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When did you become "a computer enthusiast" ?

GabeGabe Moderator Posts: 4,475
edited January 2017 in Off Topic
@cutterpunk said,

"I ran a WWIV BBS in the 90s, but as soon as I learned how to compile Slirp to emulate a PPP connection on my shell account, it was all Internet.  I still remember when AOL got their TCP/IP stack and ruined irc.  Ah, memories.  "

Why does that sound familiar?  I ran a Wildcat BBS, and I can't remember the name of the software, but I had to run a program that would allow me to run two instances of the BBS so I could have two lines available for callers.  It actually put two DOS windows on screen.  I think it was a Novell program.  Anyway, my BBS was called Friendz.  I specialized in online games like Legend of the Red Dragon (LORD), TradeWars 2002, ZWords, Wheel of Fortune, and others.  Then I got Internet, and was able to offer Usenet and email. That got some attention and I found myself giving lectures on how to set up a BBS with Internet.  I also was hired by a local businessman to teach him how to do it so he could set up Internet based systems for his clients.

I was not able to make the transition to the Web as I was really invested in Wildcat.  Loved that software.  A friend of mine also ran a BBS and once the web was established he started one of the first "web malls" where he would set up a "store front" for a fee.  I don't know how well he did at that over the long run, but for a while he was doing really well.  Tried to show me how to do it, but again, Wildcat was where my head was.

The company I worked for found out I could create web pages, so they had me set up the first web page for the West Coast Region of their national chain.  When I look back on it, I recall it was pretty clunky and poorly designed.  I have very little artistic talent, and it showed.  But I was quite proud that I was able to do it at all and the company was happy with it.  They even gave me an award and told all the Western Region employees that the web was the future and I was helping them lead the way!  Tell me that didn't go to my head.  Sorry, but it did.

Anyway, I could go on and on.  Actually, I already did.  LOL!  Those were "the good old days!"  1990 through 1998.  Funny enough it started with a car accident.  Someone rear-ended me on the freeway and the insurance awarded me $5k.  I used that money to buy new equipment and setup Friendz BBS.  Kind of a lucky break, although when the accident happened it didn't seem like it.
Post edited by Gabe on


  • Di-liteDi-lite Member Posts: 3,348
    Hi Gabe - have no idea what year but the 99 came out before the Spectrum which followed shortly afterwards.  I was hooked - learnt to program in basic.  Then my man bought me a BBC2 - well we circled round each other for a couple of months and then I learn to program in BBC basic (self taught).

    A year or so later I brought my first PC and again would switch it on - look at it and  switch it off.  Finally got brave and learnt to use it.  Found Design Works (GST) and started designing and creating files for special needs in word and pdf formats.  I've been at it now (designing things) for over thirty years - I'm almost getting good at it.  LOL  Me and my computer are friends although not the operating system that thinks it is in charge.  Not if I can help it but now Windows 10 is a whole new world and way out of my talents.  Never made money from it but have had a lot of fun.  I was born too late for the computer age - but I'm not beaten!!
    Have fun, Di, ID 14610
    UK, Cameo, Serif Draw, Win10.
    Link to My Craft Bazaar | Link to Skool | Force Bazaar - Archimedes
    Feel free to use anything in these links.
  • kb25t17kb25t17 Member Posts: 277
    edited January 2017
    I caught the bug pretty early on. I attended a PC computer fair in April of 1978 at the Seattle Pacific Science center. It was one of the first PC fairs in the country.

     I was using a Flat Bed Pen Plotter in the 1980s. It was an HP, an early version of the machines we are now using for pen drawing and for cutting. But I was not doing knife cutting with it, just colored marker work for graphic presentations such a pie charts for overhead transparency projectors.

    I purchased my own first PC  in 1983 when they ran a $99.00 special price after rebate event for the TI 99. 
  • GabeGabe Moderator Posts: 4,475
    edited January 2017
    @Di-lite, wow you made me recall my first computer, which was a Timex Sinclair ZX-1000, which I purchased in a drugstore in 1982.  Later I learned that Timex had teamed up with a UK company named Sinclair and created a ZX-81 for the US, but they called it a ZX-1000.  I loved that little computer, even though it had only 2k of ram and ran the video on a black and white TV.  The microwave style keyboard and tape recorder to save and load programs also were a thorn in the side.  But the reason I loved it so much is that it taught me to program in BASIC.  That little computer, that didn't even have a real keyboard, had the best syntax checker of any computer I've ever used.  When you made a mistake in your program it would highlight the error on the line, so you could easily see where you went off the rails.  I eventually upgraded it with a real keyboard, a disk drive and a 64k ram pack.  Big mistake.  Never sink $150 into a $30 computer!  When I tried to sell it, $40 was all I could get for it.  Now I wish I had kept it. 

