Introduce yourself thread

#1

This here forum is for staying in touch, for those with an interest in retrocomputing, computer history, vintage computing, and similar things. Some of will be collectors, others tinkerers, perhaps makers. Some will be users of software, some writers of software, some will be more comfortable with hardware.

So: please introduce yourself! Feel free to mention any accidents with soldering irons, null pointers, interrupt service routines, sharp-edged cabinets, heavy power supplies.

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#2

(Of course it is entirely optional to introduce yourself!)

#3

Here’s my intro as posted in the 6502.org forums:

About me: Someone gave me a “How Why and Wonder” book of computers at an early age, and someone mentioned electronic brains, and that must have set me off. There was a diagram in that book with a battery and a light bulb and two switches in series, which was supposed to illustrate AND logic. I didn’t get it, but that was a challenge.

Maybe this was the book?
Image

At the age of 13, I got a paper round, and sometime around then I started buying “Practical Electronics.” There was a hugely complex project to build a Mastermind game with 74-series logic, and shortly afterwards a much shorter project to do the same with a micro. I’d done a paper design to make a combination lock with 74-series, which had got out of hand, and it was obvious that microprocessors were the thing.

The AIM-65 was advertised around that time, maybe the KIM. Certainly the MK14 (an SC/MP thing, cheap but not very capable) was.

So when the magazine had a series on the Compukit UK101 (August 79), that had to become my first microcomputer - expensive as it was, and I think I needed a matching grant from my mother (which was unheard of, don’t tell my brothers.)

But wait! In fact earlier than that, me and a couple of friends had put money together to hire a PET. That was mad. It might have cost £65, we had it for 24 hours, stayed up all night, achieved very little. Bear in mind my weekly income was probably no more than £2.

So maybe the 6502 had already loomed large before I’d gone for the UK101.

(The UK101 was a kit, so it was also my first real effort at soldering: I had a grab bag of 74-series which I’d bought for the combination lock, and might have had some vero board, but I don’t think I had any experience. The 101 didn’t work first time, so I just re-visited every IC pin, and it worked second time. I had no test equipment, unless there happened to be a multimeter around the house, so I don’t know what I would have done if it hadn’t.)

Some years later I bought a Beeb - I know they were only for rich kids, but I had a secret. I was a student, and in those days if you spent no money at all on living (i.e. drinking, smoking, other forms of intoxication) you could actually run a surplus.

Some many years after the Beeb, I went for the Amiga, but then we’re straying off topic. By then I’d started work in the chip industry, and for the most part I’ve worked in or near CPU teams, in supporting roles. It can’t be entirely coincidence: I continue to find processors fascinating.

Most recently, I’ve picked up on FPGAs and got involved with the visual6502 project. Having the 6502 circuit and layout to analyse and simulate is great. Being able to make our own chips is also great - updating a chip design in-circuit in a matter of seconds is extraordinary.

Long story short: I end up fixated on computers, on logic, on electronics, on the 6502 in particular. I find small programming puzzles interesting, and large programming projects difficult.

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#4

My name is Harry Reed. I’ve been into computing, professionally, since 1978. Currently playing with the NS32000 clone from Udo Moller. Started the project that eventually resurrected Multics.

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#5

Hans Otten, born in 1951 a small town called Weesp near Amsterdam.

Got a Philips Pionier diy radio kit when I was 12, and it determined my future!
More kits later, went to university to study physics and discovered a PD_8 with papertape loader in the lab!
So computer science was my second master (Amsterdam Compiler kit first steps!) after medical physics.
Got seriously into electronics, became a freelance editor for Radio Bulletin in 1978, at that time a big electronics dutch magazine.Our intro into microprocessors was the KIM-1, and we build many extensions and published about that. Besides designing hardware I reviewed most of the then new home computers, PET, C64, Apple, OSI, TRS80, and many more.
In 1979 I became editor for the dutch KIM-1 user club magazine, that later did much with the 6502 (DOS65 systems). Pascal is and was my preferred language and Niklaus Wirth my hero!
My daytime job at DEC (yes, the Digital Equipment company!) involved software engineering, structured programming expertise, developing drivers for the PDP-11, working as a teacher for customers and DEC specialists in operating systems internals of RSX-11M and VAX/VMS.
Moved on to international engineering of DEC, translating, software engineering, Quality Assurance, project leading. Did a lot of work on networking (DECnet!) of PC’s, advised customers, did project management and got inetrested in the business side of Software Architecture. Not much free time, so just PC’s and some MSX computers, The KIM-1 was stored (and is today still operational!).
Changed job to IT manager of a logistic company and in my freetime collected hobby computers of the 80ties, most the types I reviewed in the 80ties.and the electronics kits made by Philips in the 70ties and 80ties
When moving to a smaller house I sold all collections. But kept the electronics and got interested again in 6502, Z80 and Raspberry Pi and Arduino.
As I am retired now I have more time to play with the small systems, still very fond of SBC’s. Most 6502 but the Z80 has its place.
I maintain several personal interest websites, most notably the http://retro.hansotten.nl and http://msx.hansotten.com

