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Networking Technology

What Are Your Favorite Computing Memories? 230

aussersterne asks: "Every now and then while reading Slashdot comments, I realize that most people have no idea that -the network was the computer- for decades before and Google ever appeared, taking for granted the rather boring state of commodity computing that dominates the marketplace today. Unix and dial-up shell users remember bang-paths, 110 baud BBSing, 'luggable' computers, UUCP, DC600 OS media, VT100s connected to dumb terminals, and 1152x900 8-bit color web browsing before most PC users had even shelled out for their first copy of Windows 3.x and the free 'serial mouse' it included. Middle-aged geeks, what are your favorite recollections from from the '80s and '90s computing, network, and hardware world, as full of platforms and innovation as it was? Which computer system is still 'your baby' all these years later? Anybody still have a running Sun2? A running FHL UniQuad? Anybody still use KA9Q?"
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What Are Your Favorite Computing Memories?

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  • Woof, Woof! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dave-tx ( 684169 ) * <(df19808+slashdot) (at) (> on Thursday July 21, 2005 @02:32PM (#13127106)
    Fidonet! [] And to a lesser extent, the Fido and Opus BBS software.

    I thought this was a very clever way to propagate messages between BBS's. I guess I graduated from Fidonet to Usenet around 1990...if one considers that graduating, and not simply moving in to The Project.

    • Re:Woof, Woof! (Score:2, Interesting)

      Put me down for Fidonet, too. It was the first thing I thought of while reading the base post.

      A friend of mine ran a Fidonet node, and I remember being so completely impressed with automated, scheduled dialing between nodes to transfer batched messages. What a great concept!

      Farther back (and not related to networking) ... disk drives used to be a high-powered upgrade on personal computers. I remember the days of the Apple computer, where system calls (including printing) were handled by a vector table. I
    • Don't leave out gopher [] and archie []!!! Indeed, those were the good ol' days.
    • Re:Woof, Woof! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ag0ny ( 59629 ) <javi@lavande[ ].net ['ira' in gap]> on Thursday July 21, 2005 @10:05PM (#13131406) Homepage
      Indeed. I had a Fidonet node running at home for several years (LuzNET 2 BBS, 2:343/163). I was using FrontDoor + RemoteAccess, until I switched to OS/2 and replaced FrontDoor with MainDoor/2.

      I miss those days. Each sysop was responsible for the users posting from his BBS, so there was little trolling back then. The quality of the Fidonet message areas was very, very high: you knew people by their names, moderators did their jobs (or they were voted out).

      Unfortunately, I had to stop running the BBS when I moved out of my parents' home. That was when Internet was already taking over, so there wasn't so much activity as in the good days anymore. It went from 60-70 calls/day to around 20-30 and just around 50 active users.

      Now, with the Internet it is... well, different.
  • C64 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rmjohnso ( 891555 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @02:33PM (#13127118)
    Though I'm not middle aged, I do have tons of fond memories of sitting in front of my Commodore 64 with my dad, learning to load programs and playing games with him. The two I remember the most are Threshold and Falcon Patrol.
    • Some of my fond memories are also of the C64, specifically loading and playing a game called 'Forbidden Forest' from a cassette drive (!) for the first time. Of course that cassette drive was replaced with a 1541 disk drive shortly thereafter.....
      • Playing Sea Wolf on the Apple II+, at the age of 4. That ugly orange controller and the two buttons.
      • by schon ( 31600 )
        I remember when I got my first modem for me C64 - a 300 baud manual-dial manual-answer... I visited a number of local BBS'es before stumbling upon one running Color-64... the first time I saw the login screen in /color/, I thought I was in heaven.

        It wasn't long before I bought a 1200 bps (which was blazing fast at the time) and started my own BBS.
        • Man, that was fun. My roommate and I ran a BBS from our dorm room on a C-64 and a 1741 floppy drive. It really was exciting...until I left it running over a holiday break. When I returned, I found that something about the disk drive wasn't working correctly: The drive ended up spinning for days on end with the drive head eventually scoring a hole through the floppy media. Damaged the head beyond repair...

          I joined Quantum Link and eas able to communicate 300 baud! Very cool!
        • I remember a Color 64 board where I was writing a post and suddenly someone broke into the session (as a sysop could do in that one) and started chatting with me. Turned out it was the sysop's daughter (who was about my age at the time), and a short, uneventful (unfortunately) relationship ensued.


  • PDP-10 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by klossner ( 733867 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @02:36PM (#13127159)
    (The VT100 was a slightly smart terminal. You connected it to a computer, not to a dumb terminal.)

    We middle-aged geeks go back earlier than the '80s and '90s. My baby was the PDP-10 running TOPS-10, then TENEX, and occasionally ITS. My first gonzo gaming experience was playing Zork on a 300 baud hardcopy terminal in California connected through a local TIP to MIT. Still a hard game to top.

