Comparing today’s computers to 1995’s

Relatively Interesting February 23, 2012 114
Comparing today’s computers to 1995’s

I recently stumbled upon a computer science project I did in high school (way back in 1995) entitled “Technology in Society”. We were tasked with finding newspaper articles that demonstrated technology in various work spaces. Discovering a gem like this – especially after a decade and a half has gone by – is eye opening and mind boggling.

Reading through it, I drifted back to my teenage years and recalled my earliest experiences with a PC: the excitement and surprise when reading through Compton’s Encyclopedia; playing DOOM and Wolfenstein with a newly installed sound card; and browsing a primitive Web 1.0 Internet on Netscape Navigator. These experiences would form the foundation for my future career in the online, interactive space.

fall 1995 computer

 

Home computing has come a very long way, and so I thought I’d share a few of the articles from that 1995 project.

The first article article, written by Paul De Groot and published in 1995 in the Montreal Gazette, goes on to say…

 

“Let me tell you about a computer advertisement from 1993.

One company was advertising 9,600-baud modems for as low as $500. Dell was selling a top-of-the-line 486 with a 66MHz processor, eight megabytes of RAM and a 320-megabyte hard drive for $4,400.

The single biggest difference is in the hard drive prices. Three hundred dollars got you 80 megabytes, and a one-gigabyte drive from IBM cost more than $3,000. Single speed CD-ROMs sold for $600. Today, if you could buy this hardware, it would cost between 10 and 25% of what it cost two years ago.

Here’s the autumn 1995 version of a basic computer:

Memory (RAM): We seem to have convinced most manufacturers to adopt eight megabytes as standard, compared with four megabytes in 1994. Don’t buy less than eight. The difference in performance between an eight megabyte machine and a four-megabyte machine can be dramatic.

Hard Drives: One-gigabyte hard drives are common this year, compared with the 400-500 megabyte drives of 1994. The price difference between the two is only about $200, and it’s worth it.

Monitors: In 1995, we’re edging into 15-inch monitors as standard, compared with the 14-inchers of the past, but the extra inch adds little. If you really need more monitor, go for a 17-inch screen and pay the $400 premium.

Video: We’re into 24-bit accelerated video cards these days, and while these cards look great in benchmark tests, faster processors and faster circuitry make accelerated video less critical. The 24-bit feature affects color depth – that is, the ability of the computer to display more than 256 colors (which is eight-bit color). A 24-bit card can display up to 17 million colors – nice if you’ve got 24-bit images to look at, but few programs require such depth. You needn’t go to 24-bit color to improve on the standard 256-color display: many inexpensive video cards have 32,000 or 64,000 color modes which are already a substantial improvement.

Sound cards: In 1995, we’re seeing more cards with wavetable synthesis, which provides more realistic representation of musical instruments. But there’s not much software which requires this: the sound of a plasma blaster in DOOM is not a musical instrument. Unless you’re serious about music, you might want to pass on wavetable sound for now.

Modems: The 14.4k modems are on the way out and 28.8 is in. I’d tend toward 28.8 for about an extra $100, but a 14.4 is pretty quick and will capably handle email.

CD-ROMs: In 1994, double-speed drives were mainstream and quad-speed drives were in the future. Well, the future is here. I’d like to say you don’t need to spend extra here, but I think software makers are already assuming people have quad-speed drives. Go for a quad if you can.”

Here is a table to visualize how far we’ve come in 17 years:

Part
1995 PC
2012 PC
Memory
8mb at $400 per 4 MB
4 gigabytes is common…, which is 4,000 megabytes
Hard Drive
400 to 1000 megabytes
500 Gigabytes is low end… which is 500,000 megabytes.  500 GB can be as low as $80.  Terabyte drives are common (1,000,000 megabytes) for less than the cost of a 1994, 400MB drive
Processor
33MHz
4,000 MHz+ with multiple cores and countless optimizations (clock speed is not a clear measurement for processing power)
Video
24-bit accelerated
PCI Express 2 (replacing PCI, and then AGP) with 1-2 Gigabytes of dedicated RAM, for about $250
Monitor
14” CRT
22” wide screen LCD/LED
Sound
Sound Blaster 16 (16-bit)
24-bit, PCI Express, 3d, quad core processors with onboard RAM
Modem
28.8
Obsolete, except for users in very rural areas
Optical Disk
2x CD-ROM
BluRay, DVD, some CD-ROM left…
 
 

“Yanks big on home tech”, by David Jundson, 1995 in the Montreal Gazette.

yanks big on homr tech“On a typical day, 24 million Americans use a home computer for some personal or work related task,” reports the Time Mirror Center for the People and The Press in a study. The report found a “new wave” of demographically distinct consumers is joining the ranks of computer users. CD-ROM drives, capable of offering users moving graphics, sound, and access to encyclopedias or games, are proliferating. More than half of new home computer purchases include CD-ROMS.

Commercial on-line services such as Compuserve and America Online, connecting users to such diverse sources as world weather reports or car-buying guides, are rapidly being embraced. From the beginning of 1994 to June of 1995, the number of Americans using online services jumped from 5 million to 12 million.

Other interesting findings:

Among all Americans, 18% do some work from home using a computer. 7% say they operated a home-based business using a computer.

Of the 14 million regular on-line users, 53% are heavy email users, and email is by far the largest category of use. 41% perform work or research, and 30% get news from an on-line service. Also, while women often lag behind men in technology use, not so with email. 65% of women on-line users communicate via email with friends or family, whereas 56% of men report doing so.

The poll found that 32% of households overall have a PC. Of those, 15% have been bought in the past year (between 1994 and 1995). 44% of people under 50 have a PC, which 23% of people over 50 do. The percentage of men owning a computer is 41% compared with 32% for women. The poll found 38% of white households using computers and 23% of African American households doing so.”

To compare with today’s numbers…

1995
2010 data
% Americans who own a computer
32%
Cell phones  85% of adults own cell phones, and 90% of all adults—including 62% of those age 75 and older—live in a household with at least one working cell phone.
Desktop computers are most popular with adults ages 35-65. 70% own a laptop, compared with 57% who own a desktop.
Almost half of all adults own an iPod or other mp3 player —74% of adults ages 18-34 own an mp3 player, compared with only 56% of the next oldest generation (ages 35-46).
Game consoles are popular with all adults ages 18-46, 63% of whom own these devices.
Overall, 5% of adults own an e-book reader, and 4% own an iPad or other tablet computer. (2)
Number of American adults who are on-line
12 million
78.6% (1)
 
 

Here’s a graph demonstration gadget ownership amongst adults spanning the years 2006 to 2012. Note the decline of larger desktop machines in favor of portable devices like laptops, tablets, and smart phones.

adult gadgets ownership stats

And here’s a graph that demonstrates the adoption of Internet usage for American adults spanning the years 1995 to 2011:

internet usage in USA

The Nostalgic Geek

I remember my first computer well… It was an IBM Ambra, with a 25MHz processor, 4MB of RAM and a 220 Megabyte hard drive. There was no sound, no video card, and no CD-ROM. Later, we upgraded to 8MB of RAM for $450, and then added a sound card and CD-ROM “multimedia package” for about $600.

Now, I use a desktop, laptop and Blackberry (for work), iPod Touch, iPad 2, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, and a couple of old server PCs. Plus, I use several cloud based applications for online storage. They’re all interconnected and used on a regular basis. My, how times have changed. And yes, I am a geek.

