Old git’s guide on technology – technology growing up

Lets investigate this title a little, am I an old git? Well git; many friends would call me at times (by the way; git is a British slang word meaning stuff like idiot, fool, bugger and to maybe use a stronger word as bast@#d – you get the meaning). Anyhoo back to being a git; at times yes.. Old? Well not so sure on this as depends on perspective. As in my early 40’s some would classify this as now being old but.. others not.

So; having spent sometime shooting down the first 2 words in my title let me detail why this is being written. It really more about me and technology as I have grown to give insight. Kind of came about as I was watching a few weeks back a video about how the Commodore 64 became 30 and thinking about how my technology life has changed.

So, this story start back sometime in the late 1970’s to 1981. We weren’t a rich family, in fact money was certainly tight so purchasing technology back then was really a no no. To give you an idea I believe we didn’t even have a colour TV until I was mid-teens (around ’84ish) and so watch everything in black and white. This would certainly be an alien concept to kids today including my own (do they still even make B&W TV’s now?).

Anyhow, so technology wasn’t cutting edge in my house and often watched TV at a friends in colour. Anyhow, moving forward my first really introduction to technology in a computing sense was when we got our TV game for Christmas; this I believe was late 70’s but could have been 1980. Anyhow, basically back in them days a TV game consisted of a box that plugged into your TV and two sets of paddles with buttons. Most games on there were varients on pong (you had say football which has 2 paddles on screen and box round area with two goals). The system I had also had some motorbike games which you used paddle for speed to try and jump a number of cars.

Here is a link to information on a similar if not the same TV game system I had back then http://www.old-computers.com and just in case in future years to come; if page gone here is a picture of said system

Lovely ah. But this was cutting edge tech and me and my brother played many a hour on this TV console until it broke after years of service. This certainly drove my technology want and next to come was our Atari 2600. We had the classic woodgrain one and not the second gen (for want of a better description) which had a matt dark grey base. Again for those that have never seen this then here is a link to the Atari 2600 Console and a image of the one I had

Now this was a game machine. You plugged in cartridges to get your different games and had classics such as Pacman, Space Invaders, etc. Now; compared with today’s standard of games many would look at this and think “O my god, crap graphics!”. But back then this console was like the PS3 or xBox 360 – it was cutting edge in gaming. We used to play games for hours on end and pacman (where you got a life for every maze you finished) we used to have like 200 lives to play with.. But this was the console to have and even now some still going on eBay.
Atari were cutting the technology back then and my first introduction to touching a computer was in a electronics shop where they had an Atari 400 computer and Atari 800 computer (images below)



These were real computers that could also take cartridges. Although for a number of weeks when we visited story (every other week we went and used to pursuade my mom to go into the shop) I used to just type my name until one day some kid showed me :

10 Print (“Your Name”)

20 goto 10

That little program kind of hooked me onto computers. So, we have to move quite quick here now as I have lots to cover… Next in line of my technology advancement came my ZX81 with 16k expansion I bought of a friend. the ZX81 Computer (image below) was the predecessor to the ZX80 which I would have loved as it came in kit form. This was a great calculator; I mean computer to start with (I do have a much more powerful calculator at home) and I did many a small program and even altered my basic flight sim game (written in basic) to have fun.

I bought the ZX81 with pocket money from my paper round but then next computer my parents bought me was my Commodore 64; again image below.

The Commodore 64 Computer was the computer of the day to have. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few classic computers of that day like Oric 1Dragon 32 and even the Mattel Electronics Aquarius (this is lesser known but a friend of mine had one and the D&D game on it was classic). Of course, not to forget the real competitor to the Commodore 64 which was the Sinclair ZX Spectrum which was the next one on from my old ZX81 of course.
Anyhow, the C64 was the computer of the day for gaming and is also what made me write this blog. I had mine for about 3-4 years although friends had them for much longer. This had dedicated sound with Sid, great graphics and 64k of memory. You were required to buy the separate specialized tape deck for the C64 from which you read your games and wrote your programs. By the way, for many of the impatient gamers today that have to wait 30-60 seconds for a game to load; imagine having to wait 15-20 minutes hehe.
The C64 was the computer that drove me to playing computer games and writing computer programs. Again gaming on them had the state of the art games and sound and programming in the in built basic was fun and interesting.
I did fall off the computer wagon for a while as after the C64 I went back to a console which was the Sega Master System.

