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Technologic

7 January 2013

Recently, I was documenting a support dialog in a program (I know, fascinating stuff). There was a field for the export path, and the default option was “A:” — which got me thinking that there are probably several people who’ve used this program for years without knowing what the A: drive was.

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I not only remember the A: drive — the 3.5″ floppy — but I remember having tons of disks for the B: drive. Those disks, 5.25″ square, held an amazing 360 KB of data. Or about 1/10th of an MP3.

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The first time we had a PC in our home was 1991. It was a Packard Bell Legend 416 SX (sadly, I remembered this without having to look it up) and it had a huge 85 MB hard drive. While doing some research on the machine today, I find that the general memories of the online community are not favorable where that particular PC is concerned. But to me, at the time I had it, it was amazing.

Not for any real, productive reason — it just allowed me to play video games like Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe and, regrettably, Targhan.

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That screenshot above is how I remember 95% of that game — walking around a forest, holding a sword (but not doing anything with the sword). Also, I kind of sucked at the game.

But sword-owning simulators aside, that old computer was extremely important to my development. It introduced me to the idea of the technologies that I would spend the rest of my life using on a daily basis, and sparked an interest in science and tech.

Also, Bard’s Tale was pretty sweet.

What was your first computer, folks? What was the thing that sparked your interest in technology, in machines, in the future?

Please tell me it wasn’t Targhan.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. 7 January 2013 0946

    The Sinclair ZX81 was the first computer ever in our house. (A friend down the street had an Apple II and was the envy of the neighborhood…although I had cred for owning a Colecovision) Our first “real” computer was the IBM PC Jr.

    The thing that sparked my interest in it all was my step grandfather, Pop. In second grade (maybe third grade) I got chicken pox and was sent to stay with my grandmother in Chicago. Pop watched Star Trek reruns, and I got to climb up in the recliner with him and watch. He gave me an old calculator at the time, and there was something about pushing buttons and seeing red, digital numbers in the display that I loved.

    • 7 January 2013 1100

      I remember using an Apple IIC in elementary school in Colorado. They taught us LOGO… and nothing. That was it. Just LOGO. Apparently, that was all we needed to survive in the future.

  2. 7 January 2013 1003

    “Trash-80″ baby! Radio Shack was cutting edge (back in the day; ’86 or ’87). 256k RAM, NO hard drive, one 5 1/2″ disk drive, 13” monochrome monitor.

    • 7 January 2013 1101

      Was it the awesome green-on-black monitor, or the less-cool bluish-white-on-black?

  3. 7 January 2013 1057

    I still have the SWOTL code wheel and disks. Remember copying all that from Paul? Dammit, now I have to go download a SWOTL emulator.

    • 7 January 2013 1102

      I had completely forgotten about the code wheel! I do remember the copying… that’s also how we got all the Bard’s Tale games. I believe Jye copied them for us.

  4. ellen permalink
    8 January 2013 0031

    My younger brothers had one back in maybe 83 or 84 I thought it a worthless mess. I was all grown up and visited home and remember you had to write code to make it even do anything. Pages and pages of code and if you got one thing wrong the stupid machine did nothing- just blinked.
    I want to say it was a Commodore and they loved the silly thing . Boys being bartering fools they probably traded a bike or something for it.

  5. 8 January 2013 0852

    My 1st computer was a Turbo x86 (with 2 5 1/4 floppies).

    I still remember one of my jobs where I had to use a VAX PDP-11 with an 8″ floppy to install software on it (Pre internet days).

  6. 8 January 2013 0854

    Does anyone remember the Atari 400/800 computers (with their membrane keyboard) ? And Commodore 64 ? BAH ! Vic-20 ruled (for a little while) !

    Or the TI Sinclair.

    My bro had a TRS-80 Model 2 (with one bit of bad memory) that would cause a program I’d typed in to die after it ran for a while (and hit the bad ram).

  7. Barry permalink
    15 July 2017 1422

    My first computer was, like you, a Packard Bell Legend 416 SX. Mine was configured slightly different than yours initially (130 MB hard drive, 25 MHz 386SX, maybe 4 MB of RAM). One day when after attempting to play some spy game (I forgot the title) I had to reboot back into Windows. Unfortunately there was some odd issue where HIMEM.SYS had a gate A20 error which never happened before prior to me playing that game. Since I didn’t know any better at the time I told my dad about it and he was forced to attempt to fix the problem. His solution was to frustratingly reinstall Windows and DOS. Due to how frustrated this problem was for my dad I decided to get into troubleshooting the computer myself so he wouldn’t have to. It spiraled out of control from there.

    I later found out all I needed to do to fix that gate A20 error was to power-cycle the computer. Never told my dad about that.

    One day while playing Skunny Cart the keyboard stopped responding. After attempting a cold boot we got a keyboard error. The local computer shop diagnosed it down to a failed keyboard controller. They had to order a whole new motherboard. In the process of that they downgraded us to 16 MHz but added 1 MB of extra RAM (yay?). My dad paid way too much to get that fixed but at the time had no other choice and didn’t know any better either. Pretty sure that business doesn’t exist anymore.

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