Friday, March 12, 2010


Today, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at the machine that first piqued my interest and started me down the computer path. And perhaps touch on a few other memorable devices. Since I was very young, my father had at least one PC in the house. The first one I had access to, the first one I can remember actually using, back around the time I was 5 or 6, was Radio Shack's classic TRS-80 Model III (pictured here.) Released in 1980, the Model III sported an integrated package which included a 64x16 character monochrome monitor, integrated QWERTY keyboard, 2 5 1/4 inch floppy disk drives, a 2.03 MHz Z-80 processor, 16KB of RAM, and the BASIC programming language. I can remember spending much time playing the classic text-based game Adventure on this computer. And it was also the first time I was exposed to programming, as I lightly played with the BASIC language. Around the same period, my father also owned the portable Model 100, and the even more portable Model PC-1, though I didn't have as much access to them. Shortly after this, we came into possession of a Commodore VIC-20, the 'family' computer. The VIC-20 was another 8-bit computer, though it only had 5KB of RAM. Unlike the TRS-80, this computer did not have an integrated monitor, instead, it had connections to connect it to the Television, giving it a color display. It also had a slot that accepted game cartridges similar to the Atari 2600, complete with sound and graphics, making it a much more enticing 'toy' than the TRS-80's textual selections. I spent an enormous amount of time poised at the keyboard, my silhouette burning into the television screen. Aside from all the gaming, this was the place my knowledge and curiosity of BASIC programming blossomed. Then came the big PC boom of the mid 80s. We owned many PCs of various brands and configurations, most of which were the focus of my curious poking and prodding. My first computer, a gift from my parents for my 14th birthday, was a Packard Bell i487 Desktop PC. This computer came with the Intel 80486dsx at 32 MHz, and was maxed out at 4 MB of RAM. Though the computer came with the nifty new Microsoft Windows 3.2 operating system, most of my time was spent in DOS playing with various programming languages including BASIC, Fortran, and Pascal. This was also the first computer I would disassemble and reassemble. From here, most of my PCs were self built, mostly from whatever spare parts I could get my hands on, and not worthy of detailed descriptions, though I wouldn't say they were ever 'out-dated'. Around 2001, it was time for my first computer purchase. The first pre-built computer I ever paid for was a brand new 12 inch PowerBook G4 by Apple. Mac became my platform of choice, until recently, when I have drifted back to Linux. My current hardware consists of a beefy home-built media server running Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala), my 12 inch PowerBook G4. also running Ubuntu 9.10, my 13 inch MacBook Intel Core2 duo currently running OS X Snow Leopard (soon to be converted to Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx), and my Asus EeePC 1005HA running both Ubuntu Netbook 9.10 Karmic Koala, and Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx Alpha 2.