Sherman Set the Way-Back machine to 1981

What was your first computer or experience with programming..?

Well for me at the strapping young age of 7, my father brought home a Timex/Sinclair 1000. With a wopping 16k RAM and a 3.25mhz processor I was set on a path that lead me to where I am today. This thing sported a cassettee storage system and monochrome display capable of 64x44 resolution in graphics mode.

Every day when I got home from school I would just love cracking open the accompaning book of ROM BASIC and Z-80 assembly programs and typing them in, then see what would happen if I change this line of code... or that line of code.

10 FOR I=1 TO 50

Comments (17)
  1. SBC says:

    hmm.. I remember something similar using a Teletype machine that connected (via phone) to the Imperial College’s ICL mainframe ( One of my first "major" programs generated words from a given set of letters (like a password generator) – done in Basic. This was back in the late ’70s.. 😉

  2. Hans Jergen Ohff says:

    Meh back in my time we used stone blocks and chissels AND we had compile them in our head.

    I actually started on a ZX-80 (the white one) with 1k ram.

  3. Hans Jergen Ohff says:

    I still have them and fully boxed and working btw 😀

  4. Kent Tegels says:

    Reminds me of the post I wrote last night (name is link). I’m pretty sure my first program was something for poking random chars into the video buffer on a VIC-20 (done in Assmebler) or an AD&D character generator written in ProDOS Basic.

  5. Commodore PET.

    Writing BASIC programs to make ASCII rocket ships fly up the screen really impressed my mother when I got permission to bring the computer home over a school holiday.

    Then my best friend and I would spend hours "hacking" game programs to make them say rude things. Those were good times, even if it did take several minutes to load a tiny program from a cassette tape.

  6. denny says:

    First was in the US AirForce when maintence forms started beeing entered into computers.

    I was new and just did my training on aircraft general maint. saw the errors when older guys were puting down the wrong set of codes for parts Vs. Job Codes Vs. Ordered Parts.

    due to my seeming like a "wiz" at filling out the forms I was taken to the "Most Holy" room at Job Control HQ where the new computers were and the tape drives etc…

    thats what led to….

    On leaving the USAF and going back to the old home town I purchased a Commodore VIC-20

    C= what a company, had a chance but got bled dry by Mr. Jack T. the founder…. nother story that is…

    So I had 3.5 K of ram and 8 color graphics Whooo Hooo

    then I started adding cartreges

    and found I wanted 2 of them at the same time…

    Open cases and study circut borads….

    I already knew how to solder from HS days….

    I built an AM-FM poket radio kit from Radio Shack as a teen, Mom was amazed that it worked!

    Got the "Debug tools" cart and the "Graphics Super Expander" onto one cart!! Man was i l33t

    then, I had 6 k of ram and graphics commands and trace and step commands ….. it was like having …. VISUAL BASIC for the first time….

    after that went in fast pace about 3 more computers and classes at the local Comunity Collage….

  7. Roy Green says:

    The first small computer I knew about was a Wang computer a girlfriend used for her classes. Soon after that the university had a business show where I learned about Apple, Intecolor, and Sol. I took a FORTRAN class in ’79 where I experienced the joys of mainframe batch programming. In November of ’80 I ordered the Sinclair ZX80, but February rolled around and it hadn’t been delivered, so I got my money back and ordered a Vic-20. Then THAT didn’t come for a month and I went to Radio Shack and got a TRS-80 Color Computer.

    Making space invaders crawl across the screen in 6809 assembly language was *way* too much fun.

  8. OmegaSupreme says:

    ZX81 also, that ‘flat’ keyboard was crazy man. Used to type in programs from magazines, good days 😀

  9. Hans Jergen Ohff says:

    ZX81 is not the ZX80 as alot of people seem to proclaim, there is a difference.

  10. Grahamm says:

    I’m a bit younger than you Jeremy as I was only 2 in 1981 but I started about the same age as you, first on a friend’s CoCo TRS-80. You could buy magazines with code in them to type in — I remember spending a week solid typing in a game called Penguin. Then came modifying old music cassette tapes to make them writeable so I had more storage space..

    Then my Dad brought home an AT&T XT — with 2 5.25 floppies and a 20 Meg MFM hard drive! The first thing I wrote on the PC was in BASIC, a small music program where I could use the keyboard like a piano. (I never was good at graphics anyway…)

    Ahh, good times, good times.

  11. I mainly used a C64 (plus a Vic20, a PET, an Apple IIe, and a TRS-80 III), but I remember this one because it was the cheapest. The thing I remember most is that it scrolled from the bottom up.

    For a while, they were giving these away for free with grocery purchases in Toronto.

  12. Mike says:

    Yep – ZX80 for me too… I still have it boxed and working (somewhere), actually, some time before the ZX80 came out I worked with a friend over at Marconi Space and Defence to build a wire-wrap Intel 4004 device (a project from Electronics Weekly), this had a small hex keyboard which you could program the device to flash LED’s back and forth (think KITT from Knight Rider) – it was a couple of months work to get the whole thing up and running, but sooooo much fun – who would have thought that from such projects I would end up working in the Embedded Devices Group at Microsoft !!

    – Mike

  13. Philip Morrison says:

    Wow, I had totaly forgotten about that machine. My GrandDad and I built one and carved up a plastic shoebox lid so that we could put the full-sized keyboard (he never said where it came from) in it and wire in into the device. 🙂 It was wonderful. I spent hours with a bar magnifier going through huge magazines full of binary code and checking the CRC number at the end. And saving the program to a cassette tape.

  14. This is a blast from the past. J I saw this on a new blog site and couldn’t resist sharing it with everyone. What was your first computer or experience with programming..? Well for me at the strapping young age…

  15. Keith Richie says:

    Oh boy 🙂

    That’s what I started with too LOL!

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