What was your first computer?

What was the first computer you ever had? I’m not talking about phones or tablets, I’m talking about something that your grandparents would know as a “computer”. Desktop or laptop, it doesn’t much matter. I’m just curious to see where we all started in our technology journey.

For me, it was a Commodore Vic-20. The Vic was a predecessor to the Commodore 64. It had no hard drive and only a paltry 4K of volatile RAM (which meant anything you were doing was lost when you powered the machine off). The only long-term storage that was available was a cassette tape drive that would store data magnetically on a standard cassette tape that you would use in your car radio (which in 1980, was cutting-edge tech). It had a cartridge slot for games and programs but couldn’t do nearly as much as the C64.

It had an adapter for your TV (no dedicated ‘monitor’) and so whenever you wanted to use it, you had to switch your TV to channel 3 and then turn the computer on. All the ports were serial ports and (IIRC) there was no printer port on the back. If there was, we didn’t have one so I never had occasion to use it.

It also came with a thick, spiral-bound manual that had programs you could enter to make it make sounds and graphics. It wasn’t even BASIC - it was mainly just POKEs and PEEKs that would write directly into the on-board memory. I would spend hours typing in those programs just to make the computer play a 1-second digital “spaceship” or “laser gun” beep-boop-blip sound… and then it was gone. God help you if you made a typing mistake in there, because you couldn’t go back and edit it and you’d usually never know that you missed something until you pressed the final enter key and nothing happened. Why I kept progressing with computers after a couple of those painful experiences, I’ll never know; it should have been a warning to me about what I was in for in my chosen profession.

Anyway, I have a lot of fond memories of my first computer. What are some of yours?

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My first PC was the old PC of my father. It was running Windows 98 SE at first until i got fed up with that parental control software and figured out how to install Linux. I think it was SUSE Linux, some version before openSUSE became a thing.

I don’t remember make and model of that PC. No idea which processor it had. I think it must’ve been some kind of single core, likely one of the Pentiums. I remember the crackling sound when turning on the CRT monitor.

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My first machine was a used TI-99/4A (beige case). It had 16K of volatile RAM that was shared with the video chip, no built-in storage (other than ROM cartridges), and an RF modulator for connecting to the TV. The included manuals had the pinouts of all the device ports, and I had to make a cable to be able to save data to a cassette tape. I also had to make an adapter cable so I could use a standard Atari joystick with it.

Eventually I got a speech synthesizer module at a garage sale that plugged into the expansion bus located on the side of the machine.

It ran its own dialect of BASIC that was a bit crippled, and it required a ROM cartridge to use “extended” BASIC to allow basic things like PEEK and POKE. I taught myself to program by typing in the programs in Compute! Magazine or from books at the library. Many times I had to port programs in books for other computers because there weren’t many written for the TI machines.

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I started with a 486DX. It ran DOS and we could start windows 3.1 if we wanted. No internet connection originally, but it could play Duke Nukem and Wolfenstein 3D just fine.

I remember being annoyed at some point that some games were requiring Windows 95. That was expensive and I though the game should work with regular Windows instead of forcing everyone to upgrade. Of course, I now realize that this wasn’t just a scam to get people to buy the new version of Windows, but it sure felt like it at the time.

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Unfortunately I don’t know exactly what my first computer was, but from pictures I can reconstruct that as a toddler I played with penguins on my father’s lap on an MSX machine. A few years later I had a computer with Windows 95 as far as I can remember. I think it was some slow Intel Pentium machine!

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MSX is a classic platform. We didn’t see many of them in the U.S., unfortunately.

@revengeday @brokenarc Yeah, I don’t know that I’m familiar with the MSX platform at all.

Hahaha, yeah, me too! I spent so many hours customizing my Windows 3.1 environment and I hated the 95 design and layout and thought that they were forcing people to upgrade for no reason. I was midway through college at the time, but I didn’t yet have any real understanding of OSes and such and why an upgrade was necessary. I thought it was just a “pretty face” on the same old system.

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A Commodore 64 :grinning: At first I only had a cassette tape but then I got my hands on an old 1541 drive. By 1988 it also had a 300bps modem and a dot matrix printer.

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The first computer I can remember using was something hooked up to a dot matrix printer in the office of my elementary school. Sometimes I would get out of class to go play text games and stuff on it, I wish I knew what model and whatever it was.

