Dougloid
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What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Mon Jul 02, 2007 12:35 am

This deserves its own thread.

Back when I was a little tyke, Armed Forces Day (May 14, I believe) was a pretty big deal. My mom and her cousin would down tools, load the kids in the cousin's 1956 Chevrolet, and head off to Raritan Arsenal. There we'd get to see all the toys, they'd ride us around in the DUKWs (amphibious trucks) and we'd tour the exhibits in some of the buildings.

Anyway, with my mom as chaperone (this would have been, say 1957 or 1958) we strolled along, and I got to put the phones of the mine detector to my ears and inside on building was a very large piece of electronic gear that you couldn't actually touch because there was one of those velvet ropes like they have in theaters to separate the crowds. There was a guy there and he'd hand every kid a strip of paper tape about an inch wide with domino holes punched in it.

Apparently this was a gunnery trajectory computer of some type and the paper tapes were what it was programmed with.

So I've got to say the first computer I actually saw was in the latter half of the 1950s.
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
JGPH1A
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Mon Jul 02, 2007 12:42 am

Probably the old clackety cast-iron BEACON and BOADICEA DCS terminals at LHR in the seventies, when I was still at prep school. BEACON was the first fully automated check-in system in the world IIRC.
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N231YE
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Mon Jul 02, 2007 12:51 am

My grandmother used to work for the payroll department of an explosives company (Austin Powder, Inc.). Anyways, I remember going to work with her when I was just a toddler, ~2-3 years old. The computers took up an entire, air-conditioned room, with a screen at her desk. She used to have to do something with large reels of magnetic tape, but I don't remember what.
 
searpqx
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Mon Jul 02, 2007 4:30 am

The first one I saw in person was the old State of Alaska system. I used it to do research active bills in the legislature, though I know it did more. Immediately following that was an Alaska Airline's res terminal, in the first travel agency I worked in. Alaska called its system ALICE, but in reality it was just a partition in CCS. Finally I took a programming class in my Junior year in HS, on a Radio-Shack TRS-80, with my very own cassette drive! Big grin All of this occured between about 1978 & 1980.
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AeroWesty
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Mon Jul 02, 2007 5:39 am

Other than a slave terminal somewhere along the line, the first living breathing computer I saw was the one we used in a basic programming class I took during my freshman year at Cal in 1976. It was a beastly thing with an array of terminals for classes to use, and to get a passing grade in the class you had to write a program that actually did something. I did one that balanced my checkbook.

A couple of years later, the law firm I was working for plucked me from obscurity and put me in charge of their $100,000 billing computer. "Well you've seen a computer before", was the excuse. It had 44MB drives the size of large pizzas, and to back up the data, you had to remove the top disks in each drawer (called "platters"), and copy data from the fixed platters onto a backup, then copy the data from the removables over the fixed, back those up, then restore the data from the backups to the fixed. One error in the flow, and you were screwed, which is why we always kept a double set of backups. IIRC, the platters were named dp0, dp0f, dp1 and dp1f ("f" for the fixed platters in each drawer).
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MD11Engineer
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Mon Jul 02, 2007 5:56 am

On pictures an IBM 360.
The first one I actually laid my hands on was a rackmounted HP unit with a punch tape drive and a teletype as a terminal. Later I fooled around with a VAX 2000 and also another rackmounted HP unit (I still have one of the huge (1 foot diameter) replaceable harddisks beside my desk). I also fooled around with a PDP 7 and a PDP 11.
The first small computer we had in our school (affordable for a teacher) was a Sinclair ZX-81, the one with the foil keyboard and a cassette tape recorder for storage, later an Apple 2e. Later my brother and myself saved about 6 months worth of pocket money, plus all money we got for birthday and christmas gifts from our relatives and bought a Commodore VC-20 (I still have this one in my barn). I was about 14 at this time, so it must have been around 1981.

Jan  old 
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Dougloid
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Mon Jul 02, 2007 7:26 am

My law school had a Digital VAX when I first started there in 1993 and it was used as a card catalog for a number of years thereafter. I betcha they would make a fellow a deal on it.
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
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LTU932
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Mon Jul 02, 2007 7:44 am

I'm not sure. It was either one of those old Unisys systems that were used by bank tellers in the late 1980's or it was probably one of those first ATM machines I ever saw.
 
N174UA
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Mon Jul 02, 2007 7:58 am

Apple IIc in 1983, when I was in 5th grade.
 
