One Man's Eyes

I'm an early 30's engineer with delusions of adequacy. From here, I'll share my perspective, usually through words, sometimes through pictures, of the view of the world from one man's eyes.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Early Computer Memories

Over on one of the forums that I frequent, a thread popped up about early computer experience. My mind flooded open and I came up with what follows, so I thought I'd share here as well:

My first computer was a Commodore 64. My dad spent several weekends typing in the code for a word processor called Speedscript out of Byte magazine. I used it to type up my 15 page science fair project report back in 7th grade. There was no spell check, but it did allow for some formatting. It was pretty sophisticated back in the day.

We had a Commodore 1250 printer that was special because it had both the Commodore proprietary connection as well as the standard PC parallel port connection. It was a 9 pin dot matrix printer. It took half an hour to print that fifteen page report. My dad and I proof read the hell out of that first printout so that we only had to do it once more for a final report!

It had a cartridge port and we had a dozen or so games for that port. I remember playing Spy Hunter, GI Joe, and Transformers with it.

We used a cassette recorder for storage originally. We eventually invested in the Commodore specific one, as the control was fully automated by the computer. With the standalone recorder, you had to issue a command to the computer to load and then hit the play button on the recorder so that it would start sending data. It had a seconds counter and we had a notepad with an index to tell us how many seconds we would have to fast forward to get to the start of a program.

Eventually, we invested in the infamous floppy drive. I think the disks were something like 360kb (yes, KILObyte) capacity. You had to pull the disk out and flip it over to read from the other side.

My dad would play Flight Simulator (back when it was SUBLogic, which I guess Microsoft bought out at some point). The game would take about 2 minutes to load up from the disk.

With that floppy drive, my game collection increased quite a bit. Back then, there were a number of developers and lots of cheap games. I remember many of them published by a company called MASTERTRONIC. I remember their iconic logo on the the cover of their unique software cases.

This one, in particular, I remember playing for weeks trying to master all the different stages needed to get to the final race:

My daughter would no doubt be horrified by all of this. The Nintendo DS that she totes around constantly has more power and capability by any measure you can think of than anything I had with that old C64 back in the dark ages :D