The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #91
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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    Do you mean a Sinclair Spectrum, or a Sinclair ZX81? Very different machines.
    Well pardon me for not remember exactly right. No, not a Spectrum 48k. A Sinclair ZX81.
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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Avilan the Grey View Post
    Well pardon me for not remember exactly right. No, not a Spectrum 48k. A Sinclair ZX81.
    It was called the Timex ZX81 in the states I believe, it being called the Spectrum ZX81 in other countries is only implausible because the Spectrum came long after the ZX81.
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  3. - Top - End - #93
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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    Quote Originally Posted by halfeye View Post
    It was called the Timex ZX81 in the states I believe, it being called the Spectrum ZX81 in other countries is only implausible because the Spectrum came long after the ZX81.
    And the Spectrum was so called because color.
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  4. - Top - End - #94
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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    Part of this, if I may... a little... survey? Two legendary rivalries:

    Spectrum 48k or Commodore 64?
    Amiga 500 or Atari ST?

    For me, C64 then Amiga.
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  5. - Top - End - #95
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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Avilan the Grey View Post
    Part of this, if I may... a little... survey? Two legendary rivalries:

    Spectrum 48k or Commodore 64?
    Amiga 500 or Atari ST?

    For me, C64 then Amiga.
    I thought it was Commodore 64 vs Atari 65XE to be honest and in this case it was kind of a draw, since each model had some advantages, but there were not quite decisive. As far as graphics go, Atari had a bigger palette, which you could only use at once using many tricks. With enough work I think people also went beyond that - probably using the flickering like on Commodore to blend the colors.

    For the other rivalry, I never had the occasion to test Amiga, since we had Atari ST. I have very fond memories of it and it is still in working condition.
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  6. - Top - End - #96
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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    Texas Instruments TI16, I think.
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  7. - Top - End - #97
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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Avilan the Grey View Post
    Part of this, if I may... a little... survey? Two legendary rivalries:

    Spectrum 48k or Commodore 64?
    Amiga 500 or Atari ST?

    For me, C64 then Amiga.
    In the UK the first rivalry also included the BBC Micro and the Amstrad CPC 464...but we all knew the Spectrum was really the best, didn't we? As for the second, the capabilities of the Amiga were so far beyond the ST that it was no contest, really, and Workbench was a far nicer UI than TOS. Ironically, the only area where the ST got a look in was music production, thanks to its inclusion of a MIDI port--Commodore really missed a trick there.

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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    Commodore really missed a trick there.
    The story of the Amiga in a single sentence. There were very few mistakes Commodore didn't make with that platform.

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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    The Sharp MZ-80K had storage (cassette tape), keyboard, and monitor, all built into the base unit. I forgot how much RAM it had in its basic form (Wikipedia says 48k, but that's rubbish, it was way less than that) - but by the time you'd loaded BASIC (about five minutes from tape, every time you turned it on), there was about 6k left to write and run your program.

    The first computer I owned in my own right was an 80286 with 1Mb of RAM and a humungous 40Mb hard drive. And DOS 4.01, probably the peak of Microsoft operating systems.
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  10. - Top - End - #100
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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    The Sharp MZ-80K had storage (cassette tape), keyboard, and monitor, all built into the base unit. I forgot how much RAM it had in its basic form (Wikipedia says 48k, but that's rubbish, it was way less than that) - but by the time you'd loaded BASIC (about five minutes from tape, every time you turned it on), there was about 6k left to write and run your program.
    This site says that the machine could be got with 20K or 36K, but most dealers sold the 48K systems because they got a better profit margin on them:

    https://www.sharpmz.no/articles/the-...z-80k-history/

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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    Put me down for an Apple IIe.

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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    First computer I programmed (but never saw) was 1971 - a timeshare IBM 360 at the council building which the school maths club could get time on. Send off a coding sheet, get a set of punched cards and fanfold output back two weeks later..

    My first "personal computer" was an old PDP-7 in the basement of the university computer labs - toggle switches to load the bootstrap one memory location at a time, and then paper tape to load each of the available games. Personal because it wouldn't multitask.

    For my thesis in 1979 I graduated to a pdp-11 with a vector graphics unit driving a A green screen wire frame display (essentially an oscilloscope). Line editor on a console terminal.

    First actual machine I paid my own money for was a BBC micro - after the early exposure I had a minimum expectation that the BBC micro met. Also I was working in TV at the time, so being able to genlock the video signal was an issue...

  13. - Top - End - #103
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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    This bad boy:

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    The TRS 80 complete with cassette tape "drive".
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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Radar View Post
    I thought it was Commodore 64 vs Atari 65XE to be honest and in this case it was kind of a draw, since each model had some advantages, but there were not quite decisive. As far as graphics go, Atari had a bigger palette, which you could only use at once using many tricks. With enough work I think people also went beyond that - probably using the flickering like on Commodore to blend the colors.