    • I cut my teeth in school on a PDP-11 and then managed Dec MicroVAXen. Nothing better, my friend, nothing better.
  • Discovering the BBS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dolly_Llama ( 267016 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @02:37PM (#13127173) Homepage
    This is entirely age dependendent I suppose, but the great Eureka moment for me was discovering the BBS circa 1990 from a friend, then on my own figuring out how to connect.

    This might not seem like much, but it was my first independent project with a PC and I was 13.

    btw, that first bbs was "Saimin" in Hawaii, and I to this day I still use the same handle.
    • by Pengo ( 28814 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @02:45PM (#13127281) Journal

      Yup, I remember the first time I realized there was other people that where as fanatical about communicating with others as I was. The world of BBS opened up my eyes to shareware and other tools that I had no idea existed as well.

      Door games anyone?

      The local Eau Claire, WI BBSUG was a bunch of old Hams. I made friends that I will remember for the rest of my life through that community.

      The BBS community played a large role in to decide that computer programming and networking was definately where I wanted to be as I got older, and I can say with confidence that the BBS world changed who I am today to a large scale what I am doing and have been able to achieve.

      I look back on those BBS years with the fondest memories of learning and exploration.

      • My first real BBS was a Major BBS (yes, 12 phone lines to one BBS allowing realtime chat in 1988!) called Main Street (I think), in the Twin Cities. After that it was mostly WWIV's and Citadels (The Hub, and Confusion Central mostly, but also Ed's Board(I think) and a few old C64 boards).

        That's part of what I think disillusions me about computing lately. The sense of learning and exploration are lacking.

    • Pr0n! (Score:5, Funny)

      by linzeal ( 197905 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @03:22PM (#13127772) Homepage Journal
      My fondest memory of BBS was the upgrade from 2400 to 14.4 for me that made surfing 20-30k porn images of scanned magazines (this is before porn sites) 'real time' which meant I could view one Jpeg while downloading the other and switch between them without losing my er concentration.
  • 3 letters (Score:3, Interesting)

    by honold ( 152273 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @02:37PM (#13127181)
    BBS. i may never have as much fun with computers as i did back then.
  • I'm relatively new to the whole computer scene even though I've been using them since my family first inherited a 286 when I was 12 (which I promptly disassembled). When I turned 16 I took a programming class in high school where they taught us a terrible language called Turing. I remember one day where the teacher approached me and asked me to show a student some technique because he, the teacher, didn't understand it as well as I did. It was a good day :)
    • where they taught us a terrible language called Turing

      Turing wasn't a terrible language, at least the Pascal like one with the same name wasn't! Clean syntax, higher level, great debugger (on Sun, don't know about elsewhere), decent range of types, fairly OK at OO, and really quick to get going. Beat Java and C++ hands down when I learned them subsequently to learning Turing. Now I mainly use Python (the odd bit of VBA as my glue as working in finance I'm constrained to Windows - there are no decent
  • ... I finally bought a copy of the Motorola 68000 developers handbook, complete with exact timings for each instruction, and was thoroughly disappointed when this 'monster fast' machine managed to vertically scroll a background about 20 times a second.

    I was expecting to be incredibly fast and silky smooth on the screen, it was around then I learnt the habit of optimising the bejesus out of my code :)

    I knew I had to start going out and meeting girls when the answer to a problem i'd had for weeks came to me
  • I'm torn between spending hours on IRC where I met my wife, or playing Zork on a TRS-80 Model I.
    • No, no, no. If you're serious - you can't just say that you met your wife over IRC and then don't tell the story.
      • I remember a couple who met on IRC several years ago (though it wasnt just IRC, it was the IRC network for the game Planetarion). She was from england, he was from canada but somewhere in there they got together, I remember sometime when he was in london (maybe he stayed with her on a trip because it was free and they fell for each other) and they were chatting together and then later she came to canada and they got married.
      • In the days when IRC was more chat than warez trading, I knew a rather sizable # of people who met and got married via EFNet.

        I miss those days. Most of my IRC channels are pretty dead now.

      • Re:ah, memories... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Chemical Serenity ( 1324 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @06:46PM (#13130124) Homepage Journal
        Heh, okay, okay...

        I used to hang out in this IRC channel. There was some girl I was trying to get with was and she was interested in it, so I will honestly say I was just in there to kill some time and see if I could get some play. THAT one turned out to be a spoiled little bratchild that needed to be kicked to the curb, but it just so happened my future wife was in the same channel. This was about the same time that netscape first came on the scene... gopher was still the search tool of choice, and Twinsock over windows 3.1 was the standard way of getting online for most peeps. She was plagued by a bad connection and surly tech support from her university, so I would help her out with problems.

        We became friends. Nothing more though, as she lived in Nova Scotia and I was in Vancouver... and that's the way it stayed for a couple years. We talked regularly in between her studying for her masters in English.

