Posted by: John McGerr | January 3, 2009

Computer days


My first experiences with computers goes way back to 1981, using a terminal, hooked up to a mainframe. No graphics, no sounds, just green text on a black screen. I was fascinated. My first experience of a home computer was the Commodore Vic 20. It was owned by a man named Paddy Walsh. Paddy was closer to my Dad’s age than mine, but a shared interest in computers meant we became firm friends. The Vic had colour and sound. Then I got my first home computer 1984, the Commodore 64. It came with two games. One featured a guy in a castle, the other was a kind of outer space adventure. The castle game took about twenty minutes to load into the computer, had no save feature and getting killed meant reloading the game. The other had a save feature – this involved putting a blank tape into the cassette – but the game did have it’s own irritating feature a room I could never get past. It didn’t matter, I was hooked. Over the next few years I went from Cassettes to Floppy disks – large squares of cardboard containing the disk. I got the Simon’s Basic cartridge and proceeded to create video titles for a local video guy who did weddings.  From the 64 I progressed to the Commodore Amiga witha  whole 512 kilobytes of memory.  This computer was soon expanded, with extra memory, a second floppy drive and then the luxury of a hard drive. I did a lot of video titling stuff on this machine.My final Amiga computer was the A1500, which had a case not unlike the PC  and had room for expansion cards, one of which I had was the Picasso Graphic card, something I never got much use as I was now getting more in to the world of Microsoft.

Paddy had taken a different path – going from the Commodore to the PC – buying one, dismantling it and probing the mysteries of PC assembly. He began a business on the back of this knowledge and I built my first computer. Ah the joys of DOS. Going from a graphical user interface back to a commandline. Learning to write batch files so I could get software to run properly. Getting software that came on more than one(or two disks). I once told Paddy I’d never leave the Amiga but Commodore went bust and though the Amiga was relaunched, it was a failing brand let down by mismanagment. With early versions of Windows becoming available I took the inevitable road and switched fully to Microsoft’s vision of computing.

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