    I seriously thought about getting a Spectrum 2068, but by then Atari and Commodore had released computers with a bigger form factor, so they were easier to type on.  I went with Atari, but missed out on the 400 and the 800 and it turned out the Atari 800XL was made and sold by Commodore when Atari went out of business.  Needless to say it was pretty bad, because Commodore wanted you to buy a C=64.

    My wife talks about eating food you don't like with "long teeth."  That's how I felt about the C=64.  Didn't want one but it was either that or a TRS-80 from Radio Shack.  I got the Commodore.  I knew I was going to hate it.  I mean, it was advertised as being 64K ram, but as soon as you turned it on it said right on the screen; 38K available!

    Despite that I soon learned to program it, not only in BASIC but I learned Assembly Language too!  You had to use that to get access to the entire 64K and control the music synthesizer chip.  I had hours of fun with it.  Great games like Mimi the Ant, Dino Eggs, and Lode Runner, to name but a few.

    Eventually I moved up to the Commodore 128, the big brother to the C=64.  Another piece of no good from Commodore.  I should have moved to the Amiga, but I got my first PC clone instead.  Boring computer, with green letters on a black screen.  And they told me it was much better than a Commodore or Amiga. Say what?  It took a few years, but they were right, it did become better.  To be honest, when the Mac came out in 1984, I lusted for it.  But I did not have $3200 for a computer.  So I didn't think I would ever get a Mac.  But today I have an iMac on my desk with a 30 inch screen, a MacBook Pro and an iPad.  Didn't pay a penny for any of them.  Provided by my employer.

    By the way, the Spectrum came out in 1982, I believe. :)  
    Post edited by Gabe on
  • GabeGabe Moderator Posts: 4,475
    @kb25t17, you got started a few years before I did.  Congrats on that.  I decided I wasn't interested in computers and just wanted to stick with my Atari 2600.  How wrong I was!  I have a book recommendation for you; "Hackers" by Steven Levy.  https://www.amazon.com/Hackers-Computer-Revolution-Anniversary-Paperback/dp/B00BQ1OA94/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1484003720&sr=1-2&keywords=hacker+levy

    It's a history of computers from mainframes to desktops.  A great read.  I loved it.

    Anyway, in the late 80's I was working for a print shop and they put me in charge of a Xerox pen plotter.  It was a pretty cool machine, but it never crossed my mind that someday I would have a vinyl cutter that operated on the same principles.  Kind of neat, though.

    I got my first computer because a buddy of mine bought one of those TI 99/4A computers for $75.  I wanted one too after I played with his, but by the time I got to the store they were all sold out.  The only other computer I could afford at the time was something that didn't even look like a computer the TS-1000 by Timex.  But that was the start of an obsession that continues to this day, 35 years later.
  • LaurieBLaurieB Member Posts: 184
    Didn't have any computers in my high school - it was the late 70's.  Then when I had to take a Basic programming class in college I enjoyed it so much I immediately changed my major to computer programming.  Finished with an engineering degree in computer systems technology in 1982. I was one of only three females in the entire program.   Mostly main frame applications.  In those days a personal computer was a rare item and cost thousands of dollars. Took ten years off to be a mom, so I wasn't able to keep current with the engineering end of things.  Working now in office technology, keeping the computers, programs and accessories up to date and running efficiently. 
    cutting with Cameo
  • CarrieCarrie Member Posts: 1,168
    I didn't get a computer until 1992, and you wonder why I remember? My 2nd daughter was born that year. I think our first computer cost was over 2000.00.  I even remember using a mouse for the first time, a gal I used to work with had a computer and I tried it at her home. I went to the local library to use the computer, before we got ours. Amazing how technology changes, our cell phones nowadays holds more info than our old computers from years back. LOL I remember using Windows 95, XP, Vista, 7 and now windows 10.  I had a Apple 11e, barely remember that one, I think we played Oregon Trail with it and .... made crude looking banners.
    image+++MTC fan since December 2009+++~~~Own a Silhouette Cameo~~~ ****MTC is the best PROGRAM Ever!!!**** 1-22-14 Bought PCS! ****A fan of Andy the Amazing Designer, and Ann helping him to get started****
  • jesprattjespratt Member Posts: 53
    My brother built his first computer in 1976 and got me interested back then. Played with an Apple in 1983, and then in 1984 got my own PC (with one 360 floppy drive and 256k memory - upgraded from 128k for only $125.00 - only $500 per megabyte or $500,000 per gigabyte equivalent - glad we don't have to pay anywhere near that for memory today!) and I learned to program in Basic because there were very few programs available back then. In 1990 I got my first color PC and then upgraded every couple of years as newer, faster versions were released. It seemed like every upgrade cost around $2500! During this time I helped the Denton, TX Fire Dept set up computers at all of their stations. Eventually I started building computers for most of my family members - back when I could get a lot of the components free after rebates on Black Friday. In the late 90's I worked at a sign shop as a computer graphics designer, which led to my desire to have my own vinyl cutter. When it became cheaper to buy ready built computers I quit making them from scratch and went back to buying them "off the rack". My husband and I now own 5 computers between the 2 of us (not counting smart phones) as I just sold or gave away any we no longer use. I also have a Zing, a Force, and a KnP3D printer and have traded computer programming for graphic design and most recently 3D design - purely for my own enjoyment - and I'm loving all of it!
  • Liz_ALiz_A Member Posts: 9,869
    edited January 2017
    Awesome stories, I love reading them.

