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Computing Pioneers Share Their First Tech Memories

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the back-in-the-day dept.

News 99

An anonymous reader writes "Major names from the world of computing and technology such as Vint Cerf, William Gibson, Richard Stallman, Michael Dell and Hermann Hauser have shared their memories on their first computers and what inspired them to get involved with the computer. Highlight's include Cerf recalling his experience with the valve-based US air defense network Sage — as seen in Dr Strangelove — and Acorn co-founder Hauser building an eight bit computer out of marbles and a shoebox."

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Michael Dell's story. (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 2 years ago | (#38090684)


MICHAEL DELL
CEO and founder of Dell

From the time I was seven years old, I was captivated by blandness. When asked what kind of ice cream I wanted, the answer was always "Vanilla, please."

My favourite toy was an old sock that belonged to my grandfather. It was the most dull, lifeless white sock you had ever seen. I called it "Blandy". When I turned 13 my parents let me paint my room any colour I wanted. I picked a decidedly neutral beige paint. I didn't want any excitement in my room, just a calming dullness. My whole room was like that: beige walls, beige lampshades, beige bedding. The only contrast was when I would place Blandy on my pillow. My room was the ultimate in dull. Sitting in it was almost like floating in a sensory deprivation tank. Except you could see that glorious beige everywhere.

What are your memories of your first computer?
I bought my first computer when I was fifteen. It was a Radio Shack TRS-80. The silver-grey painted chassis caused too much excitement in my otherwise dull bedroom so I spray painted it beige. The cassette tape's door was a shiny bit of transparent plastic, far too eye catching. I used some 120 grit sandpaper to take off the glossiness. You couldn't read the tape labels through it after that, but I didn't care. It was a small price to pay in my quest for supreme dullness.

What modern technology do you wish you had growing up and why?
I've learned that technology on its own isn't what really matters. What's important is how dull it is. How you can get someone to spend their hard earned money on something then look at it and wonder "Why did I buy that?" To me, making items that has people doing just that, even before they receive their order confirmation, is the greatest thing ever.

Companies that go for excitement and innovation are certain to die. They have no future. Why, if it were up to me, I'd sell whatever company it was and give the money back to the shareholders. Printed on dull, beige cheques.

Re:Michael Dell's story. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38090936)

Is it just me or does that guy have an incredibly tiny head? Seriously, look at the picture of him in the article.

Re:Michael Dell's story. (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093402)

Is it just me or does that guy have an incredibly tiny head? Seriously, look at the picture of him in the article.

I thought so too, then I decided his body was just huge.
But you might be right.

Re:Michael Dell's story. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38095136)

Haha. It does look pretty creepy. I think is just that he wearing a David Byrne outfit.

Re:Michael Dell's story. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38102788)

I got curious and looked on wikipedia, and found this [wikipedia.org] . his head looks much more normal there (maybe even slightly too big). Which picture is fake? Which is real?

Re:Michael Dell's story. (2)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091024)

The was excellent, thanks for the laughs!

Re:Michael Dell's story. (2)

Anarchduke (1551707) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091050)

That was amazingly funny.

Re:Michael Dell's story. (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091142)

When it comes to length and relevance, this must surely rank among the best frosty piss's'es evahhhr a hundred and elevnty one. How you managed to bang that in without having subscriber neutrino privileges is beyond belief.

Sir, I'm going to put a hat on just so I can take it off to you. Brafuckingvo, and then some.

Re:Michael Dell's story. (2)

chispito (1870390) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091372)

I really don't get it. Where were you getting these non-beige computers in the 80s and 90s?

Re:Michael Dell's story. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38091626)

Radio Shack, etc.

Re:Michael Dell's story. (1)

mykepredko (40154) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091414)

Grub,

Very funny.

Reminds me of the Futurama "neutral" race which enraged Zap Brannigan.

What makes a man turn Neutral? (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091848)

"Lust for gold? Power? Or were you just born with a heart full of neutrality?"

Re:Michael Dell's story. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38093894)

Clearly written by an Apple fanboy who likes all of his corners glossy and rounded.

