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Old 07-20-2001, 05:12 AM   #1
Hubris Boy
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Question Tell Us About Your First Time!

On a rainy Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, I watched my 7 year-old daughter trying to amuse herself. Very casually, she plunked herself down in front of a computer, opened up a browser window, and headed off to the harrypotter.com website. I was struck by the vast divide that separates me from my daughter, in our attitudes toward computers. Sara has never lived in a world without fast, cheap computers or the Internet. They've always been a part of her life, and she treats them like part of the landscape. In her young mind, I suspect, computers get lumped into the same category as toasters and televisions: just another appliance.

It's so much different for me, probably because I CAN remember a time without computers. I was born in 1963, and came of age just about at the time when the "computer revolution" really got started. Geeks my age, and a few years on either side of it, got to "ride the wave" of computers for the masses. We were old enough to enjoy it, and young enough not to be intimidated by it.

So many firsts: the TRS-80, the Apple II, cheap modems, the BBS scene, Usenet... the list goes on and on. It's amazing we didn't all go mad. But there was always a sense of wonder that went with each new discovery, at least for me. Even now, twenty or so years later, it's still there. Computers occupy a large part of my waking life; it's how I earn my bread and butter. But the sense of "Gee Whiz" lingers. Maybe not as strong as it once was, but the magic's still there, lurking just below the surface. I don't think they'll ever be "just another appliance" for me.

The reason I bring this up is because I'd be interested in hearing about how other people remember their first exposure to computers. Tell us about your first computer. About the first program you wrote. About the first time you made your computer talk to another computer across a phone line. About the first time you got email, or found the Internet. What did you think? How did you feel?

Hopefully, this will turn into our own little Gilgamesh epic of the computer age. Share whatever you feel like... got some old t-files or ASCII art? Post 'em here! Got a fond memory of your first 20 meg hard drive? Please share! Commodore-64 stories? Go somewhere else, you filthy heathen. (Just kidding.)

And you younger Cellar Dwellars jump in, too. It's not my intention for this to turn into a Geeze-fest for old people like me to share "Back In The Day" stories. Tell us about how things look from the other side of the divide.
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Old 07-20-2001, 02:31 PM   #2
TheDollyLlama
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<I>Sara has never lived in a world without fast, cheap computers or the Internet. They've always been a part of her life, and she treats them like part of the landscape.</I>

I'm sure I'm going to do this quote great injustice but i can't help but thinking of "Everything new after you're 30 goes against the order of things."

Think of all those things that you took for granted growing up that your parents didn't have. TV? Radio? Electricity? Automobiles? Running Water?

/end rant

My first experience /w computers was pretty cool imho. My mom was a single mother and a grad student, so when she had to spend hours and hours in the computer lab, she would bring me along. I would log in on the terminal next to hers using a 2nd accnt, play MUDs mostly, and mess around with the old punch cards machines. Not a bad experience for an elementary school kid.
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Old 07-20-2001, 06:58 PM   #3
elSicomoro
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My first experience with computers was in 2nd grade (around 1984)--Our class had just received a new Commodore 64. At the time, I was the "guru," as I seemed to be the only one that knew how to run it. Later, in 7th grade (1989), our classroom was the only one in the school that had both an Apple II-e and Commodore PETs! (The ones where you ran programs via a cassette tape...I think VIC-20s were the same way.)

In high school, we mainly only used computers for word processing, hence, we had Apple II-e clones...this was through 1994. I had a few friends that had prodigy, so we played with that here and there.

Then came college. At the time, the internet as a tool for the whole world was just taking shape from what I could see. The only way I could get an e-mail address was through my university. And none of my other friends had one--this was early 1995. At the same time, our school used a bbs, and I was proud to have my own little bulletin board (thanks to one of my residents who controlled the server, apparently).

When I went back to St. Louis in 1996, I had some familiarity with the computer, but mainly with Apples (particularly the 8200 Power Mac)...that was what my new school (UM-St. Louis) primarily had. I loved them, but I also remember how it took FOREVER to load up Netscape 2.02. In fact, I started Sycamoreland using a Mac at college.

Truth be told, I had no real idea how to use Windows until late 1997. I hated Windows, but then I also saw (at the time) how limited I would be with a Mac. I basically self-taught myself how to use Windows 95...and finally bought a 'puter in early 1998.

And I can honestly say, it was Depeche Mode that compelled me to buy a computer--if I hadn't visited depechemode.com one day in Sept. 1997, gone into the chat room, and met a ton of people, I may have not bought a computer or have started Sycamoreland until much much later. (And in fact, I may have never moved to Washington, DC, then Philadelphia.)

That's probably more info that anyone wanted to know. But seriously, the computer has really changed everything, particularly in the area of gathering and processing information. It's probably saved people a ton of money in making long distance phone calls, sending things via mail, and arm cramping from writing out letters, notes, etc. And above all, it gave all those nerdy computer geeks some prestige and respect...and a bit of scratch to boot.
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Old 07-20-2001, 08:06 PM   #4
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My first experience with computers was about 1984 as well...somewhere between 3rd and 4th grade when my dad bought an Atari 800. I don't miss loading programs on casette tape!