        Now, a small cadre of us became regulars in this channel, but 95% of us were from the west coast. My future wife was about the only one who was out east... so she got on a plane and came out to Vancouver (ostensibly to check out schools to finish her post-graduate studies, but mostly just to come party with some online friends). I had the use of a car and was relatively near by the airport, so I was tasked with a collection of 'virtual hugs' I was supposed to give her from a bunch of the other channel denizens when I met her. I had a list written down with "hugs from: xxxxx yyyyyy zzzzzz" ... and by the time we got through that list of hugs, we both knew that something more was going to happen, and pretty quick. ;)

        So, she just came out west and sorta... stayed. We've lived happily ever after, our 10th 'anniversary' is this labour day (although we only got married 2 years ago). A few years back I moved with her and the kids back out to Nova Scotia, as all her family is out here.

        The End. Romantic in a highly geeky way, huh? ;)
    • How what? You met your wife on IRC? Hot damn!
    • that you?

      Your journal entry says you are from canada...

  • by L. VeGas ( 580015 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @02:41PM (#13127228) Homepage Journal
    I don't think a computer has been made that replicates the joy I had working with the Difference Engine.

    Babbage was kind of a pain, though.
  • Running my very first assembly language program on a PDP 8/l. Running a text-mode lunar lander written in FOCAL on a PDP 8 then patching it to change the lunar gravity and fuel available.

    Playing lunar lander on a GT-40 (PDP 11/05 with graphics adapter) in graphics mode in 1973.

    Building my own ADM-3 terminal from a kit.

    Booting CP/M successfully using my own custom BIOS. Buying my first pair of floppy drives (360k, $200 each). Buying my first hard drive (5meg, $250).

    Building my own PC from a bar
  • by Txiasaeia ( 581598 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @02:42PM (#13127241)
    ...was my happiest computer moment. One megabyte took 77 minutes to download. My second-happiest moment was after I had bought MegaTraveller 1 for the PC, took it home, and discovered it required a hard drive. My Tandy 1000 (8088, 4MHz, 640k RAM, 2x5.25 LD drives) didn't have a hard drive, so through trial and error I had to put the required files on four floppy disks and insert them at appropriate moments (disk 1 to start up, disk 2 for the first four planet systems, disk 3 when I enter the spaceport, disk 4 for the last four planet systems). Getting around that hard drive problem was absolutely thrilling for me.
    • I remember the day I got my mail order Boca 14.4Kbps modem for a *mere* $200!! (to replace a Hayes 2400). I would have personally hugged every employee of Rockwell responsible for their wonderful cheap chipset.
  • Memories (Score:5, Funny)

    by CokeBear ( 16811 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @02:44PM (#13127260) Journal
  • Ah, the memories... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mad_Rain ( 674268 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @02:45PM (#13127279) Journal
    First - rewriting a bit of code from a BASIC program, written in a magazine, for my Commodore64, so I could change the way a ball bounces on a screen. Really simple, and I haven't improved much, but damn if it wasn't cool at the time. :)

    Second - The numerous times I had to format and reformat the hard disk (a 40 MB drive! w00t!) and write and rewrite the config.sys and autoexec.bat after I crashed or did something bad to the family's 386.

    Third - Getting a 486, and tweaking those config.sys files to run Ultima VII. Installing a SoundBlaster card in there and hearing Wing Commander speak to me. :)

    Fourth - Setting up my own BBS (TAG anybody?) and getting online.

    Getting to college in '95, pirating Windows and pwning n00bs in Doom (and later Counter-Strike).

    The year 2000 - started using Linux. Yay!
    • Seeing Gopher for the first time, and saying "NOW the Internet is really going to take off!"
    • Using the original web browser to try to find some software, back when you had to telnet to CERN, and saying "This stupid thing is never going to be useful."
    • Building my first PC and seeing it boot up.
    • Various points where pieces of code suddenly gelled into an application.
    • Getting a printer to work on Linux for the first time. Of course that was just a couple of years ago, thanks to CUPS -- someday I hope to get
  • Tandy 286 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fwice ( 841569 )
    1989. I was four. My father brought home a new tandy running deskmate. The tandy had this moderately functional drawing program that seems like a really antiquated version of mspaint. So, after using the program for a while, my father tells me to get off the computer and find my older brother so he can use it. in my typical four year old sense, i just start calling for him from where i was at the computer. unbeknownst to me, my father was recording me on the tandy with a microphone. boy, did i get a
    • The tandy had this moderately functional drawing program that seems like a really antiquated version of mspaint.

      and speaking of which, i remember `Artstudio' on the zx spectrum, which really kicked the pants off any current mspaint in coolness. it even had a `mouse' cursor, which you could move around with the keys. you could make fonts and stuff. i remember i used to draw sprites all the time with that thing. hardcore pixelart. good times.

      • You could even get a mouse to go with it, if my memory serves me correctly. I'm remembering the letters "AMX", although that could be something else entirely.