The first one I owned for myself was a C64. I begged my parents for one and tried to get $100 to buy one from a guy called theDarkOne but I guess it was too much money at the time. Eventually, like 6 or 8 months later another friend had one he didn’t need anymore and gifted it to me. Good times. I still have a stack of floppies from that time that might have journals and like ascii porn and stuff hahah.

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Oh that reminds me… I once found a dot matrix printer in the trash. It didn’t work so I took it apart out of curiosity. I was a child or a young teenager, I think. After putting it back together, I had a couple screws left over. Anyway, the printer worked afterwards.

My first computer was an Atari 1040 STE with 4MiB of hot RAM.
I remember how I took my first baby steps in programming on this one…

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I remember being torn between the Atari ST and Amiga when I was starting undergrad. I ended up getting an Amiga though, but I don’t recall why I chose it over the ST.

Ah yes, ye olde dot matrix printer! I spent a lot of time with those back in the day. The first computer that I actually owned that I really used was a Laser 128, which was an Apple IIc/e compatible model. One of the main things I used it for was PrintShop, a program that allow one to print out all sorts of greeting cards, signs, and banners on the big fanfold reams of paper that dot matrix printers used.

So many hours spent separating pages, tearing off the sprocket feed tabs… Those were the days. :smile:

Uh, memories. The first home computer I actually used was also a Vic-20. The first I owned was a Commodore 64. It had an integrated Basic interpreter that could be extended with at least one Basic dialect (were there more? I don’t remember). I spent a lot of time on the keyboard, copying never ending code that, then, was printed on real magazines.

I loved my C64, spent years with it and also spent a lot of money in games, peripherals (my first floppy drive!) and specialized magazines.

Then the university came and, with it, PCs. But that little home pal is still in my digital heart.

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So this was hard to track down because my memory is fuzzy so I had to first check the OS since there were two I used in my early days. The two earliest OS I remember are Mac OS 6 & 7 or system 6 & system 7. (Am I showing my age?) We had performa model not sure I rember which, it’s likely to be the IIsi or that’s what looks a little bit like what I remember. My memory could be unreliable. I could be wrong with the specific model. I think we had a classic II for a time as well. My dad was a massive apple fan and still is. Though back then a windows was taking off.

I was born in the age of family computers so it’s more about the first computers that I was allowed to use.

My first self owned computer was a windows 95 non-brand tower computer in the early 2000s (my dad got it for me but he hated windows lol. Apple was just too expensive). The fan stopped working on it, so we replaced it but it smelled like melted plastic ever since. I saved whatever pennies i got to upgrade the RAM. I didn’t get pocket money as a kid so I don’t remember how I scraped it together but I managed it and went to a big indoor IT parts market. People would go there often to get their playstations “chipped”, people would sell bootleg movies and music there too, fun times.

I was too young to really know much about the computer, sorry I can’t give more details. ;o;

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Finally, an early Apple user! While I started out with Commodore, my school had Apple IIe’s and IIgs’s in the computer lab, so the first computer I actually bought was a Laser-128, an Apple-compatible. I ended up using that (including the first version of WordPerfect) on that for years, all the way until I went to college which was all IBM PCs.

Glad to see Apples finally making an entrance to this thread. :smiley:

My first computer was back in 2004. I was going to a highschool that was focused on programing so my parents got it for me.
I don’t remember the exact model but I remember that it had 1GB ram, 32 VRam and was running Red Hat linux (wich back then I didn’t even knew there was something other than DOS and Windows so I was really confused when no .exe worked)

Did you ever try playing back the cassette tape in a regular audio player to see what it sounded like? :grin: I did, and lemme tell ya, it made the fax/modem according connection sound positively melodic!

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My first computer was a Commodore 116*. In 1988 - which was a huge thing because I grew up in East Germany and it was a Western computer. My parents bought it for a sizeable amount of money - broken! - and my step-dad fixed it, which basically defined my whole life after that, because I learned to program the thing, draw stuff on the screen, have it make weird noises. And nowadays I make a living from making computers do what I want (or rather, what my client wants them to do).

*Like a Commodore 16, but with a horrible rubber keyboard, which also was the thing that was broken and kept breaking and getting fixed.

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