Re:Michael Dell's story. (1)

identity0 (77976) | more than 2 years ago | (#38095892)

The real story:

"I heard how much money there was going to be in these 'computer' things, so I actually started my company before I had ever seen a computer.

At first I thought it was some kind of fruit since people were talking about these 'Apple computers', and I spent a year researching orchard management before learning that computers were actually not a fruit.

Then I went through my 'cow phase' when I saw the Gateway 2000 boxes, and I spent another year researching livestock management, thinking computers were a type of livestock that you could ship directly to consumers.

Eventually, I learned that they were beige boxes that cost a lot of money, so I went to the local dumpster, got a bunch of old cardboard boxes and spent over $10 on paint to make them computers.

We were listed in the Fortune 500 the year after."

Richard Stallman's story. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38090760)

RICHARD STALLMAN
EMACS

I will talk to your parrot! I do not like eggs!

Unless they are between my toes! Then NOMNOMNOM!

Re:Richard Stallman's story. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38090984)

Can I pee in your butt?

Re:Richard Stallman's story. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38091278)

I am not like you. We are not "fellow outcasts".

Stallman in a sentence (5, Funny)

charlesbakerharris (623282) | more than 2 years ago | (#38090796)

Ahh, vintage Stallman: Because when all you have is an axe, everything looks like a grindstone.

Re:Stallman in a sentence (3, Insightful)

kiwimate (458274) | more than 2 years ago | (#38090874)

I felt sad for the guy when I'd finished reading the article. He seems constantly annoyed and bitter. Everyone else in the article was excited, reminiscing about what sparked their passion for technology or computing. Stallman was just angry.

Stallman was just angry. (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091200)

Nothing new there.

Re:Stallman in a sentence (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38093708)

There's nothing angry in the article. Just facts. Here it is, so others are not misled:

RICHARD STALLMAN
President of the Free Software Foundation

What are your memories of your first computer?
The first computer I ever owned is the one I am using now: a Lemote Yeeloong, which I chose because even the BIOS is free/libre software. From the BIOS on up, there is nothing in the machine that denies the user's freedom.

Before this one, the computers I used had been donated to the Free Software Foundation, and before that, they belonged to MIT and Harvard. In the 1970s, only someone very rich could have bought a computer that wasn't a toy. I never had any interest in the personal computers of the 1970s and 1980s because the computers in the lab were far more powerful. I didn't care who owned the computer as long as I could write software for it. And the most interesting software to work on was software that the others in the lab would use: system programs.

If you're asking about the first computer I ever used, that was an IBM 360 to which I had to submit jobs via punched cards. It sure looked impressive, but the PL/1 program I wrote needed more memory than the machine could offer.

What was the moment that first got you excited about the potential of technology?
As soon as I heard that there were machines that could be programmed, I wanted to program them. I was around six years old at the time, and it would take a decade before I actually saw a computer.

What modern technology do you wish you had growing up and why?
In terms of freedom, computing technology is getting worse. Earlier computers were designed for users to control them, but nowadays they are designed increasingly to control their users (ie, saps).

Apple's latest computers don't even allow users to freely choose what applications to install. Future Intel PCs will come with Restricted Boot, which means you can't run your choice of operating system on them. We may soon encounter computers configured not to allow their users to switch to the GNU/Linux system.

Re:Stallman in a sentence (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38094592)

In combination with all the other articles the Stallman's tone is downright negative. It doesn't help that he's factually incorrect in the service of his negativity. That's a sign that he's crawled so far up his own ass he won't be coming out any time soon.

Re:Stallman in a sentence (4, Interesting)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#38095948)

He is angry. I had the, uh, "pleasure" of hearing him speak in person at the University of Glasgow, then do a Q&A session. He had brief jolly (lucid?) periods when he was rambling on by himself, but many of the questions sent him off on a tirade. When he was asked why most systems are GNU/Linux rather than GNU/Hurd he practically became incoherent, raving on about compromised principles (note: his principles, not Linus's), long term damage to Freeeedom, and the Great Patent Threat. I swear he was foaming at the mouth at one point. Of course, he didn't answer the question in any meaningful way.

