View Full Version : Happy birthday PC

12th Aug 2006, 21:13

Today it's 25 years ago that IBM introduced the PC. Only 25 year. It seems like ages ago...

Without this we wouldn't be here :ok:

My first PC was an Apple Macintosh 512K with 64KB ROM and 512KB memory.

Talking about memory, I heard that the memory of the landing computer of one of the first space ships was 4KB...


12th Aug 2006, 21:34
It's approx 30 years ago that I bought and soldered together my first computer.

It had an amazing 0.25K RAM, a 2 digit hex display and had to be programmed in machine code.

I subsequently upgraded it to 4K RAM (more soldering!) and it ran 'Tiny BASIC'.

Spent about 350 and a lot of hours on that stupid thing.

12th Aug 2006, 21:35
Had one of those IBM PC thingies at work in 1982. Spent AGES doing things with Lotus 123.

12th Aug 2006, 21:38
My first was a Sinclair Spectrum, I still think it turned out some good games - its flight sim was super, if basic!

12th Aug 2006, 21:42
Remember when we had a BBC-B at school. They went back to have extra memory installed, and they had to cut the case and the chip stuck out!

Have still got my old ZX spectrum, unfortunately a few weeks ago one of the keyboard circuits went. Such a fun little machine to play around with!

Then there was the Sinclair 64, and it's big brother the +4!

We were really cutting edge, we even had a floppy disc drive for ours, but I still remember the whir whir squeeeeeak of the tape drives!

Aaaah, such happy times!

Edit, that should read Commodore 64 and Commodore +4 of course!

Loose rivets
12th Aug 2006, 23:03
One "beep"ed in the entire ‘Air on a g string' Hee hee. Twas a labor of love.

Computers took over my life for a few years, so allow me a ramble down memory lane.

A pal who worked for a big company that painted things blue, had a yearly allowance of kit at very low prices. I had his XT ‘luggable'. 512k I upgraded to 640 with one of the first clone bits coming into the UK.

The built-in little amber screen was okay for text, but I became fascinated by the ability to draw lines. It may have been the reason I later started a CAD company.

Some time later, I happened across a wheeler-dealer that introduced me to several dealers of the afore-mentioned multinational. They were being pressured to buy more and more kit if they were to remain as dealers. Batches of XTs and ATs were available, and after talks with the local CID, I plucked up courage and went to the bank for cash. I mean cash...and a lot of it. One was very nervous. Remember, an XT cost around £3,000, when that was a years wage for some.

All the kit turned up in the dead of night, in the trunks of Jags and Mercedes etc. I had 20 at a time all clicking away on test round the room. All okay, so gave the bloke the cash. Now all I had to do was sell them.

[It is noteworthy, that at that time in the early 80s, there were only 3, yes three, computers reported stolen in the whole of the UK.]

After advertising in the Exchange and Mart, they were going like hot cakes, then a call from big blue. ‘You can't do this ....and that ....and the other.' I was not one to cower from some bloke--just because he was a lawyer from the biggest company in the world. Bollix to him one thought, but I stayed civil, and put forward the argument that I was selling as ‘unused' not new. And, if there was no secondhand market, the new market would soon dry up. To my surprise, the lawyer agreed.

Shortly after Prompt Computing was born...soon to become Ltd. It was the only Prompt Computing in the World as far as we could find out, but of course the DOS prompt and being prompt was too good to miss, so within a few years there were several of that name. [No registrar of business names by then] When I started a company branch in Austin, there was not one listed with major suppliers in the whole of the US. That really surprised me, so, PromptCAD USA was borne.

With disastrous mistakes like the XTA and all sorts of hot wiring on customer's new kit, IBM had sort of lost its way. Guy Kewney sp? ‘Surely, some mistake.' one month in the big mag. Various other big names were producing poor copies, so I started looking for high grade parts for my own brand.

PS2 was a worry, a good bus with a supreme OS...but it bombed, the clones were just too good at half the price or less. Also, dealers were just not up to tackling the OS, it soaked up too much of their time.

Before long I was selling a full tower 386 for £2,000 and the 21" screen was £2,600 extra. If I fitted a full height Imprimus Wren Sp? drive, I added a thousand more. LOL it gave them an upgrade from 42Mb to a fantastic 150Mb.

With a pen-plotter and AutoCAD I could get a good work-station out for £15,000-20,000. Remember, most folk had only seen a 12" amber or green screen then. 21" colour sold the system. Oh, yeah...get this....the maths co-processor chip for the 386 from IBM was £1,760 retail. My price, £365...I just could not loose, especially when you remember that the HP mini was one of the main CAD system cores then...and it was £150,000 ish.

To this day I don't say too much about why my systems were so quick, I've mentioned before that a bloke at Comdex in Las Vegas drew a crowd saying his 386 with a peltier -effect ice-cap-- when clocked to 50mhz, was the fastest machine in the world. Nope...mine beat his...But, if I set a 386 to ‘Remove hidden lines' form the famous AutoCAD picture of St Pauls, I could take my clients out to lunch and then come back and wait half and hour for the process to finish. At about this time Cambridge Computer graphics developed a graphics card that would take over the regeneration process in AutoCAD. It was a world winner, and really emulated a vastly more powerful machine. EDIT: I think that this double card was retailing at about £9,500, but whatever, it was worth it.

The next bit is a sad storey, but soooo representative of many British efforts.

I took a sample card to Austin and went to a major competitors offices. ‘Can you make this in the US under licence.?" Their boffins sat round a computer and put the card to the test. Without a word, our man stands up and leaves the room. In a few minuets he returns with the boss and some other blokes. They run the test again.

"You're kidding me, right!!!???? You're flashing a light behind the screen!!!" They had never seen anything like it, except that, the boss finally tells me that he started the company because of what he saw CCG do in Brighton UK some time before. This was an order of magnitude faster. Then came the phone call.

I was in my home in Austin, and the phone rang. It was CCG. "Have you got one of our cards?"

"Yes, So and So knows all about it, ask him."
"He's no longer with us."

Now this was odd, cos he was the boss. I got a very familiar sinking feeling.

I had been with so many airlines that had gone broke, I knew the tone of voice. I told them I would bring the card on my next trip home. By the time I got back, it was all over. CCG had folded.

12th Aug 2006, 23:24
Great story, Loose rivets :)

First computer I had my hands on was the Tandy Model 4, remember programming thusly:

10 For x=1 to 100 goto 20
30 etc ad infinitum goto40
40 ......

Then saving the whole thing on cassette tape at something like 1500 baud...:ok:


Must have been 1983 or 4, wow how things have changed :8