        All I remember is my annoyingly rich friend Steve had one, and I was jealous. Then my Dad bought an Amstrad PC1512, which blew the Speccy away. I did a cool picture of Barney Rubble on that thing, I probably still have it somewhere, I'll have to check.
        • there was the AMX [] (which i dont remember) and the Kempston [] which i always wanted. the only thing hooked up to the thing, except for a couple of casette-players, was a cheap knockoff joystick which never worked properly. at least my model had a nice keyboard.
  • The first time I worked out my dad's adult BBS password. Ham Radio operators aren't typically very good at choosing non-obvious passwords. ;)
  • by torpor ( 458 ) <ibisum@gm a i l . com> on Thursday July 21, 2005 @02:53PM (#13127389) Homepage Journal
    .. as I unpacked it for the first time from its happy foam box, plugged it into the telly, and proceeded to clik-clik away on its beautiful little chiclet keys. oh, how i love that oric-1 [], even still today.. trips back home to the family wouldn't be the same without a quick crank of the treasurebox in the attic, a "10 PING; ZAP; SHOOT; EXPLODE; GOTO 10" or two ..

    #2: Then, a few years later, the same smell (only much, much, much more intense) when I unpacked my first MIPS Magnum [] pizzabox, placed it on my desk, watched it boot, and prepared to port my code to it .. oh my, how the raw power of me, professional C programmer, felt that day.

    #3: Booting Yggdrasil-Linux on my ol' 386 about 2 years after the Magnum experience .. []

    #4: booting new hardware i had a small hand in developing for the first time [].
  • Apple //e (Score:4, Insightful)

    by molo ( 94384 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @02:54PM (#13127402) Journal
    300 baud pulse dialing modem on my Apple //e.. that only worked with a 40-column text all-caps terminal program.. no ansi, no vt100 emulation, just a dumb terminal. What joy.. and I was so behind the times..everyone had 2400 baud modems. Hah!

  • by samjam ( 256347 )
    Too poor to buy Toni Bakers book on Z80 machine code I taught myself from other peoples assembly listings and the nmemonics at the back of the ZX81 manual.

    I had a ram pack which didn't work unless I removed a zener diode then it didn't work on my next zx81 unless I put it back.

    I then rewrote to cool tools which gave read,data and restore to ZX81 basic and one which played sound out of the TV speaker. I also wrote one which decoded morse code tapped out on the keuboard.

    Then I moved on to the TRS-80 with t
  • My "oh deity, this stuff is awesome" moment was when I started to learn AmigaDOS way back when on an Amiga 500. We'd had a C64 for years before but I never did anything other than games on it. The Amiga was the same for me for a year, then Commodore User (or Commodore Amiga User as it renamed itself as later) started running AmigaDOS tutorials, and I was hooked.

    BBSes were another great one, though the phonebills were a shock.

    • Were you in the US at the time? I ask because I sometimes hear people talking about how BBS dialing racked up huge phone bills, but at least where I was at the time (suburban MN), all the phone plans were flat-rate....
  • Ahh the good ol' days, dialed up at 1200 baud 'till 4 am.
  • I played it for 6 years. The game is still alive and well, I just don't have much time for it anymore. It's Windows-only, but it's open source under the MPL if anyone wants to port the engine and build a new interface around it.
  • by Undertaker43017 ( 586306 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @03:02PM (#13127484)
    I used to work for a company that forgot to include their computer room air handlers when they spec'd their generator load, so whenever we had a power failure it was a mad dash to the computer room to shut the VAX's down before they "fired".

    I was reminded of this years later, when working for a different company, I walked in one day and the doors to the computer room were wide open! One of the mainframe system guys saw me and literally went white, he said "Oh... we had an air handler failure and forgot to call you. I hope the HP's are OK" I said well they should be, I checked them out, sure enough they had sensed the high temperature and shut themselves down (of course it did expose that my alerting system was not working correctly, in all situations). The mainframe had not faired as well, not sure what they fired, but it was expensive, as I remember. ;)
  • by drakaan ( 688386 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @03:02PM (#13127489) Homepage Journal
    Doing this to all the PET's and CBM's in the computer lab (my syntax is a bit rusty, so forgive obvious bugs):
    10 POKE 144,88
    20 ? CHR((INT(RND(1))*255)+1)
    30 GOTO 20

    Good ol' "POKE 144,88" disables the "run stop" key on PET, CBM, VIC-20, C-64, and C-128 computers...not sure if it works on the various emulators out there.

    • I used to hit every Apple ][ in the lab with
      10 flash
      20 print " (40 spaces) "
      30 goto 20

      For those that don't know, flash:basic::blink:netscape. Basically, it made every screen in the lab (a dozen computers arranged in a 'u' so you could see them all at once) alternate between all black and all white at about 1Hz... and all out of sync, of course.

