Poll 2014-09-22 First computer system I used
First computer system I used
Early Apple variant (eg. IIe)
7 votes (12%)
MS-DOS, early PCs
4 votes (7%)
Microsoft Windows 3, 95, 98
5 votes (8%)
Early Linux or BSD variant
0 votes (0%)
Early Macintosh variant
2 votes (3%)
0 votes (0%)
0 votes (0%)
Commodore VIC, 64, PET, Amiga
11 votes (19%)
4 votes (7%)
5 votes (8%)
TRS-80 and related
6 votes (10%)
BBC Micro, Acorn, Dragon, similar
1 vote (2%)
PDP series and other early DEC
4 votes (7%)
Other minis: Data General, Honeywell, Wang, etc.
2 votes (3%)
Mainframes (IBM System/360, etc.)
8 votes (14%)
Microsoft Windows 2000 or higher
0 votes (0%)
Reply 39 comments

Fading memories (Score: 1)

by seriously@pipedot.org on 2014-09-22 11:28 (#2SR9)

It's so far away in childhood that I can't possibly remember whether the first was commodore 64 or Atari. I just remember I played with both and voted C64. Only later came DOS, with logo, dBase 3, prince of persia and the park command.

Apple (Score: 1)

by nightsky30@pipedot.org on 2014-09-22 11:28 (#2SRA)

In elementary school we went down to the computer lab once a week for educational games on an Apple IIe, or at least some Apple variant. It was like 2nd or 3rd grade. We learned how to handle and load the games off the 5 1/4 inch disks. Lots of fun :) I can't believe they trusted us with that back then. I bet it was expensive stuff for kids to break.

Started on Trash-80 but just barely (Score: 1)

by hapnstance@pipedot.org on 2014-09-22 12:17 (#2SRC)

Our school had a single TRS-80 for AP students to use so I started there but got a C-64 for Christmas that year. So really I did all my early learning on Commodore equipment (eventually I ended up with an Amiga-2000 as well).

Room full of Apple IIe (Score: 1)

by hyper@pipedot.org on 2014-09-22 12:25 (#2SRD)

My teacher was the 'computer guy', although I didn't know it at the time. We started by practicing typing on printed out keyboards. Hours spent playing a river survival game taught me most computer basics. This gave me incentive to learn more about computers which eventually led to a life using them.

Thank you Mr Harris.

Commodore (Score: 2, Interesting)

by matrixcubed@pipedot.org on 2014-09-22 12:31 (#2SRE)

I remember my dad bringing home a VIC-20 when I was quite small (4ish?) -- we eventually "upgraded" to the Commodore 64, and I'd say it shaped, early on, what would become my perception of certain truths about technology (namely, that I would ever be enslaved to the entertainment value they possess).

Multics (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-22 12:33 (#2SRF)

Amazing experience! Learned so much, prepared me for a long career.

Atari? (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-22 12:52 (#2SRG)


Re: Atari? (Score: 2, Insightful)

by harmless@pipedot.org on 2014-09-22 13:04 (#2SRK)

What's your problem with Atari computers? I started out with a C64 (actually used a CBM before, but that wasn't mine) and then went to own several Atari ST machines. I used those until Atari went out of business.
(Yes, they went out of business. The Atari that exists today has noting in common with the Atari back then, except for the name.)

Re: Atari? (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-22 14:24 (#2SRT)

Nothing actually.. I thought they were games consoles. 2600?

Acorns (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-22 12:57 (#2SRH)

Wow. Blast from the past. These machines were excellent. Very sad that they didn't survive.

Mainframe came last (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-22 12:59 (#2SRJ)

Nice to see a vote for the big iron. For me mainframe came last. Last of all of the machines listed that I have used.

The Plato System: (Score: 1)

by hartree@pipedot.org on 2014-09-22 14:09 (#2SRR)

My first was the Plato instructional system running on a CDC Cyber mainframe.

Re: The Plato System: (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-24 02:07 (#2SVK)

Lucky you, the Cyber at the university (used by our high school class) took punch cards and the only language we had access to was Fortran.

Oops. Should been trash-80? (Score: 1)

by kwerle@pipedot.org on 2014-09-22 15:24 (#2SS3)

I guess the very first was the Radio Shack TRS-80 - but that was just 2-3 visits. The first system I spent any real time with was the Apple II's in the school lab. Certainly that's where I did my first coding...

Other micro (Score: 1)

by genx@pipedot.org on 2014-09-22 16:17 (#2SS6)

The first computer I ever used was a Thomson TO7: http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?st=1&c=11. Not as bad as people may tell. Good light pen. Keyboard could be painful for the finger tips if you typed a lot.

Then we also had one Exelvision. Could be this EXL 100: http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?st=1&c=123. I remember the terrible infrared connection of the keyboard. I did not like it.

