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C & V Computers

Old 08-31-20, 03:37 PM
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C & V Computers

Classic or not so classic computers anyone?
My list:
1. A Commodore Vic 20 (sold years ago).
2. A Timex/Sinclair 1000 with a 16k expansion card (my wife tossed the 16k card, not knowing what it was).
3. A Compaq portable. It looked like a sewing machine in its case and cost nearly 2 grand at the time. It had 16k memory which I upgraded to 64k. I added a real time clock card, a Hard Card disk drive, and replaced one of the 5 1/4 floppys with a 3 1/2. I probably had 3 grand in it before I was done. I was using all of the old interesting software before Microsoft took over the market.
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Old 08-31-20, 03:43 PM
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Old 08-31-20, 04:28 PM
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I can only contribute a Cateye Mighty 2 that still mostly works.

I am terrible with computers.
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Old 08-31-20, 04:44 PM
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I just set up a Dell Optiplex with Pentium I and Win98 for work in a research lab. We had an old Varian Cary 50 UV-vis spectrophotometer that would only interface via proprietary ISA card, and has proprietary drivers that are probably not compatible with newer versions of Windows.

Debugging was funny. The thing mostly worked right after install, but two of the proprietary software apps would freeze the whole system on launch. It turned out that they needed at least 800x600 graphics, and I was stuck in 640x480 using a universal graphics driver. I found a proper graphics driver for the video card (had to download on one computer, burn CD on a second computer, and then put the CD into the old Dell) and installed it, increased the resolution to a whopping 1024x768, and hey presto it worked!

Apparently you can get modern motherboards with ISA slots, manufactured mainly for the defense and science markets, because they use a lot of legacy hardware. Unfortunately, biological science budgets have been slashed due to covid-19 unless you're working on a project that is absolutely related (robbing peter to pay the piper or some other unattractive mix of metaphors) which is why I'm stuck with this old system. On the plus side, I found it kind of fun.
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Old 08-31-20, 05:42 PM
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My buddy started out on a Radio Shack TRS-80, then on to an Atari 400, then Atari 800... Before getting his first 8088-chip (1st gen IBM PC-clone) computer. I remember the cassette tape drive on the A-400 took almost a half hour to load a basic program (no hard drives in those days), and then you had to hope it loaded correctly with no errors....
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Old 08-31-20, 06:20 PM
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I ditched a lot of stuff including an Apple II in the box. Crap. I kept a working Colour Classic with a 20 Mb external drive, Kensington Turbo Mouse, Zip drive and a Stylewriter 2500. Network card too.
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Old 08-31-20, 06:33 PM
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My first was a Commodore 64, while in college in the early 1980s. Not a bad computer, but the power supplies were often junk. Commodore had a bad batch that failed, passed unregulated voltage and fried the computers. They replaced mine under warranty twice but refused after that, and Commodore soon went bankrupt.

After that:
Tandy Model 100 and 102 (I still have the 102 and some accessories). Handy for journalists back then.
Franklin clone of an Apple, a hybrid between the Apple II and II+. I used that through most of college after the C-64 failures.
An early Kaypro desktop PC clone that wasn't bad at all.
A bunch of early Macs, from the SE through some early Power Macs.

The Color Classic was my favorite. That beautiful little Sony aperture grille CRT. A charming little bit of industrial art, like my old iPhone 4s. I added every available upgrade and managed to keep it useful even for web browsing until around 2004. Kinda wish I'd kept it but I finally donated the Color Classic to some thrift store where I probably languished until being dumped.

I finally settled on generic PCs by around 2000, mostly because an uncle gave me some excellent photo editing software and it made better economic sense to switch hardware than buy the same stuff for Mac.

But if money was no object I'd be using Macs and iPhones, mostly because I appreciate the thought that goes into the design. But with my budget, pragmatism rules. I was on the verge of buying the iPhone SE 2020 recently but got the Motorola G Power instead. Hard to argue with the value and extended runtime per charge of the Motorola, even if it ain't sexy.

My iPhone 4s hardly holds a charge for a full day anymore but I'm keeping it as a relic of a sort of milestone in industrial engineering.
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Old 08-31-20, 06:35 PM
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Does this qualify?