      One of many favorite memories. Another was making the computers nonfunctional. To simulate a prompt that actually does nothing:
      10 input "]"a$
      20 print
      30 goto 10

    • I always liked:

      10 ONERROR
      20 CLS
      40 GOTO 10

      BBC micros always had absolute fits at that one.
  • Typing in the program from a magazine for 'A Passage to India' on my Commodore 64 and then spending endless hours playing it with my dad.
  • Definitely BBSing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Momoru ( 837801 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @03:06PM (#13127537) Homepage Journal
    BBSing and i spent my high school years.... some people's high school memories are track and football, mine are mostly Legend of the Red Dragon and DalNet. Oh and maybe playing Syndicate, that game gives me good summer memories.
  • Born 1972 1976 : Commodore green LED pocket calculator : quickly understood +-*, but failed to grasp / and especially the % key. 1981 : Casio PB-100 + Cassette deck : solving linear systems of three equations, and computing pi wirh Buffon's early exposure to numerics thanks to the manual and absence of decent games or anything else to do with it ! 1983 : Ti-30 LCD (PB100 considered too precious to carry to school...) 1983 : Commodore 64 + color monitor + cassette deck...Cauldron and Ghostbu
  • by chh1 ( 847723 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @03:12PM (#13127626)
    Oddly enough, I found that my favorite memories of computing are from the many times I had to figure out exactly what went wrong with Windows 95/98.

    While I realize that this shows me to be far younger than many Slashdotters, as well as much less technically skilled, I think I ended up learning a lot about how to fix many basic computer problems. I may not be a "computer guru" or even a "133t h4x0r", but it did get me up to what would probably be considered a modest level of understanding.

    It may have been extremely frustrating, but I look back upon it kindly for allowing me to learn.
  • Many (Score:3, Insightful)

    by linuxwrangler ( 582055 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @03:14PM (#13127667)
    In no particular order...

    Saving, borrowing, and going in together with my roommate to put together the $2,000 (that was lots more then than it is now) to buy an IBM PC. The beast came complete with no drives (that's right, NONE - we wrote things via the embedded "cassette-basic" and could save the programs to a cassette tape recorder), 16kB RAM and a monochrome non-graphical display.

    The San Francisco computer shows of the early 80s. Those were fun shows. I saw the Osborne I when it was first shown there and went on buying sprees to buy chips (yes, young-ones, individual chips) to plug in and get my RAM up to 64kB, as well as expansion cards (everything was optional back then) to get a clock, printer port, serial port, and finally 640kB of RAM (expansion card and lots and lots of chips to plug in). Everything was outrageously expensive by today's standards so there were lots of cobbled together add-ons. A favorite was a photocell gizmo that clipped onto the print-head of an Epson dot-matrix printer which along with some software made it work as a scanner.

    I remember buying DOS 1.0 and a third-party 320k double-sided floppy drive (IBM was only shipping 160 single-sided drives at the time). You had to patch DOS to get it to use both sides of the disk and at $15 for a floppy this was important. The alternative was to buy one of those punches that cut a notch in the opposite side of the disk so you could flip it over and use it as two single-sided floppy disks. When we went to add a second drive we had to figure out how they had wired the drives and found out that all OEM drives were jumpered as "drive b" and the cable between the two was twisted to swap the first and second drive signals. We cut the jumpers and got everything working.

    Later, we bought a modem (Cermatek 300/1200: $600) and had to convince the powers that be at UC Berkeley to upgrade the modem bank. The head of the computer-center finally told me that they were now buying 1200 BPS modems because they were the "wave of the future".

    I remember having lots of aha's about how computers really work when we learned assembly on DEC computers. The first assignments required us to toggle in the programs at the front-panel of PDP-8 machines. Octal was great for that because the PDP had the switches grouped in threes so you got really fast at using the middle three fingers to toggle in the octal instructions.

    Finally, I remember a little cardboard computer we used in one class. I still have it somewhere but can't remember the its name. It had sliders for the registers, a card with small holes for memory registers and little "bugs" to use as a memory and instruction pointers. You filled in the memory cells and registers in pencil and "executed" the "programs" manually by erasing and rewriting memory, sliding the register stack sliders, etc. One day I'll photograph it and put it up on the web.

  • Not middle-aged. So sue me.

    Back in the early 90's I had some of my most memorable moments on the PC. I was only 7 at the time:

    BBS'ing using the ultra-fast 9600 modem
    Beating people up in the arena in Ambrosia
    Being scared for the first time by a computer game (Doom)

    Ehh, that's mine.
  • The Day I Became Elite []

    oh and falling alseep while on CompuServe and waking up 40 quid poorer

    • I remember back in the day (early 90's) you could sign on to AOL, go into a free area, then launch netscape or mosaic and browse the internet for free. Man what a time. I used to go click occassionaly on something in the free area so they wouldn't jsut see "14 hours on page X" in their logs.
  • Probably going to be a common one for this crowd. I ran my own in the area I live in for several years, it was the only anime board in the area. Had files, games, you name it. I was one of the first people in the city to get a 14.4k modem at the time, the 9600 baud users were happy to be getting the max utilization out of their hardware.

    I worked up a copy of Waffle BBS to execute as a door program from the main system, and had a UUCP feed come in nightly complete with email. I believe I was the first
  • The first computer I got to program was a TRS-80, but my favorite "classic" environment was probably my first Sun SPARCstation 1. Really nice environment and documentation.

