PDA

View Full Version : Been around the block...



ChuckBabbage
September 4th, 2006, 10:49 PM
I have been "in the biz" for quite some time. I was first exposed to computers as an undergrad in a summer NSF program where we were interfacing this new-fangled thing called a "lab computer" to analytical instruments in a chemistry lab.

That machine was a DEC PDP-8/L with 4K of magnetic core memory (yes, no error here, 4K) attached to a teletype with a paper tape reader/punch.

While I was in the Army in Europe I sensed that my brain was slowly leeching all of my digital computer knowledge out, so I bought an Altair 8800 kit and built it. After playing around with it , I sold it before returning to the states. Yes, that was a collossal mistake--oh well.

During grad school I did the bulk of my work on a PDP-11, later a VAX 780. I remember one afternoon in 1984 when some of the CS grad students (I'm an EE) came in to the lab and said, "Hey, they have a Macintosh down at Acme Computer Store". Yeah, I know, I can't remember the name of the store. So we headed down there to marvel at the most fascinating personal computer to ever be created. I was a bit surprised to learn that it only came with two programs: MacWrite and MacPaint and that the development environment for it had yet to be released. We marvelled anyway.

I was busy with my dissertation by then and didn't have the time or money to mess with Macs. Besides, my best friend had just left his new computer, an IBM PC, to see if I wanted to buy it from him. Another friend had Lattice C and loaned me the disks. WHAT A PIA! You had a diskette with Wordstar on it so that you could edit on one drive with a blank diskette in the other drive for your source. After editing, you took the Wordstar out and put the Pass 1 compiler disk in. If that went ok you put Pass 2 in and then finally Pass 3. After writing two small programs with this nightmare I called my buddy and told him to come get his computer:p

I then bought a Zenith Z-19 terminal so that I could work from home on the PDP-11. The Zenith was basically a small, green screen monitor with a fat keyboard that housed the video drive circuits and a modem. At 300 baud, it was terribly slow, so I hacked the thing and was able to boost it to 1200, then 2400 so that I was really flying (hard to believe I am typing this 20 years later on a DSL line).

After graduation I still wasn't making enough to afford a Mac, so I bought an Atari ST--'member them? With the addition of the so-called "Magic Sac" you could turn it into a crippled Mac, sort of like running VirtualPC on a Windoze box. After doing the Atari for about a year (you think Mac owners have a cult going?!) I finally had enough for my first Mac, an SE30. That was really a "something" Macintosh--what a little screamer.

After the SE30, I moved up to a Quadra 840AV--another screamer. I kept the Quadra for eight years since I refused to move to the PPC architecture until a PPC could run 68K software at the speed of the Quadra. That happened with the Power Mac 7200, so I shifted into the PPC world. Since then, I have had an iMac, various powerbooks, a G3, then G4 and my latest is a MacBook Pro Intel Core Duo. What a ride and it isn't over yet. Of course, I loudly proclaimed that there must be a God after my two favorite OS's were merged in OS X.

I have owned various PC's that I had to buy for projects where the Windoze World forced me, most often because of the damn parallel port. My favorite story is when a colleague and friend of mine (and staunch Windoze user) came by my office a number of years ago and excitedly told me that Win386 had the neatest thing called an "event loop" that allowed the programmer to..., well you know, what the Mac had back in '84:mrgreen:

Erik
September 5th, 2006, 05:21 AM
Welcome to the VC Forums!

Thanks for sharing!

Enjoy!