My first computer was a Radio Shack TRS-80 MC-10. It was only slightly more powerful than the Ray Subtracto-Adder.



I've got one still in the plastic wrap somewhere. I found it at a yard sale about 20 years ago, and it seemed like a cool bit of memorabilia, but I also have the one I got for Christmas in the mid 80's.
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Old 09-01-20, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
Does this qualify?



My first computer was a Radio Shack TRS-80 MC-10. It was only slightly more powerful than the Ray Subtracto-Adder.



I've got one still in the plastic wrap somewhere. I found it at a yard sale about 20 years ago, and it seemed like a cool bit of memorabilia, but I also have the one I got for Christmas in the mid 80's.
My late father-in-law built a computer based on the S-100 bus. Input as I recall was by a bank of toggle switches, probably 4 bit or 8 bit. Zilog was just down the road a couple of miles. That company drove the integration of processors into many products.
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Old 09-01-20, 01:46 PM
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boy, I didn't buy a computer till the late 80's when I got a 486 machine.
Before that, I just used my programmable calculators... a TI-58, which was replaced with a HP-15C.
Still, the hardware of that era is kinda fun! As an electrical engineer, I've always been intrigued with core memory. This was the original non-volatile random access memory and it stored bits on little donuts of magnetic material. Magnetize the donut in one direction and it's a 1. Magnetize it in the other direction and it's a 0.

I know it was used for quite a while in aviation, since it could maintain the data when power dropped out (there was a standard requirement for military avionics to stay functional during power losses of up to 24ms or thereabouts).
Anyway... I was touring the USS Midway museum last year, and they had a display of core memory! It was part of the ship's Univac computer. A nice little display for the electronics nerds in the audience.
The amazing thing about core memory is just how tiny those donuts were, as well as how thin and fragile the wire was that was used to read and write the cores.

"1st generation core memory, 1960"





and a shot of the core memory board as viewed through the magnifying glass that was provided.....


Pretty amazing stuff, although no doubt expensive.
Hopefully it helps people appreciate just how far electronics and in particular, memory technology, has advanced in the 60 years since. (why do I suddenly feel old??)

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Old 09-01-20, 04:52 PM
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I once worked with an IBM sysadmin who modded and Amiga to act as a 3270 console.

lots of mainframe time and cobol dumps for me.

Despite using cards on my first job for JCL (job contrl language) for submitting runs on the mainframe I was totally surprised on my second job when the gave me a program in a whole box of cards (burroughs mainframe....because I worked for a bank and burroughs made the best check sorters)

In the Coast guard I booted a PDP 8 or 9 in octal vis buttons before loading a job on a paper tape.
Same coast guard gig, (oceanographic research technician on a research ship) I put tape marks on tape using little silver stick labels

and go go back further..... I could do complex chemistry cals faster with a slide rule than the guy who bought the calculator could. that went out the door when the math teacher got an HP45

so classic and vintage in calculation also still have 2 slide rules
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Old 09-01-20, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
Despite using cards on my first job for JCL (job contrl language) for submitting runs on the mainframe I was totally surprised on my second job when the gave me a program in a whole box of cards (burroughs mainframe....because I worked for a bank and burroughs made the best check sorters)
good heavens.... I haven't heard the term "job control language" since.... well, probably since I took a Pascal class in 1982(?) where we had to type punch cards to use for batch execution.
I think punch cards might be the equivalent of nail-on shoe cleats in the cycling world... kinda neat and interesting, but a big pain to actually deal with.

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Old 09-01-20, 07:57 PM
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I have one of these:
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Old 09-01-20, 08:38 PM
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1969: Used BASIC in math courses in college on teletypes to a campus-wide time-sharing system to a mainframe that, I think, ran on tape, and had the memory potential that could be on the order of a stack of floppy disks.

1976: In architecture school, used FORTRAN, writing programs to IBM cards (hanging chads and all) handed over a counter to "responsible" staff that fed them into the black box somewhere.