    For the other rivalry, I never had the occasion to test Amiga, since we had Atari ST. I have very fond memories of it and it is still in working condition.
    You would think a computer designed at least 3 years later (the C64 launched 3 years after the Atari 400/800, with the Vic20 launching in between) would have a bit more of an advantage. While the fanboys could argue graphics to death, I suspect the I/O was the real key. If you wanted to go cheap, the C64 not only had an ultra-low base price, the cassette could be hacked to near-floppy speeds (see posts above). But the floppy interface was really bad. So with the Atari you had to go big or put up with a 600 baud cassette, but the C64 was really good at pretty much the advertised price.

    Jay Miner was the force behind the design of the 8 bit Ataris and the "16 bit" Amiga, which shows why both of the computers were years ahead of the competition in graphics. My best understanding of the Atari ST line was "reasonably good (nothing like the Amiga), but came with a MIDI port (which made it dominate the music scene for a decade)".

    Over on youtube, Laird's Lair has a video describing the Commodore 900: a pre-Amiga 16 bit computer based on the Zilog Z8000 (not compatible with the Z80). It ran the Coherent OS, and I'd be curious what the Amiga would have been like if it ran that (which probably was impossible on the 68000 [need a 68020 or better], the only computer that ran a MMU with that chip needed to run two 68000 in lockstep to avoid having to restart instructions).

  15. - Top - End - #105
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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    Quote Originally Posted by wumpus View Post
    You would think a computer designed at least 3 years later (the C64 launched 3 years after the Atari 400/800, with the Vic20 launching in between) would have a bit more of an advantage.
    Besides the ludicrously aggressive pricing (by the end of 1983, you could easily get a C64 for a final price of $210 ($300 for the C64, $10 for an obsolete Timex computer, -$100 for Commodore's "trade in your old computer!" incentive), when the Atari machines still cost well over $400) made possible by the C64's relatively inexpensive design choices, the C64 had a the major advantage of having 64K of RAM, which was a massive quantity at the time. The Atari machines maxed out at 16K (400) and 48K (800), which made a huge difference in the kind of software that could be run on the machines, and is enough by itself to claim decisive technical superiority.

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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnoman View Post
    64's relatively inexpensive design choices, the C64 had a the major advantage of having 64K of RAM, which was a massive quantity at the time. The Atari machines maxed out at 16K (400) and 48K (800), which made a huge difference in the kind of software that could be run on the machines, and is enough by itself to claim decisive technical superiority.
    From the Infallible Wiki:
    In May 1981, the Atari 800's price was $1,050 but by mid-1983 it was $165 and the 400 was under $150. Although Atari had never been a deliberate target of Tramiel's wrath, the Commodore/TI price war affected the entire market... A new lineup was announced at the 1983 Summer CES, closely following the original Liz/Sweet concepts. The 600XL was essentially the Liz NY model, and the spiritual replacement for the 400, while the 800XL would replace both the 800 and 1200XL.
    So the C64 really only competed with the 400/800 for 2 years (on the markets anyway, it obviously was still a matter of schoolyard pride) and the lower sizes of memory disappeared. And the "16k" bit limit on the 400 wasn't all that serious: OEM memory of 32k (and eventually 48k) sizes appeared for Atari (the 32k also being useful in upgrading early 800s from 16k to 48k in one swoop). But the C64 was certainly made to face a pricewar, and the manufacturing engineers (I worked for on once) sweated every penny used to build the thing. And when the 1983 video game market crashed, Atari was hardly in shape for a price war.

    I'm curious how the 64k in the Commodore64 worked. Could you quickly bank select between kernal and BASIC Roms (which appear to eat almost* as much as in the Atari)? I know they had a 128k edition: if the bank selection was on the fly that must have helped add much more RAM.

    * There was at least 4k "wasted" [not mapped at all] and including the BASIC ROM (on Cartridge) would eat the last 8k of a 48k Atari.

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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    Quote Originally Posted by wumpus View Post
    So the C64 really only competed with the 400/800 for 2 years (on the markets anyway, it obviously was still a matter of schoolyard pride) and the lower sizes of memory disappeared. And the "16k" bit limit on the 400 wasn't all that serious: OEM memory of 32k (and eventually 48k) sizes appeared for Atari (the 32k also being useful in upgrading early 800s from 16k to 48k in one swoop). But the C64 was certainly made to face a pricewar, and the manufacturing engineers (I worked for on once) sweated every penny used to build the thing. And when the 1983 video game market crashed, Atari was hardly in shape for a price war.

    I'm curious how the 64k in the Commodore64 worked. Could you quickly bank select between kernal and BASIC Roms (which appear to eat almost* as much as in the Atari)? I know they had a 128k edition: if the bank selection was on the fly that must have helped add much more RAM.

    * There was at least 4k "wasted" [not mapped at all] and including the BASIC ROM (on Cartridge) would eat the last 8k of a 48k Atari.
    From the user end on the 64 you just had one big block of memory to use, and the machine booted directly into BASIC, with "38911 BASIC BYTES FREE", because 16K was disabled to make room for (if I understand things correctly) the BASIC interpreter ROM. If you loaded a program written in assembly, it simply had all 64K available.