Do you remember your  first computer? How many computer gadgets do you use on a regular basis?

References:
1 http://pewinternet.org/Trend-Data/Internet-Adoption.aspx
2 http://pewinternet.org/Trend-Data/Device-Ownership.aspx


114 Comments »

  1. Tumbleweed February 23, 2012 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    My first computer was an Apple //e – an 8-bit machine running at a blazing 1MHz. It came standard with 64Kbytes of RAM, but with the first big price drop on memory a few years later, I was able to add a 512K RAM card to it. Software couldn't really use it, but I formatted it as a RAMdisk, and copied whatever floppy I was using at the time to it, so it really few. I had only one 5.25" floppy drive with mine (142K, I think), and a green monochrome monitor. And a 300baud modem. Fun times.

  2. Fred Sauter February 24, 2012 at 9:48 am - Reply

    >My first computer was a Zenith Data Systems Supersport "laptop". It had an Intel 8088 CPU, 4.77Mhz and 8Mhz (turbo), 640 KB RAM, no hard drive and two single side 3.5" disk drives (on each up to 740KB could be stored, as double density 1.44MB disks could not be used with this PC.) I could only use MS-DOS, even though once I managed to get Windows 3.0 running. No modem, monocrome display. Had I had a more powerful computer then (this was about 1993) I wouldn't have learned as much as I did (because I really had to figure everything out.)

  3. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 11:50 am - Reply

    >Back in the late 80's, an Amstrad CPC 464 (with built in cassette deck!) and green screen monitor. Good times…

  4. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 7:06 am - Reply

    My first computer was a COSMAC ELF. Look it up …

  5. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 7:08 am - Reply

    My first was a TRS-80 Model 1.. loading programs from tape was sometimes an exercise in frustration (incidentally, hackers have discovered you can record ethernet with a VCR). With the expansion box, you could get up to 64k, just like the Apple //e! Screen resolution: 64 characters wide, 16 long. The pixels were not addressable, you could only draw blocks (6 blocks in each character position).

    When we bought our first IBM PC AT, we ran a benchmark on both; it was a BASIC program to increment a variable and print it, in an infinite loop. Surprisingly, the TRS-80 won! Apparently the BIOS and extra levels of APIs of the IBM slowed it down, at least for printing stuff to the screen. Fun times!

  6. Bitcoin Game February 24, 2012 at 7:14 am - Reply

    Well, my first computer was an Amiga and I remember it was about $1000 total but it only had 512kb of RAM. For only an extra $200 or so you could upgrade that to have a full megabyte of RAM and the half meg extension box you plugged in was massive and weighed a ton.

  7. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 7:18 am - Reply

    My first computer was C64 with a tape drive. I got it in the early 90's from my uncle who thought that it was time for me to learn to use computers. Big thanks to him!

  8. Piff February 24, 2012 at 7:24 am - Reply

    A VIC20 was my first. Storage on tape, no harddrive. No real monitor, I had a 20" TV.
    Another one I remember is the PC XT. It had two 5.25 floppys. Later I upgraded to av 20 megabyte harddisk. It was mounted on a ISA-card and I had to get help from an expert to make it work, it was many jumpers that had to be set right to make it work.

  9. James Pharaoh February 24, 2012 at 7:55 am - Reply

    I'd suggest that rather than modems being obsolete, that we have replaced them with 3G modems (internal or USB dongle) which provide faster speeds over the wireless phone network.

  10. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 7:58 am - Reply

    My first computer was an EPSON PCe, an 8088 with full 640kB of RAM, a whopping 21MB hard disk and EGA graphics card and even a color monitor. It must have been around 1985 and I was 8. It was lent to me by a family friend who happened to be a IT journalist and thus had access to these machines for testing, otherwise my family wouldn't have been able to afford any computer at all. I remember so many details of this machine that I could babble for an hour about it and how great it was… for a PC. Because, the neighbor's kid had an Amiga which not only had way better graphics, sound and OS, it also was way cheaper. I denied it at that time (my machine MUST be better because it's mine), but the Amiga was a way better machine (especially when fitted with a hard disk). Nowadays, I wonder why the stupid IBM PC design with its this braindead Intel processor claimed the crown. It's a joke of history, since both were designed to be just temporary products that were to be replaced by "real", well designed CPUs/computers later on. However, Intel screwed up big time TWICE when they tried to design x86 successors. Make that three times if you want to count the Itanium.

  11. Marko Susimetsä February 24, 2012 at 8:10 am - Reply

    My first machine was Commodore 64 with 64kb of memory (34kb or so
    was usable for programming). C-cassette drive for saved files. This in 1985. Now, I've got several computers in use (desktop, laptop, netbook) and others gathering dust in drawers. And, basically my Android phone is a computer as well.

  12. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 8:22 am - Reply

    My first computer was an Amstrad PC 1512. It had CGA graphics, 512kb ram and a 5 1/4'' floppy drive. It was awesome. We added a 20mb hard disk later on (it was mounted on a huge ISA card). The monitor was a 14'' color monitor.

  13. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 8:52 am - Reply

    I owned an Amiga 500 with 1MB RAM, floppy dive, no hdd, no internet connection whatsoever.

  14. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 8:56 am - Reply

    My first computer was Apple ii/e clone with build in 256k ram rs232 high res graphics.
    The Centronix card too and an epson printer…
    2×5.25" floppy drives.
    The green black monitor.

    I leaned programming on this thing..

  15. jejones3141 February 24, 2012 at 8:57 am - Reply

    The first computer I used? A Data General Supernova that I had access to for a while when OU ran an NSF-sponsored seminar. The first computer I owned was a Tandy Color Computer 3 that ran OS-9 Level Two, a Unix-like multitasking operating system, on a 1.7+ MHz Motorola 6809 8-bit processor with 256K of RAM (it had memory mapping hardware; a given process only had a 64K address space to work in).

  16. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 9:00 am - Reply

    My first personal was an Amstrad CPC6128 – not counting my dad's Commodore Vic20. The Amstrad served me faithfully with green screen, 64 Kb memory – and a ROM based word processor. from Off to active writing in 3 seconds. Can't even be done today…

    Moved to PC around 1992 with a 80386-sx, 1 Mb memory, 20 (!) Mb hard drive. Excellent machine.

  17. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 9:06 am - Reply

    My first "real" computer was a rented IMSAI 8080 with 32Kb of memory and a dual 8" floppy drive with 2*251Kb (I think).
    And a polaroid camera as a printer (the printer was too expensive)
    and a 300baud audio modem (the one you would put "against" your phone so that is would beeep bee beepp… the data….

    Video was 24 lines of 80 caracters…

  18. passifists February 24, 2012 at 9:09 am - Reply

    My first computer was a TRS-80 COCO in 1980 at $3000+ for 16K of RAM, a Motorola 6809E at <0.9 MHz, a tape drive, and a 150 baud acoustic coupler modem. I was a king of the BBSes!

    Fast forward to 1995, and I had a Pentium 90 with a 1G Micropolis hard drive, 16MB of RAM, a 56k+ modem, and a 16" NEC Multisync. I called it the "screamer". Doom and Quake ran wonderfully.

    Today I use various modern desktops/laptops/readers, but most impressive is that I do research on a private cloud of 8 Core i7 hexacore systems, 16G RAM, 8TB NAS, Gbit ethernet, and a 27" LED Monitor, all for under $10,000…and it all fits in a corner of my office. Oddly, I don't use my mobile for anything other than talking to friends and loved ones. I refuse to pay for a data plan, but I suppose that someday, even I will succumb to the rising tide.