ThePRGuy
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Mon Jul 02, 2007 8:31 am

One of the classic BBC computers I believe...but it was well outdated by then. Other than that an Atari Midi machine and various Apples. (Lisa - dang i wish we had hung onto that, II, IIc, IIci etc)

Alex
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halls120
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Mon Jul 02, 2007 8:37 am

First computer I ever saw as an IBM 1620 that our high school used for class scheduling.

Worked on one, and on an IBM 360 in college.

Gotta love those punch cards.
"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." Mark Twain, a Biography
 
vaporlock
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Mon Jul 02, 2007 10:23 am

Well for me it was the AES90......then Micom.....they were the first that I ever saw with screens.

Phyllis  bouncy 
 
DeskPilot
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Mon Jul 02, 2007 11:22 am

A Digital box (can't remember model number) at the local Tech school, in 1980. One card reader, one printer.
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sprout5199
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Mon Jul 02, 2007 11:39 am

Early 1970's. My dad worked for ATT(bellsouth) and he took me into the switching station. One of the first ESS in the state. 12 inch floppys, even had a game or two that we played. I think it was a Bell Labs or Western Electric one.


Dan in Jupiter
 
vaporlock
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Tue Jul 03, 2007 2:19 pm

Quoting Sprout5199 (Reply 13):
12 inch floppys

Wow, that's the size of the floppys were that I first used... I still have some and they are huge!!! Not to mention that they only held about 50 pages...haha The computer only had one drive and in order to copy something you had to open it on the screen...remove the disk, put a new one in and save it. You had to do that for every page you wanted to copy onto another disk.

Phyllis  bouncy 
 
keesje
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Tue Jul 03, 2007 10:19 pm

Late seventies IBM portable. Later came the Tandy's, Spectrums, Ataris, Philips' and Commodore's
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Dougloid
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Tue Jul 03, 2007 10:26 pm

Quoting Keesje (Reply 15):
Commodore's

I've got a pal who has to be the first on the block to have any new gadget. I went with him and watched as he laid out $800 for a VIC20.....how times change.
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
andz
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Tue Jul 03, 2007 10:33 pm

First one I saw was this NCR machine at my first sales job in 1984


First one I ever actually used: Apple Lisa
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desertjets
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Tue Jul 03, 2007 10:49 pm

Well I am young enough that computers were already making their way into the classroom when I entered elementary school in the mid-80s. Any of the early computers that I saw or used (in the 1st grade, never saw or touched them in Kindergarten) was an Apple II Plus or IIe.
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Stealthz
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Tue Jul 03, 2007 10:49 pm

Quoting Keesje (Reply 15):
Late seventies IBM portable

Doubt it!
What you may have seen in the late seventies might have been--

Big version: Width: 577 Height: 261 File size: 30kb


or--

Big version: Width: 595 Height: 257 File size: 33kb


But if you insist it was an IBM PC Portable you would have to wait until 1984-

Big version: Width: 600 Height: 264 File size: 29kb


Cheers
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Superfly
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Tue Jul 03, 2007 11:07 pm

Quoting N231YE (Reply 2):
My grandmother used to work for the payroll department of an explosives company (Austin Powder, Inc.). Anyways, I remember going to work with her when I was just a toddler, ~2-3 years old. The computers took up an entire, air-conditioned room, with a screen at her desk. She used to have to do something with large reels of magnetic tape, but I don't remember what.

Sounds like your Grandmother used the same computers that O.J. Simpson used in the movie Towering Inferno.

Quoting Searpqx (Reply 3):
Finally I took a programming class in my Junior year in HS, on a Radio-Shack TRS-80, with my very own cassette drive!

Same here!
The Radio-Shack TRS-80 was the first one I used on a daily basis. The only thing was that I took this class in 1985-1986 school year. They were so outdated even by 1985.
Off topic; One of the most memorable yet horrifying experiences in that class was when we gathered around the TV to watch our teacher's friend (Christa McAuliffe) go up in the Space Shuttle and being in total shock and horror to see the disaster that followed.



Anyone remember those geeky T-shirts computer folks used to wear?
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N231YE
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Wed Jul 04, 2007 12:37 am

Quoting Superfly (Reply 20):
Sounds like your Grandmother used the same computers that O.J. Simpson used in the movie Towering Inferno.

I've never seen that movie...
 
airfoilsguy
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Wed Jul 04, 2007 12:57 am

http://gallery.hd.org/_exhibits/mechanoids/abacus-1-AJHD.jpg
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MD11Engineer
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Wed Jul 04, 2007 1:15 am

Quoting Superfly (Reply 20):
Quoting N231YE (Reply 2):
My grandmother used to work for the payroll department of an explosives company (Austin Powder, Inc.). Anyways, I remember going to work with her when I was just a toddler, ~2-3 years old. The computers took up an entire, air-conditioned room, with a screen at her desk. She used to have to do something with large reels of magnetic tape, but I don't remember what.