That mostly started out as just playing around on the computer and playing games. Throughout elementary and jr. high school (which had mostly Apple II-e), I was pretty much the computer expert. In 7th grade I had found a book at school that had a snippit about BASIC program. I was fascinated by the FOR-NEXT loop. I started learning programming a bit more then by basically tweaking with BASIC programs and entering them in from a magazine.

I continued to learn programming in high school and took a couple of classes, starting at BASIC and eventually going into Pascal (both on an Apple...Pascal was on an Apple III) My dad eventually got an IBM clone while I was a Sophomore and I had already decided I would be going for a CS degree in college.

College pretty much made me change my mind about doing programming as a job...now it is just a hobby I get into once in a while...now I do system administration.

Does anyone remember the game Crush, Crumble, and Chomp! put out by Epyx? I had lots of fun with that game on the Atari 800, even though it was a pain trying to load from cassette (sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't!).
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Old 07-20-2001, 08:26 PM   #5
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In my high school, in 1980, they decided to offer a course called "Computer Math". It wasn't computer math at all, but just programming in integer Basic on the Apple ][. I decided to take that because my high school's physics was "hard core", and many seniors failed it routinely. All the intelligent kids considered me an asshole anyway.

I decided to take the lazy route, skipping Physics and taking Electronics (a shop kids class), Business Typing (a business kids class), and Computer Math instead. Little did I know that this combination would be perfectly ideal for what I would turn into halfway through the year: a Comp Sci major.

My first big prgramming challenge was doubling the size and complexity of the game "Oregon Trail", which was at that time a really dumb text adventure.
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Old 07-20-2001, 10:14 PM   #6
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I'm 16 so i don't think i cna *really* compare to otehrs here but..

WOuld ahve been Apple2s in Britan, closely follwoed by Aple Quadras and LC2s (dad does digital video work - so i'm a mac person deep down) then about 6 years ago i used to 486, then a P-133, then got myself a P2-266 about 3 years ago now.....THe internet was the big thing i kep t hearing about without a clue what it was for *years* until i finally saw it in the local library....Only now (last year or so) i've learnt about all the old stuff, BBS (=p) and the like.....

Guess i'm kind of the same generation as your daughter - we work, play and communicate over the internet/computers. I spend more time talking to freinds over ICQ and the like than the phone, SMS, Mobiles, e-mail are all taken for granted in a swirling mass of 'infotainment' (god that almsot as bad as synergy) that is the depressing majority of youth culture. Were the most interconected generation yet - and imho, the most lonely and screwed up.
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Old 07-21-2001, 04:40 AM   #7
alphageek31337
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I was a young buck of ten years old. She was a Compaq Presario 133 desktop machine. We had been alright friends for a long time, and I spend a fair amount of my day with her, engaging in Software EXchange with my floppy, which by that year was no longer floppy but had gotten quite hard. But the moment I really knew it was love was when Interplay's Learn to Pgrogram: BASIC arrived. Now for those of you who are unfamiliar, LTP BASIC is the first and only title in the Interplay LTP series, and rightly so, but if you find that your child wants to get into programming, it's the perfect way to give him/her the Disks and the Drives talk without blowing his/her mind completely. Within hours of having no idea of computer programming outisde of what my father had taught me about PLCs and listening to programs on audio tapes in the stereo for the sheer waste value of it, I had created life. Granted, LTP Basic didn't really have a compiler, but interpreted the code inside the editor. Still, at 12 years old, I was writing small things that could run a word-search puzzle from a hard-coded array of words. It's kind of funny looking at it now...interpreted code with no real filestream capabilities, but back then, it seemed like I had climbed up on top of the world. From there, I experienced the Internet, and all of its informative and/or irritaining possibilities, and have become the you nutjob you know today. I wouldn't change it for the world.

My Lord, I'm rereading that, and it's like a geek-flavored MadLib in the Penthouse Fora. Email me and I'll tell you about my first group experience with the above-mentioned 133 and a thinkpad 486 laptop, and when I started using toys (scanner, joystick, etc).

Sperlock, I remember CC&C, but I have a question...do any of you ][e people remember Paint the Floor or O'Dell Lake? I do sometimes wish I had been around back when things were new and fresh and being created, not recycled. So here I am sitting in my Honda Accord, wishing I had been around to see a Model T. Hello, World.
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Old 07-22-2001, 09:34 PM   #8
jaciii
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Way before.