  19. Steve A February 24, 2012 at 9:11 am - Reply

    Great find. What a fantastic comparison with today.

    My first 'proper' computer was an Amstrad 9512 which has a daisywheel printer. It ran CP/M and came with a create wordprocessor called Locoscript.

    I then upgraded to an Amstrad PC-1512, which had two (!) 5 1/4 floppy drives (I was 10). I convinced my parents to by me a 20MB hard disk for my birthday, that came on a ISA Expansion card. Those were the days :)

  20. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 9:21 am - Reply

    sinclair spectrum, then 80806, 286, 386, 486, 486 66 dx, pentium 75MHz, pentium 200 MMX (ohh yeah mmx), pentium II 400, celeron 300@504, celeron 566@1003 (first with raid-array), a few amd then untill we are getting into 2GHz, and now im on a c2d 1600@3400 3gig ram, 2x1TB in raid-0(yeah i know, i should upgrade, its old.)

    swedish. MeglaW.

  21. Tony Payne February 24, 2012 at 10:27 am - Reply

    I remember working with DOS which was painful and nothing was standard, then in 1994 I got upgraded to Windows 3.1 for several years on a 33MHz 486 system that had 16mb of Ram, which made all the difference to it's performance. Memory meant a lot back then the same as it does now, since swapping is still one of the biggest performance issues.

    I eventually upgraded that system with a 56k modem and 32mb of ram, and used it to run a proxy server, keeping my laptop connected to the internet for almost 24 hours a day on dialup, re-dialling whenever the connection dropped. Then "finally" we got broadband in our area…

  22. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 10:33 am - Reply

    My first PC was a second-hand NCR, replaced most of the parts within a year. It also sported a 12'' IBM color monitor, very nice colors. I remember using Grapher, Windows 3.1, installing the Trumpet TCP stack manually. Eh..

  23. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 10:36 am - Reply

    Commadore64 still rules!

  24. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 10:52 am - Reply

    My first computer was an Amstrad CPC464 – an 8-bit 4MHz Z80 based home computer with 64KB RAM. Floppy disc optional, but it came with a colour monitor.

    Later on an Amiga 1200 with 2MB RAM was the first 'modern style' computer I got. At least that had decent audio and graphics built-in.

  25. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 10:58 am - Reply

    My first machine was the Timex/Sinclair 1000 with a staggering 2K RAM, no color, no sound and a membrane keyboard! Wow, the times have changed indeed. I remember spending $300 on a 300 baud modem for my Atari 800XL. Hard to believe!

  26. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 11:09 am - Reply

    My first computer was a Lambda 8300 with 2Kb RAM and a Z80 processor. The storage was a tape cassette and the monitor was a b/w TV. I honestly miss the simplicity of it.

  27. Kaleidoscopio February 24, 2012 at 11:16 am - Reply

    My first computer was an IBM/PC clone, it had a 286 processor running at 16Mhz, 1 Mb of Ram (huge at the time) a Paradise VGA card (had MCGA and VGA capability!!!) and a whopping 40Mb hard disk drive.
    I also had a 3.5 Inch floppy instead of the slower 5.25 ones.
    My first upgrade ever was installing 1Mb more so I could run Borland C++ compiler.
    And yes, I was and am, truly a Geekosaurus. :)

  28. Rich February 24, 2012 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    >I see your article and raise you one of these: http://richwielgosz.com/2010/05/you-kids-today-are-spoiled.html

  29. Tim Gray February 24, 2012 at 11:27 am - Reply

    "Do you remember your first computer?"

    Yup. Cromemco minicomputer with 2 wyse terminals. it had 8" floppys and ran Cromix. the single 20 meg hard drive was gigantic and had 6 8" platters and a clear case so you could see inside. the whole thing was on wheels in a 19" rack that was about waist tall. I had a US robotics 9600 baud modem, but none of the BBS's had a 9600 dial in, so I connected all the time at 2400.

    I cut my teeth on a Unixy operating system. In fact I had to figure out how to hack the computer as when it was given to me nobody knew any of the passwords except for one that was taped under the keyboard of one terminal. I had no OS install floppies but 1 boot recovery floppy. From there I learned about the /etc/passwd file and used the boot floppy to access the hard drive to overwrite the passwd file with one from the boot floppy that let me in. From that point I was king.

    I was 8, my introduction to computers was in a big way. by 12 I had to figure out how to repair serial boards and thus started my foray into Electronics Engineering.

  30. Steven Pemberton February 24, 2012 at 11:50 am - Reply

    The one correction I would suggest: saying that a modem is "Obsolete, except for users in very rural areas" misses a point. You should really be comparing it with the speed of internet connection people typically have now. The modem isn't obsolete, it's been replaced by something much faster.

  31. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 12:25 pm - Reply

    TRS-80 Model I, Level I. 4K Ram, all upper case. Tape deck to copy software into memory. No hard disk, no floppy (did buy two later on, 500 bucks in each).

    Still have it, still runs. My kids are totally confused by it.

  32. Jay Aeu February 24, 2012 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    My first computer? A Commodore 128D! :) My first PC? A 386sx with a whopping 2 MB of RAM from 1991… 105 MB HDD, Paradise VGA card capable of astonishing 800×600 in 8 bit colour depth…

    I have old smartphones here that are at least 2 orders of magnitude faster than even that PC from 1995! Good times!

  33. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    My first computer was a Tandy 1000 in 1988.

    In 20 years, we've seen a 1000 fold increase in Mhz, MB's. Literately switch out every place in 1992-1994 where you see Mhz, or MB and replace it with Ghz or GB now.

    However Processor "speed in Mhz" has actually plateaued since 2004 (With the Pentium 4,) and we've gone back down to 1.2Ghz and actually gone sideways since then and doubled, quadrupled the CPU cores and speeds again. So functionally we are doubling the performance every 18 months still, but they aren't getting any faster if you still program like it was 1995.

  34. GeekStanton February 24, 2012 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    My first computer was a Swan XT 10MHz, Intel 8088 processor, two 5.25" floppy bays, and no hard drive. The OS was MS-DOS 2.1. Oh, those were the days of editing the autoexec.bat to squeak out a couple more bytes of RAM to get King's Quest to run properly…

  35. -bob,mon. February 24, 2012 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    "My" first computer was 30-second processing slots on Ohio State's new IBM s/370, which was time-shared with a large part of the state of Ohio…. my first personal computer was (by coincidence) an Ohio Scientific box based on a 6502 processor, something of a hardware competitor to the Apple II. Sadly, the manufacturer saw now reason to supply an actual operating system, and I wasn't up to writing one at the time.

    As I sit here today, I can't count the processors in use: this laptop, a couple of networked servers, the WRT-54G router, the satellite tv receiver — I glance at a home weather station — my wristwatch has more processing power than the first microprocessors.
    Later this morning I'll drive my computer-managed auto in to my office, where I'll find another eight computers, networked through extremely powerful Cisco switches and routers. I'll likely send at least one job to the office multi-function printer, which has only a few megabytes of memory but is pretty versatile.

    Oh yeah, the obligatory microwave, processor-controlled coffee maker, computerized traffic lights I'll go past, a card-operated door lock.

  36. -bob,mon. February 24, 2012 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    Nice article, by the way.