On this we played many a fun game and was again merely plugging in a cartridge. This was also the start of the Sega and Nintendo battle of the consoles (I never owned a Nintendo until the Wii).. This was a short fall as had this for around 6-12 months before going to my next computer which was a Atari again.
This one was an Atari 520STFM which I got around 1988/9

At the time the Amiga was going string but part of me didn’t want to go with the classic in crowd and also I was able to get one of these easier than the Amiga at that time. Graphically this was close to what the Amiga could produce with only the odd game being slightly better. But I loved my Atari STFM. This was also my first introduction to owning a computer with a floppy drive.
Again this pushed my learning to program skills as we (myself and another friend who bought this) got hold of HiSoft Power Basic and started to write a database. We never actually finished it but did have a majority of the system written.
Later 1990 I decided to go with my friends (especially seeing my other friend with a 520 had moved) and move over to the Commodore Amiga 500.

After purchasing my 500 I went out on extras. First came the 512k expansion giving me my 1Mb (1024k) which we really needed for games, demos, etc and my external second drive. Next game my Philips CM8822 Mk1 monitor; and finally my Action Replay Mk3. This was the first system I had actually spent money on upgrades and extras and ran with it for around around 2 years till around early 1992. I swapped the setup for a 386SX20 laptop which was state of art then.
However, having that for just a few weeks I sold on as missed my Amiga so decided to go for a Amiga A600; which I then sold after a few months to buy the Amiga A1200 on the weekend after its release. I still have a A1200 today although slightly upgraded as I changed the Roms to be 3.1 and have a 68030 upgrade board with about 8Mb of memory. I also have a CD Rom drive so if had had all this back in 1992 when I bought it I would have been loving it.

As it was though I was only destined to own my Amiga A1200 for about a year. In 1993 I decided to go back into education and because I was doing computing I sold my loved A1200 and bought a PC. It was a generic build 386SX16 and came with a 512k graphics card, 640k of ram and a green screen monitor. It did also come with the full Wolf3D game so had some fun playing and found many a public domain game buying the disks from sites.
Yes; for those that have never lived without the Internet; back then you had public domain software and bought the disk with it on from suppliers. Same a big patches for games (I remember getting my Ultima 7 upgrade from them). Not long after that I got a grant funding my college work and was able to upgrade my system to a 486SX33 with 1Mb ram and also got a 1Mb trident graphics card. O they were the days.
1994 I went to University (as a mature student of 24). There I was introduced to the Internet which is probably my longest used technology along with Sun Microsystems and Linux (again I still use Linux today). The internet (and linux) was a bit different back then with text based webpages. Not long after I started using it then you could put a picture on your page – those were the cutting edge days. I also remember in 1995 some of the computer science final years doing work in Java which was an influence on my as I did my final year project in Java.
As I say, this was my biggest time of technology growth although computer wise I only went from a 486SX33 to a 486DX4-100 in the summer of ’95. However I had been influenced greatly by computer programming back then (well that was what I was doing as a course really) and the internet.
Summer of 1996 I did another upgrade to a P133 (or rather an equivalent chipset) but still staying with the PC. Back then I was coding lots and remember having a 2400Baud modem and logging into one of the free trial internet providers. But for most part used my university internet along with a zip drive (100Mb a disk) to get files – along with 96 or so floppies for my linux distro – installing was a LONG process).
We’re moving quicker now as this is getting to be a essay. Summer 1997 and graduated; started working for a small development company but then left and went to work from a LARGER tech company where I got to play with loads of tech like Risc system based computers etc. Summer ’98 got a P200MMX processor.
Moving even quicker 1999 moved, got P2-400. Over next few years it was P3-666 then into AMD processors in early 2000’s (around 2003). I didn’t go back to Intel until the C2D came out as prior to this I was using AMD 3800 X2 processor. Anyhow, since then I have gone C2d, Quad core then onto i7  (had 2 generations).
But also over the past 3 or so years I have also gone with some Apple Mac systems owning first a Mac Mini (intel first dual core) then a C2D Macbook Pro, C2D iMac, G5 Power Mac, Xeon quad core 3Ghz Mac pro and now finally have a i5 Mac Mini which suites my Mac needs perfect running After Effects and editing suite. Some may say why not bigger but you be surprised how well my i5 2.5Ghz Mac mini with 8Gb ram runs it and such a small box.
I haven’t mentioned the xBox and xBox 360 along the way as well as the Wii but I do have all these still plugged into my TV. However, computers still are the top tech that I own and work with.
When I was starting in computers is was a Nerd thing and nobody that was cool so to speak would have anything to do with the geeks. However, these days computers are the thing and the better you have the higher your standing. The Internet and social media has brought computers even to those that were too cool back in the day..
This is a brief history of my tech and you can see it has progressed well over the past 30 year or just over. What about you, have you got a similar tech history? I would love to hear how your technology has progressed.

Posted on August 20, 2012, in Technology Blog and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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