What was your first?

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Profile Allie in Vancouver
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Message 867939 - Posted: 22 Feb 2009, 5:21:48 UTC

The first (actually, only) computer I ever programmed:

Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.

Albert Einstein
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Message 868010 - Posted: 22 Feb 2009, 10:58:32 UTC - in response to Message 867259.  

Here's My 1st computer.

An ATARI 400 w/64K ram!

Yay, that was my first one, too. It only had 16k of RAM and it still works, as does the 800XL, 130XE, 520 STFM (4 Megs fitted with Overscan graphics mod) and an IBM XT. First computer I used was a DEC PDP-8 - I loved the colours they came in!

Don't take life too seriously, as you'll never come out of it alive!
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Profile Westsail and *Pyxey*
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Message 868022 - Posted: 22 Feb 2009, 12:14:29 UTC

Texas Instruments TI-99/4
Introduced: June 1979
Released: November 1979
Price: US$1,150 with monitor
CPU: TI TMS9900 @ 3MHz
Memory: 16K RAM, 26K ROM
Display: Composite Video
RF modulator for TV display
32 X 24 text
192 X 256, 16 colors
Ports: ROM cartridge (on front)
Data storage cassette
Audio/Video output
Joystick input
CPU bus expansion
Peripherals: Speech Synthesizer
External 5-1/4" floppy drive
Thermal printer
Data storage cassette
RS-232 serial interface

"Sidecar" expansion units can be attached to the system bus on the right side of the TI-99/4. These include:
Name/description Part number Original price
Speech Synthesizer PHP-1500 $149.95
RS-232 Controller PHP-1700 $224.95
Disk Controller PHP-1800 $299.95
Disk Drive
(needs PHP-1800) PHP-1850 $499.95
Thermal printer PHP-1900 $399.95
Memory Expansion (32K) PHP-2200 $399.95
Video Controller PHP-2300 $699.95

Seen above is the TI-99/4 console with the Memory Expansion (32K RAM), RS-232 Serial, and Disk Controller sidecars attached. Hope you have a wide desk to hold it all! More sidecars can be attached, but the TI-99/4 can only use six maximum (Speech Synthesizer must be first, Memory Expansion second).

The Memory Expansion unit does not have any connectors other than the system bus, but seen below are the rear-connections of the RS-232 (with two serial ports), the Disk Expansion, and the Video Controller.

Some say that the Video Controller was the most expensive, and possibly the most rare and desirable TI-99/4 peripheral. With the appropriate software, the Video Controller can be used to control a VCR to synchronize its functions with those of the computer.

The RS-232 sidecar is for serial communications with other peripherals, such as the TI-modem (left), which is used for telecommunications (dial-up) with other computers.

The Home Computer can send and receive messages, data, and entire programs through a standard telephone. It communicates with similarly equipped computers at remote locations, and accesses data bases and software services. So you can access stock prices, airline schedules, weather, restaurant menus, and shoppers guides. Uses the RS232 Interface and Terminal Emulator II.
The RF modulator (right) allows you to use your television instead of a computer monitor for the display.

In February 1981, TI replaced the $450.00 Zenith monitor with a $399.95 Panasonic monitor. It has a smaller 10-inch screen instead of 13-inch.

