Friday, April 10, 2015

I is for IBM

This month I'm participating in the A to Z Challenge. My theme is the 80s. Today's letter is:



In the 80s, something happened that would change humanity forever. On August 12, 1981, IBM debuted the first ever personal computer, the 5150:


At first PCs were mostly for schools and turbo-geeks. The turbo-geeks used them for very early versions of video games.


Then Steve Jobs came along and decided the personal computing experience had to go beyond geeks. It had to be so sleek, everyone would want to use it. In 1983, the world's first user-friendly computer, the Lisa (also the name of the daughter he initially denied was his), was born.



Something about that reminds me of the first version of Windows I saw--Windows 3.1. In 1983, though, Apple seemed to be winning the war to make the personal computer seem cool. Here's a 1983 Lisa ad featuring a pre-fame Kevin Costner.


Of course, I have to mention the most famous Apple commercial ever, which only aired twice on American television (once during the 1984 Super Bowl). Yet it's the probably one of the best-known commercials of all time.



Let's end the myth that Microsoft ripped off Apple's operating system, though. It's pretty much become understood that they all ripped off Xerox. This was Xerox's Star Workstation, released in 1981. Does this look a little like Apple's Lisa? Windows 3.1?


What was the first computer you ever owned?

82 comments:

  1. You know I can't remember what the first computer I owned was. Windows operating system though. And I have stayed with it.
    Our world's expanded sooooo much when we went on-line didn't they?

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    1. I remember the DOS days. We even had computers at the TV station I worked at on my college campus--I typed many, many news scripts on those old things! I can't remember a thing about them, to be honest with you. But my first job in tech support was in 1999 and they had agents in the field using Windows 3.1 laptops. They expected me to do phone support on those. I didn't even have a 3.1 computer to reference so I could walk them through it. "Um...click on...something? I don't know. What do you see?"

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  2. The first computer I ever owned was a Windows 286 - it had a 40MB harddrive and ran word and wordperfect. I still have some of the word files with my fiction in them from that time, luckily the .doc format at the time was text with some twiddles at the top :)
    The first computer I ever used, though, was a BBC Micro in my computing classes at school. I did my GCSE Computing on it. It had a commandline interface only - I do not miss it! ;P
    Sophie
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles
    FB3X
    Wittegen Press

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    1. I remember writing my first novel on one of those old computers. I don't know what the version was... I don't even remember the computer itself. I just remember printing my early manuscripts out on a dot-matrix printer and having to pull the perforated things off the sides before I could mail them! It sounds like that was the dark ages but it was around 1995...

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  3. The first personal computer was a 5150 - just like the Van Halen album!
    My first one was a Hewlett-Packard over twenty years ago. That thing was slower than snot.

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    1. I'm trying to remember the first home computer we had...it was after I was out of college but I can't recall it. I do remember when we set up our first Windows 95 computer at home. AOL!!! You know you've experienced life when you can remember the days of the screeching modem and that male voice saying, "You've Got Mail!"

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  4. My dad had one of those 'computers' you could play pong on. My senior year of high school, they set up a computer room in what used to be janitor's storage room. We had 2 Apples and 4 Radio Shack TRS 80's (this was Fall of 1980). I learned how to program in Basic.

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    1. I remember computer class in junior high--I think it was part of Language Arts? They told us to bring in a picture and they'd teach us how to recreate it on the computer. You had to draw out what you were going to do on a page with squares, with each square corresponding with the line of code you typed to say what color it should be. I brought in an Ocean Pacific ad of the beach and made a beach scene on the computer. I was excited...but I remember thinking, "Man, this is NOT fun work." Very tedious, all that coding.

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  5. As Soph says above, the first computer we owned was a 286 - you had to park the hard drive before you switched it off or if you moved it, it could destroy your data :). My husband once made me a Xena Chakram from a plate from the inside of an old harddrive :)
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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    1. I think I remember that from college journalism class...I'm not sure. It sounds familiar! I do remember those old floppies--the big ones. One of them broke inside the computer and it was not pretty. Computers were simpler back then but much more annoying.

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  6. I've only had a computer for about ten or 12 years... my first screen wasn't flat and I still remember how weird it looked like and how much space it took on my desk.

