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What Was Your First Computer?

commodore-vic20

Yes, this is a football blog. And no, this post isn’t very football-related, but it’s something that we all have in common. We’ve all, at one time or another, used a computer to surf the Internet and visit EPL Talk. So I thought it’d be interesting to hear from you, the readers, what your first computer was so we can get a better idea of how far we’ve all come.

The idea for the story came up after I had a conversation on Twitter the other night with EPL Talk reader Azbats. I noticed he had an avatar that sported an image from an old Commodore Amiga bouncing ball demo. And the conversation developed from there.

For me, my first personal computer was a Commodore Vic 20 which I got for a Christmas present either in 1981 or 1982. The reason I ended up getting a Vic 20 instead of a Sinclair ZX81 or BBC Micro was because I was pretty comfortable with the Commodore PET computer which I had used in school in my computer science class.

Some of my earliest memories of using the Commodore Vic 20 were learning to program in BASIC, playing music with the impressive (at the time) built-in sound effects, and laboriously typing in tedious computer programs which were printed in magazines but finding out that nine times out of ten they didn’t work because I had typed one character incorrectly. And trying to find that erroneous character was like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

I don’t remember having many computer games, but I do remember owning Football Manager which seemed to take forever to load on the cassette tape player as the psychedelic colors flashed on the screen while it loaded. I had the pleasure of interviewing the creator of Football Manager, Kevin Toms, a few years ago for the EPL Talk Podcast (you can hear that interview here).

After I moved to the US in 1984, I got a Commodore 64 from my local K-Mart store and spent hundreds of hours using that to play football games, run several bulletin board systems (BBS) and to get up to all sorts of trouble.

What was your first computer? Click the comments link below and share your story. I look forward to hearing from you.

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. IdoSEO

    October 22, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    My first computer is NEO products assembled in Malaysia. It was and old one and helps me a lot in some projects and business. I do lot of things and i need it to help me make my work faster.

  2. Brian Chicago

    October 22, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    My first computer was the IBM pc jr. Also had the black cauldron game to play on it!

  3. LI Matt

    October 22, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    For me, my first personal computer was a Commodore Vic 20 …. The reason I ended up getting a Vic 20 … was because I was pretty comfortable with the Commodore PET computer which I had used in school ….

    That’s my story, exactly.

    As an adult, the first computer I bought for myself was a “backroom special” from a local store. 486DX2-66, 8MB RAM, 340MB HD, Windows 3.1. I still have it, it’s been sitting in the closet for years.

    • The Gaffer

      October 22, 2009 at 5:27 pm

      LI Matt, sounds like a very similar PC that I got. Although I don’t remember the specific details about it other than it ran Windows 3.1, cost me about $3,000 and I got it from CompUSA.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

    • ovalball

      October 22, 2009 at 7:02 pm

      My son still has the Amiga. I believe he’s thinking about bronzing it.

  4. Gaz

    October 22, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Hah! BBS – I haven’t heard that term in ages. Did you run one, Gaffer? Or just frequent them?

    I had an old 286 PC (I think it had 2 meg of ram) that I used to dial up (9600 baud – considered super fast as the time) to any and every BBS I could find.

    • The Gaffer

      October 22, 2009 at 3:27 pm

      I used to run one, which is I guess like running a website before there was the Internet. One was called The Hobbit, but the more popular one was called Sputnik.

      I started off at 300 baud, then 1200, then 2400, 9600 and so on.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  5. Jeff C.

    October 22, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    My family’s first computer was an Apple IIc, but it was purchased while I was in college and I didn’t use it much except on vacations (I remember playing endless rounds of an Indiana Jones game on it, though). My own first computer was a “Fat Mac,” the Macintosh 512K, which I bought in the fall of 1985.

  6. CA_backpacker

    October 22, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    I came a bit late to the party, I got my first computer in 1990 before going off to graduate school, a x386 PC with a whopping 40MB harddrive, big for the time. I don’t know how I survived in college with nothing but a typewriter.