    Of course, now that Sun has burned through all of their credibility and good will, I wouldn't touch their stuff with a stick...


  • I may only be 19, but I remember getting home from elementry school, dragging the phone cable from the kitchen, and grabbing the latest ComputerEdge's BBS listing and playing LORD(Legend of the Red Dragon) and talking to others via realtime chat (as in, seeing as they type, mistakes and all) on my old 9600baud modem. Not quite as old as the submission's memories, but still fond.
  • by blincoln ( 592401 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @03:51PM (#13128157) Homepage Journal
    - Going to the local Apple dealer with my mom and dad to pick up an original IIe with a green monochrome display.

    - Convincing my dad to let me have the "Fly the unfriendly skies" Skyfox t-shirt.

    - Buying the Neuromancer videogame with birthday money, and through it finding out about the novel by Gibson.

    - Wasteland.

    - Hacking the Bard's Tale III characters with a hex editor.

    - Getting an Amiga 500 and a genlock, and using it to add primitive effects to home movies.

    - Connecting to local GremCit boards with a 300 baud modem from my Amiga.

    - Getting a hacked account on a local ISP from a friend, and liking it so much that I paid for a legitimate one.

    - IRC and Usenet before the advent of the web.

    - Watching as the world realized the potential of the global network.

    - Meeting young people today who have grown up in a world where they're always connected to their friends and a vast resource of information.
  • PC in Hollywood (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sundroid ( 777083 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @03:52PM (#13128159) Homepage
    And I don't mean "political correctness" either. In the early 80s when I started out in Tinseltown, I was fortunate enough to work for a boss who was into computers, and we got the state-of-the-art Apple IIe!!! People like actress Kim Cattral (a youngster then) would widen her eyes with admiration as she passed by my desk.

    I myself spent $300 on an NBC portable computer (PC-8201A) with a whopping, get this, 16k built-in memory. Not 16 gig, not 16 meg, but 16k! I actually wrote 2 screenplays with that beauty. I'd write six or seven pages and the memory would be full, then I had to download the pages to a cassette tape as a backup memory.

    Flash forward, now in 2005, I'm writing on my blog ( []) about Hollywood and the state of cinema, without ever having to worry about running out of memory.
  • Back in the late 80's I was an operator at a retail company running Prime mini-computers. They were in the middle of a quarter million dollar upgrade when they hit a wall. One of their key applications ran in a business basic package called BP99. BP99 was licensed by system model. It would detect the model and only run in the type of system is was licensed for. Well, BP99 was out of business, we had a new model, and the old one was already out and downstairs in the basement before they figured out what happ
  • I remember using the DOS debug command to perform a low level format of a hard drive. I bought a Western Digital RLL controller and a 40MB MFM hard dive. Using the low level format, I was able to format that drive with RLL encoding to get 65MB of drive space out of my 40MB drive.

    I didn't think I could ever use that much space.
  • Anyone remember when it was running on an old Alpha?
  • We had a TTY 33 (actually two of them in a soundproof booth) at my high school in Hopkins, Minnesota (Lindbergh Flyers!), and each of them used a 110 baud accoustic modem to connect to various timesharing systems.

    MERITSS. T.I.E.S. MIRJE. But by far the most entertaining one we could dial into (at least without getting into trouble) was the MECC Timesharing System, or MTS.

    During my high school years between 1978 and 1981, I was introduced to such concepts as:

    * E-mail between people located in geograp
  • I remember dialing into "chats" on different bulletin board systems. You could upload / download files, send messages to other people. It was pretty cool. All text stuff.
  • Modding a Commodore VIC-20...
    • adding on custom expansion slots, 80-column boards and switch-selectable cartridges
    • bending, riveting, and painting sheet metal to create a case enclosure to protect everything
    • wondering why one of the exposed boards fried when it touched the metal enclosure

    It was an EXCELLENT computer...way ahead of its time.

    Being active in the Commodore 64 world...

    • running a BBS from my Dorm during evening hours
    • being very active with GEOS
    • connecting to Quantum Link to communicate wi
  • USENET/email (Score:2, Interesting)

    by marcus ( 1916 )
    Sitting in the basement at Rice University ~1983 sometime after midnight communicating in near real-time with a professional astronomer in Australia.

    Very cool.

  • by jbarr ( 2233 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @04:23PM (#13128638) Homepage
    Sure, they were geeky dates, but she's now my wife of almost 16 years, so it was worth it.

    We would spend countless hours working our way through Zork I, II, and III on a Commodore 64. We'd map out the rooms on paper and try all sorts of wacky commands to try to get through. That was when computer gaming really took thought instead of quick reaction time.
  • by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @04:32PM (#13128758) Homepage Journal
    It all started for me in 2nd grade, when our teacher (good ole Mr. Cunningham) would bring in his TRS-80 and let kids play with the computer, based on their in-class performance. If you did well on a test or quiz, you got a sticker which could be turned in for computer time, which was a real novelty at the time (1979).