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    1. Ah yes...CRT monitors. Any physical problems I have later in life will be from having to lift those stupid things when I worked in I.T. I HATED those. We finally got rid of them all my last few years.

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  7. Wow, I've never seen that 1984 Apple computer ad, but it's ironic. It says you'll see why 1984 won't be like 1984. And all I can think of it that computers have led to our lives becoming more like 1984 (Orwell's version at least). :)

    I don't remember our first computer, but my first memories of computer were about 6th grade, playing Oregon Trail on a school computer. Oh the graphics for that were lovely. :)

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    1. I got a kick out of the first ad, where Kevin Costner is clicking on that crazy-outdated mouse and the screen is like the one above...and the voiceover is talking about how Apple makes the most advanced computers! It's just a reminder of how advanced it all seemed at the time. And it makes you wonder how today's tech will look to people in 30 years.

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  8. I don't remember, but it was IBM compatible.

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    1. I don't remember either...back then I didn't know one computer from another. I didn't really want to know, either!

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  9. The first one I had came with windows 95, thankfully no need for those huge boot up disks

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    1. I guess being around for all the horrible stuff made us appreciate Windows 95 more. Although Windows 8 sent me over to Mac for good. I think, in the end, I just got a defective computer, but Microsoft lost me for life. (Unless Apple decides to go wonky on us someday.)

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  10. Now I know that I am old - a ZX81 by Clive Sinclair was my first computer. Yikes.

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    1. That was 1980, right? Not old! My husband's uncle sold Wang computers. I still don't really know what those are but apparently there was a lot of money in it.

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  11. I don't remember what my first computer was, but it was a big, clunky thing and I thought it was so cool. LOL!

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    1. I remember my mom bringing home a work laptop that had a piece of paper that you put over the Function keys to tell you which ones saved, opened a file, printed, etc. Now I just hit Command + P and I'm printing to a printer in another room of the house.

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  12. Very interesting. When my husband was taking a computer course at the university, the computer filled a big room and they used a punch card.

    My first computer was a MacBook Pro. I used his computers before getting my own.
    I can't remember how many he had as he kept upgrading them. Pretty pathetic. All I know they were PCs.

    Hugs,
    JB

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    1. A lot of people were really into putting computers together and upgrading them back in the 90s. I don't think that happens so much anymore, now that you can just buy a new computer for less than what you'd pay for a part! Especially desktops. I think they give those away free with a full tank of gas these days. (Just kidding!)

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  13. My first computer was a hand-me-down from my dad, so it must have been a PC. I remember playing solitaire on it more than anything else. A few years later, I took a programming course at college on a Mac and that made me want a Mac ever since.

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    1. I worked in an office when we all got Windows 95 PCs on our desks for the first time. There was a woman who had worked there for 50 billion years and had done things a certain way all that time. They told her she had to start using this Access database and she didn't like the change. So she sat there and played Solitaire all day. (Funny, she could learn to play THAT but she didn't "feel comfortable" learning to do her job on the computer.) Finally she retired and they brought in someone younger, who didn't mind doing the job using this fancy new-fangled technology!

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  14. I didn't actually own a computer until 1998 - I got a Toshiba laptop then and I thought it was just about the greatest thing ever. When I was in college I worked in the library and no one used the computer lab there but computer geeks. I remember taking a class that required me to use DOS commands once and I thought that was enough to turn me off computers forever.
    I don't remember the Kevin Costner ad - always fun to see these old commercials!

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    1. Yeah, I hated computers in college because of that. Once Windows came out, it changed everything. I still don't like computer problems, though. As long as my devices work as they're supposed to, I love technology. My experience with my iPhone has (so far) shown me that the only way to make that happen is to go all Apple. PCs are just too unreliable and buggy.

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  15. I love that commercial. Not the Costner one. I remember upgrading to a 486 and thought I was so technically advanced.

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    1. I had no recollection of the Costner commercial at all. In fact, I completely missed the 1984 commercial, too. But at that age, I wouldn't have paid any attention to computer commercials. And I certainly wouldn't have watched the Super Bowl.

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  16. ha, this brought back so many memories! I never felt like I owned my own computer until I graduated college, then I got a cool sunset stripe printed Dell inspiron as a gift from my parents. Till then we had desktops that we all shared...except they were really my brother's more than anyone's since he taught himself to code at age 12 or something lol...his first computer was a Comadore 64 I believe.