1986: Began using an architectural CAD program (Autotrol) on a Mini-VAX system, running some version of UNiX. Staff, including me, wrote routines to fill in the holes in CAD software; it was very "extensible" and reasonably accessible.

1988: Architectural office got Macintosh SE30s, distributed around the place for doing correspondence and such. CAD moved to a set of Sun workstations running BSD UNiX. Around this time, I got (used or refurbished) our first personal home computer, an Amiga (Commodore product, which the office was using for presentation graphics), that booted from a 3.5" floppy disk (gronk, gronk, gronk) and we soon were doing email and bulletin board stuff online, also through a Unix-based internet provider -- text interface only. But the OS and monitor were in color! Then the kids discovered computer games, and the battle for computer use was on.

1993-94: Parents bought us a Macintosh Quadra 605 and monitor for Xmas. I think it had a 20 Mb hard drive; what a gas!

1994: I went to an office that was doing its first project on CAD. I organized getting AutoCAD for Macintosh (System 7 then), and had 5 or so Quadra 840 AVs with a peer-to-peer "Appletalk" network over plain old phone wiring. It worked great, for that many computers, having each job on a different workstation, but accessible from anywhere in the office.

Eventually I migrated to using Windows computers for CAD in offices, probably Windows 95 and AutoCAD r14, generally on Dell workstations. Tolerated, but not enjoyed very much throughout the years -- though Windows 7 and then 10 have been much more tolerable.

1999 or 2000: bought our 2 kids each an iMac G3 (the translucent-colorful extraterrestrial looking thing) with matching keyboards and mice. They were over the moon. We still have one of them in the house. We got a refurb Mac 840AV, I think, at the same time, with a larger color monitor.

2004 or so: our family got MacBooks, the plastic ones for the kids, and an aluminum one shared between me and my spouse.
Now, everyone is on about their 3rd MacBook, I guess. But the wonder of it all is sort of gone, and we're nostalgic for the simplicity of earlier systems.

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Old 09-01-20, 08:43 PM
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First system I used was a Univac 1108 at SUNY Albany starting around 1972-3. Learned Basic, Fortran and a smattering of Cobol. Played around with a PDP-8 in college, briefly. Can't remember a thing about it. Rand some Uni*x-based typesetting and composition systems in the 80s, had one of the Timex/Sinclairs mentioned earlier followed by the original 128k Macintosh. Since then there's been a flow of Apples, Windows machines, PDAs, Palm devices, Blackberries, a Compaq Pocket PC, iOS devices, a few Linux installs...I don't keep old PCs but I do have a small assortment of the handhelds since they don't take up much room and the young people of today are shocked by them.

EDIT: ...and I'm pretty sure I have a working Avocet 20.

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Old 09-01-20, 08:59 PM
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One friend sold TRS-80's when he managed a Radio Shack store. Another friend got his start building a Heathkit 8088 computer- he's worked with airline reservations systems (with their unique operating system) for 35 years.

Portland's Powell's Books has a collection of antediluvian computers. I hope the collection survives the economic challenges of the pandemic: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jefurii/2150123039
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Old 09-01-20, 09:53 PM
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I have a MAC from 83-84 in the cushioned case out in my garage...I will pull it out in the A.M. and post tomorrow.
Have a good evening, Ben



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Old 09-02-20, 02:36 AM
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Here's a souvenir I've kept from my first full year being paid to develop software.



It's not punch card programming, but it lets me show most of my co-workers just how truly old I really am. The crude dot-matrix printed label is the way it came from Microsoft. I'm responsible for the tear. My first professional programming gig was porting my company's flagship product from OS/2 to Windows 3.0. They entrusted this job to the rookie because they were certain that OS/2 was the future and Windows probably wouldn't take off. They're not in business anymore.

