Thread Number: 33982  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
Our Early Computers
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Post# 368520   3/16/2017 at 15:16 (214 days old) 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 (214 days old) 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 (214 days old) 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 (214 days old) 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 (213 days old) 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 (213 days old) by fan-of-fans (USA)        

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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 (213 days old) 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 (212 days old) 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 (211 days old) 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 (200 days old) 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 (200 days old) 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 (196 days old) 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 (185 days old) 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.  

Post# 372019 , Reply# 13   5/10/2017 at 21:42 by cocobird5 (Laguna Hills)        

My first computer came from Radio Shack, and plugged in to the TV. I used a cassette deck for sound.

Then I got an Epson PC clone. 640K ram, 20 meg hard drive. I had a dot matrix printer.

I upgraded to a more powerful PC and used it for a while. That was when Windows was first introduced. I loved DOS, and thought Windows was awful. I got lucky -- a promotion to a job that included desk top publishing. It came with a Mac. And I never had another PC again.

Post# 375504 , Reply# 14   7/17/2017 at 17:47 by DaveTranter (Central England, U.K.)        
Early computers

I'm not sure, but I think the first computer that I was allowed to touch was a Zenith portable (you couldn't really call it a laptop!!), which had an 8080 processor, IIRC.
I have since managed to collect a few early model IBM PCs, including a 'Made in Greenock, Scotland' PC model 5150, which sported 64kB of onboard RAM, with another 192kB on a RAMCard, no HDD at all, and two huge 'full height' 5 1/4" FDDs. If no DOS disc was inserted in drive 'A', it would load some version of BASIC (IIRC) from onboard ROM chips. This has the model 5151 mono monitor.

I also have a PC-XT model 5160 with a model 8513 colour monitor, which sports 640kB RAM, and a 20MB HDD, again a 'full height' 5 1/4" drive.

All best

Dave T

P.S. Yes, it has been nearly six months since my last 'post' on the site, but I have had rather a lot to deal with since last time..... ;-)

Post# 375547 , Reply# 15   7/18/2017 at 17:44 by vacerator (Macomb Michigan)        
I wonder what type

the GCC in Cheltenham uses. A VPN? Many servers? I think token rings are obsolete.
Speaking of giant donut architecture, have you all seen the new Apple complex in California?

Post# 375564 , Reply# 16   7/19/2017 at 08:15 by kirbyvertibles (Independence, KS)        

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I don't remember details about my first computer but I do know I got it in 1992 from a mom and pop computer store in my town called computer generations. It was an IBM Aptiva with windows multimedia and O.S 2 warp and DOS program. It did have hook up for internet but we never got the internet for that computer. I remember my parents chocking over paying $2,000 for it. My Mom was addicted to playing the game SOKO PM where the little man pushes boxes and my Dad was addicted to the game silent steel which was a navy sub game. We all argued over the computer like a bunch of kids.
In 2000 I bought a new computer that I saved up for. It was a Compac Presario with windows 2000. I was pretty "Presario" that I bought it. I hated that thing and I couldn't believe I laid down $1700 of allowance money on it.

Post# 375649 , Reply# 17   7/21/2017 at 09:30 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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I watched a documentary on Hulu yesterday called 'Viva Amiga' about the Commodore Amiga computers. I barely remember that brand when it was in its hey day but oddly enough, they still apparently have a cult-like following today, more than 20 years after Commodore closed its doors.

Post# 375653 , Reply# 18   7/21/2017 at 10:37 by kirbyvertibles (Independence, KS)        

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I had a Commadore vic-20 that I bought at an estate sale years ago with a bunch of games and such. I never even took it out of it's box and ended up giving it to Scott at the convention this year. He was pleased with it and I'm glad it went to someone who can use it.

Post# 376458 , Reply# 19   8/5/2017 at 20:51 by jfalberti (Visalia, CA)        
My first experience with computers was in 1978-79

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I was a student in the first graduating class from the brand new high school in Beaver Falls, PA. That was the first year the school offered computer programming as an elective. The class was taught with DEC PDP-11 with 4 dumb terminals and 8 inch floppies. The language they were teaching was a version of BASIC. A friend of mine took the class, and I wanted to take it too. You had to have the teachers permission to sign up for the class. I asked him, and he asked me if I had taken Calculus or Trig. I hadn't and told him so, and he refused to give me permission to take the class. He said I would never do anything with computers. I believed him, and dropped the idea. Fast forward to 1982 or 83, and I was in K-Mart, and they had a Timex Sinclair 1000 on clearance for $30. Took it home and plugged it in to the TV, and started reading the manual. Taught myself BASIC in short order, and was wondering what the heck was so hard about this? A few more years later, I lost my job due to the station closing, so I applied for grants and went to the local community college. Got my AAS in Information technology, and have worked with computers ever since. Have had many computers at home since then. First real computer was a Kaypro IIx that ran CP/M. Had dual floppies, and 64K of RAM. Used to run Word Star on it, and dBASE II. My first IBM compatible was a Commodore PC 10-2 XT clone. two floppies and 640k RAM. I saved up and installed a 20 MB hard disk. Had no idea what I was going to do with all that space. Since then, I've switch to Macintosh after they switched to Intel processors, and haven't looked back. Currently, I live in central California, and am a System Admin III for local government. I wish I could tell that teacher how wrong he was.

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