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    1. Those were some tough years. Now parents just hand the kids an iPad and they get to keep their computers for themselves!

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  17. I really love the history of computers--especially personal computers. My sister got a Commodore 64 when they came out in the eighties. We would sit for hours trying to program ONE thing!!

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    1. I watched Jobs on Netflix. I was watching it on my MacBook Pro, so it was quite a surreal experience. I was watching what it took to get computers to actually display video...it gave me an all new appreciation for all this.

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  18. What a great post. Brought back lots of memories. Well, that's what you're going for right. I had a commodore 64. That was the first of many. I've never owned a mac.

    Have a fabulous day. :)

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    1. I didn't own a Mac until I had a Sony Vaio that crashed once a month and had to be reloaded. It's sitting next to me right now. Nice, shiny, newish Vaio. I'm on my Mac. I sometimes think about taking a hammer to the Vaio, just for the fun of it.

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  19. i don't remember the brand. i remember it cost about $1600, though. yikes!

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    1. So expensive back then. And look at what you can get now. Although Apples are still more expensive than PCs--but one MacBook will last years, from what I'm hearing. Five to ten? Most of the time people replace them just to get newer technology, not because they've slowed down at all. So even today, Apple is working hard to be better than everyone else. That doesn't always win the customer, though, who just doesn't want to pay that much.

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  20. First computer we owned was an Apple IIc+. My dad won it in a drawing. It was state of the art at the time.

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    1. Wow! That was a huge prize for that time, too!

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  21. And how did we function before the PC?

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    1. Life was probably much simpler, that's for sure!

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  22. Great one for I, Stephanie. I didn't own a computer until I was out of college, but my dad rented an Apple IIe for me once. It was heaven! No carbon paper or whiteout--woo-hoo!

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    1. I didn't own one until I was out of college, either, although I did have a typewriter in my dorm room!

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  23. My first computer was a Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer. You had to type everything in BASIC and it had a cassette tape for storing files. I spent hours typing lines of code out of magazines just to watch something happen on the screen. It wasn't until later in high school that I would get to use a 286 PC. It's amazing how far computers have come in such a short time.

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    1. It is--each year seems to bring more changes.

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  24. Wow, it's amazing to think about how far we've come in just a little over 30 years.

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    1. And it makes you wonder where the next 30 years will take us all.

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  25. I love how clunky it is. If someone from the 80s time traveled forward and looked at things like the iPhone (and how it's basically a mini-computer), they'd be astounded.

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    1. I know! That's what was so surreal about watching Jobs on Netflix on my MacBook. You realize how amazing the technology is when you're watching it being created.

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  26. My first computer was something called a Commodore... let's just say it took me four hours to type in a program into DOS that did nothing but let a tiny red balloon flitter across the screen!

    My, how times have changed!

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    1. I know--we were basically required to be programmers back then. The people that enjoyed it are making big bucks now.

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  27. Look how young Kevin Costner is? That 1984 commercial is a stunner and scary. Computers and me were not friends:)-let's say I disabled the Mac at my University. Anyhoo, my first hubby got a computer back in the mid 1991. I fibbed and said I knew computers at the job interview and I was hired-the job I still have now. Yes I really did look for the "any" key.

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    1. My husband met Kevin Costner. There's a picture of them together on my husband's Facebook page and my husband's stepsister still doesn't believe it was really Kevin Costner! But they were backstage at the Opry and he was there performing. Kevin Costner is apparently both a musician and an actor. I have no idea if he's any good at it...I stay far away from the Opry.

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  28. Interesting. I didn't know all this. I think my first computer was an Apple of some kind. Can't remember exactly what.

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    1. I don't even know what mine was...probably an IBM.

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  29. The first computer my family ever had was a PC clone. I remember typing school essays on it. The first computer I ever played with was my uncle's. It was 1984, and he had an Apple. There were all sorts of drawing programs on it (or the one, but that was enough for us).

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    1. I think we had Apples in my junior high classroom. I remember the emblem. Those were HUGE in schools.

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  30. I am no stranger to IBM. I learned to program on an As400 System 38. Wow!! :)

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    1. I think I remember you mentioning you had a programming background...and being in awe of that!