Also, he stank. I don't mean that in a jocular "Ha ha, smell hippy" sense, I just mean that up close, he really did look filthy and reek of stale sweat. It was physically repugnant to be near him, and if you don't think that does or should matter, well, I do because basic hygiene is common courtesy, and Stallman's lack of it shows contempt for others. It's not the way to make friends or influence people, which is basically Stallman's job.

Re:Stallman in a sentence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38097800)

Stallman is the PETA of Free software. Most people would probably be more inclined towards his cause if he would stop trying to further it.

Re:Stallman in a sentence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38090942)

Please mod parent +5 funny! X-D

Re:Stallman in a sentence (2)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 2 years ago | (#38094092)

I thought it was a parody of what Stallman said until I read the article. It's not like the Dell joke above though - it is actually what he said.

Re:Stallman in a sentence (5, Insightful)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091080)

Apple's latest computers don't even allow users to freely choose what applications to install.

Spreading the FUD a little thick there, huh, Stallman? But since you don't actually use them, I'm not surprised at all at your willful ignorance.

Re:Stallman in a sentence (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38091118)

The iPhone 4S is a computer, by any real definition of the term, and it's Apple's latest release, so...

Re:Stallman in a sentence (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38091448)

Nope

Re:Stallman in a sentence (-1, Troll)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091210)

Shut the fuck up, you bead-jiggling kraut terrorist pedophile mysoginist cunt.

Re:Stallman in a sentence (4, Informative)

MrSteveSD (801820) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093284)

Well he's right isn't he? You can't side-load apps. You have to use the app store which consists of Apple-approved apps.

Re:Stallman in a sentence (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38096634)

exactly, not without tricks anyways.

but at the same time, he says in the article that he got a personal computer pretty much just last year(or this): the yeelong, which he claims is totally free sw stack from bios up. why didn't he say that he would have liked to have that when he was growing up?

also being obsessed with mainframes(or other by definition expensive, multi user) computers seems a bit of a contradiction with the whole free sw thing..

Re:Stallman in a sentence (1)

Pionar (620916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38100356)

As much as I think the guy's a little nuts, he's right here. iPad users can only install what's in the App Store.

After all, an iPad is still just a computer.

Re:Stallman in a sentence (1)

mykepredko (40154) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091240)

Nicely put - I see the parent modded as Funny, if I had points, I would mark it as "insightful".

For the most part this is a puff piece with some mildly interesting comments (ie building adders & circuits using marbles is a nice image) - not as (yet another) soapbox for RMS to pontificate from.

myke

Re:Stallman in a sentence (2)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091286)

Yup.. the man is _always_ on.

Everyone knows someone like that. I've got a friend who is like that with religion (born again athiest)... joking around at lunch and mention something even remotely related to religion.. oh shit there he goes again on yet another tirade!

Re:Stallman in a sentence (2)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091670)

"If you're asking about the first computer I ever used, that was an IBM 360 to which I had to submit jobs via punched cards. It sure looked impressive, but the PL/1 program I wrote needed more memory than the machine could offer."

Sounds like young Richard missed out on a promising career doing OS design for Microsoft.

Re:Stallman in a sentence (1)

rudolfel (700883) | more than 2 years ago | (#38096778)

Sounds like young Richard missed out on a promising career doing OS design for Microsoft.

He wrote the GNU/Emacs operating system. Isn't that enough ?

Re:Stallman in a sentence (1, Insightful)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 2 years ago | (#38092404)

More and more Stallman is coming across as a bitchy little shit. I wish he would just shut his pie hole.
For the record I respect what he has done in the past with GNU, and free software, it is just the last few years he has started sounding like a whiny little bitch to me.

FTFY (1)

drainbramage (588291) | more than 2 years ago | (#38098404)

When the only tool you have is an axe
Wait for it......
Every problem looks like the back of someone's head.

For Balmer substitute chair for axe.

Stallman ROFL (5, Insightful)

sproketboy (608031) | more than 2 years ago | (#38090798)

Question: "What modern technology do you wish you had growing up and why?"
Stallman: "In terms of freedom, computing technology is getting worse."

