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Thread: What was your first memory of being in awe watching a computer?

  1. #1

    Default What was your first memory of being in awe watching a computer?

    Not quite the same thread but figured it'd be interesting to hear stories of what you remember first seeing that blew your mind and started you on your fascination with the technology you saw.
    Looking to acquire: IBM 5100, Altair 8800

  2. #2

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    The earliest thing I can remember is me on the computer playing an old game called Lenny's Music Tunes on our old computer. I wonder if it was a 486... The CD-ROM drive also self-retracted after a few seconds of being open.

  3. #3

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    I've pinpointed all the "moments of awe" in my computer history (things that "blew my mind" - mostly game related) :

    1980 - Pong (on strange home console I still can't identify) - very strange being able to actually control something on a television screen!
    1981 - Asteroids (arcade) - first arcade game I ever saw, super-crisp vector graphics, amazing sound effects (for the time)
    1981 - Centipede (arcade) - first trackball I ever saw, first colour video game - colour changes on completion of level, amazing "laser" sound effects
    1981 - Berzerk (arcade) - synthesized robotic voice! amazing sound effects, first scrolling I ever saw
    1981 - Commodore PET 4032 - first comptuer I ever saw (real life) - amazed that I could type text that actually showed up on screen (shocking, eh?)
    1982 - Tempest - first colour vector game I ever saw, super-crisp vector graphics that's still amazing to see today
    1984 - Atari 800XL - unbelievable number of colours simultaneous on screen, Ballblazer - fast first person 3D, two player simultaneous!
    1986 - Commodore 64 "Synth Sample" (by Georg Feil) - best 8-bit music I'd ever heard up to that point (Stationary Ark)
    1989 - Amiga 500 - Shadow of the Beast - unbelievable speed/colours/music for a home video game - first time a home game was far better than arcades
    1994 - DOOM - unbelievable detail in first person game, hilarious deaths, enemies getting caught in crossfire and deliberately killing each other


    There are lots of other things that amazed me, like Sinistar arcade (scary head shouting "Beware, I live!"), Montezuma's Revenge on 800XL (huge levels with no time limit!) and Faery Tale on Amiga (huge game, probably the best game entirely written by a single programmer). The reason games amazed me most is the escapism aspect and the fact that games usually push a computer's abilities to the limit.
    Last edited by Mr.Amiga500; January 29th, 2010 at 09:24 AM.

  4. #4

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    1992, playing the Secret of Monkey Island on my sister's computer. I had grown up around Ateri 2600 and NES games up to that point, and the idea that there was a game with that level of interactivity with the surrounding environment was a big surprise to me.

    Then I got Ultima VI...the level of freedom in that game is something I have not found in any game before or since, except myabe running Ultima VII under Exult with all the cheats enabled.

  5. #5

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    Actually for me it was a book about computers that drew me to them. I had been using the TI-59 programmable calculator and I ran across this book back in 1978 -



    It blew me away how you could do so much more, especially manipulating text like MID$, RIGHT$, etc. on a computer compared to the programmable calcs.



    When I got to the part in the book that explained arrays I was totally hooked and just had to have a computer.



    I bought a Radio Shack Model 1, like this one, and I was in a whole new world.

    _________________________________________________
    Real programmers don't document.
    If it was hard to write, it should be hard to understand.

  6. #6

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    Being lazy, I've copied and pasted my first experience from a website I maintain at http://www.classic-computers.org.nz/system-80

    My first experience with any computer was back in 1978 when I took a computer course as an elective at University. Those were the days! I spent many an hour punching out holes in punch cards trying to get a simple program working. You would then submit these cards via pigeon-hole to the "high priests" who looked after the Uni. computer. These would be run overnight and you could collect printouts from the same pigeon-hole in the morning. Mine usually said something like
    *COMPILING
    * LINE 2: STOP:ERROR
    * TERMINATING BATCH JOB
    and that was that. Interactive they were not!

    1980 rolled around and my soon-to-be wife showed me a "micro-computer" that her University Department had purchased, with the aim of running some psychological tests. It was a cassette-based TRS 80 Model 1 running a blackjack game, written in Level 2 Basic. I was amazed. I was TOTALLY amazed! Here was a computer you could actually interact with! And so small!!

    Anyway, a few months later, I was walking past an office hardware shop (Viscount Electronics in Palmerston North actually), when I noticed a few microcomputers in the window. They looked very cool and tantalizing with their demo programs playing on their VDUs. There was a Commodore Pet, an Apple II, a TRS 80 model 1 and an elegant-looking computer called a "System 80" being marketed by an Australian electronics chain, Dick Smith Electronics. The System 80 was wired up and lo and behold, it was playing the same game my (now-) wife had shown me on the TRS 80! The unit looked a lot more robust than the latter though and had a nice full-stroke keyboard with a built-in cassette drive and TV RF interface. What's more, it was only 2/3 the price of the Tandy machine!

    It just seemed to whisper to me....

    In the greatest example of impulse buying I have ever experienced in my life, I duly arrived home with the sparkling System 80 under my arm, to the chagrin of my wife, who felt the money would have been far better spent on the deposit for our first home.
    Tez
    ------------------------------------------------
    My vintage collection: http://classic-computers.org.nz/collection/
    My vintage activities blog: http://www.classic-computers.org.nz/blog/
    Twitter: @classiccomputNZ ; YouTube Videos: (click here)


  7. #7
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    Blew my mind? Probably playing with CHEMCAD on a 486/25 around 1991 in the engineering computer lab in college. After 4 years or doing engineering work with a calculator, mainframe with fortran, and a spreadsheet (Lotus 123) I was floored by what it could do.
    What I collect: 68K/Early PPC Mac, DOS/Win 3.1 era machines, Amiga/ST, C64/128
    Nubus/ISA/VLB/MCA/EISA cards of all types
    Boxed apps and games for the above systems
    Analog video capture cards/software and complete systems

  8. #8

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    Having grown up with 8-bit micros, I remember the intro to Shadow of the Beast II on the Amiga being pretty impressive the first time I saw it. Another World had a good one, too.

  9. #9

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    The first time truly "in awe" would have been at the 1993 Supercomputing Conference. There were three things there that had me in awe.

    1. A Paragon Delta system running a realtime 'flight simulator' type app using high-quality data and textures from NASA of Mars.

    2. Some other random 'supercomputer', with a front panel full of LEDs showing processor activity over the couple thousand CPUs, whose sole task at the time was running an application that lit up the CPU usage LEDs such that it was playing a game of Pac-Man. (The engineer swore that it wasn't just that they were blinking the LEDs, that the application was actually using the CPUs in proper order to cause that effect. As an LED would occasionally blink 'wrong', I was inclined to believe him.)

    3. IBM's PowerPC ThinkPads that were on display. Especially the 850 with the camera attached to the top. They had them running OS/2.
    Apple ][+ through iMac i5, 5150 PC through dual Xeon W5580 and quad Itanium 9150M, and many in between.
    Newton, Palm V, N-Gage, Tapwave Zodiac, iPhone, iPhone 7.
    Intellivision, Game Boy through 3DS, Wii, XBone

  10. #10

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    One memory that comes to mind is back in '96 or '97, I was watching a friend play Command and Conquer (DOS edition) on his computer and realy liked the mammoth tank and the obelist! And it had a great soundtrack to go with it

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