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  31. An Atari computer that did some things, but mainly games :)

    betty

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    1. We had one of those home gaming consoles...can't remember what it was called, though.

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  32. Good question, I'm off to define computer, enjoy the AtoZ challenge

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    1. I had to look up some of the computer models that have been mentioned here today.

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  33. This was a really fun blog post. I enjoyed singing the commercials from the 1980s. It's crazy how very different computers are now!

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    1. Old commercials are always interesting. They feel like a small glimpse into how things were at the time.

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  34. It was so long ago that I don't remember either but it was pre Windows 3.1. Do you remember the dot matrix printers that cost a fortune and would shake the entire house when they printed?

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    1. LOL. Would you believe when I worked for the State in 2013, there was one near my desk. It went with some old mainframe system and it pulled reports. Government loves to hold onto that old technology. They also had a GIGANTIC version of it that was really loud. If I hadn't left to write full-time, I would have been seated right next to it because they were cramming everyone into those open-plan offices. All day, I would have been listening to that relic from the 1900s.

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  35. That first computer looked all too familiar! I'm pretty sure we had one kind of like it! I love all these 80s memories!!!

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    1. I can't remember anything about the computer we used in junior high, but it was an Apple. It would have been around 1983 or 1984, so I assume it was a Lisa?

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  36. I think the first computer I ever used was the Apple McIntosh in 7th grade (when they had that cool rainbow apple logo). I didn't own one until I got a hand me down Tiger in 2001. Yep. That late. I still don't own a cell phone at all, let alone a smart phone.

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  37. Yes! That's exactly what I remember--the rainbow apple logo from class. Did we get special Apples for the classroom or were we using the Lisa? I don't even remember what the computer looked like. The Macintosh came out in 1984 (the one that 1984 ad was for) and it didn't look all that different from the Lisa:

    http://www.computerhistory.org/atchm//wp-content/uploads/2012/08/1984macintosh.jpg

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  38. Geez, I don't remember. I worked as a bank teller and I loved using the computers. They were quite large. Our first computer...hmmm...I don't remember that one either...With 5 kids, college and buying computers, my brain's mush.

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  39. Our uncle gave us his daughter's old Apple II. We had some kind of paint program and a golf game. Good times...

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  40. I bought my first computer in 1993 when I moved back to Minneapolis from Portland, Oregon... Everyone I was friends with in Oregon had email (at least through work) and the first browser had just been developed. I have no idea what brand it was. And honestly I have no idea how many computers I've owned. All of them PCs running windows. From 1985 until 1999, I worked in a financial field that required us to be able to program in Fortran, set up macros in spreadsheets,... We started out with dummy terminals to the mainframe in Chicago but in the summer of 1985 we all got PCs on our desks. I remember how excited we were to move from DOS to Windows.

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  41. Pack rat that I am, every now and then I find old tech that we've saved. The difference between now and just ten years ago is amazing.

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  42. Wow. I can't remember the model. It was a tower of some kind back when word perfect was at 5.1 and aol was still the only email out there.

    This is shades of my childhood. Wow.

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  43. Though I remember using Commodores and a Vic 20, the first computer my family owned was a 386 running DOS 5. It also had Windows 3.1 on it but I couldn't stand it, I thought Windows was for lazy people. I remember that my 386 was so much more powerful than my friend's 286 and it was so cool, but it still had only a tiny fraction of the power in the tiny phone I'm typing this message on right now.

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  44. Boy this has been so long ago, I'm trying to remember the first computer I ever owned. It was either Commodore or Compaq, I think. It was huge by today's standards and a lot heavier.

    Interesting subject.

    Sunni
    http://sunni-survivinglife.blogspot.com/

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  45. I worked on a PC like that in about 1983-1984. The language was Cobalt.
    Visit me at: Life & Faith in Caneyhead
    I am Ensign B of Tremps' Troops
    with the A to Z Challenge

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  46. Oh my goodness. my first computer was one my dad had... it was in the mid 90's... I was a late bloomer but my Andrea brought me into the new century and taught me about how to use one... xox

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  47. The first computer I owned is still in my possession. An apple IIe with two floppy disks. It was in storage for awhile, but when "Lost" was on TV I set it up in my basement bar and ran a "numbers" program where you had to type in the numbers or it would beep. What can I say, I'm still a nerd.

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