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Thread Number: 33982  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
Our Early Computers
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Post# 368520   3/16/2017 at 15:16 by electrolux137 (Los Angeles, California)        

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Writing about my first web sites in the Vintage Forum, I got to thinking about our first computers.

From as early as 1985 Arlee and I had a computer. Our first one was a PC-XT with 640kb of RAM (that's kb not mb!), a 40-mb hard drive (that's mb not gb!), a text-only monitor, and a dot-matrix printer that took about 5 minutes to print out a page. With its screaming-fast 2400-baud dial-up modem we connected to early BBS sites, the primitive forerunner of the World Wide Web. That PC cost $1800!

Friends would come in and see the computer and gasp and exclaim, "WOWWWW! You've got a COMPUTER!!!" Back in those days, it was truly a special thing to have a computer, unlike today where even 6-year-olds have their own systems (not to mention tablets, laptops, IPhones, etc. etc. etc).

We subscribed to the first publicly available on-line service, CompuServe, which at that time consisted of news services, stock reports, and a new thing called "BBS."

Our second one was a top-of-the-line IBM PC-AT. It had a huuuuuge 80-mb hard drive (how will we ever fill it up??!), a fabulous new Hercules CGA Graphics Monitor, a WHOLE mb of ram, and the same dot-matrix printer. That rig set us back a whopping $3500!!

AOL was introduced around 1986 with user forums and groups. I used to look endlessly through the AOL forums for stuff related to vintage vacuum cleaners, and there was nothing.

Newer and better computers came in succession; we got a new, zippety-do-dah state of the art 386 in 1992. That was also when public access to the WWW came along and forever changed the face of the on-line experience.

We still had CompuServe (along with AOL), but its services had been expanded to graphically oriented content and access to a mysterious place called "The Internet" that you accessed through a program called "Mozilla." That's where I set up my first rinky-dinky little web site on CompuServe.

I do truly believe I was the first person in Cyberspace to have a web site dedicated to vintage vacuum cleaners. I am the first one I know of, at any rate. One by one, other collectors on the Internet began to find me and my site, and it's been one heck of a great time!

"And The Rest Is History."

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Post# 368536 , Reply# 1   3/16/2017 at 17:48 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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My first computer was a Mac Classic that I bought shortly after I started graduate school in 1991. It was the last of the original all-in-one Macs to run the 8 mHz Motorola 68000 processor that the original Mac had debuted with in 1984. It had an integrated 9-inch monitor, 40mb hard drive and 2mb of RAM, which I quickly maxed out to 4mb, giving it just barely enough horsepower to run the Multifinder to have two applications open simultaneously. It also came with a black-and-white Apple StyleWriter ink jet printer. The whole thing cost me a shade under $1,600 and I shamelessly copied the software I needed from computers in the campus labs. Later on, I added a 2400 BAUD modem that allowed me to access such things as campus e-mail, the library's newly digitized catalog, and a few other limited resources, including the N.C. Office of State Personnel's online job listings, through which I found my first job after grad school. Everything was text based back then. The Web wouldn't come into my life until about 1996, by which time I had upgraded to a newer, faster Mac.

Post# 368543 , Reply# 2   3/16/2017 at 19:25 by portable (Tucson, AZ)        

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I remember the first computer that my employer bought in the early 80's. I worked for a Children's Hospital in California. The hospital administrator called all of us department heads to his office to show off the new acquisition. It looked just like the one in your first picture, Charles. I think it was an IBM. He told us that personal computing was the thing of the future. We all looked at each other and thought "OK, grandpa has gone round the bend this time!"


None of us could figure out what in the world we would use it for, since we had a mainframe computer, and a staff of people to feed that beast. Within a year, the Budget Manager and the "Compliance" Manager (Medicare/MediCal reporting) were sharing it. No one else would go near the thing. However, within 3 years, at my next job, we each had computers on our desks, and thought of them as indispensable. Boy, times have changed.


My first home computer was an Apple IIC. More than one of our early VCCC newsletters were done on that thing. 

Post# 368552 , Reply# 3   3/17/2017 at 08:15 by Kirbysthebest (Wichita, KS)        
We didn't have a home computer until about 1996

But I ran a video store from 1986 - 1991.  The IBM PC-AT ran that store the first few years I was there.  We had a 20 MB hard drive that ran all the rental and inventory software. 


Five  years later we had upgraded to a new IBM, I can't remember the model now with a 120 MB hard drive, we thought we were in heaven how quickly it processed.  I was in one of the few remaining Video stores a few weeks back.  Now they have Wi-Fi enabled tablets doing what we used to do with a 50 pound table weight.

Post# 368574 , Reply# 4   3/17/2017 at 19:41 by kenkart (Mocksville, NC)        
I Remember!!!