Later that year, in June, TI replaced the TI-99/4 with the new and improved TI-99/4A. It has a better graphics chip and a much-improved keyboard.
* 1954: Texas Instruments produces the first commercial silicon transistor.
* 1958: TI engineer Jack Kilby co-invents the integrated circuit.
* 1964: Texas Instruments receives a patent on the integrated circuit.
* 1967: TI develops the hand-held calculator.
* 1971: TI develops the first microcomputer-on-a-chip, containing over 15,000 transistors.
* 1976: June - Texas Instruments introduces the TMS9900, the first 16-bit microprocessor
* 1979: June - TI introduces the TI-99/4 personal computer, for an initial price of US$1500, including a color monitor.
* 1979: November - TI begins shipping the TI-99/4.
* 1980: January - Production problems haunt TI-99/4 for the first few months of 1980 and TI is selling fewer than 1000 units per month.
* 1980: TI introduces a 5 1/4-inch mini-floppy disk drive for the TI-99/4. It can store up to 90KB per disk. Price for controller is US$300; price for disk drive is US$500.
* 1980: TI introduces a 300 baud modem for the TI-99/4 for US$225.
* 1980: TI introduces a thermal printer for the TI-99/4. It produces 5x7 dot matrix characters, at 30 CPS, on 3 1/2-inch thermal paper. Price is US$400.
* 1980: TI introduces an RS-232 interface for the TI-99/4. Price is US$225.
* 1981: June - The new and improved TI-99/4A Home Computer is unveiled.
* 1982: January - TI introduces a Peripheral Expansion Box for the TI-99/4A for $250. Expansion cards are approximately $300 - $500 each.
* 1982: February- Unsatisfied at Texas Instruments, three engineers (Rod Canion, Jim Harris, Bill Murto) leave and form Compaq Computers, to build the world's first true IBM clone, the Compaq Portable. It was an incredible success.
* 1982: June - TI hires Bill Cosby as the ad campaign spokesman for their Home Computer. It costs TI $1 million a year.
* 1983: January - TI announces the TI-99/2.
* 1983: March - Texas Instruments introduces the Compact Computer 40 (CC-40). It runs on four AA batteries, lasting up to 200 hours.
* 1983: June - TI drops plans to market the TI-99/2.
* 1983: June - TI releases the plastic beige console version of the TI-99/4A.
* 1983: July - TI ships the 1 millionth TI-99/4A.
* 1984: January - TI has sold 2.5 million TI-99/4As.
* 1984: March - TI gives-up and drops-out of the home computer market altogether.
Source: Chronology of Events in the History of Microcomputers
TI-99 Home Computer Timeline by Bill Gaskill
"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not Eureka! (I found it!) but rather, 'hmm... that's funny...'" -- Isaac Asimov
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Profile [KWSN]John Galt 007
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Message 869337 - Posted: 25 Feb 2009, 15:04:36 UTC - in response to Message 868022.  
Last modified: 25 Feb 2009, 15:05:12 UTC

First programming class I took was on one of those (the 4A version)...I was the youngest in the class...

Brings back memories...

Also, the first 'internet' use was using a VT100 in the basement of my dorm in college. It was hooked up to a DEC 11/??, and remember using it to get software from a Mac repository at Boston College or MIT, and playing MUDs...

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Profile Michael Belanger, W1DGL

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Message 870467 - Posted: 28 Feb 2009, 15:45:31 UTC - in response to Message 867939.  

The first (actually, only) computer I ever programmed:

"Showing my age" here, but I remember those and vaguely remember how to use one. Also used the "circular" version of that (Flight Computer).
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Profile Bill Walker

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Message 871403 - Posted: 2 Mar 2009, 18:28:48 UTC - in response to Message 870467.  
Last modified: 2 Mar 2009, 18:29:49 UTC

Ah yes, round slide rules. I still have my E6B, and my father's government issue one, somewhere in the basement.


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Profile tullio
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Message 871790 - Posted: 3 Mar 2009, 17:18:44 UTC - in response to Message 868022.  
Last modified: 3 Mar 2009, 17:19:29 UTC

The TI99/4A had a LOGO Interpreter and the National Research Council of Italy had it translated into Italian (bad idea) in order to use it to teach programming skills to students in primary schools. The Mondadori Publishing house had prepared a full set of accompanying books, including an Italian translation of "Alas para la mente" by Horacio C.Reggini. Then Texas Instruments decided not to produce the hardware and the whole project was killed. But "Turtle geometry" by H.Abelson and A.Disessa is still worth reading. One can use it to practice the general relativity experiments of Gravity Probe B.
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Profile Carlos
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Message 872079 - Posted: 4 Mar 2009, 16:46:07 UTC - in response to Message 868022.  

Ok how do we define first. I still keep one of these in my desk and brief case. If all I need is an approximate answer, then the slide rule is a faster tool.

My first electronic computer is:

Mine had 16 k of ram. I so hated the keyboard that I made my own out of a teletype machine.
My first programming job was on one of these. It happened to be my second computer.
I still have two of them sitting in the garage. Both are the 4A models.

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Message boards : Cafe SETI : What was your first?

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