  7. Matt Booher

    October 22, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    @ Dave Trotter – me 2! Another visitor…stay awhile. stay forever! Also have to say that Micro League Baseball and Super Bowl Sunday were big hits for me.

  8. Gary

    October 22, 2009 at 11:59 am

    My first computer was a Tandy TRS-80 MC-10. It featured a whopping 4kB of RAM, cassette tape interface, and had an RS-232 port for the TP-10 thermal printer (sold separately).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRS-80_MC-10

    • The Gaffer

      October 22, 2009 at 1:16 pm

      Gary, I remember using a TRS-80 when I began high school here in America. It was a good computer, but I hated the bloody noise that the keyboard made!

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  9. ovalball

    October 22, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Oh, man. First the Vic 20, then the C64, then the Amiga and on and on!

    I was so taken with Commodore I actually applied for an educational consultant position with them (I had been teaching for about 20 years at that point). Thankfully they ignored my outrageous salary request and I eventually finished my teaching career—as a middle school Computer Skills instructor—first using Apple II’s and then PC’s.

    Great post, Gaffer.

    • The Gaffer

      October 22, 2009 at 1:14 pm

      I’m definitely a fan of Commodore, but after reading the book about the company, I was shocked at how half-assed everything was done and I’m not surprised they didn’t accept your outrageous salary request. Check it out if you’re interested in the Commodore history and what it was like working at the computer at http://www.variantpress.com/books/on-the-edge

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  10. David Allison

    October 22, 2009 at 10:22 am

    A quick screenshot of the aforementioned game:

    http://www.stairwaytohell.com/electron/scr/SuperiorSoccer.gif

  11. Leon

    October 22, 2009 at 10:19 am

    First computer was a Coleco Adam, which ran on casette tapes. That was the good old days

  12. David Allison

    October 22, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Gaffer, I hear you on the erroneous BASIC coding! I my first computer was an Acorn Electron and then a BBC Master, and the latter had me creating simple programs in BASIC and keying in pages of code only to run into the same problems that you mention. The BBC computer was where I experienced football gaming for the first time, purchasing Superior Soccer as part of a 4-game pack in Superior Software’s ‘Play It Again Sam’ series; the other three games being Predator, Ballistix and Star Port.

  13. LS

    October 22, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Great topic, even if it is not exactly football-related !

    All my early computer experience was at school. I would work quick so that I could spend time programming on the Apple II though I did spend some time with the Vic 20 and IBM PCs as well. The first machine I actually owned was an Amiga 500.

    I can totally relate to your experience of re-keying programs that were printed in a magazine. For me, it was Nibble (http://www.nibblemagazine.net/) for the Apple II or Byte (http://www.byte.com/) for IBM PC code. That was my introduction to self-learning programming techniques and it’s helped me a lot in my career despite having more formal education in programming and hardware.

  14. Dave Trotter

    October 22, 2009 at 10:00 am

    My first real computer was the Commodore 64. I loved that thing! I miss it too!

    My favorite game on there was Impossible Mission.

    God I wish it was 1983 again!

  15. Patrick

    October 22, 2009 at 8:22 am

    When I was a little kid I talked my parents, who where strongly against video games, into buying me an intellivision cause it promised that it would also be a home computer. The computer part never happened, but I did become a pitfall hero.

    My first real computer was a Mac Classic. Then a Mac SE. The a Quadra 640. Then a powermac 7100. Then, the G4 Quicksilver, and them the pismo powerbook, and the the ti powerbook, Then a macbook pro.

    I only have ever had one job that required the use of a windows based pc. and that was only for a year. So I’m all mac all the time. My present company has 2000 employees and is 75% mac.

    I now have a lenovo netbook ( w/Ubuntu), mac air, a macbook pro and a mac mini as my server, music station, DVR and stream station hooked up to my TV. I now want that 27″ iMac for my office.

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