  37. Grismar February 24, 2012 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    Although I played around with MSX-1 and 2's, Atari 1040STf's and some C64's, my first computer in 1986 was a 8086 with a 720×350 B&W Hercules screen (higher resolution than CGA and the later EGA) and all of a 20Mb hard disk. With a state-of-the art 3.5" diskette in addition to the common 5.25" floppies, it was quite a sight to behold. And perhaps the most impressive feature was its 10MHz turbo mode (unlike most 8088 systems that were common at the time, running 8MHz at the most). After a while (1990) the amazing Stacker software came out, allowing a doubling in effective size of the HDD by disk compression.

    After playing around with a 386-loaner for a few years since 1992, in 1993 I built an Intel 486 box; then in 1995 I got the Nx586 from NexGen (before it was purchased by AMD). It featured a RISC-based competitor for Intel's Pentium with an integrated math co-pro – cool and exotic. After that, it gets hard to keep track because I already owned multiple PC's (most of them AMD-based), got my first mobile (an Alcatel Pocketline Swing), my first laptop (Toshiba Satellite featuring a 486), my first handheld (A Palm m100) and quite a few replacements after that.

    At the peak, I owned 6 operational PC's (not counting my then girlfriend's, now wife), a bunch of laptops and 2 mobile phones (all in use in some form or other). With the advance of affordable NAS, multipurpose hardware routers and the rise of the smartphone, those numbers went down.

    Now I am happy with my Core i8 homebrew box (back on Intel), professional 8Tb QNAP NAS, homebrew Core i5 silent media box, Dell Latitude Core i5 laptop for work and an oldie HP with dual core late model pentium. My HTC Desire is the first gadget up for replacement with its mobile data plan and since about 6 months I also enjoy playing around with a Motorola Xoom.

    It's been one hell of a ride and I can't wait to see what's over the horizon, which seems to get ever closer. Although I have to admit to feeling a bit of guilt over all the hardware in landfills and recycling centers that I contributed…

    I'm glad I got to see the death of tape and floppies, the peak of BBSes, the start of the internet, the rise of the graphical shell and the smartphone explosion. As a professional software developer, I feel those humble beginnings allow me to truly appreciate the power and wonder of today's ubiquitous computing in a true information age.

  38. powermad211 February 24, 2012 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    My first computer was an Atati 400 with the soft keyboard and cassette drive. I remember throwing in a cassette tape and listening to the drive squeal for 5 minutes to load a program. Next we upgraded to an Atari 1200XL and then I built an IBM XT compatible switchable between 4 and 8 mhz (turbo mode!) with 256KB of ram, monochrome graphics, and a 5 1/2" floppy drive.

  39. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    First computer: my mom's Macintosh SE. Second computer: my mom's Performa 450. Third computer: my OWN PowerMac 7500. Fourth: my own G4/gigabit Ethernet. Fifth: my 1st gen Mac Pro. Sixth: employer's Lenovo R61i. Seventh: employer's MacBook Pro 15"/early 2011.

  40. HeavySixer February 24, 2012 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    Commodore Vic-20 using a tape drive and hooked up to the family color TV. I then moved up to a Franklin Ace 1000 with 5.25 floppy drive and Amdek color monitor.

  41. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    The first computer I ever had was a Zenith "eazy PC" 8088 system. By today's standards, it's not much more than an oversized TI83 calculator with slightly more memory. It came out in '87. I remember the old dot-matrix printer we had for it, and the external 2400-baud modem that connected through the serial port.

  42. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 2:20 pm - Reply

    Like many here, I cut my teeth on the mighty TRS-80 when I was 13, playing with cassette 'drives' and learning how to program in Basic. After that, programming on the Apple IIe's at the school, then the jump:

    IBM clone, 286-12mhz, 10Mb hard drive. WOW, how were we EVER going to use all that space? Oh, and it was only $2500. That was used at our family business.

    After that, 'my' first computer, the 486-DX4 at 100mhz. 100mb hard drive. And my first upgrade: The HP CD Burner. Only cost me a grand and it connected via SCSI. That was somewhere in 1994 or so… and I was using it to run my own BBS. Then the internet hit.

    Now? HP Touchpad in my room. Typing this on my Asus UX31-i5, watching some movies on my HTPC (AMD AthlonIIx4 @ 3.5ghz, twin SSDs in RAID0), which are streaming from my NAS (AMD Phenom BE, 5x2Tb in Raid5), secondary NAS beside it (C2Duo, 3x1TB Raid5), IBM backup server for my websites beside THAT (Twin P3 @1Ghz, assorted 100Gb drives), and then the NEW server (Opteron with Tri-SSD).

    Funny thing is that ALL of this COMBINED cost less than what many of the 'high end machines were running for 20 years ago.

  43. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    My first computer was a Timex Simclair 1000 (3 MHz, 2K ram, cassette interface, no graphics other than text, and a mylar bubble keyboard). It was fun, but I'm glad that my parents got me a Commodore 64 for the next year's Christmas present (64 KB of memory! and a color screen and disk drive:170 KB per disk). And the programming manual that I got with it had the schematics for the computer in it. Lots of fun times.

  44. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    My computers went as such:

    Commodore VIC20
    Commodore 64
    Commodore 128
    IBM PS/2 70
    Everything after the PS/2 70 were custom built
    66MHZ Pentium
    90MHZ Pentium
    200MHZ Pentium
    Dual 400MHZ Pentium
    600MHZ P3
    750MHZ Athlon
    1.4GHZ Athlon
    1.65GHZ Opteron
    2.4GHZ Intel Quad
    3.2GHZ Intel i5 (Current machine)

  45. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    Computers have not really changed very much. My current laptop (PC) computer takes as much time to boot as the one I had in 1995, it weighs just as much, it's battery last not much longer. So apart from hardware specs not much has changed!

  46. simonhowes February 24, 2012 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    I grew up with an BBC Micro. It was in the house when I was born. In 1989 we bought an Acorn Archimedes 420/1, it had 2MiB RAM, 40MB hard drive, powered by an ARM v2. 1992 purchased an Acorn A4, it was a notebook computer that was the size of an A4 piece of paper (21cm by 29.7cm), a game changer as notebooks then were the size of a large briefcase, again 2MiB RAM, 40MB hard drive. Circa 1995, we had an Acorn RISCPC 600, dual processor with an ARM 610, 64MiB RAM, 2MiB video memory, 400MB HDD, a MIDI and flatbed scanner boards and a 2x CD-ROM drive.

  47. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 3:41 pm - Reply

    Heh, whenever someone posts an article like this everyone gets into nostalgia mode and starts telling their tale of tech. Virtually every reply begins with "My first" :)

    Just thought i'd point it out..

  48. Just a Guy February 24, 2012 at 3:57 pm - Reply

    I remember my first computer as well. Back in 1994. Last year I custom built a desktop for myself for about $700 and the specs blow that first computer out of the water for the same price.

    Early adoption is expensive looking back! Great article. Thanks for the walk down memory lane. :D

  49. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    The first home computer my Dad had was a Commodore PET 2001 with 8K of memory, 6502 cpu @ 1MHz, a cassette drive, chicklet keyboard and 40×25 character display. My fist one was a 486DX2 100MHz 8MB RAM 540MB HDD but that's about all I remember from 1995. Now I have a 12 PCs for many uses including a home theater PC connected to the 46" LCD TV, running anywhere from Linux, OS X, WinXP, Vista and Win7. Also 2 Dell Mini 9's and one 10v triple boot WIn7, OSx86 10.6.8 and Linux Mint 11. Things HAVE come a long way!