    In 1987 I went to work as the Exec Assistant to the CEO of a major engineering firm. We used AES word processors back then. I loved mine. I even got creative enough to find coloured toner for an IBM laser printer so that I could design and print my wedding invitations, etc. on my lunch hour at work using the AES. I was so proud of them =).

    One of my tasks was to attend and take minutes for the managing partners and finance committee meetings. During one of the finance meetings, the financial guru reported to management that they were going to purchase computers for the "girls". The girls were myself and the word pro department staff (engineering - 80 guys, 5 girls including me and one consultant). These would replace the ageing AES word processors. They couldn't decide between an IBM compatible (built locally) or Apple computers. I got brave and said well why couldn't the "girls" decide which might work best for them, after seeing demos of course. So they said ok, you go and look and come back with a recommendation. I did - IBM compatibles with WordPerfect 5.2.

    I thought it prudent to go get some training, so I took computer courses in the evenings at a local college. By the time my pc was built, I was really eager to start using it. At the time, the cost and availability of RAM was fluctuating wildly and we had to wait to get the rest of our computer order, about 3 months. When those computers arrived, the partners decided they would not pay for computer training for the rest of the "girls", they decided I could train them.  That was my first taste at teaching computers and software.

    In 1988 I calculated that I was going to get a $5,000 tax return. I immediately went and got a short term loan and bought my first computer with a laser printer (which cost $3,200 of the $5,000). IBM PS2 486 286 with 4 mb RAM and 50 mb of hard disk space. Some IBM version of MSDOS. I also bought a hand held scanner which needed to be installed. The night I brought it home I was up til about 2:30 am taking the whole thing apart so I could see how it all went together. Hubbie came looking for me, he nearly had a heart attack when he saw all the bits and pieces spread out on the floor. He really thought I would never get it back together. I did.

    Not long after, I got a hacked version of Windows 3.0. Installed that. When Win 3.1 was released, I bought that version. For my 2nd and 3rd computers, I had a local computer shop where I knew all the guys build them for me (was working as Network Admin for a high school, and we always had local shops bid to build our computers, I got to know most of the local shops very well). After that I have built all my own computers. I was a beta tester for Win 95 and Win 98. I also went back to college and got a designation in network administration, then got my Novell CNA, and then went on to get several Windows/Microsoft designations. My true passion for computers however really is computer crafting which started about 1998 went my hubbie bought me a flatbed scanner that came with a piece of software by Adobe...I think it was a precursor to Illustrator, but was called something else. All my printing and cutting was done by hand, until 2006 when I walked into Michaels one day...and came out with a Cricut!

    Cricut software first. Hated it. SCAL software next. Didn't like it. MTC last. It is still my favourite.

