was crazy to spend so much money on hard disk space I will never be able to fill up.
- Remember playing music with your C-64 Disk drive?
- Type In Programs
- Peek and Poke...
- The 1st "online" phone bill (I am from Germany, we had no free local calls... I was almost killed)
- And my favorite... Finally saving up for that incredible 1-MB RAM upgrade, and when I finally got home, I realized that i needed 2 Sticks of memory
1. Tuning the tapehead on the C64 casetteplayer when games failed to load at the very end after reading from tape for ages.
2. Playing the 3d vector game Elite days on end on the C64? It was sooo cool.
3. Typing on those rubber keys on the Spectrum.
4. Using a small (crt) television as screen for the C64/128/A500. The crispness, and clarity!
5. The first Voodoo 3D-cards. Awesome.
6. Seeing the raytracing demo for the Amiga 1000 and being in complete awe!
7. @Niels: In Sweden too the public radio broadcast software over the air.
8. @Vlad: those turbo buttons were amazing :)
9. Using a 1x cd-rom recorder at work that cost a fortune.
10. Learning to program basic in school on an the Swedish made ABC80 with a Z80 cpu and 16kb ram (http://www.datasalen.se/Utstallning/Data/Luxor/bild/lua314.JPG).
Making a config.sys with like 5 options and the migrating to QEMM
Using like 20 floppy disks to install Command & Conquer
Downloading tons of music videos at my first job (and first high-speed internet connection) which eventually led to traffic rationing for everyone
Using 270 Meg hard drive instead of load of floppies to copy stuff and accidentially dropping it.
Overclocking my P-133 to P-150 with jumpers.
Creating animations by throwing a bunch of trigonometric functions together
Staying up at night to connect to BBS's with my 14400 modem
1.- Being in awe when I saw and touched my first computer ever and using Edlin.
2.- Drawing a Monster truck in QBasic.
3.- Playing electric guitar along with a series of arpeggios written in QBasic
4.- Writting a tic-tac-toe game in dbase III.
5.- Trying to figure out how to make and control windows in dBase IV after seeing win 3.11 on a x486 system.
6.- Using 80% of the total lines of my programs to create a pretty interfases with dbase III and IV, loved the buttons and
progress bars or counters.
7.- Wire-framing buildings and bridges with ms paint (win 3.1) for days to simulate 3-D views.
8.- Converting bmps to Icons with a program written in QBasic.
9.- The move from dbase/foxpro in ms-dos to vb 5.0, and from win 3.1 to win 9x.
10.- Moving from dBase/foxpro to ms access, and then to SQL Server 6.5, the pains of DAO
10+1.- Building my first home system with these unheard specs (PII 400 Mhz, 128 Mb Ram, 23 Gb HDD, Graphics card with 8 Mb of
vram) when not even the server of the company I was working for had NT3.5 with 64Mb in Ram, and yes, 2x 4 Gb SCSI HDs.
This has been a memory trip!!
Adjusting cassete recorder magnetic head with screwdriver to improve program loading from tape :)
Formatting dual-sided 5 1/4" floppy disks on my dad's Apple IIe and labeling them up, ready to store my invention of a computer program that held a conversation with you... but was only limited to 5 questions!!
Spending hours using drawing detailed pictures in "Dr. Halo" on a brand new PC sporting an 8086 processer and black/orange monitor that used *a mouse!*
Having to re-write my fruit machine (aka one-armed bandit) games (aka one-armed bandit) in BASIC on a Toshiba MSX 64K each weekend, as the external tape drive broke months ago.
Having to use a floppy boot disk armed with SimCGA-2 on a IBM-PC compatible and having to play around with memory configurations just to play "Defender of the Crown" on a orange/black monitor. (I can still remember the theme tune in my head for that one that blurted out through a PC speaker!)
Unpicking the RAM chips from one graphics card to boost the RAM on another graphics card, bringing the total up to 4 Megabytes on my 386 machine!
Weren't the mid-80's to early 90's fun...?
- buying my first PC clone (leading edge) to start my first consulting business, and being told by the salesman about this thing his son was involved with - the WELL
- writing my first FORTRAN program on punch cards, waiting hours in university data centers for line printer output
- writing FORTH code running under DOS to send MIDI commands to an MPU-401 interface
Running phone cable around the outside of the roof of our house and in to my bedroom so I could get "online" (to local BBS systems) on 300 baud after I was "in bed."
xModem/yModem and ZModem :-)
Boot tracing copy protection schemes, irregular disc formats and hacker group splash screens.
Those were the days ;-)
And no, we weren't thankful. It sucked. But it sure was fun.
2. Debugging COBOL programs by reading printed hex dumps
3. Realizing that the RPG class was doing "the airplane problem" because we had to cancel a lot of infinite-loop jobs
4. Watching the tech manager write "Hire" on my resume after I'd been the first candidate our programming school cattle call that was able to tell him the capacity of the multi-platter disc packs (50Mb).
5. Deliberately working to forget everything I knew about RPG (I still remember that it's column-sensitive...)
6. Lode Runner on the original Macintosh
7. Golf, with 8 color graphics, on the office's brand-new PC-AT
8. Upgrading to 14.4 kbps
9. Trying to convince a co-worker that he didn't have to write an event-listener loop in VB 3
10. "The secret to Windows 95 is: when in doubt, right click"
2. Thinking Infocom games were awesome
3. Inputting escape codes for my Epson Dot Matrix in Paperclip and thinking I was cool.
4. My first Atari 520ST
5. Seeing onscreen markup on WordwriterST. THAT was really cool.
6. Getting a 300 baud modem.
7. Getting a 1200 baud modem and delighted that I couldn't keep up wiht the scroll speed.
8. Buying Dungeon Master from an Atari Federated store I found driving through Texas.
9. My first 30mb exteranl MFM drive. (chirp chirp chirp)
10. Finding an Atari 800XL emulator for the Atari ST and thinking "Boy, those were the days".
11. Having all that stuff still in the back of my closet ready to be set up and used.
2) Compiling my programs with Turbo C++ 1.0 using on a dual 5 1/4" machine. The compiler went on one floppy and the programs on another
3) Being thrilled at being able to install the compiler on a XT machine's hard drive, thereby making it significantly faster
4) Writing a TSR to be able to terminate digger.exe (which took over the keyboard and timer interrupt) using a neat little trick
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similar with vic20 and tape drive.
others would be coding in basic then 6502 assembler of c64. Once took over the 1541 disk drives CPU to use a a "coprocessor" to do 3d calcs.
another making my own bootsector OS for 386 that was 32 bit.
Messing with Himem, Qemm, etc is a memory, but not fun.
Reading a Peter Norton book on x86 assembler, i was blown away that x86 has a multiplication opcode.
typing in stuff from oldschool mags were great also
Dialing overseas BBSs to download demoscene productions.