  50. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    Mine was a COSMAC Elf, too. Hand wired! Had lots of fun with it; kind of wish I still had it, but…

  51. JerryN February 24, 2012 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    My first computer I built from a kit when I was 15 years old. It was an Ace 2000. The computer had a 2mhz clock and 4k of ram. This kit came out a couple of years before the Sinclair computers were on the market. The ACE 2000 was basically the same thing. The internet didn't exist back then. I subscribed to a user SIG magazine that had featured code and hardware projects for the platform.

    I wish energy generation and cars evolved as fast as computer technology did.
    My virtualized 8 core mac pro with 24gb of ram running OS/X 10.6.8 and Linux is a beast.

  52. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    TI 99/4a B/W tv and tape drive nuff said

  53. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    If you use a tablet you aren't a real geek.

    Real geeks want real keyboards.

  54. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    My first home computer was a TI-99/4. I remember buying the overpriced speach module and a pass-thru RAM cartridge for it. I ended up buying a tape recorder to save the games I was writing for the kids. Great times.
    That was replaced with a ZDS box, it came with an 8088 @4.77MHz (man that was fast), 320KB of RAM (it was upgraded to the max to months later), a massive 10MB hard drive, an 8087 co-processor and a very early CGA/EGA video card & monitor. The video card was called x-cga by Zenith because it was from before the standard was published. The worse part was retyping and debugging all of the kids games.
    I swear my ears still hurt from that Epson 9-pin printer.

  55. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 4:51 pm - Reply

    My first computer was an Apple ][ — into which I remember installing scads of socketed memory chips to bring it up to 48K of RAM. Soon thereafter I upgraded to an Apple //e and then to the 2gs. At which point Apple abandoned us, so I abandoned them and switched over to the PC platform instead.

    In keeping with the article, I do remember the PC's I had in 1995 as well — which pretty well hammered anything in the article. The machine I was running at the start of 95 was a dual socket Asus board with two Pentium 100Mhz chips on it, though I don't remember the amount of memory. In the late fall I upgraded to a Dual socket 8 board with two Pentium Pro 200Mhz chips, a 17" ViewSonic monitor, a pair of external Micropolis 2.1Gb SCSI drives in and old CSC enclosure (which I actually still have in my closet) on an Adapter AHA2940W, 64Mb of RAM (4 4x32Mb SIMM's), and running Windows NT 3.51. Needless to say, this beast wasn't cheap.

  56. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 5:00 pm - Reply

    Cut my programming teeth on an Apple //+, learned assembly on my C64, fell in love with my Amiga 1000. Hand wired my first RS-232 cable from my Laser 128 (Apple clone) to my Avatex 1200 baud external modem and wrote my first terminal software myself. I was surfing BBS for almost a decade before I ever heard of the internet (1993). I think things were far more interesting before every mouse-jockey script-kiddie set up a twit-face account… Sigh. The good ole' days… :-P

  57. Bill Swallow February 24, 2012 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    My first computer? That's easy. A Heathkit H-89, which I built from the kit in 1979, using screwdriver and soldering iron. Cost over $2000.

    It had a 2 MHz Z80 CPU, 64K of RAM (I splurged for the upgrade), and one 5-1/4" full height floppy drive, which stored 90 K on a diskette.

    It had three RS-232C serial ports (no parallel) and an 80×25 character green monochrome screen (no graphics as we know it today).

    Operating system was CP/M 2.2.

  58. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm - Reply

    I don't know what my first computer was – it was the thing that answered the phone. Had to put the handset into the acoustic coupler quick, before it hung up. Now I'm going to go play with my punchcards…

  59. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    Late 70's, a converted RCA Studio II game unit–1802 CPU and 192 bytes free for RAM,controllers converted to an hex keyboard for input, no external storage. Then a Heathkit 3400A trainer(6800 CPU), expansion unit providing 4k RAM and Tiny Basic on ROM, a Lancaster TV typewriter and 12 in green screen monitor

  60. MCE February 24, 2012 at 5:59 pm - Reply

    The first one I owned (1987) was a 4MHz no-name 8088 PC with 512KB, a 20MB hard disk, and a monochrome display. I still have it, by the way, even though it no longer works as I once recycled some of its jumpers.

    The first one I used (1984) was an IBM data center machine of "unknown specs" that still required punch cards. No display at all: it was just "card desk in – card desk out and (several minutes later) paper listing out – now go read the listing and replace (or reorder ;-)) all cards that have syntax errors – Thank you for playing, please try again!"

    The first one we had at home (1979), was a 1MHz Commodore PET operated by my father. But as it was property of his employer, I never got to play with it, only admire it.

  61. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 5:59 pm - Reply

    "4 gigabytes of RAM" is actually 4096 megabytes, not 4000. (Nobody start on "binary prefixes".)

    Anyway, the first computer I used regularly was Epson's (yes the printer company) clone of an IBM XT; I don't remember all the stats, but it ran at 4.77MHz, had a CGA monitor and video, and a 20 MB hard drive.

  62. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    First computer used: Delta Gold 4mhz (parents computer), then my parents bought a 33mhz Acer on 4mb RAM, and eventually my dad upgraded it with a 66mhz "Overdrive" and a Math Coprocessor. That was when I actually started loving computers & tech. Then, for Christmas, my parents bought the family a Gateway P5 166mhz Pentium with 32MB(!!!) of RAM and a 2.5 GB Hard Drive. That drive was HUGE! In addition, we got a "Multimedia Package" from Sound Blaster with an ISA AWE32 sound card and a 6x CD-Rom….that was awesome. Eventually, I kept braking the computer and the family never really upgraded to anything new (for the family, my dad had a work laptop by then). At that point, I start saving up and piecing together my own computer. I'd build it with 1 or 2 parts at a time and finally finished it when I was in 7th grade. It was the fastest computer ever. It was a 650mhz AMD Athlon (the old Slot A cpu) with 256GB of ram and a 20GB hard drive. I eventually saved up and bought an ATI graphics card for it. I remember having one of the fastest computers at LAN parties with friends, so I always had to be the "server". Slowly, I upgraded the machine to a 1.1Ghz Athlon with a bunch more memory, and then an Athlon 2800+ 64-bit. I still have all of this hardware. The 2800+ 64-bit system is still my home storage server (FreeBSD/ZFS/iSCSI). Now…I can't believe how much computing power I have at the tip of my fingers. My company has a hosting division that operates 4 very fast machines with super fast links to the net.

  63. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    My first computer was the Timex Sinclair 1000 with 2k of ram. It was expandable to 16k but if you moved the computer at all the 16k expansion pack would lock the computer up, and the hours of work you did was gone unless you saved the program to cassette tape (which took about 15 minutes). Mine was screwed down to a piece of plywood and the 16k expansion expertly duct taped to the computer.

    It had a basic compiler built in, and you could do assembly through PEEK and POKE statements. I LOVED that thing and I still have it along with another for spare parts.

  64. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    My iPhone 4 has 512MB of RAM (128x a 1995 PC), 16GB of storage (16-40x the harddrive of a 1995 PC), a screen with better resolution and colour reproduction, wifi, a CPU clocked around 800MHz, it fits in my pocket and runs on a battery for the better part of the day, even under relatively heavy usage. And I can make phonecalls and video calls on it. And take pictures and video with it. Oh, and it would cost me about $600 to buy brand new, but I got mine for $200 with a contract.

