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Posted by: briansittley Comments: 0 0 Post Date: August 12, 2009

 trs80

That there is a genuine Radio Shack TRS-80 Model III Personal Computer.  Circa 1981.  Mine actually.

For me, this is where it all started.

Back then, the computer world seemed finite.  You could almost know it all — at least, that’s what it felt like.  It wasn’t, of course.

I devoured Byte Magazine and held my breath in anticipation of the next issue of whatever they called the monthly journal for TRS-80 enthusiasts.  Like many of my early PC brethren, I recall staying up til 2 in the morning, hacking out code, learning, thinking it couldn’t be past 11 pm, mesmerized.  Hooked. 

We used to type in line after line of code, copied meticulously from books, to create little programs that never ran the first time.  Several more passes would correct my typos.  Then, countless more hours raking through the code to figure out where the book itself was wrong, and correcting those errors.  And finally, voila… some stupid graphic program like The Flying Wollendas, featuring pixellated graphics of stick-acrobats in motion. 

Later, getting more creative I recall writing a program that would figure out prime numbers, then print them in sequence.  Back then, PCs were so slow that you could actually hear the distance between prime numbers as they went higher — evidence of the computer ‘thinking’ during each loop as it calculated successive primes, then burping out a result at the printer.  That one took days…

Later, I graduated to using a cassette tape recorder to actually store and reload programs.  Otherwise, you lost your work every time you turned off the PC.  Still, if the tape recorder volume wasn’t just so…  you could still end up with a data dump.  We actually tolerated these things.  You do that when you’re in love, no?

Sometime later, I took my dad to a Radio Shack store.  I attempted to describe to him the revolutionary concept of The Spreadsheet.  In a moment of sheer prescient brilliance, he bought me a copy of VisiCalc.  That was it.  A career was soon launched.  The rest is history.

By the way, Thanks, Dad.

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