I appear to be significantly older that the forum. My first computer experience was in programming was plugging wire. My mother had my father take me to his office on a Sat. They had just started using computers to run payroll (father was an accountant.) That was in 1955.
It was fun to make the machine work. I then was able to mess with the main frame as an undergrad. My professor who wrote one of the first Data Processing text books, would perk coffee on the IBM's and drive the IBM rep crazy. The room was secure and had a false floor and ceiling to run the cable through. Special air conditioning was needed because the machine ran so hot. The PDP's came out and they were personal when my dept. had one. Everything was leased, no could afford to buy one. I would waste time in the lab playing Star Trek on teletype, there were no crts. Punch cards that made great confetti for parties but were a pain if the ribbon was wearing out and made your , look like a . and trying to figure out what was wrong with the program because the it showed a period. You learn to read the punches in card. ( Don't drop that box of cards!!!) Trying to find $617 to buy cpu time to run my dissertation on a machine slower than the laptop I'm using now. Using arpnet to "talk to other researchers wink, wink (girlfriend at another univ." and email them. The apple 1 (a kit) was the first functional personal computer I saw, then the apple II. Money was tight with babies. The first IBM PC came along and grant money to buy one. IBM was the "evil empire" then before Mirosoft. Mirosoft were the radicals that were going to change the world. But computers were tools, granted fun ones, but tools to accomplish work. The house is totally wired with ethernet and wireless ethernet on it is a Sun Machine, a power mac, x86 machines running linux, win98,winMe, and OS X on a G4 laptop. Do I work with computer no they are a hobby, I am a child psychologist.
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Old 07-23-2001, 09:16 AM   #9
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It was in the fourth or fifth grade. A friend and I were way ahead of our classmates in math class, so we were whisked off to the new "computer room" a couple of days a week at our elementary school.

The systems were Commodore PETs. We played with some learn-BASIC applications, wrote some very fundamental games, and learned how you could make the system do some very weird things through random POKE statements.

The gifted-program labs had TRS-80s, with an IMSAI in the corner gathering dust.

First computer of my very own: Apple IIc, circa 1986, which was my main computer until after college. I picked up a used IIgs around '94 (used mostly for the Internet), a Packard Bell (pause for laughter) Pentium-75 a year or so later, and upgraded to an Athlon 1300 last week.
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Old 07-27-2001, 10:17 PM   #10
wolf
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If I can remember back that far ... I believe my first computer was actually the one belonging to the Philadelphia School District, which my high school (Wissahickon) time-shared ... As sad as it may seem today, I spent HOURS entranced by the thing ... playing "Hunt the Wumpus" (for which I continue to have a warped nostalgic fondness) ... then Star Trek ... and, after my high school switched to the West Chester University dialup ... Adventure! Then came the TRS-80 ... and yes, I remember loading programs from several arcane media ... paper tape, hollerith cards (and yes, I have dropped a stack), cassette tape ... and eventually even reel-to-reel mag tape. First computer I conquered and consider my own? Xerox Sigma-IX, with the ever popular CP-V OS ... WCU's mainframe in the early '80s ... late 1960s - early 70's technology ... it was too much fun ... those were the days ... DecWriter terminals ... breaking into staff offices to be able to use VDTs ... knowing _exactly_ where on the side to hit the beehive terminal when the screen started going wonky on you ... reprogramming Adventure with my friends (added a spraycan to the cave).

Somewhere along the way I decided I wanted to play with programming too ... but blew my chance at majoring in computer science in college because of extreme math-o-phobia. No calculus for this wolf, nosiree ... so today, instead of working with computers and playing with people, I work with people and play with computers ...

Programming as a hobby is also something that fell by the wayside ... there are lots of other people doing that, and I can play with all _their_ hard work just fine. Besides, I don't think there is much call for a pascal programmer these days ... or fortran ... and APL just never really took off ... Oh Well.
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Old 07-27-2001, 11:05 PM   #11
TheDollyLlama
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Re: Way before.

Quote:
Originally posted by jaciii
That was in 1955...

Punch cards that made great confetti for parties but were a pain if the ribbon was wearing out and made your , look like a . and trying to figure out what was wrong with the program because the it showed a period.
Yup, you definately trumped us in the old school dept. Thing I'm wondering, it's a PUNCH card, what's that have to do with a ribbon?
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Old 07-28-2001, 11:12 AM   #12
wolf
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Re: Re: Way before.

Quote:
Originally posted by TheDollyLlama


Yup, you definately trumped us in the old school dept. Thing I'm wondering, it's a PUNCH card, what's that have to do with a ribbon?
The ribbon was used to keep the stack of cards in order ... tie it around them, make a pretty bow ...

Actually, since not EVERYONE was geeky enough to read the punches alone at a glance, there was text on the top line of the card ...
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Old 07-28-2001, 05:59 PM   #13
alphageek31337
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I finf it hard to believe that anyone using computers back then couldn't figure out what a punch card had written to it. It isn't like it is today, back then you had to be pretty damn knowledgeable just to use one....the good old days, I guess.
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Old 07-29-2001, 11:22 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by wolf
... then Star Trek ... and, after my high school switched to the West Chester University dialup ... Adventure!... and APL just never really took off ... Oh Well.
Hmmm... Interesting. I used a West Chester University dialup in high school. Were you using the HP-2000C, or something else?

And APL! Yes! My first language and still one dear to my heart. I learned APL back in 1972 at the Franklin Institute -- which also happened to be my first computer experience.
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Old 10-13-2020, 09:36 AM   #15
Dude111
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My first experience was using apple computers in school in the 80s...... I didnt know much about them but then I got a TI 99/4a at my house..... (I didnt really learn basic until I got my commodore64 which I love)
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