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Author Topic: Remembering the Good Ol' Days of Computing  (Read 13896 times)

Michael Frazier

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Remembering the Good Ol' Days of Computing
« on: July 05, 2011, 12:28:14 PM »

Marty,

I have to thank YOU for maintaining this site.

It's always a pleasure talking to someone who witnessed
the 'old days'. By the way, we are almost of the same age.
What kind of machines did you use then with the 1200 baud
modem?

My privat 'networking' experience started with a 14.4 and
a software called 'seyon' on a 486/50 PC running Linux 4.2.
The only equipment affordable then.

In my job though I remember sitting at the terminal
of a Univac mainframe with disk drives as big as a
freezer. Must have been at the end of the '70s. I'm
not sure 'bout the year. We did statistics stuff and
I've got no clue of its inner workings then. It was
operated by the companies department of applied
mathematics.

With the advent of Macs and PCs we started to evaluate
lab data by ourselves using software coded by us and
connecting the machines to lab devices. Since then I've
written countless programs in many languages and it's
still fun.

Regards,
Michael

P.S. This is completely off-topic. Please feel free to remove it.

« Last Edit: July 05, 2011, 12:36:00 PM by Michael Frazier »
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Re: How to play nice and fight fair--guidelines for civil discourse
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2011, 01:44:37 PM »

I have to thank YOU for maintaining this site.

My pleasure--when it works!   ;)

Quote
It's always a pleasure talking to someone who witnessed
the 'old days'. By the way, we are almost of the same age.
What kind of machines did you use then with the 1200 baud
modem?

I was on a Victor 9000, an 8088 running at 5 MHz.  I connected to IBM PCs that were hosting the bulletin boards that interested me (one for Turbo Pascal and the other for the Capital Area Victor Users Group [CAVUG] and other Victor users).

Quote
My private 'networking' experience started with a 14.4 and
a software called 'seyon' on a 486/50 PC running Linux 4.2.
The only equipment affordable then.

I spent about a year exploring the wonders of working on a DEC minicomputer using SED, TRON, and TROFF (if I remember the acronyms correctly).  Then along came the Victor, and I was off and running.



Quote
In my job though I remember sitting at the terminal
of a Univac mainframe with disk drives as big as a
freezer. Must have been at the end of the '70s. I'm
not sure 'bout the year. We did statistics stuff and
I've got no clue of its inner workings then. It was
operated by the companies department of applied
mathematics.

With the advent of Macs and PCs we started to evaluate
lab data by ourselves using software coded by us and
connecting the machines to lab devices. Since then I've
written countless programs in many languages and it's
still fun.

I taught myself BASIC, Pascal, ASM, C, C++, PHP, MySQL, HTML, .css, and javascript.  I disassembled a device driver for an external hard drive, found the bad byte that kept it from working with DOS 2.0, and released a patch.  I also cobbled together a system for one of the guys in the house to change from English to Coptic onscreen with one keystroke.  Those were the days!

Quote
P.S. This is completely off-topic. Please feel free to remove it.

I'll move these two posts over the Chatterbox.   ::)
LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
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Friend Weller

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Re: Remembering the Good Ol' Days of Computing
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2011, 09:12:11 PM »

Ahhh...but do you speak Osborne??   ;D

http://oldcomputers.net/osborne.html
Friend
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Remembering the Good Ol' Days of Computing
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2011, 07:34:07 PM »

Ahhh...but do you speak Osborne??   ;D

http://oldcomputers.net/osborne.html

Yes (DOS 1.2 and 2.11) and No (never had my hands on one).

I saw the Victor Vicki on a visit to some folks in New York City, I believe, or at Systems 85 in Munich, where I represented the U.S. Victor Users groups.  A fellow Jesuit did his Ph.D. dissertation on a KayPro--a truly remarkable accomplishment!  I hauled my last Victor 9000 to Goodwill sometime in the 90s. 

