My experiences with computers has been largely restricted to micro computers (considering the fact that I was born in 1983). There’ll be lots of people who would have dealt with all kinds of machines I have never even seen (maybe heard of), but let me do my best.
One of the first computers that I happened to work on was the Spectrum (Sinclair – wikipedia entry) which belonged to my grandfather, which he had purchased around 1987 (PCs were quite expensive then, especially in India). There were quite a lot of varieties of the Spectrum available (started from 16K and went up to 128K), with this one being a 64K db Spectrum model. Some of it’s contemporaries would be the BBC, Atari, Commodore 64 and quite a few others (I hope I’m right). The machine used ordinary tapes/cassettes for storage, and you had to wait for 3-5 minutes to load a program from them. There were floppy drives for the Spectrum though (in fact the person from whom my grandfather used to purchase software for the spectrum had one.
The machine itself was just a basic keyboard cum CPU unit to which you had to attach the tape recorder, joystick and other peripherals. The machine used Sinclair BASIC for programming, and the keywords were typed from preset keys and other special keys (not sure if I explained it properly – maybe this picture will help). What made the Spectrum special was probably it’s graphics capabilities. I used to play a lot of games on it, ranging from Arkanoid to Batman, tennis, cricket and lots more. We had quite a few books with programs for the Spectrum, and I wrote & stored a few of them with some help from my father and grandfather. My grandfather used the machine primarily for storing his contacts, journals etc (writing programs for each).
It’s been a very long time since I last worked on it – my grandfather gave the machine away to one of my cousins when he bought a new PC (as late as 1998). With that he also had he give up all the daat stored on the old tapes.
However, it’s still possible to go back to the spectrum environment right on our PCs using emulators. I’ve tried out a few of them. Some of them even seem to have support for reading tapes (I had tried it a long time ago by hooking up the tape player to the PC’s line-in without much success though). So, if you are one of the persons who used the Spectrum, do check out the following sites (in fact you might have already):
There are quite a lot of others available containing both emulators and tape images (not sure about the legal issues though, if any). Also in case you want to have a look at old computer photos, if those old computer names made you nostalgic, check out the following links (all from TechRepublic – might require you to register):
- Dinosaur Sightings: Computers from the 1970s
- Dinosaur Sightings: Computers from 1980-1983
- Dinosaur Sightings: Computers from 1984-1989
- Dinosaur Sightings 2
- Photos: Dinosaur Sightings 3
So, what are the computers you’ve worked on?