    Forget the modern PC in comparison, what I can do with something that I can carry unobtrusively all day long is so much more interesting.

  65. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 6:58 pm - Reply

    I still have (somewhere) my Commodore VIC20 that I got in the early '80s, complete with cassette-tape storage, that had been hooked up to the family 13" B&W television set. I bought it with money saved up from working summer jobs on local farms.

    I remember one of the first things I did with it was to write a BASIC program to organize my mother's recipes, which, of course, she had no interest in, as her handwritten recipe file was far more convenient. Good times.

  66. Chris Blouch February 24, 2012 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    My first computer was an Apple II+ for 48K RAM since the T.E.A.M.M.A.T.E. [http://www.vintagecomputing.com/index.php/archives/451] doesn't really count. We had it hooked up to my Dad's Heathkit color TV and enjoyed our first forays into basic and playing video games without putting in quarters. I helped somebody get their SilentWriter working in exchange for a 16K Language Card. Not only could I now play Zaxxon (1983), which required the hefty 64K to run, but I also realized people would pay/give me stuff to solve their computer problems. I would soon parlay that into a nice part time job with the school system where, armed with an NMI (non-maskable interrupt card) and Hardcore Computist magazine I helped them make backups of their educational software disks before the other kids ruined them. Kept me out of trouble and gainfully employed through the end of high school (86) and partway through college. I can still remember that poke 1014,110 poke 1015,165 would map the & symbol to do the CATALOG command. Much easier to type.

  67. Jakester February 24, 2012 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    When I was in college I had an ELF, but not the one that appears when I search for COSMAC ELF. Maybe next generation? In any case, I built it from a kit, it had a hex keyboard, and 256 bytes of RAM. I also built the included RF adapter to display something like 25×25 on a TV.

    I remember one of the chips didn't work – a CMOS Quad NAND, so I stuck wires into the pins of its socket and ran them over to a protoboard, and used a TTL 7400 instead.

    My next machine was a VIC20 with 3.4K of RAM – and I bought the cartridge that expanded that to 5.2K. Cassette interface, TV as monitor.

    I built a voice synthesizer board with parts from Radio Shack and an article in a magazine – wired to a connector that used the '20's printer port. I wrote a 5-line BASIC program to make it say "Hello" over and over. Then I packed up the whole thing and took it to my friend's house, set it back up, and left to go to a rehearsal (Theater major). By the time I came back he had text-to-speech (sorta), F-keys storing phrases, save dictionary to cassette… and "Stutter Mode" (!!). He was a CompSci/Physics dual major who walked out of school into a $75K programming job at Hughes Aircraft.

    I also wrote a silly program designed to make a crush "not hate computers anymore." The thing used every last byte – and during some delay loops, you could see pixels counting in the upper left corner!

    Next I got an Amiga 2000 – and I paid $1000 for a 20MB harddrive on an ISA card. The A2K had some ISA slots, and a special slot for a "Bridge Card" that had a IBM-PC clone on a board, which would enable the ISA slots. Never bought the Bridge Card – I figured out how to wire the HD over to the Amiga side and use it "natively." I remember just after I did that getting SO excited as I formatted the drive and had an analog clock up in a separate window and **both windows updated at the same time!!!**

  68. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    Wow, memory lane has come back.

    My first experience on a computer was playing "Star Trek" on an IBM/360 at my fathers work, circa 1975.

    The next was a TRS80 (Known as a Trash-80 back then), 8 inch floppies, 16k of ram, and TRS-Dos. You remember Drive 0 and Drive 1?

    Next was an 8086 16 bit machine with a 5MB hard drive.

    I remember my first hardware hack, overclocking a 286 12mhz machine to 16mhz by desoldering the 12mhz timing chip on the motherboard, and soldering in the 16mhz version. Good times from the mid 80's! Police quest and Leisure Suit Larry were the order of the day for this one later in the decade. (I always loved how LSL asked you trivia questions to make sure you were old enough for the adult content!) This machine also ran Lords of Conquest very well.

    Next was a home built Cyrix based 486 circa 1995. To get the money for this, I traded off an 18th century flintlock pistol… Simply because I wanted to play the new Star Wars game Dark Forces. Only to find out that the game was incompatible with the Cyrix chip. Drat. But Wolfenstein and Doom ran GREAT! And a little later, Duke Nukem and Blood.

    The current machine is fun. I've finally bitten the bullet, and purchased a desktop replacement laptop. An Asus G73JW series, i7, 8 total cores, a 256GB SSD boot drive, 8 GB of ram, 1.5GB Nvidia card driving a 17" display, and a 500GB secondary drive.

    This machine is RUGGED. I traveled with it for over a year on business, 4 commercial flights every week, in and out of airport security totes constantly. With nary an issue. It doesn't boot as fast as the old machines, but it is close. 10 seconds from the time windows starts loading, until I am in control of the desktop. I HIGHLY recommend this model if you are thinking about doing something similar.

    Oh, and the Mrs. computer is really amazing as well. She had a 24" Imac that developed hardware issues that the "genius bar" could not seem to solve. So with 3.5 weeks left out of a 3 year warranty, Apple gave her a brand new i5 27" Imac. SWEET machine. And I love any OS that uses Unix under the sheets!

    O

  69. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 8:31 pm - Reply

    my uncle in New York sent a cheque over to us in the UK to buy a computer – £2000! I remember we researched for months on end… evetually we took the plunge with a:

    Packard Bell
    14 inch monitor
    Pentium 75
    8 MB Ram (desperately wanted 16 MB but too expensive
    800 MB Harddrive
    remember it ran Windows 95 but had another strange application (Navigator?) where you moved through a 3D virtual environment and found your various programs within a house – I can't quite remember how that worked except that you went into the library for Encarta Encyclopedia (a revelation).
    Printer was pretty good – Hewlett Packard, colour (wow – I actually forgot the model – thought it was seered into my mind!)
    John , UK

  70. Pentium February 24, 2012 at 11:40 pm - Reply

    My family (I was 18 at the time) bought our first computer in 1996 which was an AST Advantage! for around $1,899. These were the specs:

    Pentium 133
    16 Megabytes of RAM
    1 Gigabyte Hard Drive
    Built in Sound Blaster Compatible Sound Card
    28.8 K Modem
    6X CD ROM Drive (No burn capability)
    17 Inch Monitor
    4 Megabyte ATI Mach 64 on board video

    While obsolete now, it was a cutting edge system at the time. And it was still being used to some extent up until 2003-4 which says a lot about its high build quality, something that seems lacking in today's computers.

  71. Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 11:54 pm - Reply

    My first computer was a Sinclair ZX81. 1024 bytes of RAM, later expanded to 16K with a RAM pack. It played a Flight Simulator, and any number of mini-games and programs that you typed in yourself from the computer listings magazines that were very popular back then. Someone did write a chess program that fit in 1K – it wasn't too smart, but it played.

    You only got sound by alternating the FAST and SLOW commands very quickly. I think that would only work with CRT TV's, not today's flatpanels – switching modes caused the CRT's circuitry to click.

  72. Lewis February 25, 2012 at 12:55 am - Reply

    Being pretty young (As in, I'm only 17).
    My first PC, I can't remember the name, I think it may have been from a small computer company called Evesham, but I can remember the specs.
    I got this PC for my birthday because it was cheap @ £150, I even put some of my own savings into it.
    It had a 1.1GHz AMD Thunderbird, 64MB RAM, that later got upgraded to 256MB, (about 3 days before the power supply blew…), an Nvidia GeForce 2 Ultra, and a 40GB HDD, even though the PC would only see 32GB. (Not sure if this was to do with the BIOS or Windows 98, I can't remember if Windows 98 had that bug).

