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Love Them Old Computers

12/30/06 | by JAdP | Categories: Computers and Internet

I happened upon my manuals for my second home computer, which caused me to do Google & wikipedia searches for Kaypro, which led me to the Old Computers site.

Once upon a time, at good ol' King's College, I learned FORTRAN (thanks Ken) by typing away on a key punch. Stacks of cards with arcane magic marker symbols across the edges to help you "recompile" the stack in case of a disastrous spill.

Later, upon entering the workforce, in the lab I would use PDP11's and at the office I would access IBM mainframes with 1MB memory boxes using green screen terminals after slogging through the mud; it being too expensive to run that heavy yellow Ethernet cable out to our building. The first computer on my desk was an AppleII ("e", I think, in 1980 or so?).

But the very first computer that I bought for my home was a Kaypro II that I bought in 1982, while living in Denver.

It was replaced by a Kaypro 2000 in 1985. I used it in my first consultancy SyReCon, and it may have indirectly contributed to a crash of the ARPAnet that occurred just as a Berkeley astrophysicist hooked up my K2000 to a unix box via its serial port, to give me some files from another computer out in the cloud. We'll never know for sure. :> This machine was truly snazzy for the day, but DOS felt like a real step down in usability from CP/M. The manuals for this computer and its Starburst, Wordstar, Calcstar, Infostar, etc. software are what led me down this particular memory lane.

My mind boggled when my gamer friend, Bunkey, upgraded to 256MB of RAM in 1987, plus or minus a year, maybe. Heck, just a few years earlier, that 1MB box for the mainframe was an engineer's dream.

At work, from 1982 to 1992, I was mostly exposed to DEC VAX machines running VMS, but also had to include in my architecture or use HP1000/RTE and BSD Unix for various aerospace projects.

At Oracle and my "side" job helping to set up Coastside.net and to put local schools on the Internet (way back in 1993/'94), and then at CapTech, my projects exposed me to

  • SGI|Irix (both as a front-end to an nCube and to run Coastside.net),
  • SCO Xenix (for sendmail),
  • nCUBE (MPP as a mail server and for early video on demand experiments),
  • IBM|AIX,
  • HP3000|MPE,
  • HP9000|HP-UX,
  • IBM|OS/2,
  • BeOS,
  • Apple Mac,
  • Sun Microsystems SunOS then Solaris, and
  • MS WindowsNT3.5.

Since then, for personal use and on projects, I've touched all later versions of WindowsNT (NT4, Windows2000 and WindowsXP), RedHat and SUSE Linux, PalmOS (1996 to today - where is my ALP?), OpenSolaris and MacOSX. The line between personal use and business use of computers has been totally blurred today, by the web and by living the TeleInterActive Lifestyle. &#59;D

So many computers, architectures, OSs, UIs, philosophies... And I'm still waiting for that perfect, unalloyed experience. B)

Check out the Old Computers site and relive your first computers.

What were your earliest computer experiences? How do they compare to today?

1 feedback »

1 comment


i dunno about old computers, but i love the old dos games. LOL

01/03/07 @ 12:21
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I'm Joseph A. di Paolantonio and this blog has two main foci: my interest in food, and my interest in the future. This provides a look into my personal life, and is separate from my consulting work…though there will be overlap. I am an independent researcher, working as a strategic consultant and I'm an executive with over 20 years of commercial experience with a technical interest in the intersection of Internet of Things, with advanced data management and analysis methods. I view data science as a team activity, and I feel that the IoT must be viewed as a system. I am leveraging my past activities to understand the adoption and impact of the IoT; first, as a system engineer in aerospace, where I developed Bayesian risk assessment methods for systems within the Space Transportation System (including the Space Shuttle), Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer, Gravity Probe B, and many more, and second, as a enterprise data warehousing, business intelligence and analytics professional. Between my aerospace and IT careers, I indulged my hobby of cooking by starting a food company, Montara Magic, centered around my chocolate sauces. My education combined chemistry, mathematics and philosophy. I performed research into molten salt fuel cells in graduate school, and in photovoltaic materials for a short time in industry. The lure of bringing the human race into space was strong, and when I was offered the chance to combine my chemistry and mathematics skills to develop new risk assessment and system engineering methods for space launch and propulsion systems – I couldn't resist. I perform independent research and strategic consulting to bring value from the Internet of Things, Sensor Analytics Ecosystems and data science teams.I am a caregiver, a lover of science fiction and speculative fantasy, and my passion to learn has led me to a pilot's license, an assistant instructor in SCUBA, nordic and alpine skiing, sea kayaking, and reading everything I can, in as many topics as I can.

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