They say you never forget your first love.  I still feel more attached to the Victor than to any of the next dozen or so machines I've owned.   :-\
LTM,

           Marty
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Mark Petersen

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Re: Re: How to play nice and fight fair--guidelines for civil discourse
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2011, 09:11:47 PM »

I was on a Victor 9000, an 8088 running at 5 MHz.  I connected to IBM PCs that were hosting the bulletin boards that interested me (one for Turbo Pascal and the other for the Capital Area Victor Users Group [CAVUG] and other Victor users).

Wow, that brings back some memories.  I discovered computing back in the day on DEC VAX platforms and later, HP-1000 minis and HP desktop computers (pre-IBM PC).  I ran one of the earliest BBSes in San Diego (Alpo-Net), I don't remember the name of the first BBS software that I ran, but I eventually settled on Fido-Net BBS software because it was a networked BBS system with e-mail forwarding.  http://www.bbsmates.com/viewbbs.aspx?id=112848   

As a minor aside, someone in the San Diego area worked on the original Unix documentation for Awk back in the 80s and they used a San Diego BBS text list as an example showing how regular expression patterns work.  My old board (Alpo-Net) and several other boards in the SD area have been forever immortalized in Unix and later Linux documentation for awk/gawk/printf, etc.  Here is an example:
http://www.tbs-software.com/guide/index.php?guide=gg.doc%2Fgawk.guide&node=Expression%20Patterns

In fact a google search of "Alpo-Net" +3412 (last 4 digits of my old BBS phone number) will return thousands of hits related to Unix/Linux documentation.

That was the golden era of computing.  I have fond memories of Comdex in Las Vegas and attending the US Robotics Monday Night Football parties....   I personally saw many people make fortunes in short periods of time during the computer boom, unfortunately many of those also lost their shirts later...

By the way, there is an interesting list of BBS history that is being compiled here:
http://bbslist.textfiles.com/

 

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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Re: How to play nice and fight fair--guidelines for civil discourse
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2011, 09:45:14 PM »

Wow, that brings back some memories.  ...

Quite a history, Mark!

I didn't have that depth of involvement in the BBS scene.  I did get some press coverage in my first year of computing.  That's the Victor 9000 behind me.

LTM,

           Marty
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Mark Petersen

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Re: Remembering the Good Ol' Days of Computing
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2011, 11:22:20 AM »

Very impressive Marty.  Most of the first wave of computer users that I knew were also autodidacts like yourself.  Many of the best programmers that I worked with didn't have a degree in the field and did quite well because they had a passion for it.  Those days have sure changed.  I went back and got a CS degree when I saw how the landscape was changing.  Today, most companies want a Masters degree in CS and specialization in areas such as computer engineering (an academic option that didn't exist when I went to school, but an area where I've worked for much of the past 15-20 years). 

Remember AST computers and add-in cards for the IBM PC?  I found out that an engineer that I hired for the company that I currently work is the nephew of the S in AST.   

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Don Dollinger

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Re: Remembering the Good Ol' Days of Computing
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2011, 03:42:23 PM »

Quote
It's always a pleasure talking to someone who witnessed
the 'old days'. By the way, we are almost of the same age.
What kind of machines did you use then with the 1200 baud
modem?

My privat 'networking' experience started with a 14.4 and
a software called 'seyon' on a 486/50 PC running Linux 4.2.
The only equipment affordable then.

In my job though I remember sitting at the terminal
of a Univac mainframe with disk drives as big as a
freezer.

I started out on a "MagCard" basically an electric typewriter with an attachment to the side about the size of a mini fridge that saved all of your keystrokes on a magnetic card.  After typing the document you would stick a brown 3" X 6" magnetic card in the top slot, push the save button, it would suck in the card, make a hell of racket while lighting up little lights of different colors and then spit the card out the bottom slot with all your keystrokes saved.  Print the page, hand edit it, do a line by line correction, resave and start all over again.  We then moved up to a Wang MainFrame with dummy terminals and then naturally progressed to the personal PC's starting with the 8088 and working our way up through the different iterations, 286, 386, 486, etc.  I'll never forget when they came up with an upgrade on the HP 8088 that allowed the installation of up to 2 hard drives to work in unison with the dual 5 1/2" floppys.  We went whole hog and got the biggest upgrade with dual 10MB hard drives.  The technician installed them, and said "WOW, 20MB you'll never fill those".  ROTFLMAO...

