My 40 Years of Computing — what’s yours?
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For fun, here is a list of the computers I've used over the years:
Atari 400 (1983): My first computer with 16K of RAM. I learned BASIC on it and for several months couldn't save the programs I wrote because I couldn't afford the cassette drive!
Atari 800XL (1984): A whopping 64K of RAM and built-in BASIC. I continued programming in BASIC and added Pascal and C. Plus I got a 180K disk drive!
Atari 1040ST (1988): I bought shortly after I started college. It had an incredible (for the time) 1MB of RAM, a super-sharp 640x480 monochrome CRT display, and a 720K disk drive. I primarily programmed it using GFA BASIC, Personal Pascal and various C compilers.
Atari Mega STe (1992): With 4MB RAM, a 16Mhz CPU and a 105MB hard drive this was one tricked-out Atari! This was a great system that I wish I had kept because it would be worth quite a bit today (and I really liked it). During this time I made and sold some shareware, distributed on Delphi and GEnie.
Generic AT&T PC (1995): Alas, Atari went out of businessso I eventually switched to a PC. I couldn't bring myself to use Windows 3.1 (or Windows 95) at the time so I specifically purchased a machine that was compatible with OS/2 Warp, which I installed from something like 20 floppy disks. This bad boy had the first Pentium CPU, which ran at around 60Mhz (and had the infamous floating point bug). At this point I started my professional career, programming in Advanced Revelation.
(1996 to 2001) When OS/2 didn't get traction, I eventually built my own PCs to run Windows NT 4. I never used any of the DOS-based versions of Windows. During this time I was primarily programming using PowerBuilder.
PowerMac G4 466Mhz (2001): With the release of OS X, I purchased my first Macintosh. I immediately switched it to boot into Mac OS X and never used Mac OS 9. This was quite a departure for me as I had been using Windows for years as a PowerBuilder developer and was now starting as a .NET developer. But I soon found I also wanted to write programs for the Mac. Not wanting to use CodeWarrior, I instead started using Xojo (REALbasic at the time).
PowerMac G4 Dual 1Ghz (2002): This was my first dual processor machine. It was incredibly noisy with lots of small, loud fans. Eventually Apple actually did a "recall" of sorts and replaced the power supplies with ones with quieter fans.
iMac Core Duo 2.0Ghz (2006): I bought the original Intel iMac the day that Parallels desktop was announced so that I could easily run Windows XP (for .NET development) on my Mac. This was a refurb and came with a better video card than I ordered, a nice surprise. Because it was a 32-bit Intel CPU it had a limited useful lifespan for me as it only could support a maximum of 2GB RAM.
MacBook Pro 15" Core 2 Duo 2.4Ghz (2008): I bought my first laptop when I started doing full-time consulting. Also a refurb, it came with a larger hard drive than I ordered. I primarily used it for coding with Xojo) and .NET. Eventually this was upgraded to its max of 6GB of RAM, a 7200rpm internal HD and an SSD in the ExpressCard slot. It had its Nvidia card die out of warranty, but it was covered by Apple as part of its Nvidia replacement program.
Mac Pro Quad Core 2.93 Ghz (2010): One of my all-time favorite computers, which had many upgrades to SSDs, 32GB RAM, a 3.2Ghz 6-core CPU, and an Nvidia GeForce 750ti for 4K video. I used it for Xojo software development, video editing, virtual machines and anything else I could throw at it.
MacBook Air 11" 1.4Ghz (2010): This was the first of the "new model" Air form factor that is still used until a few years ago. It was pretty slow, with only 2GB RAM and a sluggish Intel CPU.
MacBook Air 11" 1.3Ghz (2014): I purchased this as a refurb to replace the 2010 Air and it ended up coming with 8GB RAM instead of the 4GB I ordered. Since I was not remote often, this worked fine for my purposes, but the screen was pretty bad.
Mac mini i7 (2019): This replaced my Mac Pro and is the computer I primarily use today.
Lenovo ThinkBook Ryzen 5 (2021): I do like this Windows laptop, which has a touchscreen, excellent performance and reasonable battery life.
The Atari 400 I had in 1983 had 16K RAM and a 1.8Mhz CPU. My Mac mini has 64GB of RAM (67,108,864K) and a 4.2Ghz CPU (4200Mhz). That is amazing progress in 40 years! What will the next 40 years bring?
I’d love to hear other’s experiences. Share your computing history in the comments. For me personally, this year I hope to get a hold of some classic computers I never got a chance to use, including the TI 99/4a, Commodore 64 and Commodore Amiga.
Technically they merged with a hard drive company, but effectively they ceased to exist, at least as a computer company.
Grade School: Tandy Color Computer - My mom bought me this since I was starting to get into home computers after playing lots of video games. I've first learned BASIC & LOGO programming with it.
High School: Atari 130XE - From junior high to my graduation I finally had the Atari home computer I've always wanted but with Power Without The Price! My BASIC programming skills were greatly expanded upon thanks to a subscription to Antic magazine with its type-in programs.
College: Atari 1040STe - Using Macs in high school made me fall in love with GUI computers, so after seeing an ST in action with both a Mac-like desktop and the ability to play "more grown up" games I had to have one. Being able to type term papers and access the school's VAX computer for programming projects made it essential. Even better I could use DOS formatted disks to exchange files with the PCs in the college lab.
Between schools: IBM PS/2 Model 25 - Someone from the local Atari user group gave it to me to use as an Internet terminal. When my ST monitor died, I used the IBM for its 80-column display for dial-up UNIX shell connection as well as a text editor running in the background.
University: Pentium II w/ Windows 98 - But after going back to school I needed a 'real' PC. I had to get this on a payment play because my student loan money wasn't released for a couple of months. Not only I used the same programs that were on the college lab computers but also finally be able to play those cool 90's PC games.
Adult Life: Just kept upgrading PC's using AMD processors, even had a period of using Linux as my main OS while keeping Windows for games...until I got Windows 7 which was the first version I 'liked' using and upgraded that to Windows 10 later on.
Current: An Intel i5 Quad Core with Windows 10 as my daily driver in my office room and a Raspberry Pi 4 in my bedroom for remote work-at-home stuff that's also as a modern "Atari" computer via Ubuntu and Aranym running FreeMiNT.
My family’s first computer was a Texas Instruments 99/4a. My grandparents found one at a drastically reduced price during the “home computer wars” circa 1984. Then a DTK IBM-compatible with one of those odd NEC V30 8086 Intel compatible CPUs.