    Interestingly, I haven't gone up much in the world, as 12 years later, my PC specs are as follows:
    2.2GHz AMD Athlon II X2 5000 (It's some Hong Kong import, it was cheap, and apparently they unlock to 4 cores, but I don't have a UCC board yet.) 4GB RAM, a Radeon HD 3870, and a 500GB drive, and this PC now is considered very low end, technology moves on so fast.

  73. Anonymous February 25, 2012 at 3:31 am - Reply

    ZX81… wow, type-in games in 1K, black and white and no sound. The tape recorder was unreliable and often wouldn't load, forcing me to go back and start again and waste more time. The 16K RAM pack was wobbly, and knocking the machine either lost me my type-in program or the game that took had survived the 5 minutes to load from tape.

    Ahh. Nostalgia…

    • Lennart Forsberg August 26, 2012 at 8:25 am - Reply

      Learned to fall asleep upright in front of the desk when programming, not to disturb the memory pack… Made the mistake once of falling asleep when waiting for the program to save to tape. That program had taken me twelve hours straight programming…

  74. Anonymous February 25, 2012 at 4:03 am - Reply

    The first computer I used was a poly 88 w/ a whopping 512 BYTES of memory….

    The first computer I owned was the apple II – 6502 processor with 16Kb of ram. My high school job was building 16Kb expansion cards for the apple II at RC Electronics. I got to go to the apple convention in brooks hall SF. Since we were one of the largest vendors of apple II add on's we got invited to a special event at the vorpal gallery in SF. I got to meet the Woz and this other guy named steve jobs….

    If only I had bought stock in apple instead of spending my money buying six packs behind the liquor store at 2x the price..

  75. Dan February 25, 2012 at 6:02 am - Reply

    My first computer was a Tano Outpost 11, with a Motorola 6809 CPU that can't possibly have been more than 1MHz, 3 16K RAM boards mounted into a passive backplane, 2 160K floppy drives and a little monochrome CRT, all in one unit. It probably had a RS-232 port, but I never used it for any communications.

    Typing this on a 3-year-old MacBook Pro, with a 2260Mhz dual-core CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 500GB HD, DVD burner, 250MB of graphics RAM, a 24-bit color flat panel, and probably 54Mbit/sec Wi-Fi.

  76. Go Heels February 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    I started with a Commodore Vic-20, and had the 300 baud cartridge modem, dialing up local BBSs. Went from there to a C-64, then an Amiga 2000 HD, all of which I still have in the basement, and all of which still boot and run with no problems whatsoever!

    Yay Commodore!!

  77. J Baustian February 25, 2012 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    I can pinpoint the spring of 1985 as the time when I decided to buy my first computer. I did my research and decided on a Macintosh, but they cost over $3000 and I couldn't afford one. Then later that summer a local retailer was selling the Apple IIc with a dot-matrix printer for under $1000, which I could afford.

    The cheapest modem I could find was 300 baud, and it was almost 2 years later before I could upgrade to 1200 or 2400, I do not recall exactly. I finally got my first Mac in early 1988, a Mac Plus.

  78. Anonymous February 25, 2012 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    First touched a computer in 73 in High school. Was an "Engineer for a Day," and got to play with a terminal. Went in the Army in 76 and fixed computers. Bought my 1st one in 83, a Radio Shack Model 100. And it still works. Built countless computers since then.

  79. Mictex81 February 26, 2012 at 6:41 am - Reply

    Touched my first computer in a elementary school computer lab.
    My fist computer was in 1992, bought from Sam's Club also when I was in elementary:
    IBM PS/1 2133
    33MHz 486DX
    4 megs of ram
    14" VGA monitor
    2400 baud modem
    171 meg hard drive
    1x – 5.25 floppy
    1x – 3.5 floppy
    Dos 5.xx
    Windows 3.1
    Upgraded later with:
    Dos 6.xx
    Panasonic 24pin dot matrix with color add on
    Sound Blaster 16 that came with a 2x cd-rom

    I bought my second computer when I was a freshman in high school:
    HP Pavilion
    333MHz Pentium II
    64 megs of ram
    8.4 Gig Quantum Bigfoot hard drive
    2x DVD-rom
    15" monitor
    28.8 modem
    Windows 95
    Later upgraded:
    Windows 98 then to Windows 2000
    384 Megs of ram
    Firewire card
    2x Cd burner
    100 MB zip drive

    I started building computers after my second one and built\ upgraded machines ever since.
    I currently work for a school district and you guested it, working on computers
    and managing their network. Its kinda interesting looking back that being introduced to computers in elementary could have lead to me working on computers and networks for a living.

    • James k November 18, 2012 at 9:57 am - Reply

      Can you please provide more details of your first specs :)

  80. Cecil001 February 26, 2012 at 7:32 am - Reply

    It was called Microsoft Bob, and it rocked!

  81. Nunya February 26, 2012 at 9:54 pm - Reply

    Packard Bell had their own proprietary add-on that went over Windows 3.1 and Win 95.  It wasn’t Microsoft BOB

  82. Jack February 27, 2012 at 12:25 am - Reply

    First computer was  Commodore 64.  64,000 bytes, half of which was taken up by a rudimentary OS.  5.25" external floppy drive.  Used a TV as a monitor.  Programmed in Hex and Basic on it.   Traded it in 1986 for a Nintendo NES.

  83. Anonymous February 27, 2012 at 10:46 am - Reply

    So…no mention that a gigabyte is actually 1024 megabytes? Because reading that 4 gigabytes is 4,000 megabytes was inaccurate. Yes, HDD OEMs market the drives as 500GB (500,000MB) but that is false as well.

  84. Fff February 27, 2012 at 8:56 pm - Reply

    >Loved my Appha Multia with OpenVMS.  It was awesome

  85. Oldpc February 27, 2012 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    486dx4 100MHz, 
    24MB Ram
    450MB HD
    17″t; CRT
    WinNT 3.51
    $3000

  86. Nikhil Ramkarran March 2, 2012 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    I used to walk by the IBM store and fantasize about the Ambra :)

  87. Sean March 3, 2012 at 10:42 am - Reply

    Microsoft Bob did anything but rock >.<

  88. Stephen Clarke March 5, 2012 at 3:23 am - Reply

    A Sinclair Z81 with 1k of memory, Up all through the first night writing a prog in basic and loved every second of it..Cost me 50 pounds sterling in Streatham next to ice rink

  89. tim puckhu March 7, 2012 at 6:51 pm - Reply

    You can see… how ..things. changed…. The two internet giants… FACEBOOK and GOOGLE….
    It was all about information and its flow….
    http://www.hackandlearn.com/viewarticle.php?id=05e83abacf987bbd02cebc24484f273a1330837754

  90. BundyGil March 11, 2012 at 11:13 pm - Reply

    I remember my work computer. IBM touch screen, yes, touch screen operation, with TWO 3 1/2; floppy drives so you could run a program on one and store data on the other. WOW!. It was state of the art around 1986.
    Also, we had a cell phone. Came in a box the shape of a large lunch box, had a carry strap, and if you carried it too long you could end up with a slipped disk,

  91. Michael Roman March 23, 2012 at 2:23 am - Reply

    I still have my Tandy 102 from 1985 with an 8 bit CPU.  It ran on 4 AA batteries for 14 hours.  I even connected it to compuserve once using the built-in 1200 baud modem.  I bought a database chip which I would have to swap out for the word processing chip.  I spent many days and nights coding and completely fill the memory chip’s 20 Kilobytes. Without that baby I would never have gotten into IT.  Best money I ever spent.