    One day, he had us type in a BASIC program out of a magazine (BYTE? Softside? can't recall) to display a digital clock on the screen - each kid would do a couple lines, then the next would take his turn as class continued on. When it came to my turn, I just kept on trucking, and the teacher didn't say anything. We broke for recess, and after coming back in, I went straight to the computer and kept chugging away, as the teacher resumed class. Once I finished the program, I tried to RUN it, but there were typo's which then proceeded to fix using the line editor (I had seen Mr. C do this before), until I got the thing working. It was probably one of the best school days I ever had, and it was all thanks to his "letting the line out" and giving me the room to explore.

    At the next parent/teacher conference he told my parents about the experience, and that he hadn't seen a kid that age with that level of focus to finish and debug the program for such a long time (boy, has that changed over the years). My grandmother got me a computer for Xmas that year (Atari 400), and things pretty much changed forever from that point forward. It was a pivotal moment for me, and I'll always have to give credit to a great teacher (public school, btw) for providing that opportunity.
  • This device, more than any other, ignited my life-long interest in programming (nearly 30 years ago).

  • - Being on the first 3 Shockwave teams.
    - Creating the first software based MP3 player ever.
    - Working on Lotus 123 Mac right out of college and being reason 3 for why it shipped. :D Then getting laid off. :(
    - Being on the Director team at Macromedia. Too bad it almost killed me.
    - Creating technology that was not market successful but kept us employed during the dot bomb.
    - Writing my first shareware manual for the Vax/VMS TPU Editor.
    - Talking to a a person in Berlin over IRC days before anybody knew the Berl
  • Punched cards (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spaceyhackerlady ( 462530 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @04:54PM (#13129061)

    I'm not sure if "fond" is the right word, but I still remember my very first 1st year Computer Science assignment, essentially "Hello, world" in Algol W. Done on punched cards, no less, in September 1978.

    If you did really well you could use IBM 3270 [] terminals.

    All this was with the campus mainframe, an IBM 370/168 with one whole megabyte of RAM and a 40 MHz clock. Even programmed that puppy's replacement (Amdahl 470/V8) in assembler in one course.

    STM 14,12,12(13)


  • It's amazing how fast someone will scramble to find a boot disk after you add "autoexec.bat" as the last line of that file.

  • 664 BLOCKS FREE (Score:2, Interesting)

    by starakurva ( 453545 )
    Yeah, I was a C-64 twerpo as well, and as I load up my emulator to play Castle Wolfenstein, I am flooded with fond memories of things like:

    Say-It S.A.M, and using it to make crank phone calls

    Using ML Monitor to make a blue box tone program

    and, something I think every c-64 user has been through, taking 6 hours to try to download Jumpman Jr. or similar game, and dealing with those "bad blocks", watching the dashes and colons, only to have Grandma unplug the computer as it's ALMOST done (i.e 2 more hours to
  • These are my two favorite computing memories, at least the two that first came to mind:

    * Tandy PC-3 [] : This was my first computer. I got it when I was 10. I credit it with my long standing infatuation with pocketable and portable computers, programming, and the idea of user-programmable operating environments and applications. It has a whopping 4 KB of memory. And not just RAM, in the sense of working memory- but it was 4KB in which your program and any data would have to fit. It was tiny- smaller than
  • Ganes became when I got my ATI Stereo/FX. I was a little late to the whole sound card era, but either way going from beeps to FM synthesized music and actual wave sound effect was great.
  • by mbadolato ( 105588 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @05:30PM (#13129440)
    I've been with a home system since 1982-ish when I got my Atari 800. while I have many, many fond memories (a 450 baud mode, getting a BBS up and running, getting a digitized 6 second sample of Van Halen's You Really Got Me on the system, figuring out how to change strings in binary games by loading the game into a text editor and searching [strings showed in plain text], etc).

    3 days ago, a friend and I were reminicing about the good ole days, and eventually started talking about the game Miner 2049er. I loved that game. I did a quick google search, and lo and behold... the author of the game wrote an emulator for it a few years ago, and released it to the world! tm []

    I played it when I got home (only a mac and freebsd machines at work and the emulater was a win-only) and it was exactly like I remembered. And still addictive. Try it out. The memories come back :)

    • You just made me remember this MOD I got of "rhythm is a dancer" on my old 286 (significant because I could play "really decent" quality music out of my PC speaker.... okay only one song, but there musta been more somewhere).

      Granted, I'd been able to get that sort of sound out of my C128 if I remember correctly, but still...

  • I fondly remember Concordia University's (Montreal, Canada) Control Data Corporation Cyber 6600 series mainframe, and later the new 800 series (shhhh!) model 835.