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#6

Hi ! My name is Manuel Viet. I’ve been a computer nerd since my teens in the early-80’s ; I discovered programming in magazines back then, and I was self-teaching myself writing programs on paper at least a couple of years before I had a real computer to test them on, circa '85. I dabbled a couple of months on an Oric 1, but by luck (which is a story in itself) I soon had a funky Japanese Frankenstein kind of early computer with both a Z80 and M68K processors as my own. I switched to Microsoft powered PCs in the 90s, for lack of choice then.
Although I never pursued computing studies, opting for law school instead, I’ve followed closely the advance in technology. In '98 I discovered Linux and soon switched all my computing to this environment, and I’m still there to this day. In the meantime I’ve tried my hands on other unix-like systems, Digital Alpha and Sun Sparc mainly.
I’m truly a hobbyist, and I have an interest in computing history - but I prefer big irons and business machines over home 8 bits.
I have a couple of machines I take care of. Too few to be a “collection”, but an interesting sample of the late 20th century PC computers.

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#7

Thanks for your stories!

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#8

Continuing the discussion from Introduce yourself thread:

Pleased to meet you. My first micro was a SC/MP. I wrote a hex calculator program for it and an article about it for National Semi and they sent me an early digital watch for my trouble. I learned to program, FORTRAN II and FAP (assembler), on an IBM 709 (vacuum tube era) at the University of Washington, where I, much later, earned a MSc in computer science. I currently tinker with Raspberry Pi’s while thinking of reasons to put one inside a radio controlled model plane. I go by Randyl.

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#9

Ha! Accidents with soldering irons? THAT is how I remind myself how they work. :slight_smile: Reading about old machines really brings back memories and I appreciate all the descriptions of systems I did not get to know. There is real history here.

My first attempt was an 8080/8086 homebrew wirewrap followed by a COSMAC VIP which taught me about the value of power line conditioning. [sigh] I then moved on to a TI98 and TI99 in high school.

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#10

The name is Chris Gallaty. I was introduced to the Apple ][ back in the early 80s and got hooked. I was a C64 guy (what I could afford) but scrapped together the cash to get a 386 33DX eventually. By then I was pull into the lure of Unix at the university and I was running Linux on my 386 around a year after Linux released it on the masses. Since then I’ve snagged anything I can get my hands on to code for including Palm Pilots, every flavor of mobile, watches (including the MetaWatch back in the day), I’ve played with writing Roku channels, etc, etc. I have a love of all things digital, and believe that there was a simplicity to yearly computers that allowed for a much deeper understanding of how things worked.

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#11

Hello I’ve been ‘doing’ computers since I was very young, and that was long ago. I built my first computer with resisters, potentiometers and a meter. (an Analog computer) I have built, bought, programmed and collected quite a lot of machines since. I would contribute the whole collection to a worthy group if there were one within 100K from here.

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#12

Hi All. My first computer was an Altair kit in 1976. This was then upgraded to a IMSAI a year later. I did a lot of wire wrapping at the time. I was working in public health at the time but had a strong electronics background - my father was a EE in the aerospace industry and it rubbed off. In 1978 I became the first employee of a computer store as the technical support person. I was factory trained by Apple, AlphaMicro, Processor Technology and a bunch more. This chain grew to over 43 stores but I never saw this because I was hired by Digital Equipment Corp (DEC) in 1981 as a software specialist - Oh yeah my home became a PDP-11/20 somewhere around 1980. This grew to be an 11/34A in 1983. As my career moved on I ended up automating manufacturing plants, writing custom device drivers RSX11 and VAX/VMS and system level software - a lot of small and very large projects. I became a security partner, a Alpha/VMS migration specialist and finally a SAP certified Basis Consultant. I ended up leaving DEC in late 1996 when DEC started to decline. I then started working as a contractor in steel manufacturing and then finally an employee of a steel company. I have been now working in the automation of steel manufacturing for 22 years. And yes - we still use VMS. We have at least 8 - 3 node and 1-5 node DEC/COMPAQ/HP Alpha/VMS clusters running in various L1/L2 functions. I’ve programed in 8080, 6502, PDP-11 & VAX assembler. FORTRAN, C, BASIC, Pascal, Bliss, C++, C#, VB, PHP, Perl, Shell and ABAP. Needless to say, I’m about ready to retire - I’m not sure if computer software/hardware will let me rest.
TomR

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#13

The first computer that I used was a TRS-80 Model I Level II (upgraded from a Level I) that my dad brought home one summer to learn how to use in his classroom. I took to programming quickly and moved to Commodore PETs in high school with a short stint on the school’s mainframe programming in FORTRAN.

