Follow

Hi everyone, I'm Nate and I live in Christchurch, New Zealand. I am in my late 40s, which makes me about 9000 in Internet Years.

I remember both the 8-bit micro BBS scene of the 1980s, and the Web scene of the 1990s, though I did nothing of note except for some bad text adventures.

I am old and grumpy and have no aspirations to be an Influencer so I toot about whatever comes into my head. Currently that's: 80s music, terrible puns, nostalgia and esoteric/Gnostic Christianity.

My first computer (actually, my big brother @pdcull 's): a Commodore PET 4008. 8K of RAM

Yes, that was 8 *kilobytes*, not gigabytes.

Storage was on cassette tape. No disks because New Zealand was in the UK orbit, not America. Disk drives were for millionaire stockbrokers, and those people could afford Apples instead.

Americans were unthinkably high tech aliens from another planet to us in the 1980s.

computinghistory.org.uk/det/43

kmoser.com/computerhistory/?id

I know @pdcull has a photo somewhere of him and I sitting at the family PET mid-80s. We were so very young then.

Compute Magazine's MISER - at the local Polytechnic - was, I think, my first computer game. Maybe first electronic game... I'd seen Space Invaders in the fish and chip shops by then, but probably never played it. It cost a whole 20 cent coin to play, which was a lot of money.

Miser needed 16 K so it didn't run on our home machine.

archive.org/details/d64_petgam

Miser *blew my little mind* (I was maybe 10 at the time).

I could talk to a computer! And it would answer back! In English!

There could be a whole world inside a machine! An entire new place! Just made out of... thoughts!

I think I never quite recovered from that epiphany.

My other first computer was a PDP 11/10 cluster, also at the Polytechnic. I'm not sure now if it had two PDPs or one. I think there were two hard drives: one 5 MB, one 10 MB, shared between eight VT-52 terminals and two lineprinter consoles. 8 inch floppy disks. Running RT/11 OS, with MUBAS, multiuser BASIC, to do timesharing. David AHL's BASIC games were available, including STAR TREK, but not ADVENT.

All running in 8K words (16K bytes) of RAM.

bitsavers.org/www.computer.mus

After the PET, next computer was a BBC Model B.

New Zealand still firmly in the UK orbit, although Apple at this point were massively colonising our schools. Discounting Apple IIs so heavily they were in fact accused of 'dumping' (selling product under price to depress competition).

I loved the BBC so much. It had a decent BASIC, lightyears ahead of the stuff coming out of Microsoft. It had multiline IFs! WHILE and REPEAT! Named subroutines!

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC_Micr

A kitchen table memory: @pdcull rhapsodising about the wonders of Named GOSUBS, coffee cup tilting obliviously in his hand, and my mother interrupts with 'Named GOSUBS spilling all over the floor', which for some reason became a family joke.

That poor kitchen table. It was the site of much electronic hardware unboxing.

And then after a couple of years, the monitor we had the BBC plugged into died, and long story short, we ended up getting a string of IBM PC/AT compatible machines.

'Clones', they were called in the parlance of the time. It was *very* exciting when third party computer manufacturers started to copy the IBM PC. A grand ethical crusade, much like the Open Source wars of the early 2000s. Disintermediation!

Well that and a genuine IBM XT with 10MB HD would set you back ~NZ $10,000 in 1984. Ouch.

Correction:

In April 1983, an IBM *PC* system with 64 K RAM, two floppy drives, no hard disk, Monochrome Display Adapter and serial port, would cost you around NZ$10,000.

Not sure if that cost includes the IBM Monochrome Monitor itself, but let's assume so.

So IBM had very few friends in New Zealand when, within a couple of years, they got eaten by clone makers selling Taiwanese import MS-DOS compatibles for a fraction of the cost of a 'genuine' IBM.

archive.org/details/nzbitsandb

Nightmare fuel 

@natecull I myself was born in 1972. To this day i remember logging onto my bbs, wausau online of wisconsin. good times. thanks for the trip down memory lane.

@natecull Hi Nate, I was born down the coast a bit from you but was then soon taken to the far west of the West Island. If you like The Front Lawn's Claude Rains then we may have some mutual appreciation of some 80's music.

i'm following you unless you block me so that makes you the most poplar Influencer that I'm following. In short i just made my account an hour ago and have no idea how this works.

Do you get more grumpy if we talk about the ABs?

@redselkie Yay a fellow Kiwi! Welcome to the Fediverse and/or Mastodon!

Oh dear the All Blacks. Well, the upside is that I don't have to see all the ads everywhere anymore.

At the end of the day, it's a game of two halves, the front fell off etc, etc.

@natecull
Thanks for the welcome Nate.

I've read a little on early Christian history - Phillip Jenkins, "The Lost History of Christianity" - about the early eastern spread and then later large destruction of that Christianity. And listened to Spong reading Judaism back into the OT and NT. And tried to find out how John the Baptist and Jesus got parts in the Manichaean's scriptures.Though I don't qualify as a theist.

I'm going to try getting some sleep.
Ciao.

@natecull BBC BASIC and earlier forms of BASIC were only nominally related.
@natecull In case there was any doubt here, this is a Good Thing for BBC BASIC.

@natecull I had an IBM XT in the early 1990s. It was all I could afford as an 18 year old leaving home on traineeship wages. Before that, my parents had a Commodore PC (IBM clone) which I taught myself to write BASIC games on because we couldn’t afford to buy them and Dad wouldn’t let us illegally copy disks. My mum sold encyclopaedias door to door to buy that first computer. My school had an Apple IIc in the mid 1980s but girls weren’t given time on it to learn so we just watched the boys play.

@emmadavidson Yay your mum!

And yeah, writing our own games because of not being able to buy them, that was a big thing.

Just being able to pick up BASIC and go 10 INPUT X$; PRINT X$

from there, you could go anywhere.

@natecull I spent so many hours writing games on our Commodore PC, complete with colour ASCII graphics despite it being a monochrome monitor, then literally running to my friend's house to see how it looked on her colour IBM PC. Or printing out my code on a 9 pin dot matrix and retyping it on another friend's Commodore64 that saved to a cassette tape (our PC saved to 5.25" floppy disk). My games always had music that I made up too.

@natecull As far as tape vs. disk:

The Apple II could be equipped with disk drives, but that was $pendy$. The IBM PCJr was released in 1984, competing with Apple and Commodore, and had a disk drive, though the product itself wasn't successful.

By ~1985/86, PCs with floppy disk drives (5 1/4, occasionally 8") were being seen.

The Commodore line (PET, 64) were fairly widespread, and relied on audio cassette for data storage.

@pdcull

@pdcull Yep! Definitely the kitchen table!

Also I was wrong, it wasn't a PET 4008 (which didn't exist; they dropped the 8K line in 1980), it was a 2001, but not the original chiclet-keyboard 2001, one of the later ones with the real keyboards. And then someone had done the aftermarket CB2 Sound Hack on it to give it an internal speaker.

Green screen and it had the machine code monitor. A 1979 PET 2001-N8 then I think. Already old when we got it.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commodor

<< BASIC 2.0 also included an easter egg that Bill Gates personally coded, which would cause "MICROSOFT!" to appear if the user typed WAIT 6502,x (x being the number of times to display the message) >>

Can confirm, this Easter egg definitely worked on our machine.

And was awesome.

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Mastodon

Server run by the main developers of the project 🐘 It is not focused on any particular niche interest - everyone is welcome as long as you follow our code of conduct!