Nice sidestep Richard. How about just answering the simple question? We would have been interested in your answer.

Re:Stallman ROFL (1, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091168)

We would have been interested in your answer.

Define "we". Most of us have tired of him decades ago.

Re:Stallman ROFL (4, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091360)

The man is incapable of a light hearted discussion or joyful reminiscing.

He has tuned every molecule in his body towards his views on software. I don’t actually think the man is capable of thinking in other terms.

Re:Stallman ROFL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38091644)

He kind of did answer the question. I think he was implying he wouldn't want any of today's current technology because it is all diverting to being a closed garden.

Re:Stallman ROFL (0)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38092704)

I think he forgot to mention the first time he saw a copyright notice on software, which was shortly thereafter followed by his dad anally raping him.

Explains a lot, when you think about it.

Re:Stallman ROFL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38094436)

Project much?

Re:Stallman ROFL (1)

solferino (100959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38096496)

Nice sidestep Richard. How about just answering the simple question?

I don't think it's a sidestep. The question was about modern technology. Stallman answers that he thinks modern technology is getting worse not better 'in terms of freedom'. Stallman quite often says that he started the FSF in the 80's because he was nostalgic for computing in the 70's. He quite literally sees things in terms of freedom and so it is consistent for him to say that he doesn't wish he had current technology when he was growing up as he sees it as less free.

Re:Stallman ROFL (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38096520)

he doesn't wish he had any modern technology. that's the exact problem with rms and how he is failing to inspire people to "his"(in his mind it belongs to him) cause. he doesn't want to _do_ anything _with_ computers, he just wants to debate the rules under which they should be used.

I just wish I would have had speedier cpu when I was a teenager. and a flat 24 inch monitor, and plenty of memory. modern software? not so necessary for the things I would have done with it then, but typing on a 56hz screen sucks and waiting for raytraces to finish for days for low resolution sucked.

Re:Stallman ROFL (2)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#38099040)

Question: "What modern technology do you wish you had growing up and why?" Stallman: "In terms of freedom, computing technology is getting worse."

Nice sidestep Richard. How about just answering the simple question? We would have been interested in your answer.

By not directly answering the question, he showed what his answer actually was, namely that some things are more important than having cool new toys.

Re:Stallman ROFL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105450)

What kind of memories? usb memory [hkcolordigital.com] ?

Happy Friday from the Golden Girls! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38090840)

Thank you for being a friend,
Travelled down the road and back again.
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a confident.

And if you threw a party,
Invited everyone you knew,
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say,
Thank you for being a friend.

Re:Happy Friday from the Golden Girls! (1)

jhesse (138516) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091438)

Gah. This may have been a threadjack, but I just spent 15 minutes reading wikipedia Golden Girls-related articles. (3 of the four are dead now)

*shakes fist*

mod donwn (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38090868)

NetBSD posts on 4roject faces a set election to the channel, you might up today! If you continues in a Recent article put variations on the of programming rivalry. While

Gibson's a cyberpunk pioneer.... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38090878)

...not a computer pioneer.

Hell, the man himself admitted he didn't know thing one about computers when he wrote 'Neuromancer.' They were magic boxes to him.

Re:Gibson's a cyberpunk pioneer.... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091368)

...not a computer pioneer.

Hell, the man himself admitted he didn't know thing one about computers when he wrote 'Neuromancer.' They were magic boxes to him.

Amazes me how people who aren't in directly in a field suddenly become of interest to people in the field.

This year's Heisman contenders include Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford; Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama; Brandon Weedon, QB Ok. State and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, because there's a lot of Heisman talk on his social media site.

Re:Gibson's a cyberpunk pioneer.... (1)

OakDragon (885217) | more than 2 years ago | (#38098196)

I was shocked by the very considerable noise the floppy drive (a separate box) made. I had assumed these machines had no internal moving parts... The whirring and clicking of the IIc's drive seemed Victorian, disappointing.

I quite liked the "thunka-thunka-thunka" of disk drives and printers.

What the hell is wrong with Michael Dell's photo (2)

pclminion (145572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38090900)

Did somebody 'shop his head to be too small?