Then came college (computer science degree) and I purchased my own PC: A Sperry HT (IBM XT clone) and moved into my career as a computer scientist. I called many BBSs until they started dying out as the Internet took over.

Now, I want to pick up the knowledge that I never got: mostly hardware. I actually started into that by doing some Arduino projects.

My collection is TRS-80 Pocket Computers (2, 3 and 4), some Tandy 102s. I also have an Altair-Duino connected to a TI Silent 700 teletype (with the “high speed” option of 1200 BPS) and an RC2014.

Currently I am in the process of restoring a Commodore 64 (mainly a recap and new voltage regulators, plus heat sinks) and I have a Tandy 1100FD and 1400HD in the repair queue.

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#14

@EdS, I think I had the same How and Why Wonder book (one of several), and remember the same circuit. Did they have an OR circuit as well? I must admit, I didn’t make the intuitive leap to real digital circuits until much later.

So, anyway, I’m Daryl, and I’ve been a computer nerd since '76. I’ve always an interest in all things blinkenlights, and can remember on my 10th birthday buying my first electronics magazine, which was Australia’s ETI. In September (?) that year they published a special on Microprocessors, and from that point on my demise was ensured. Currently I’m an SRE for a large cloud gaming concern, but my love of computers from that era has never faded. I own several Tandy Model 100s and 102s, an Atari 800XL and TI-99/4. Although I have very little spare time these days to pursue my (far too many) side projects, number 1 on that list is to get some Russian PDP-11 chips up and running in a usable fashion.

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#15

Gordon here. Often under the name of Drogon elsewhere (it’s a dull old anagram I’ve used since '92).

Started computing in '78. Trying to collect stuff that is/was relevant to my life time - or stuff I have hands-on experience with. This doesn’t explain why I have a '386 Altos Unix system though… maybe one day I’ll get an HP9830A that it all started on, who knows.

Enthusiast of the 6502 - lurk/posts on 6502.org (Apple/Beeb more than PET/Vic20/C64 though)

Building my own 6502 based SCB systems - trying to re-imagine what it might look like today (mostly from software point of view) with what I know now, than what I knew then, so who knows, but right now it’s looking more like a BBC Micro that I originally intended. Oh well.

Cheers,

-Gordon

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#16

Welcome everyone and thanks for your stories. It’s great to see such a breadth of experience and interests.

@dt1802 it turns out the book can be read online now:

#17

That’s the one @EdS. The huge muscly MOBOT triggered a wave of nostalgia.

image

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#18

Hi everyone! Pleased to meet you!

My name is Alejandro, I’m from Argentina and I 35 years old. I have touched a Commodore 64 in my childhood, and my fascination for these computer generation sleep until my twenties, when I have been able to repair my first retro computer: A Talent MSX (a Canon DCP 200 clone) , this first spark has revived my interest and curiosity for the retro computing and retro consoles, still amazing me the capability of these machines and the capability of the people that have been worked on them. This emotion have formed me, at the point that I’m working as software engineer with a degree in systems too, I hope to have time in the future to make a research about the 8 bit ages and write something to share with the people that doesn’t know about it or ignore the events that are under the hood of the birth of our current technologies.

I hope to share more anecdotes and learn with everyone!

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#19

Dear All,

Hello from Marcus Bennett. Looks like I have made it to the other side.

First the recriminations :slight_smile: Not sure I will ever totally forgive Google from dropping G+, a true home for things more meaningful and involved than Facebook.

Having said that, I’ve been involved in Computers, man, boy, and child, since the 1970’s. And in those days that was rather unusual. I still maintain a rather large Vintage Computer website dedicated mostly to S100 computers and Cromemco in particular. You will find it at https://amaus.net/static/S100/cromemco/ (please don’t attempt a full site download, I will track you down ). Always happy to Help and Share and contribute. Life is too short to be Grumpy.

marcus

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#20

Hi,

Another new member moving over from the Retro Computing group on Google+. I’m a big fan of the ZX Spectrum and text adventures plus spend a fair bit on time doing retro programming, mostly Z80, BASIC and FORTH.

I also play a few programming games - where you write a program to fight to the death with an opponent’s program!

John

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