@steelbikeguy mentioned HP calculators. I had an HP 20S in college. In theory, I still have it, but it's at the office and I haven't been there in six months and may not be for another year. One of my worst experiences with technology was the day I forgot to bring my calculator to a calculus test. A friend finished early and gave me his HP something or other to finish the test. It was one of the models that used RPN, and I had never been exposed to that hellish input method before. It took about three minutes to decide I could work out the arithmetic faster by hand.
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Old 09-02-20, 03:18 AM
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Around 1982 I bought a Commodore 64, later got a second hand Compaq Portable III, with 640 ram and the big harddrive, 40 mb. Sold the Commodore. Still have the Compaq and about 15 years ago I bought another C64. Have to et the Compaq to see if it still working.
At universoty I used a several HP calculators (11c, 41c and 28s) and a Sharp pocket computer, a PC1475, still have these and they are still working.
For my work I use a modern laptop.
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Old 09-02-20, 05:51 AM
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Originally Posted by ascherer View Post
First system I used was a Univac 1108 at SUNY Albany starting around 1972-3. Learned Basic, Fortran and a smattering of Cobol.
About 5 years before that my mother decided it would be a good idea for me to "learn computers" so signed me up for a summer course out at the Latham, NY shopping center. I learned Assembler via punched cards and piles of printouts on shades of green striped 18" wide paper. I don't know where the computers were but I wonder if they were those at SUNY?

By 1972-3 I was learning Fortran. Compared to Assembler, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. A valuable lesson as SW evolved through increasing stages of abstraction over the decades. "Abstraction,yeah, I got that." BTDT.
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Old 09-02-20, 06:04 AM
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I started out with a C64 and a tape drive. I remember starting to load a game, then going to have supper and it'd be ready to play when we were finished eating.

C128 after that.

Atari ST next.

IBM XT

IBM AT

Early windows rig.

...then a successive lineup of PCs and OS's until my current PC.

I learned Apple Macs for work, but had none in my personal stable.
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Old 09-02-20, 06:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Prowler View Post
About 5 years before that my mother decided it would be a good idea for me to "learn computers" so signed me up for a summer course out at the Latham, NY shopping center. I learned Assembler via punched cards and piles of printouts on shades of green striped 18" wide paper. I don't know where the computers were but I wonder if they were those at SUNY?

By 1972-3 I was learning Fortran. Compared to Assembler, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. A valuable lesson as SW evolved through increasing stages of abstraction over the decades. "Abstraction,yeah, I got that." BTDT.
Really, in Latham? I wonder where? I went to the Milne School which was part of SUNY, that's why we had access. Some of the other regional high schools had accounts too. RPI had an IBM 360, I used to swap messages (really just small Basic programs dropped in each other's directory spaces) with one of the WRPI DJs. Even though we used the compliers remotely over dial-up teletypes I did my share of batch jobs via card decks and green-bar printouts.
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Old 09-02-20, 07:14 AM
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I have a Silicon Graphics "Indy" in my basement. It runs Silicon Graphics' "Irix" Unix operating system, and has a special implementation of Windows 3.1 that runs on Irix rather than MS-DOS.
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Old 09-02-20, 08:30 AM
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My first real computer was a donated (read: thrown out) Mac of some sort- I think it was a little Quadra thing.

A guy I knew rehabbed PCs- he would get these big donations of computers- and he'd cannibalize and build them all. He didn't touch the Mac stuff- so he just gave it to me.

One of the things he gave me was a 5+ year old Power PC 8100/100, that was my computer for several years. I spent a fortune upgrading the RAM, but stuff changed fast back then and that thing couldn't keep up no matter how much I tried to goose it up. Ended up with a Pentium II box running W95, then a couple of Dell something or others.

Eventually picked up a MacBookPro that lasted for a good 10 years. I'm on my 2nd MBP.
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Old 09-02-20, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by dweenk View Post
3. A Compaq portable. It looked like a sewing machine in its case and cost nearly 2 grand at the time. It had 16k memory which I upgraded to 64k. I added a real time clock card, a Hard Card disk drive, and replaced one of the 5 1/4 floppys with a 3 1/2. I probably had 3 grand in it before I was done. I was using all of the old interesting software before Microsoft took over the market.
We had 2 of those at work. They sat in a store room- no one wanted to take responsibility for throwing them out because they were so expensive back in the day, but were TOTALLY obsolete before the turn of the century.

I remember that padded brown pizza bag and the cover/keyboard thingy. I don't think I ever booted either of them up.


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