Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wednesday WIN

Today let's take a trip down memory lane. Many of you might remember back in the 1980s when personal computers first came out. For those of you who have never known life without the internet, hold onto your mousepads.

How many times have you struggled with a Word formatting problem? Wasn't it easier with a typewriter and a little correction fluid?

Who remembers Clippy? He was the little animated office assistant who helped you figure out how to use Microsoft products. A help file with attitude.

It took big bucks to have a small fraction of the processing capacity we all take for granted today.

For those of you who don't understand this, let me explain. Before Windows was developed, there was DOS. No icons, no wallpaper, no Start menu, just a black screen where you typed your commands beside the C prompt. If you typed something the computer didn't understand, it would helpfully display the message "Syntax Error". Now sing along...

Lolcats didn't exist way back then, but systems crashed just as often.

From Hermione's Heart


Roz said...

LOL Hermione, yes, yes to all of these!

Damn office assistant! Always more of a hinderance than a help! Don't get me started on word formatting issues LoL


elle :) said...

Lol, I forgot about clippy!!!

I had an assignment in a computer class in elementary school.. I'm guessing my first computer class.. And we had all these commands to type in. I still have no idea what it was supposed to do, mine didn't work lol :)

Dragon's Rose said...

Lol, I remember. My first computer spoke trsdos. My second language was basic. If a friend needed to use my computer for anything, I had to teach them how to speak enough basic to use the program they needed.

Life was fun. My setup was $3000 used and the printer was about 30 pounds.

DelFonte said...

We still do DOS in this house. My first language was basic, then Pascal. Ah... miss those days :)

Anonymous said...

I remember all of these.

I wrote my first program for a Datapoint Computer that cost $10,000 and had 8 KB of RAM.


ronnie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bobbie Jo said...

My first computer, which a friend of mine and I referred to as "The Dinosaur" was a 286. I took Basic and found I did not like programing. LOL I did ok, though.

When I was taking a course of study to be a tech on electron microscopes, the college computer had 68K. One of the programs they used for the course I was taking took 64K. Hence, if someone was on the computer, it tied up the entire college computer system. They fixed that. Then if two students tried to get on at the same time, it would crash the system. They fixed that.

We were using a program written in Fortran that was written by the big guys at Lawrence Livermore Labs. The printers were dot matrix line by line.

Oh the days. We have come such a long way from that time. I have no idea what they are using now.

Just a side note, since I took that course, they have developed desk top models of scanning electron microscopes. I want!

spankedbywife said...

Funny but just last night I was discussing some of the 'early days' of computers. I put my first computer from a kit in 1978. It used CP/M, an earlier version of DOS. We called them 'microcomputers' before IBM came out with the 'PC'.

Anonymous said...

Ha! My first computer was a Commodore 64. I remember how excited I was and how cool I thought it was. My kids would be mortified. lol The computers we have now blow that thing out of the water. Makes me wonder what the computers that the next generation will have will be like!

ronnie said...


Yes I do remember them all. I still have a bottle of correction fluid:) but of course not needed now.


Sorry the deleted comment was minex

Hermione said...

Roz - Formatting can be a pain. I sometimes long for the days of Word Perfect's "reveal codes".

Elle - I was never much good at those commands either.

Rose - I never learned Basic, skipped from Fortran to Assembler. It's amazing how technical we needed to be to use a computer.

DelFonte - Really? I had a workmate who resisted all of Windows' features and always went to the Dos prompt for anything file-related.

Joey - Amazing how expensive those first computers were. Our first "laptops" at work weighed 20 lb., cost $20,000 and had $10,000 worth of software on them.

Ronnie - I have one too that I use only rarely now.

Bobbie Jo - I also had a 286 at work.
Funny how more than one person on the computer would make the whole thing crash!

Ken - Great minds think alike:) How clever of you to have built your own.

Grace - I took my first microcomputer course on a Vic 20. It used reel to reel cassettes. The Commodore 64 was a big step up. Who knows what will happen next?


Erica said...

This post sparked my own memory of old computers!

I thought DOS was the pits. I learned how to use computers right around the time things were switching over to Windows (I learned on Windows 3.1). I guess people made do when it was the only game in town, but how tedious.

Baxter said...

when I started working in 1978, the secretary used a typewriter without an electric cord. WOW. We also used a teletype type machine in which we punched up a papertape every night and then ran it through the system to trace railroad cars. We also used it for sending wires, which were what we call email these days. Our first home computer was a Kaypro and it cost like $2-3,000 and had two floppy disk drives. Remember those in which you put the program disk in one and the one you typed on in the other. OMG. At least they worked and didn't go down all the time. thanks for the memories.

A. Lurker said...

Hi Hermione,

OMG! What a trip down memory lane!

I remember using calculators in CEGEP. They were about as big as today's desktops. They could do the 4 basic operations and square roots. They were bolted to the desks coz they cost about $2000 in the '70s.

I remember the 1st time they brought in desktop computers at work. They were the IBM PC, no #, no nothing - I mean why would they ever introduce another model at that price (about $10,000 ea)?

I used to love dos! Remember Lotus 1-2-3? And "C" before it had pluses? And I do remember Clippy. I also remember this mat that you put over the keyboard so you could use the word processor. And who could forget card-readers, line-printers and batch jobs?

Then there was the "luggable" - a "portable" computer that weighed a ton, cost over $2000 and had the resolution of an etch-a-sketch!

"I adore my 64". Thanks for the memories.


Hermione said...

Erica - I remember Windows 3.1. At the time, we thought it was inferior to OS2, which we used at the office. Sadly, OS2 never took off, but Windows did.

Baxter - I have used a teletype too, at one office. We saved the little paper dots and used then as confetti at weddings. They were murder to remove from clothing :)

Yes, we had those calculators at university too. And the Word Perfect template that everyone had to have, otherwise you couldn't remember what key performed what function. And no mouse either!


Anonymous said...

Here is a memory that never seems to appear. I was sysop for an adult bbs. the precursor of the internet

Hermione said...

Anon - That was before my time, I guess. The internet was slow in coming to the place where I worked. Only a select few had it, and only for official business purposes.


Anonymous said...

A modest contemporary calculator has greater computing power than the machines onboard an Apollo spacecraft.

I should still like to go back to Kent State University and get a rebate, with compound interest, for what they had the temerity to call a 'computer class': same woe as everybody else: key-punching FORTRAN in an airless, windowless room at a pain-in-the-ass location on campus, maxproctime 30, waiting for your batch to run, and then starting all over again because there was a frickin' comma out of place. Pretty antediluvian for a grad school grade to depend on one's typing skills.

No. No, now that I think about it, rebate-plus-interest isn't going to ease my pain, not nearly. So if in the next bleak days one hears of a blitz, a barrage of the berserk, a bitter bacchanalia of bourbon, blood, and an imbecilic
system gone bad, that was me.


Hermione said...

Mike - Been there, done that too. I remember feeding stacks of punchcards into the sorting machine to get them sorted by sex. I only ever got two piles, thankfully!


Unknown said...

The hard drive really gets me. I was an electronics store a couple weeks ago and you can now get a million times the space for about 20% of the cost, and it doesn't take 2 days to install.

I'm so glad I got to avoid the punch-card era. Floppy disks and dos commands were the bain of my early computer experiences.