My history of computing

A twitter meme passed by today:

People 35 and older: when did you first have a computer in your home? - @thisone0verhere

That's me.

The first computer in my home was a TRS-80 Model II, purchased in or around 1981. Dad had a degree that involved doing a lot of statistics, had learned how to do that using computers (SPSS 1), and thought being able to do that at home would be pretty nifty. This computer was one that loaded programs on cassette tape, which meant running it required three outlets. The day it showed up, we sat it in the middle of the living-room and spread cables everywhere. It came with a Space Invaders game, which was cool.

Computer number two was a Commodore that definitely was not the 64. It was also a business machine. I think that was 1984ish.

Computer number three was an IBM PC, the kind with two floppy drives. It didn't last that long.

Computer number four was an IBM XT, the kind with a 10MB hard drive in it. So fancy. I played a lot of Wizardry on it. I definitely wrote a few school papers using it and a long-forgotten word processor named Xywrite. This was the era when I discovered dialup BBS systems, and what passed for social media at the time. This was also the first technically internet-connected machine, because I was able to use SLIP and the university modem pool to talk to the internet. I was using the IBM XT as a serial console into a terminal server rather than terminating the TCP/IP itself.

Number five was an IBM 386-based machine of some kind (with the math coprocessor). This had WordPerfect 5 on it, complete with the famous blue screen and keyboard hotkey template. This also ran Windows 3.1, and also never terminated a TCP/IP connection that I know of.

The first computer I ever bought for myself was a 486/33 DX, which I got shortly before college (which cost $3K in 2022 dollars). This was my first computer to run a native TCP/IP stack, though that had to wait until my first apartment and an Ethernet card (a 3Com card). It never ran WiFi, but that's because it didn't need to.

Dad had everything to do with why I had a computer in the home as early as I did. He was writing FORTRAN on punchcards before I had words. I believe he was still using some 16-bit FORTRAN right up until he retired. Statistics likes computers!