Started home computing on a Commodore 64 with a 300 baud modem dialing into a usergroup called "Grandpa's Place".  Did a little rudimentary programming in BASIC and Pet ASCI and decided that wasn't for me.  Moved up to IBM compatibles (386) and when HTML came out it blew me away and I spent a couple of years self learning that and got pretty good at web page design, also played a little with C and C++ but they could never hold my interest as I was more interested in building systems vs writing programs.  Clepped my way to a degree in Information Management and Systems which cemented my career as an IT Analyst.  Still have to chuckle when I think back on the countless hours sitting behind my 13" color TV monitor on my Commodore 64 typing in code (in machine language) from the Commodore magazine.  Would spend hours typing in, debugging, testing, and finalizing a program.  What a sense of accomplishment to play your little Asteroids style game that you wrote yourself and it only took you a week.  Then waiting with baited breath for next months issue to see what little gem they provided the code for that month.   Ah, the good old days!  Try to explain them to my youngest son and his answer is always, "they don't sound so good to me".   ;D

LTM,

Don
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Remembering the Good Ol' Days of Computing
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2011, 07:08:38 PM »

Remember AST computers and add-in cards for the IBM PC?  I found out that an engineer that I hired for the company that I currently work is the nephew of the S in AST.

No, I stayed exclusively in the Victor world until 1990, using a dual-boot Victor/PC machine.  By the time I started in on new hardware, AST was no longer a dominant supplier.
LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Remembering the Good Ol' Days of Computing
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2011, 05:13:05 PM »

Suddenly the Irish Joke thread seems tame.
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Mark Petersen

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Re: Remembering the Good Ol' Days of Computing
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2011, 07:41:37 PM »

Suddenly the Irish Joke thread seems tame.

Nothing worse than a bunch of old farts sitting around doing the "remember when" game...  Perhaps we should rename this thread the Lunestra/Ambien thread.   ;D
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Dan Swift

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Re: Remembering the Good Ol' Days of Computing
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2011, 10:23:07 AM »

Wow!  And I thought I was old (no offense intended) starting out with a 286 and trying to learn DOS.   
I remember the excitement when I moved up to a 386 and got that wonderful new "Windows" program.  Ver 3.1 I believe.  Seems like another lifetime now. 
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Chris Johnson

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Re: Remembering the Good Ol' Days of Computing
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2011, 03:00:32 PM »

I had a job in the late 80's with a German shipping group where we had to carry out a 'DOCS/DACS (Shipping Documents and Accounts) transfer between stations.  Mine was Manchester with west coast South America (Chile and Peru).  Every other week you had to phone the other side and request a transfer.  To do this we did a count down over the phone and them pressed a button on our Modem to initiate transfer.  Only problem was the small time lag in the phone call that you had to guess when pressing the button.

If you got it wrong you had to call the remote station to request again.  I didn't speak spanish and they didn't speak english.  My least favourite job of all time when it went wrong.
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Harry Howe, Jr.

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Re: Remembering the Good Ol' Days of Computing
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2011, 05:30:06 PM »


The Good Old Days
Between 1960 1nd 1963 I worked for a Research Lab associated with the college that I was attending.  The computer we were using was a Bendix G-10 using a language called ALGOL (Algebraic Operating Language). a orerunner to FORTRAN.  The puter was all vacuum tubes and gave off enough heat to keep the place warm  Its "hard" drive was a rotating dteel cylinder coated with iron oxide.
Then I went to grad school and Fortran.  Then a TRS 80 Model 2 with a 300 baud modem.
Oh my.
No Worries Mates
LTM   Harry (TIGHAR #3244R)
 
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Irvine John Donald

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Re: Remembering the Good Ol' Days of Computing
« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2011, 09:56:51 PM »

Guess who has a working Osborne model 1 in his office as a conversation piece.   ;D
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
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