Re:What the hell is wrong with Michael Dell's phot (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38090988)

Yeah I noticed that too. The way his neck is positioned he kinda looks Jim Carey-ish (you know how Jim Carey's neck always looks weird.) Some of those pics look... odd, to say the least. Cover Warwick's mouth and he looks like he wants to rip your throat out. I won't even touch Stallman... just like I wouldn't in real life.

Re:What the hell is wrong with Michael Dell's phot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38091460)

It reminded me of the Big Suit from the Talking Heads movie 'Stop Making Sense [wikipedia.org]

Re:What the hell is wrong with Michael Dell's phot (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091300)

Did somebody 'shop his head to be too small?

I think his shoulders are overlarge. Probably has a parka on under his suit.

Re:What the hell is wrong with Michael Dell's phot (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38091474)

No, Vint Cerf squashed it with his fingers.

Multi-page articles suck (5, Informative)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38090932)

Skip TFA and go straight for the print view [silicon.com] .

Why Gibson? (4, Interesting)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38090972)

Don't get me wrong - he's a hell of an author. But his inclusion seems a bit odd, given that he doesn't really work in "the computer industry".

Of course, neither does Michael Dell.

Thanks, folks. I'll be here all week.

Re:Why Gibson? (1)

ben_kelley (234423) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091156)

I bought an Apple IIc and mechanical printer from Eaton's. ... They were marked down for quick sale. ... I was shocked by the very considerable noise the floppy drive (a separate box) made.

Was it marked down because the previous owner had disassembled it possibly?

Re:Why Gibson? (1)

madprof (4723) | more than 2 years ago | (#38092112)

Good spot! Although I think you could get a second external floppy drive for them couldn't you?

Then again he probably was just getting confused about which computer he had.

Re:Why Gibson? (0)

ben_kelley (234423) | more than 2 years ago | (#38094164)

I tried to work in a 'that's no floppy drive'/'that's no moon' reference, but it's just not happening for me today.

Re:Why Gibson? (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38100906)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Apple_iicb.jpg [wikipedia.org]

It appears that at least one model had an external floppy drive. Not knowing much about archaic Apple computers, I am not sure what you mean.

Re:Why Gibson? (1)

aabrown (154032) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091782)

Also, Gibson explained that his IIc's drive was an "extra box". The IIc had a built in drive - maybe he had two?

Re:Why Gibson? (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093010)

Also, Gibson explained that his IIc's drive was an "extra box". The IIc had a built in drive - maybe he had two?

Or he is mis-remembering his IIe as a IIc, especially with his memory of it being phased out in favor of the Mac - the IIc was actually released after the Mac came out.

Hauser & Lynch (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38091016)

Lynch may not even have enough passion to remember the correct model number of the machine that inspired his passion (there is no BBC Micro 650 - there was a model A, a model B and a Master). But I kind of like the irony that it was Hauser, in the same article, who was playing with cereal packets, who made Lynch's toys. Nice.

Re:Hauser & Lynch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38098330)

Its a misprint, supposed to be 6502 to distinguish it from BBC micros that used 32xxx and ARM processors, in the next sentence he declares his undying love for the 6502

boring! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38091068)

How about they share their first blow-job memory? Mine was about 10 years ago (I was 12 at the time). My football coach let me sleep over at his place. It was awesome! He let me stay up late and drink wine! Then he sucked my cock. Sadly, he stopped sometime after my 17th birthday :(

Newbies (1)

jimbrooking (1909170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091204)

Your selection of "pioneers" reminds me of an "American boy band": New Kids on the Block. Seymour Cray, Danny Hillis, Steve Wallach and many others in the 1970s-90s were the real "pioneers". Get off my grass!

Incorrect summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38091258)

Sage was NOT seen in Dr. Strangelove; Vint Cerf only states that Sage “was like a scene out of Dr Strangelove.”

Uhm, Google (1)

thomasw_lrd (1203850) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091326)

Too bad nobody gave the correct answer to which current technology you wish you had back then. The correct answer is google.

Re:Uhm, Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38093498)

Yep. Google is one of the cornerstones of the New Information Age.

I recently tried an iPad with 3G for the first time, and after using Google search, Google Maps, Google Earth, Wikipedia and Skype on it, I was hit with an epiphany and told my friend (the owner), "Holy shit! We're finally in the future!"

Re:Uhm, Google (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38100954)

If you scratch off the paint on the top of the screen, you will see it actually says "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". It also has "Don't Panic" on the original cover, but I think Apple removes those before shipping.

http://xkcd.com/548/ [xkcd.com]

First computers. (2)

RandomAvatar (2487198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091340)

I remember mine. It was given to me when I was five. It ran DOS and had enough physical memory that it could ether have the original Civilization game or Lamborghini on it at any point in time. Fond memories those. How about everyone else?

Re:First computers. (2)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38092142)

Came here for this sort of thing. Kinda weird everyone else isn't automatically reminiscing.

Anyway, I'm 27, but my story starts with my father. Growing up out of the 50's, he was a technological enthusiast. He thought he'd be a wielder on space stations or something. He paid a month's wages to get his first calculator. This is right before transistors bottomed out the price.
Dad had bought a TI-99/4A. He thought he'd be doing his taxes on it or something. We used it for games. And I'm in the picture now. That old TI was around longer then I can remember, but my brother was into programming it for a bit. Had those "1,2,3 connect" magazines or whatever they were. They had BASIC programs that he would type in by hand and show them to me.

But I wasn't interested. I was a kid and the TI was a toy. It wasn't until I was playing around with Tandy 1000, which Dad also though he'd be using to do important calculations (he was more right then with the TI, but no tax software). I have no idea where the program originated from, maybe it was in those Big Blue Monthly disks, but I found Conway's Game of Life. I had no idea what was going on at first, but it was pretty. And after some fiddling, I found I could add and remove squares, and step through time. And that was it. I liked computers after that. I spent hours staring at that sucker crunch away. That's also about the time my mother worried I wasn't spending enough time outside. Go figure.

My first actual programming experience, past staring blankly at my brother's BASIC, would be with Ed T. Toton III's Advanced T-robots. Sandbox assembly to make tanks go kill each other. I kind of wish I had picked it up sooner then highschool.

Re:First computers. (1)

PerlJedi (2406408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093002)

I have only faint memories of my "first" computer. Basically I remember playing "boa" on it because it had a mouse, and boa was the only program on it at the time that made use of the mouse.

I do remember very fondly spending time with my friend Jeremy on my second or third computer making DOS boot disks. We would remove things from config.sys and autoinit.bat, by trial and error trying to figure how we could remove enought stuff to free up the memory to play the newest game we'd spent our allowances on. That must have been circa 1990.

I also remember fondly writing my first "program". It was in BASIC on my TI-82 graphing calculator... the very first (beyond "Hello World") one did something vaguely useful like solving right triangles for my geometry class. Next from there was to write "Pong", followed a few months later by "Tetris". Those were the good old days...

Re:First computers. (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38094420)

Mine was my dad's IBM PCjr, complete with tandy 3voice audio, highly modified EGA graphics, ugly chicklet keyboard, and a totally nonstandard hardware IRQ layout. Dad splurged on getting the Racore Rapport disk drive and DMA controller upgrade, which pumped the system RAM from 256k to 512k. This also added backed up real time clock, and a few other goodies.

It ran IBM DOS 2.1

Spent quite a bit of time playing Kings Quest 1, and banging out silliness on the built in bios BASIC interpreter. Dad insisted the computer was for work, and didnt like us kids using it, so my experiences with it are mostly nostalgic in the sense that it was like a forbidden fruit.

That computer lived an inordinate amount of time, and my folks refused to get a new one, so the next computer I got my hands on was an AST Advantage 486, with 4mb of RAM. It had a CDRom, and ran windows 3.11. It was about this time that I truly cut teeth on computers, and learned to be a computer repair guy then in the early 90s. The internet was just coming on the scene as a consumer service. I took apart that AST several times, much to my parents dismay, and pushed it as far as it could go upgrade wise. Ended up with 16mb of RAM and windows 95B on it before it met its end. Toward the end of its life, I learned of BBS services, and had lots of fun on local DOORS based systems in my area. Spent quite a bit of time playing LoRD, and pulling shareware disk images.

After that, I was old enough to start buying my own equipment, and built several personal computers for myself, and several garage sale specials.

As for technologies that I wish I had access to as a young brat, I would have to say it would be USB and high end GPUs. I dont know how much trouble I had getting external peripherals and printers to share an LPT port back in the day. (I still miss that logitech pagescan color LPT based scanner btw. That thing had unlimited length scanning, and was detachable, and self propelled. Was GREAT for scanning hardwood floors and fabric for artwork samples. They made a SCSI version, but logitech refused to make drivers beyond 95 OSR2.)

Most of my experiences with computers actually come from working on them as a technician in the 90s boom times. I worked on everything from professional voicemail systems to high end gaming rigs. (And more than my fair share of PackardBell POS systems with factory disabled cache memory....)

It was around that time (96ish) that I was introduced to Newsgroups. Things were already going downhill in that community, as the AOL kids were in full bloom demanding shitty webcam gifs of people's tits.

About the only kind of system I did not work on in that period was the Amiga series systems. Very few people in my area had amiga hardware, and nobody brought anything like that in. Lots of classic Macs in every possible flavor though, including an old apple IIgs running mac prodos.

I tried to get acquainted with Linux around that time, but all the distros I tried had X servers that ran like they had concrete enemas, had abysmally poor driver support for very common hardware, and were very much crippled when it came to commercial software.

After the bubble burst, I quickly burned out, and just used computers as tools and mild entertainment.

Amazing (1)

mmontuori (2508452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091386)

It's amazing how far we have come with computers...
http://www.montuori.net/ [montuori.net]

Why does Mike Lynch... (1)

ksd1337 (1029386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091422)

look like John Carroll Lynch? [imdb.com] A relation, perhaps?

Re:Why does Mike Lynch... (1)

ddd0004 (1984672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091960)

A better question is why does Hermann Hauser look like an aging Fred from Scooby Doo and has Michael Dell been pumping iron or is that a cybernetic body?

I don't understand . . . . . (4, Insightful)

bogidu (300637) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091426)

Most of them wished they had the internet when they were growing up. Granted, I'm about a generation behind most of them and got my first internet access account when I was 23, however I have to admit that over the last 10 years the 'potential' of the internet has pretty much turned to crap thanks to a) ISP Corporatism b) government meddling & c) the mistaken belief by so MANY groups that it is something that needs to be "CONTROLLED".

Personally i'm starting to take the pov that anything that has occurred on the internet could have eventually happened with 'near-line' or 'on-line' bbs's. I mean honestly, has http actually made things BETTER, or just more accessible by the masses?

Re:I don't understand . . . . . (3, Interesting)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091748)

That's because a crappy restrictive Internet is still a hell of a lot better then no Internet.

Also, you're talking about the "potential" of the Internet, the forecasted outlook of where it's going. It isn't looking stellar with the reduced competition among ISPs and politicians trying to restrict it. Back in the 90's, the Internet was a mystical land that was going to revolutionize everything. Lots of potential.

And it happened. It DID revolutionize how we do... quite a lot of things. And right now, in it's current state, it's pretty awesome. A vast swath of the Internets potential has been realized. Welcome to the future.

Finally, being more accessible by the masses IS BETTER. That bar has constantly been lowered. Facebook and all didn't do anything you couldn't have done with a bit of code and a personal website (and/or BBS), but it made it easier. And it's a good thing. Or do you want to have to string together an array of shoe-boxes with marbles?

Re:I don't understand . . . . . (1)

iiiears (987462) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093492)

telnet telehack.com /jfk

Nobody will ever need (1)

drainbramage (588291) | more than 2 years ago | (#38098454)

more than 64k marbles.

Re:I don't understand . . . . . (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103998)

Also your last sentence confuses the Internet with the Web (which is built out of http). The Internet is bigger and more inclusive than just http traffic.

Re:I don't understand . . . . . (1)

bogidu (300637) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106900)

not to 95% of the people using it.

Re:I don't understand . . . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38110074)

"More accessible to the masses" is exactly what HAS made it better. In the old days, sure you could find lots of information on geeky topics, but only some information on mainstream topics if a few geeks happened to take an interest and virtually no information on obscure but non-geeky topics. Now you can find a wealth of information on virtually every topic.

You were late to the Internet party, so you have no frame of reference.

Wang 3300 Basic (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091434)

Wang 3300 Basic Ready>

Matrix (4, Interesting)

kytreb (2508498) | more than 2 years ago | (#38091770)

I was at the end of 8th grade when the Matrix came out. I was fascinated at that point. I actually had a minidisc player as tried like hell to get it to work as a regular disc drive. I started listening to industrial electronic music. I deleted windows from my computer and figured out how to get linux running. I started reading books on C++. I subscribed to 2600. FREE KEVIN. Throughout high school I was obsessed be programming. I kind of got out of it after my first year as a computer science major in college. After having spend the majority of my past 5 years in front of a computer screen I decided it was enough and got into economics. As dorky as it is to say, The Matrix had a huge impact on my youth. I'm still interested in tech. It is still a hobby (I am commenting on /. after-all). But the days spent with Mountain Dew, my face in a thick programming book and the glow of the CRT while listening to God Speed You Black Emperor at 3am are gone...

Re:Matrix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38094248)

Whoa. Deja Vu.

Re:Matrix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38096616)

Funny. I was the same except for the details. My movie was Star Wars, the music, Madonna. The dring, classic Coca-Cola. So, to sume it up: it was not the Matrix, just your age.

SAGE not in Dr. Strangelove (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38092218)

The Sage system was not shown in "Dr. Strangelove", but several of its components are prominently featured in the TV series "The Time Tunnel", between two rows of Burroughs tape drives.

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38092780)

Hermann Hauser is a giant compared to the others. The only European to create 5 (or is it 6) billion dollar companies (in any industry). And of course one of the founders of ARM.

And they interviewed Stallman in the same article? Jeez. Nothing but contempt for that man. He cares about his notion of freedom at the expense of everything else. I wonder when he buys his clothes, food, or travel if he actually understands "value". He is just the same as the arch libertarians that know the price of everything but have no notion of value and thus live a life that is lesser than those of use that do not charge money for every activity we participate in.

Stephen Elop - VAX 11/780 (1)

UnoriginalBoringNick (1562311) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093182)

I never thought I would have anything in common with Stephen Elop but I have to agree that one of my most formative experiences was learning the EDT editor on a VAX. I already knew the PET, the Apple ][ , the BBC Micro, the HP-85 but that editor just made developing a pleasure. On that machine I graduated from the various flavours of Basic and assembly to Pascal (because the manuals for DEC Pascal were lying around) and then someone showed me a copy of K&R and that changed my life.

In a way the things that got me into my chosen career weren't just the technology but the books. First "Illustrating Basic" by Douglas Alcock, Then the 6502 programming manual by Rodney Zaks, and later as already mentioned - K&R.

While I'm reminiscing, around the time I was besotted with the EDT editor on VAX I once noticed a Porsche driving through Manchester with the registration number A780VAX and I talked about it to anyone who would listen for weeks afterwards

my experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38098898)

I know no one really cares but it's kind of funny so I'm posting anyway.
In the early 80's my parents bought a ti-99/4a computer which my siblings, my mom, and I used to play games on (I remember hours of Pirate Adventure and Tunnels of Doom)
but one Saturday morning I forgot to plug a game cartridge in and when I turned in on the only option available was 1) TI Basic
So I thought... okay, let's see what this is all about then.
I was hooked.
Around Christmas time my mom sat with a magazine to order games for the computer and asked me to circle ones I might want for Christmas
she was shocked that the only one I asked for was "TI Extended Basic"

Luxury! (1)

shikaisi (1816846) | more than 2 years ago | (#38100082)

Highlight's include ... Acorn co-founder Hauser building an eight bit computer out of marbles and a shoebox

Cardboard box?

Hauser: Aye.

You were lucky! We had to build our four-bit computer out of bits of gravel in a paper bag at the bottom of a septic tank.

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