IBM (Score: 1)

by bryan@pipedot.org on 2014-09-23 03:13 (#2SSD)

  • Wireless Chiclet Keyboard
  • Color "TV" Monitor
  • Two ROM cartridge slots
  • 360 KB 5.25 inch floppy disk drive

Amstrad cpc6128 (Score: 1)

by eviljim@pipedot.org on 2014-09-23 02:30 (#2ST0)

for the win.

Young'ins (Score: 1)

by bryan@pipedot.org on 2014-09-23 03:21 (#2ST2)

In the not-too-distant future (or maybe already) the younger crowd will list "smart phone" or "tablet" as their first computer.

Re: Young'ins (Score: 1)

by zafiro17@pipedot.org on 2014-09-23 08:51 (#2STG)

And they'll add it telepathically, using their "Google Implant" nerve-ending module that takes thoughts right from the cerebral cortex and transmits them directly, triggered by a flinch of the right eyelid. And then they'll laugh themselves silly, about how previous generations actually had to type stuff, and there were 'spell checkers' and a key for each frikkin' letter.

GUIs ruined school computer labs (Score: 1)

by evilviper@pipedot.org on 2014-09-23 10:41 (#2STP)

I suppose my first computer experience was early Macs in the school computer lab, but I hardly even think of them as computers. They could almost have been VCRs with a keyboard and mouse dangling off of them, for all we knew. You go in, do the idiotic typing-tutor program for a few minutes, then you play some click-to-color the picture, or a puzzle game the rest of the time. Later, some office apps were there, too, and I dutifully learned how to do all kinds of crazy document formatting, year after year, over and over again, which I certainly never needed, and couldn't recall today if I tried. But something like internet access was kept strictly away from students, as they couldn't be trusted, and only rationed out very sparingly.

Without the GUI, schools couldn't have ruined/neutered computers quite so effectively, and there certainly wouldn't have been nearly so much impetus to do so (ie. no porn, less malware, etc.).

Schools don't have a clue how to use technology, in general. Time on computers is just a check-box they have to mark to show they're modern and not useless. Tell me, once TVs and VCRs pervaded classrooms, why were students still forced to READ Shakespeare plays over the course of several weeks? It does seem that K-12 was nothing but busywork, hoisted upon students like something out of Dante's inferno, used only to prove you're willing to put-up with the pain to get the supposed reward of a college education and high-paying future jobs. It's justified as "tradition", ie. school was miserable when your teachers were kids, so it should be miserable today, too.

Now, a computer lab where kids get a blank command-line on a Unix system, and have free reign to do whatever they want in their home directory (explore, program, browse with lynx, etc), THAT would be incredibly useful educational tool, so, of course, schools would never consider doing something as awful as that...

Re: GUIs ruined school computer labs (Score: 1)

by bryan@pipedot.org on 2014-09-23 10:58 (#2STQ)

Now, a computer lab where kids get a blank command-line on a Unix system, and have free reign to do whatever they want in their home directory (explore, program, ..., etc), THAT would be incredibly useful educational tool, so, of course, schools would never consider doing something as awful as that...
That describes almost perfectly my high school programming department. We all sat at green screen serial terminals attached to the large "computer" in the back corner. I didn't know it back then, but I'm sure glad they had the insight to teach us the basics without the distraction of the GUI (which did exist; they chose to use the older classics.)

Plus, I'd never have ingrained all the vi commands1 into my brain if I hadn't taken that class.

1What's that joke about generating a pseudorandom character sequence by asking a user unfamiliar with vi to exit the program?

Re: GUIs ruined school computer labs (Score: 1)

by zafiro17@pipedot.org on 2014-09-23 15:17 (#2SV4)

It would be interesting to know what that machine in the corner was. A little minivax? Something Unixy, I suppose, if you were editing in vi? Something made by Sun and gifted to the school?

Re: GUIs ruined school computer labs (Score: 1)

by engblom@pipedot.org on 2014-09-24 05:00 (#2SVT)

I am teaching in an elementary school.

I fully agree kids would learn more if you removed the GUI. However, it would not be fully as efficient as you think:
1. Smart phones exist. When I cut out the Internet from their computers in order to get them to do something useful, they begin using their phones instead and I still need to be alert in following what they do rather than concentrating on teaching.
2. If smart phones would not exit, we would see a quick increase in the bigger IRC communities. They would fill their home folders with text games, irc clients etc rather than going through the material and it becomes even more difficult for the teachers to see from a distance if they are really doing their task. In this kind of cases usually one smart kid able to do it is enough as he will install it for all other.

My point is that if kids are not interested in doing what they are supposed to do, they will always find something else to do. The biggest difficulty a teacher is facing is how to make the material interesting enough and at the same time convince the kids they really need to go through it.