    I never had a 128, but I think that you could only run C64 software on the C128 in compatibility mode (which restricted it to the original 64K of RAM) unless the program was specifically written with the 128 in mind. Probably because programs in those days were often written in a way that used the hard memory boundary as a cheat to get better performance through various arcane methods.

    I'm a few years too young to have gotten into the microcomputer wars - one of the reasons I was an early reader was because I was trying to understand what Daddy was telling the machine to make Mario (really the Giana Sisters with a sprite-swap) show up.

  18. - Top - End - #108
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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnoman View Post
    From the user end on the 64 you just had one big block of memory to use, and the machine booted directly into BASIC, with "38911 BASIC BYTES FREE", because 16K was disabled to make room for (if I understand things correctly) the BASIC interpreter ROM. If you loaded a program written in assembly, it simply had all 64K available.
    The C64's memory map was quite a bit more complicated than that. The lowest 1K had all sorts of system variables and mappings for stuff like the serial port in it. Next 1K was the default text-only screen. Next was the BASIC area. BASIC ROM was 8K starting at 40960, there was then a 4K block of RAM which wasn't used for anything, then you had the 4K character ROM--which also shared space with the VIC-II and SID chips--and the top 8K of memory had the Kernal (yes, they spelt it that way) ROM in it. Writing into any memory address would write into the underlying RAM at that location, even if it was currently switched out, while reading would either return the ROM or RAM address depending on the bit flags at memory location 1, so something you could do quite easily was copy the ROM into the underlying RAM and then switch the ROM out, allowing you to run with modified ROMs, or, as you say, you could switch out the ROMs and have access to nearly all the 64K of RAM, apart from the areas required for memory-mapped IO access to VIC-II, SID, and other peripherals.

  19. - Top - End - #109
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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    I owned and used the thing. I never tried to program it, and only knew it from the user end.

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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnoman View Post
    I owned and used the thing. I never tried to program it, and only knew it from the user end.
    I never had one myself, but a friend did, and I was quite interested in the internals of computers back then. *shrug* The C64 had such a weird memory layout that it fascinated me--it wasn't like the 16K and 48K Spectrum, which had 16K ROM, then the screen, then some system variables and finally the usable memory, nice and easy to grok.

  21. - Top - End - #111
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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    I never had one myself, but a friend did, and I was quite interested in the internals of computers back then. *shrug* The C64 had such a weird memory layout that it fascinated me--it wasn't like the 16K and 48K Spectrum, which had 16K ROM, then the screen, then some system variables and finally the usable memory, nice and easy to grok.
    The Newbrain was fun in that regard, Basic was above the screen, but the screen size was variable (including from within running Basic programs), which meant everything moved around a lot of the time.
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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    One of the old Hewlett Packard pale flesh coloured ones I recall. The first I actually recall ran Windows 95 but I think my dad had a computer before that when I was a toddler before that that there’s pictures of me failing to play something he wrote in BASIC somewhere.
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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    My first computer was zx spectrum )))
    Last edited by gashford1; 2019-09-26 at 12:39 AM.

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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    I think the oldest I’ve ever used albeit bot owned was a Acorn II, which was at school. I think it was from some old initiative from the 80s to get computers in schools?

    Had some weird games on it, I’m in wales so it had a game called POD where you tell a anthropomorphic tomato things to do in welsh and it would play a short animation of it doing thus.

    Kids being kids we were only interested in exploding the poor tomatoman.

    It also ran lemmings.

    I think it was all running off floppy disks, this is like 25 years ago
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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Malphegor View Post
    I think the oldest I’ve ever used albeit bot owned was a Acorn II, which was at school. I think it was from some old initiative from the 80s to get computers in schools?
    The only likely computer that comes to mind there is a BBC Micro, which was Acorn's second computer (after the Atom) and which was part of a BBC initiative to get computers into school? Acorn's successor computers to the BBC were the Archimedes series, which first came out in 1987 but had model numbers like 300 and 400.

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    Default Re: What was your first computer?

    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    The only likely computer that comes to mind there is a BBC Micro, which was Acorn's second computer (after the Atom) and which was part of a BBC initiative to get computers into school? Acorn's successor computers to the BBC were the Archimedes series, which first came out in 1987 but had model numbers like 300 and 400.
    What you had varied depending on the school and resources it had (and when they started on it). The BBC Micro was indeed pushed for schools when it came out (as a result of the aforesaid campaign), but my old school had an Apple ][ running for the Computer classes. Before that we had a dial-up link to a Ford mainframe of some form using an old TTY terminal.

    After I left my old Maths teacher upgraded everything, but I forget what he ended up using - it might even have been IBM PCs by that point.
    Warning: This posting may contain wit, wisdom, pathos, irony, satire, sarcasm and puns. And traces of nut.

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