Sounds like your Grandmother used the same computers that O.J. Simpson used in the movie Towering Inferno.

Seems like the grandma was a computer operator, working on the mainframes. Mass storage were at first magnetic tapes or magnetic drums, later stacks of huge hard disks. RAM was either a bank of flip flops or a magnetic core memory (still used in some applications where the equipment is exposed to radiation, since, while being big, they are not as sensitive to it as computer chips).
the operator was responsible for the correct running of the machine, which then operated the programs of several users using time share.

Jan
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Superfly
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Wed Jul 04, 2007 1:49 am

Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 23):
Seems like the grandma was a computer operator, working on the mainframes. Mass storage were at first magnetic tapes or magnetic drums, later stacks of huge hard disks. RAM was either a bank of flip flops or a magnetic core memory (still used in some applications where the equipment is exposed to radiation, since, while being big, they are not as sensitive to it as computer chips).
the operator was responsible for the correct running of the machine, which then operated the programs of several users using time share.

Sounds like N231YE has a very smart Granny.  Smile
Bring back the Concorde
 
N231YE
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Wed Jul 04, 2007 8:47 am

Quoting Superfly (Reply 24):
Sounds like N231YE has a very smart Granny.

Except for the fact she drove a Buick Century  yuck , until recently.
 
Superfly
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Wed Jul 04, 2007 8:49 am

Quoting N231YE (Reply 25):
Except for the fact she drove a Buick Century , until recently.

That makes her a super smart Granny!
SuperGranny!  bigthumbsup 
Bring back the Concorde
 
N231YE
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Wed Jul 04, 2007 9:26 am

Quoting Superfly (Reply 26):
That makes her a super smart Granny!

Nice!
 
57AZ
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Wed Jul 04, 2007 1:33 pm

The first computer I saw was an abacus too. First computers that I remember were a Radio Shack (may have been the TRS-80) desktop and the Apple Lisa looks very familiar, though I think that the II was the standard once I encountered computers in school. BTW, that wouldn't have been until 5th grade.
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j_hallgren
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Wed Jul 04, 2007 3:59 pm

Not 100% sure, but I suspect it was a Burroughs mainframe at the junior college in 1974...unsure of model nbr (9500?), but it took a good sized room and ran terminals in 3 campuses...

The first one I worked on directly was in 1975 in the next room...an IBM System/3 Model 10 with 16K of core memory, a MFCU (multi-function card unit : reader/punch), a Selectric typewriter as console, two disk drives (one fixed, one removable), and a 300 line per minute printer...it used RPG as primary language, but had COBOL, Fortran and Assembler also...

I was in the Computer Science pgrm there for 2+ yrs, and got to know that S/3 really well! Like to the point that I wrote what could have been called a boot-sector virus for it...but that was just for fun...it just displayed a message on console when you booted it up, which you did almost everytime you wanted to test/run a program that you wrote, as who knew what state the system had been left in...but an IPL (boot) only took about 3 seconds as I recall...

My first job was on a S/3 Model 6 that had only 12K of memory, but it was sufficient to handle a local town government at in 1978...

The first "PC" that I used was a friend's 4KB IMSAI 8080 as shown in movie "War Games", and it used front panel switches to program it initially..

My first PC was a TRS-80 Model1, in 1979/80...I disassembled and commented the entire TRS-DOS operating system over a course of a couple of months, and used that knowledge to make patches/fixes that were published in club newsletters around the nation back then...
COBOL - Not a dead language yet!
 
baroque
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RE: What Was The First Computer You Ever Saw?

Wed Jul 04, 2007 5:46 pm

I SAW the valve machine at Sydney University, but actually got my hands on a 1620 about 1965 or 66. Top of the line it was, with 4 (four) tape drives to go with those nice punch cards. The best thing was watching a do loop and seeing the address register "perch" on the "if" statements while it thought what to do next. My program took about four hours to run so I had to start at about 11 pm. The punch card deck for input was close to a foot in height - and all had to be punched first. There was always a queue at the punch card machines.

Then the 360 which was quite nice, but then Univac and unfriendly computer centres instead of being able to run it yourself, until the IBM AT came along. Between the printer, the software and having a 20 meg HDD, my first AT was about $15,000 so paying only $3000 for an SX386 was quite a relief!

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