Let's Make Robots!

1990, new technology (LOL)

Well, do you remember what year you got your first computer and what the specs are?

I know, it was a ATARI130XE with 1.79MHz and 128kB RAM. running with a Datasette/tape cassette player to save and load programs. The OS was the Atari OS. You can find the details here: Atari 130XE

But this is not what I want to tell you. I just browsed Google Books and found this: Popular Science 10/1990

Reading that reminded me how fast time is running.

Here is a screenshot of page 41 (in case you don't want to go there (click the image to enlarge).

See the price for that bricks ;-) imagine today. Take that money and buy components...what you could get...


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My first computer I got given when I was 8 I believe (so that would have been 2002). I got it 3rd! hand. When it was new it was top of the range. Twin hard disks (8gb and 4gb), 2mb graphics integrated on motherboard, 16mb fast voodoo dedicated graphics card. Stereo dedicated surround sound card. 256mb RAM and cpu overclocked to 900mhz. Beast of a machine, took 20 minutes to boot into windows 98 :D It died eventually, things went bang somewhere. I believe I may have let the magic smoke out on a larger scale than normal.

Now I have 4 computers although 2 aren't in fit running order.

My laptop, 2ghz intel centrino single core with 3gb of RAM and intel's poorest quality integrated graphics. Its 4 years old now, its what i'm writing from, I saved up money myself to get it. Only thing going for it is that it seems to be the only computer in the house that doesn't get inteferance on the wifi from the microwave and I cannot for the life of me work out how on earth that can be.

My desktop, 3.4ghz amd athlon II X3 460, pretty powerful there I think, sure theres far more powerful but seeming as most people have dual core laptops at maybe 2.5ghz I think I win. 4gb of DDR3 ram. It is still only integrated graphics though although it uses 512mb of my system (unlike my laptop using 128) and I am getting a dedicated card very soon. Its also lacking wifi, it has gigabit ethernet but thats useless to me, where it is in the house means I kinda need wifi (old house with 1 plug socket and parents won't let me whack ethernet cables through walls, computer can't exactly be moved anywhere else either). It only has an 80gb hard drive aswell although I'm getting a new one. I purchased the components for it rather than buying a pre built, only bits I didnt buy were windows 7 (had disk already) and the hard drive.

I also have a second desktop with a 3.4ghz intel pentium 4 single core processor and 6gb of DDR2 ram (mid range on the ram speed, can't remember what it actually is though). Even worse integrated graphics than my laptop and no hard drive to boot from <- I pinched it for my other desktop. It may actually be repurposed into a NAS at some point.

Then I have a second laptop with 1.8ghz single core and 1gb of RAM and integrated graphics again. Somethings gone funny with vista and just clicking anything crashes it. I might whack linux on there soon or just salvage the hard disk for my desktop, I have an adaptor tray kicking around.



Its amazing how far computers have come in 20 years. My desktop is my usual workhouse and thats comparitively slow compared to some peoples computers. Someone offered me a ZX spectrum for £30 working once, don't think he knew the value of it. Unfortuneately my mum was under the impression that I didn't need another the computer and wouldn't lend me £20 (I only had a tenner at the time). This was only a year ago. Owner wouldn't let me pay him back later and wasn't willing to keep hold of it while I scrounged the extra 20quid I needed from elsewhere so he chucked it in the tip. I don't think he knew what he had there

My first computer was in 1979 and was an Ohio Superboard II - An excellent machine with it's 4KB of program RAM and 1KB video ram (both of which I doubled).  Good BASIC and I learned 6502 assembler programming with it and did a really good 'space invaders' implementation.

I moved on to a BBC model B and learned so much with it due to it's multifarious interfaces. I ended up using them at work and wrote a version of the 'animal' program to allow minimally skilled technicians to diagnose printer and VDU faults on the production line.  At home I built a SPO256-AL2 chip based speech synthesizer interfaced to the parallel port.  A talking computer - WOW!

At some point I bought a Sinclair Spectrum, primarily to learn Z80 coding and absolutely hated the 'dead flesh' keyboard, but after the 6502 machines, 16 bit registers were an absolute luxury.

And then came the IBM XT etc . . .

Couldn't agree more on the keyboard of the Spectrum - the first upgrade I did was the full size keyboard - the board of the spectrum fitted inside the keyboard case.


That girl should have easily fitted into one room even with all her dinbats (shoes, dresses, handbags, makeup kits etc.)

Sadly when women started demanding equal rights, what they were really going for was world domination :(

First one was a ZX81: Zilog Z80@3.25 MHz, 1KB ram. Later on a ZX spectrum 48KB, a Commodore 64, some other in that range, a few ataris. Then a PC XT clone and an Amiga1000. Then some more PC's and a few Sun's (Sparc). A whole rack of HP computers (HP-UX) and so on.

Then, some 25 years ago i met a girl. My piles of computers and other relevant stuff have declined ever since. "you can have _one_ room for your dingbats!"

So at the moment I only have about 6 running machines, but enough parts to make some 5 more.

Of cause rest of the family have the same amount of electronic gadjets, but thats nothing to be discussed. (have you ever tried to take the mobile phone out of a teenage girls hands?)

I brought a Sinclair ZX Spectrum in the early 80's.  Used to write animations to illustrate the SCUBA lectures I gave at the BSAC branch I belonged to.

i picked up a secondhand Commodore 64, . it had a few games tape deck n stuff ,tried programing it with not much success  ,but i did hack a card game so i had a $1000 to start off with, it was cool at the time that was my first "computer" a few years later i got a hold of a secondhand p75 that's the first computer i started programing robots on (BS2)   .in 1981 82 my brother and i got a Atari 2600 i think it was the 2600 meh , it was awesome

Thank you al for your stories. Reading them gives me a slight idea how old you all are :-)

I also still remember entering BASIC code from a magazine...it was a pain in the b***...forgot one cmma and was wondering why the code did not run ;-) Troubleshooting in 400 lines printout with a 9-needle printer with a almost blank ink ribbon on low quality paper and find a missed comma was quite challenging at this time.

Before we got the cassette player for the 600XL, I would spend hours typing in the programs from magazines and then leave the computer on for a day or two so my brother and I could play the game. It was after my brother accidentally unplugged the computer when I was almost finished entering a new game that my mother gave in and bought a cassette recorder to save the programs on. I am not old! The rest of the universe is getting younger without my permission!

In the mid 70's, my father shipped equipment from the US to holland and built a home computer. It was a model from "the Digital Group" but I dont know which one. On that machine a took my first steps at basic programming although that didn't amount to much. I was about 7 at the time. 

A few years later we got the TRS-80 model I on which I started to actually learn to make programs.. 

I remember we had a subscription to BYTE magazine with advertisements that prized 16K RAM at only $1200,-