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It's been a wild ride

1979 freshly graduated with an electronics education, affordable computers just became available. At that time I bought a state of the art VIC-20, not exactly knowing what one possibly can do with a device like that. As it turned out,there was not too much you could do with it without having some sort of data storage device attached to it , to read in programs or to save programs. That was where the DATASETTE came into play.

A device that looked like an audio cassette tape, if you remember those days. The same kind of cassettes that later were used in Sony's legendary Walkman and of course home audio systems. As a data storage device it was very slow, but speed in the old days did not really matter so much. A "wow, that works !" had a lot more meaning than a minute sooner or later.

With the newly accquired VIc-20 and datasette new worlds could be discovered. 8 color graphics on a low resolution TV screen, but to make a square red and to move it acorss the scrren, well ....well that was magic.

By the way, the memory of that computer was only 20 kB ! So that was in 1979 or 1980. The onboard computer that brought the astronauts to the moon did not have much more memory either, whereby the Vic-20 had much more techinical advanced memory technology than the appollo moon technology.

Around the time that modems were invented, the ACCOUSTIC COUPLER was invented. A device to transform the high and low signal of the computer into audible sounds. that could have been trnasmitted via the phone line with the goal to connect to other computers.

The golden days of COMPUSERVE and DATEX-P20 in Europe started.
It was possible to download programs from other computers. At crawling speeds
compared to today's speeds, but at that time most programs were pretty small.
Sortly after the Commodore C64 hit the market. The design looked the same but
the VC64 had more memory. Here are some more details on that device

That was the best selling computer in history. 17 Million pieces sold. Unbelievable !

There was even a floppy drive available for the C64. A 5.25 inch soft disk to store data.Compared to the datasette speed, the floppy drive was lightning fast.

On the programming side of things, The commodore came with an integrated Basic Interpreter. A very rude top down Basic Interpreter. The other option was ofcourse was to program in assembler. As time went on I believe there were other programming languages available. I.E Pascal.

At that time the cpu speed was about 1 Mhz . The Z80 processor was having a
great time too. I bought a Sharp MZ-700 . It even had a plotter build in.

And along came the XT based on an 8080 chip. XT = Extended Technology.
That was a huge step in the right direction. Original manufactured by IBM,
cheaper clones became available soon. 4.77 MHZ cpu speed was a gigantic
step and the 640k of memory went a long way. That was around 1983.
DOS varients ruled the day and the game of finding drivers for printers
etc. was on. No plug and play yet. All required drivers had to be loaded.

At times address or/nd interrupt conflicts made a lot of trouble.
The first XTs even had a hard drive. 5 MB space ! ,but that was a lot at
that time and expesive.
And along came the AT. More speed, extended memory things looked great
!
The first versions of Windows came to market. 2.1 ,3.1 . Programming Windows
apps at that time , well you could loose your hair in no time.
Internet connectivity at that time was rare. Windows did not have an own
TCP/IPstack , Bill Gates stated that Internet never would make it into
the personal computer..Hmm .. I guess if you have enough money you
are allowed to be wrong.

Access to the internet at that time required that you install the trumpet winsock as a dialup connection.The Linux Operating System came around the corner and many things became more accessible.


Internet at that time was still in its childhood. No DNS (www.xxx.com) .
Sites had to be accesses via the IP address. Text browsers were the only
browsers and services like VERONICA, GOPHER were the daily tools.

The first graphical browser that could display images was Mosaic.
Ages before Microsofts IE came in sight. Netscape was also one of
the earlier browsers and welcomed by the users.


One of the oldest services on the internet was USENET and email of course.
Internet usage was metered by the hour and it took a while until flat rates
made its way into the market. The connection to the ISP was done via modem.
Speeds like 2.4k 4.8 well up to 56k at the later stages came around and
it was always an upgrading of technology. More and more devices such
as soundcards became available. Standard today, but no standard at
that time.

Windows versions came and went. 3.1, 95,98,XT ,Win 7, Win 8, Win 8.1 and
hey now we are at Win 10. Linux was not sleeping either and made it to
the top of the operating systems. Perhaps not in the home computing market but
certainly on the server side of things. Not to forget the pretty
apple computers and devices. Yes they came a long way too from Monalisa
to today's Macs.

The laptop development went from 8 kg to 800 grams.

My first LAPTOP was a SX-64. I can not recall the weight, but I am sure it was in the 8kg range.

I have seen the early days of the computer age and I would not wanted to miss a minute of it.
We sure came a long way since VIC-20 and I am sure in the year to come there will be new technologies born and conquer the market.

 

Cysecure vic-20
VIC-20 - The Legend that started it for most of us at that time


Datasette

The Datasette data storage device


Accoustic Coupler

Accoustic Coupler - Dial the number on the phone
wait for the data sound and put the handle into the
rubber holes of the device.


floppy 1541


The floppy disk for the Commodore. Disk
size 5.25 inches. The held slightly over 1MB of data

 

sharp Mz

Sharp MZ-700 optional build in color plotter. Z-80 CPU

xt computer
The IBM XT and compatibles

 

sx 64

Commodoe SX64 - my first LAPTOP

sz-64