    I gave up network administration, IT management 9 years ago to just concentrate on training and teaching computers. That's my daytime passion...computer crafting, including print and cut projects, still my evening passion. All because I dared to speak up in a financial meeting...when my role was to sit and take notes and not speak.
    Post edited by Liz_A on
  • CarrieCarrie Member Posts: 1,168
    @Liz_A , what a history you have, nothing compared to me, LOL
    image+++MTC fan since December 2009+++~~~Own a Silhouette Cameo~~~ ****MTC is the best PROGRAM Ever!!!**** 1-22-14 Bought PCS! ****A fan of Andy the Amazing Designer, and Ann helping him to get started****
  • craftyladycraftylady Member Posts: 186
    OK I'm dating myself but the first experience I had with computers was the TI where you used the TV screen for a monitor. I learned how to program it to pick random numbers for the lottery ( no winners that I know of ), to make search and find word puzzles with my daughter's spelling words ( the teacher loved that and sent the list home with a request every week ) and of course my girls played games on it. When I think back to how far technology has come I am amazed. I'm not anywhere near as knowledgeable as many of you but I do find the computer invaluable on a daily basis.
  • suekayesuekaye Member Posts: 639
    I might have you all beat... I worked for a small company in 1967.  Aah punch cards, sorters and collators OH MY. Worked with a Univac 1004 that was jump wired with huge boards  Then in 1968 went to work at IBM Programmed Fortran, PL1 (IBM's answer to Cobal)  and RPG.   Work with a 360/20 with 2k.    then off to a division called PARS.   The American Airlines reservation system.  That was linked by phone transmission lines   I too had a Commodore 64 and wore out way too many of the Timex Sinclair.   Those darned "keys"    I look at my smart phone and am so amazed by the progress in technology.  
    You have all brought back great memories...  Thank You
  • Liz_ALiz_A Member Posts: 9,869
    LOL @suekaye - 1967 was Canada's Centennial celebrations (we celebrate 150 years this year). I recall the Bell pavilion at Expo '67 in Montreal, they showed fibre optics and the future of telephones...you would see the person you were talking to. Well, iPhone has finally made that possible, but it only took almost 50 years, LOL! Some things change quickly other things not so much.
  • GabeGabe Moderator Posts: 4,475
    @suekaye, I bet you would also enjoy the book I mentioned above, "Hackers".  It starts out explaining that originally a hacker was someone who used a main frame, with limited time and memory, so they had to hack each other's code to make it run faster with less memory consumption.  From there it goes on to the Homebrew Computer Club where Bill Gates and Steve Jobs tried to impress and it also covers many more milestones that we all lived through. :)
  • daffeydildaffeydil Member Posts: 3,003
    All this brings back a lot of memories of some fun times.  I started with computers for a son who was in school.  In an effort to get him interested I became hooked and went through a learning experience, self taught and training that I could find locally.  
    The names Texas Instruments, Packard Bell, Radio Shack, Commodore, Compuserve, etc. all became the focus of conversations in our home.  
    Things have changed so much since then!
    I had never used my computer training at work until the last few years before I retired and then the computer was added to my office and I was glad that I knew my way around the keyboard.  My employers were impressed.
    The son that started all this now has a great job with his computer training.  
    Now that I am retired I use my computer mostly for crafting.
  • jeepers94jeepers94 Member Posts: 67
    I don't want to say when I first started with computers, that would make me sound old! Let's just say I had 8" floppies (120k), and my first hard drive was 5 mb. That's right megabyte! My first cd-rom was read only, single speed. It cost over $1000. There were less than 50 cds available. You bought magazines for programs. You had to key in the code, not screwing up a single character. I was pre- Microsoft, Dell, and just about all but HP. We had a 1000 square foot air conditioned room at work with a single mainframe shared with 3 universities. My cell phone has more computing power! I guess, you can tell, I have been retired for many years!
  • Little_BerryLittle_Berry Member Posts: 5,760

    YOU guys are Prehistoric :)

  • Calgalcre8sCalgalcre8s Member Posts: 2,896

    I was introduced to computers in the mid 70’s. Our first computer was a unit containing a gigantic disk that connected all our offices in a network system. In order for us to not interrupt anyone else’s work, we had to yell down the hallway when we were going to use the Okidata printer. Then in the 80’s came the MS DOS systems and we each got our own individual computers. We then progressed through every new upgrade into Microsoft Windows. I retired during the Windows Vista era. I have continued to upgrade and now in 2017 I use Windows 10.

    Boy, @Gabe, you had me jogging my memory of some great times and the struggles of learning new technology. I was young then. I do not know that I could do it now. But I must say, that today, I cannot live without a computer. I really depend on it for many things. 

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