Being in 7th grade and having the teachers shove the metric system down our throats as they said that was the next thing that would change in the US...One of my classmates asked if He thought Computers would ever be used in the home and his reply was, probably not for 50 or more years.......LOL...Well that was 39 years ago, he missed it by a few!!And we still are not using that silly metric system...And would not be using computers if I had anything to do with it..LOL I consider them a aggravation more than anything, I like them for these websites but I usually cant figure out how to do anything else on them..LOL

Post# 368589 , Reply# 5   3/17/2017 at 21:35 by fan-of-fans (USA)        

We didn't have a computer until 1999 or so. I used the old Macs from the 90s though, and loved them. These days everything about computers seems to change so fast, it's hard to get nostalgic anymore. I remember my first experience with the web in 1998 or so - Netscape Navigator - and that was a slow connection, nothing happened!

I really liked the first iMac when those came out and always wanted one, but I did have an all in one Macintosh Performa, which I loved.

Post# 368610 , Reply# 6   3/18/2017 at 11:18 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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Hans wrote: And we still are not using that silly metric system

I reply: Well, we do use metric for some things--like 2 liter Pepsi bottles--and we're very much out of step with the rest of the world, to our own detriment, by not making more extensive use of it. I actually prefer metric for smaller measurements. Millimeters make a whole lot more sense to me than fractions of an inch.

I remember getting the same lecture about switching over to the metric system in elementary and junior high school in the mid '70s. At first, I thought it was terribly difficult to use because my first exposure to it was when my fifth grade math teacher tried to teach us formulas to convert between English and metric measurements. That was a classic example of a poor teaching strategy, IMO (and I say that as a college professor). My sixth grade teacher did it much better. She handed out metric rulers and turned us loose to measure things in centimeters and millimeters without trying to convert anything back to inches. In doing that, she taught us to actually USE the metric system natively.

Post# 368642 , Reply# 7   3/18/2017 at 20:34 by kenkart (Mocksville, NC)        
I do a lot of

Cooking and baking, I grew up with our system and so its easy for me , but of course,I don't want a refrigerator that is frost free and would rather have a rotary dial phone..LOL And if it wasn't for gas being so high I would still be driving a 1960s Chrysler product, I did into the early 2000s....I still write checks for all my bills and on and on, I really would LOVE to go back in time..

Post# 368758 , Reply# 8   3/20/2017 at 08:38 by vacerator (Macomb Michigan)        
Me too Hans.

I have no gumption to need the newest latest techy gadgets.
I learned to use a computer on my job back in 1986. IBM 286, then a 386, then a 486.
By Y2K, we were using wireless ISP systems.
My first home computer that I used and went online with was an HP Pentium 1 in 1995 with a dial up modem.
By the time that was obsolete, hubby set me up with one on a dsl line, as we were within 3 miles of a Bell system central switching office.
I liked it just fine. I liked Windows XP just fine. The icons were larger, and easier for me to use. I'm still with Windows 7, and I've never used a Mac.

Post# 369605 , Reply# 9   3/30/2017 at 22:00 by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        
Does this even count as a 'computer'?

Back in the early 80's I rescued a working Timex Sinclair from a trash heap. It had the 64kb RAM expansion module, manual, and several program cassettes. Yes, as in audio cassettes. It uses a standard tape recorder and audio cassette as a tape drive. I did some graphic programs way back then, all in 2-bit sophistication!
I still have that silly thing in the back room 'museum' - still draws up attention.

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Post# 369613 , Reply# 10   3/31/2017 at 01:24 by Real1shep (Walla Walla, WA)        

I use the metric system interchangeably with our US system of measurements and weights. Working on equipment I have to have both sets of tools. But I have lived long enough to have witnessed three attempts to convert the US public to metric. The last one came closest....there were actually conversion cards dangling from gas pumps by chains. I never knew who footed the bill for all that or who had the most to gain, but I think the last time was the straw that broke the camel's back.



Post# 370006 , Reply# 11   4/4/2017 at 12:03 by luxkid1980 (Richmond, Virginia)        

I had an Atari 800XL as a child that also had the cassette program player add on for storing data, and also a floppy drive and those cartridge games. In the early 90s the computer still worked and I wanted to be able to type and print our reports for school so we got an add on Atari XDM121 daisywheel printer (kind of looked like an electric typewriter). When that thing started up printing, you could hear it hammering out the letters all over the house! It took those ribbon-type ink cartridges, which you could get anywhere back then.

Post# 370715 , Reply# 12   4/14/2017 at 16:26 by kloveland (Tulsa, OK)        

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I personally would not want to go back in time. We have accomplished so much, it’s not perfect but I would not want to live in 1969, 1979 or even 1999. If it was 1969 I wouldn’t be reading or responding to this since it’s on a computer. 


I've liked computers ever since I was 6 years old. My grandmother bought me a used 286 and since then it's been a love affair, much like the vacuums.  

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