  92. Clayton Underwood March 23, 2012 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    My great uncle who was a COBOL programmer gave me one of his old 386 machines when i was a kid. Some of the office emails he left on it make me smile now, apparently the whole office was super jealous of the programmer who had just got a brand new 486 machine running at 25mz and sporting an 8Kb L1 cache. It was a "beast".

  93. Anonymous May 3, 2012 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    Load “” I had a Z80 clone, color TV but no tape recorder. Hence, I was forced to learn and write my own games in BASIC and type them in every time (Oh, the horror…) First thing I learned after I got a tape recorder was to learn assembler.

  94. Eqgeldo May 3, 2012 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    My first computer was a ZX80. Similiar to the ZX81 with no graphics, color or sound, except for one small issue. Everytime you pressed a key on the keyboard, the CPU wasn’t powerful enough to run the screen AND work out what key was pressed. The screen would blank for 1-2seconds and hey presto! a letter appeared
    on the screen.

  95. Lennart Forsberg August 26, 2012 at 8:15 am - Reply

    ZX81(16k!) and soon after a Jupiter ACE(also 16k). Great machines but a little slow and short on memory…

  96. Jim Bryant August 27, 2012 at 11:57 pm - Reply

    My first computer was a commie vic-20.

    My second was a used Vector Graphics Vector 5005 (18 slot S-100 backplane, three terminals, Z80B @ a blazing 6 MHz. and an impressive 192k of bank-switched RAM. OS was CP/M (Multi-User).

    Right now, I am on my first Mac (original Mac Mini) which I just got operational (it was given to me).

    We have five laptops (two working, one parts for the working ones, one retired, and one that was given to me with broken display that needs replaced)

    One home server with 8 TB of disk space.

    • Jim Bryant August 28, 2012 at 12:00 am - Reply

      I might add that I am at the point where I will need to upgrade the 2TB drives in the server to 3TB each.. running out of space… (Carlin was right… sh*t will grow to fill all available space)… And it’s shrinking by the day. Hell, Doctor Who starts again Saturday… There goes another 375 megs…

  97. Kontrakid October 18, 2012 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    This really takes me back. I remember when my cousin got a pc with Win95 on it, and my uncle bragged that she programmed it herself to say “It is now safe to turn off your computer.” when you’d go to shut it down. He was such a douche.

  98. Jack November 18, 2012 at 9:54 am - Reply

    Wow, what a stroll down memory lane. My first pc was a crappy IBM laptop, but I don’t remember the specs…

  99. Dan-Arve Halnes February 12, 2013 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    I had a 468 DX4 with 100 mhz.
    HDD: 520 mb
    Sound Blaster soundcard
    8 mb of ram
    5,25″ floppy and a 3,5″ floppy
    CD-ROM with 2x speed.
    14 ” CRT monitor
    It came with MS – DOS 6,22 and Windows 3,11

    I remember i upgraded it to Windows 95 (floppy disk edition:)

    Becauce of the loss in preformence in games i ended up configuring it to have a dual boot with MS-Dos 6,22 (even with its own boot options to maximice free ram for games) and Windows 95.

    I had no modem and no networkcard in it.. so if i wanted to “download” something i just had to carrie my floppydisk in a bag to a frind. Walking 15 to 30 minuts each way :) or send them in regular postal service :)

    Those where the days

    Sorry for the bad english.. i’m a Norwegian :)

  100. cheat your way thindiet March 3, 2013 at 4:25 pm - Reply

    Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the
    images on this blog loading? I’m trying to figure out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

  101. microsoft bob June 17, 2013 at 6:45 am - Reply

    i likes ‘ microfiort boob

  102. microsoft bob June 17, 2013 at 6:55 am - Reply

    gr8 aricle buy the way dude, microfiort boob was gr8 i lik it

  103. b b b b moooney July 31, 2013 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    my first rig was a no name brand… 80286 running dos 3 or 4… I didn’t even have a modem!. it came with 5.25 floppy and 3 1/4 floppy. I remember when I first got windows for work groups.. big pimpin. remember dosshell? or the command “amouse.exe” to get your mouse to load?… nothing like c:\cd (folder name)!!!.. played wing commander 1 and 2, realms, stunt driver.. etc.. rocked that adlib soud card!

  104. Katie December 14, 2013 at 8:15 am - Reply

    “I’d tend toward 28.8 for about an extra $100, but a 14.4 is pretty quick and will capably handle email.” Love this!

  105. microsoft bob January 28, 2014 at 9:52 am - Reply

    lol i tottly agree microsfit boob was inasne i stil use it 2day wiv me 3 kids

  106. MaryB February 17, 2014 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    My first computer was a TRS80 equivalent. You were styling if you had a huge 30 meg hard drive with 4 megs of RAM and flying if you had a 9600 baud modem. Window DOS was the OS. FIrst upgrade was to one with Win 3.3.

  107. Mark March 5, 2014 at 8:37 am - Reply

    Wow, I just stumbled across this and loved it!

    My experiences hearken back to the mid 80s (late 70s if you count computer classes typing on IBM terminals that typed back). I recall filling a 1 MB card with banks of 256k chips that cost $100/ bank. My first HD was a 12 pound Sider D2 that held 20 MB and cost 5 or 600 dollars!

    My first modem was 1200 baud and I paid some ridiculous amount of money per hour to connect to GE GEnie. I recall being a beta tester for a comm program and racking up a $250 phone bill one month by calling the author’s BBS to report bugs and download new versions.

    I also remember sysops, Fidonet, clipping notches into floppies so both sides could be used and driving 30 miles to visit the computer store for supplies and to see the latest software offerings.

    Ah, the good(?) old days! ’95 was modern times as far as I’m concerned!

  108. Scott June 13, 2014 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    @Mark
    I’m with you on that! I recall watching WarGames and rushing home to my TI-99/4A, putting my phone onto the cradle modem and…searching for ANYTHING to connect to! Occasionally id find a server somewhere, and it would require a password, of course. My first, initial attempts were entirely random. Just putting any word I could think of in. Eventually I started using a more logical, systematic approach, with words like: admin, password, menu, and the like. I was so sure I would eventually be able to change all my grades at school from my home computer. Somehow, even though they were kept in a filing cabinet, on paper. Didn’t stop me from trying!

  109. Gary August 19, 2014 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    My first computer I built it myself and everyone after. It had 486DX2 66 CPU, 4 Mb of ram, 540 Mb Hard Drv, 2 3.5″ floppies. The OS was Dos 6.1 I think and can’t remember what kind or size of monitor. Within a year I had windows 3.11, a 9600k modem, and using Netscape. Does anyone remember newsgroups?

  110. DaveM December 15, 2014 at 8:58 am - Reply

    Another stunning way to see the change is to buy todays hardware at yesteryears prices.

    I bought 4MB RAM for £250 and a 40MB HDD for £200 in 1992.

    Today I have 16GB RAM, and 6TB HDD.

    If I went back to 1992 to buy what I have today, the RAM would cost me £1m and the HDD a whopping £30m

    So in relative terms, compared to when I left university I am a millionaire!

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