Re: GUIs ruined school computer labs (Score: 1)

by evilviper@pipedot.org on 2014-09-24 06:53 (#2SVW)

When I cut out the Internet from their computers in order to get them to do something useful
That's called micro-managing. I don't believe it has any useful effect. The fact that you're ABLE to do so, doesn't mean you SHOULD. If kids don't turn-in their assignments, they get bad grades. It's true whether they're watching TV instead of doing their homework, or browsing the internet instead of doing their computer course work.
if kids are not interested in doing what they are supposed to do, they will always find something else to do.
Indeed. And the kind of controls teachers / administrators put on computers to try and force kids to do their extremely narrowly-defined coursework, is monumentally detrimental to kids actually learning how to use a computer. That only results in rote memorization and following rigidly defined step, and further becomes a tremendously onerous atmosphere where the most basic exploration is brutally punished...

Frankly, NOTHING you can teach them in that locked-down atmosphere, is anything worth learning. I would rather see the money spent on computer labs go to other projects.

Re: GUIs ruined school computer labs (Score: 1)

by engblom@pipedot.org on 2014-09-25 08:09 (#2SWM)

This might sound like I am contradicting myself. My point is that removing GUI alone is not solving the problem as they will always find things to do. Still I believe putting restrictions have an effect. To just blame the GUI however is wrong. You need to deal with the temptation, whatever it is.

No sane teacher is showing with a video projector every single step the kids should do and expecting them to do the same. No teacher is having the kids to memorize all the steps. I am giving them the result and I tell them to use whatever method they want to achieve the result. That includes reading the built in help, using google etc. This makes them ready to use the next version when the GUI has changed. I only help them when they have been long time enough stuck without advancing in the task. With temptations their time will be lost in games and shuch rather than in experimenting.

When you lock down the environment you remove the temptations and you actually get better result. That I know and I have been witnessing. It actually takes more effort to learn in this way rather than having them to memorize everything. As the effort grows, they more easily pick up the low hanging temptations.

Let's say you have a alcohol addict. If that person is getting away from places where alcohol is served he has better chance to stay sober. Walking into a bar would be dangerous. In the same way if you notice the kids are not able to handle a temptation, you remove it so they better are able to concentrate on their tasks. When you have an Internet Facebook addict, you remove Internet access for that one. Okay, that particular pupil lost one way to solve the task: googling for help. Still getting the task done with built in help is better than not getting it done at all.

In the school I am teaching we do not have any particular restriction besides that they can only install stuff in their own home folder and not as root. However, if I see that someone is not able to handle the freedom, I remove what was the temptation for them.

Apple II - Probably (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-23 17:27 (#2SV7)

My first experience with a computer was probably the Apple II. I think my school had one, before my parents bought a PC with a 3.5" floppy drive, a 5 1/4" floppy drive, and no hard drive.

C-64, mostly (Score: 1)

by zafiro17@pipedot.org on 2014-09-23 20:36 (#2SV8)

It all happened pretty fast - a TRS80 in the classroom, I think, and a Sinclair at the neighbor's house on which I played some kind of flight simulator. I got permission to go to a special summer school and take a computer course. That meant programming BASIC on a Commodore Pet. A year or two later I mowed enough lawns to buy myself a C=64 and in the meantime, the school got some Apple IIs (and some clones: anyone remember the Franklin? A 100% knock-off, and byte-compatible, I think).

The C64 was the beginning of an obsession that's lasted to this day. Still remember the big day I went from the datasette cassette tape to the 1541 disk drive. Life was about as good as it was going to get.

Re: C-64, mostly (Score: 1)

by hapnstance@pipedot.org on 2014-09-23 21:22 (#2SV9)

Are you me? That sounds almost identical to my experience except I was lucky enough to get my C=64 from dad for Christmas (along with a pile of programming books). I even played on a friend's sinclair!

analog computer (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-24 02:21 (#2SVM)

I didn't actually program it, but I did watch an analog computer being programmed when my father took me into his work. Programming was done by connecting patch cords with banana plug ends to patch panels on 19" racks. Various op amps were connected with LCR networks and other analog functional blocks to simulate physical systems. Output was on a pen chart recorder. Around 1960.

The program I remember was able to simulate the response of an airplane (or car, different version) to simple control inputs--and since it was analog it worked in real time!

Have had a fascination with banana plugs and other patch cords ever since...

Re: analog computer (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-24 09:59 (#2SVY)

Fine. You win.

Re: analog computer (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-25 01:18 (#2SWK)

Wasn't trying to "win" anything. I'm probably older than you, and sometimes I paid attention when I was a little kid.

Let's do this poll again (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-24 10:00 (#2SVZ)

with a qualification: Computer system first used at work where you earned a wage.

What, no Amstrads? (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-24 19:59 (#2SWE)

I think there was a PCW kicking around at our house, before the PC compatibles.

How do we vote? (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-24 20:00 (#2SWF)

Do we need to be signed in?