October 16, 2011

Sharing Memories (Week 42) Your First Computer!

It's Week 42 of our Sharing Memories - A Genealogy Journey Please join us each Sunday as we share our memories of childhood. Your descendants will be thankful that you did! Share a memory here as a comment, or on your own blog, or in a private journal, but write! Leave a legacy for your children and grandchildren.

This week I have a fun topic - do you remember your first computer? It might have been a computer in an office or the first one you (or your parents) bought, but what is the very first one you can recall? I am really interested to see what others remember because it's going to be very different for all of us depending on our ages.
This is similar to the machine I used
I wish I had a photo of the first computer I ever saw. I was 19 years old and working for a huge company in Toronto Ontario Canada.

I was one of three assistants to the Chief Accountant for all of Canada and part of my job was to take care of payroll as a keypunch operator. I had to create and manage punch cards on an IBM punch machine.

I hated this part of my job but twice a week I had to walk to another building where all the tech toys were, and enter my little closet office where my keypunch machine sat.

In one room near my keypunch closet room was a large room full of various machines. One entire wall was a computer, much like the ones you see in this image on the right. Every unit had tape reels which seemed to run and whirr and whiz all day long. I loved it.

The guys running the computer and other machines thought it was cool that I was so intrigued and interested so they showed me how the machines worked and actually let me try them out (easy to do since my boss was in a separate building!)

I think that's when I fell in love with technology and computers! But it wasn't until I was in the 70s that I actually got to use the prototype for the first IBM home computer.  My brother-in-law had one in his home for testing purposes and he encouraged me to use it.

It was all DOS of course but he let me play an Adventure Game (text on DOS) by hooking me into an office in California. I played it all day and when he got home from work he almost fainted, because the entire time I was online it was via the telephone and long distance charges from Ontario Canada to California. Oh boy.... 

Tandy TRS-80
But I was hooked. So by the time home computers were widely available I was among the first to buy one. I actually went to Toronto to look at the first Apple computer but decided against buying it in favour of a Radio Shack Tandy TRS-80. What was I thinking?

It was huge. It was clunky. And it was loud with a printer hooked up to it.

© Bill Bertram 2006, CC-BY-2.5 — Attribution
But my next computer was one I loved - the Amiga 500. I think it was 1985 or 1987 when we bought this version. The whole family enjoyed it. My children played games which involved click and drag, and my husband and I made it "talk" by writing commands in DOS.

What a change from now! I've had so many computers since my first one that I honestly don't remember them all. I wish I did. I wish I had photos of them, what a historical archive of technology that would make!

What was your first computer and what do you remember best about any others you had or saw?


Voyager said...

My first computer was an Apple IIe. My father worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway in the Winnipeg Yard office and they had a computer that used the punch cards. He brought a few home,about 1950, to show me and explained how they worked. If he were alive today he would be very impressed with my new HP Desktop.
What does the future hold?

The Grandmother Here said...

I took a computer class at the University of Waterloo about 1970. We used punch cards. After we were married my husband got us a computer "for the children." Amber monitor. Sticky Bear Bop. Two of our sons are programmers now so maybe it was a wise investment.

Ann O'Driscoll said...

I was taught by omeone who originally used the punch cards. It's strange it is the same principles just presented differently and much much faster.

Patty said...

My first computer, and Apple II, was borrowed for the summer from the school system where I taught (1988.)
I remember conversing in real time on ancestry.com. via prodigy. I'd type in a question about my ancestor and someone on "the other side" would answer Immediately. Really cool!