Computers & Software I've
been using computers since the very early days of home computers. I
first used a Commodore Pet, and then bought a Sinclair ZX81 and a
Sinclair Spectrum. Programs loaded from domestic audio tape then, and a
hit and miss business it was too. When I got the 16Kb (yes - Kb) memory
expansion dongle for the ZX81 (seen on the one below), it seemed a huge
amount. I soon learnt a lesson that stood me in good stead thereafter -
save your work frequently! It wasn't unusual for the wobbly dongle to
drop a couple of hours work at random. I remember ringing the
(later famous) author of one the latest software games one evening
(home number on the cassette, maybe?) and pointing out a bug in the
game. He posted another cassette on to me by return with a correction.
It's changed a bit these days - Andrew Hewson, where are you now? Did
you make a million?
the UK, at least , pharmacy was an early adopter of computers, it
became compulsory to type or print medicine labels about 25 years ago.
I bought an early Amstrad CPC464 with dispensing
software, which we used to print the labels. The program was so poor
that I later wrote an alternative version myself, painstakingly slowly,
in BASIC, in what bits of spare time I had between patients. Eventually
it was quite good, and when we moved to PCs I compiled it into
QuickBasic and used it for some time. I even sold a few copies. If
anyone has a Epson FX80 printer or similar (it only printed to that
model or similar, specific details were coded in), I still have a copy
kicking around. I later lost the source code in a Hard Drive crash and
another lesson - back everything up on another machine. The PCs we were
using then were 4.77 MHz (yes, that's a decimal point after the 4)
- no need to tell you how slow they were by modern standards. My
Amstrad PPC604 that I acquired got me into the world of Prestel
that?) and Bulletin Boards. There was, of course, no Internet then
but Fidonet Bulletin Boards provided a way for amateurs to talk to one
another around the world. At about this point I acquired a second PC
and started up my first Bulletin Board - predictably, perhaps,
called The Alchemist - on line 24 hours a day. Fidonet still
exists (in a modified form) but at this point some 20+ years ago it was
all there was, and in it's heyday there were 40000 of us. We moved the
mail round the world ourselves at our own expense with very slow modem
connections (2400 baud was quite good in those days) - so large
programs from America had to be saved up for, the phone bills were so
high. The First US Robotics 9600 baud asymetric modem cost about
£1600.00, but we got them for half that (SysOp's special offer for
doing the beta testing).
From then on it was all downhill.
Everything got faster and, perhaps more importantly, much cheaper,
until we finished up with today's marvels. The AMD Ryzen 7 Eight Core powered computer I use now (Mesh computers)
makes short work of video editing and anything else for that matter.
I've gone from DOS to Windows (Pictures? It'll never catch on!) and
through every version (except ME) up to Windows 7 (the best so far) and Windows 10 (useless for anything except phones and tablets). I've tried Linux Mint
Ubuntu (and Debian). Providing you don't want
to play games or edit video, Linux is quite good, and it's free, but
it has a long way to go yet. My large wide HD screen makes life easy
for tired old eyes. Not everything was better "when I was a lad"!