    Ah, six bit display code. Didja know that display code :D in columns 1 and 2 (or 10x+1 and 10x+2 for x>=0) of a terminal output line would log the user off? (mwahahahaha!). There was another sequence that would case an internal buffer to be spewed to the terminal. Sometimes this contained account and password information. (I discovered this qu

  • I was the coolest kid in town when my dad brought that 8k pet home. That summer was wasted well, wearing out the colored keys of that computer and watching the hot copy of Star Wars on a massive VCR over a hundred times :]

    Oh those were the days.
  • Once upon a time (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anna Merikin ( 529843 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @06:44PM (#13130109) Journal
    I wanted to write a novel, so, having learned from friends what PCs could be made to do (automatic repagination, easy spellcheck and search-and-replace) I bought a used IBM XT2 (8086, 8MHz) with an upgraded 20-Mb hard disk and CGA graphics for less than a thou.

    First thing I did was install WordPerfect-5.1 (brand new at the time) and mock up a novel-sized document. I then scrolled to the end. I would have sworn it had frozen had the green disk-in-use light not been blinking steadily. I waited for several minutes for it to get to the end (300 pages) and, impatient, left the stopwatch running on the desk next to the puter, went out to dinner, came back hours later only to find the disk access light still flickering regularly.

    Round about midnight, the light's rhythm had changed dramatically, blinking more brightly but less often, and then, WHAM, before my eyes, the last line of the mockup test text appeared!

    Lo and behold, it took a little more than six hours to scroll to the end of a 75-thousand word text.

    I was hooked on making a faster PC right then.

    PS: I am using a fairly modern PC to write this: a Duron 750 with a exactly a thousand times as much RAM (640 Mb) which should be enough for word processing, being ten thousand or so time as fast as the XT2 was, but using the outline feature in Abiword-2.2.x installed on Feather and loaded completely into RAM brings the PC's CPU to its knees, making me wait for updates and scrolling slowly and unevenly, even though there is no swap space being used.

    Makes you think, doesn't it?
  • There are so many... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stungod ( 137601 ) <> on Thursday July 21, 2005 @06:57PM (#13130214) Journal
    pivotal moments in my geek life:

    - Dad getting a pocket calculator and a digital watch in the same year - both with LED displays.

    - The two-part episode of The Bionic Woman where she had to go through the deadly obstacle course to defeat the evil computer...behold the power of technology!

    - Dad was a high school teacher and got to bring home a Commodore PET during the summer for us kids to play with. CLOAD, baby!

    -Spending 4 hours typing some huge BASIC program into the PET out of Byte magazine, 1 finger at a time, losing it once due to power glitch, retyping it the next day, another 3 hours correcting typos, and then finding out that the version of BASIC on the PET wasn't the same as the one used for the program. This is especially frustrating to a 12-year-old with ADD...I had never concentrated so much on a single task. And then to find out the time was all wasted...a good preparation for an adult career in IT.

    - Getting an Apple //e with 2 drives and a green monitor.

    - Learning how to copy games and other protected disks with nibble copying and other nefarious things.

    - Beagle Brothers!!! My God, those guys were the best. I learned all my reverse engineering skills from them. A close second was the TMH disks for Apple II's. They were better for graphics stuff, but weren't as clear in how they worked.

    - Dialing in to a college mainframe with my friend's Atari 400 and a modem you put the handset into.

    - Getting kicked outof my HS computer class because I knew how to program and use computers and the teacher did not. (And they were teaching LOGO! Come On!!)

    - In my first attempt at social engineering, gaining access to the store manager's account on 's mainframe, creating my own account, and giving people raises.

    - Using my first exploit to gain admin rights to an employer's Novell network and read the boss's email.

    There are others, but that's more than enough.
  • by dougmc ( 70836 ) <> on Friday July 22, 2005 @01:09AM (#13132563) Homepage
    One of the most memorable moments was when I was playing an online BBS game called Barons [].

    Basically there was only two of us seriously playing on this BBS door game, and I had the upper hand for a while. But then suddenly I got locked out of the game (presumably due to some bug where I thought I was already playing or something, so it wouldn't let me in) and when I came back, the other guy was whomping on all of my sectors and I was getting my butt kicked.

    As I had previously expanded across the map, I'd take all my soldiers on to the next sector, and leave only one man in each square (so I could still `own' it.) Since I found that 50% taxation (use the money to buy mercenaries) and 0% draft worked best, this one man never grew into more. So I had half the map with only one man per square. But since my border towns had more, so it was basically hard on the outside and soft on the inside. I thought I was relatively safe.

    So, finally I get back in, and I'm reading how I've lost all these squares, square after square after square that the other guy took over. He had like 30,000 men in one army and he was mopping my squares up. But then suddenly there was a battle that I won. He came in with 30,000 men and I had one man. My one man killed his 30,000 men and had stopped his advance cold, since that was the bulk of his forces.

    After that, I sent him a ha ha! (in the Nelson style, but Nelson didn't exist yet) message, and then he sent me back a message about how he'd kill that man, and his family, and his family's family ... but by then, I was back to mopping up the map of this guy.


The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal