My Computers... a brief history of time...

Thanks to for the pictures!

The first computer I ever used at Mark T. Sheehan H.S. in Wallingford, Ct.

To boot this thing up, you had to toggle words on those little switches (i.e. set a word on the switches, then toggle the load switch.  Enter the next word and toggle again.  What a process!!)

This is a digital PDP11/20, very similar to what we had in HS.  We were connected to 5 TTY consoles that had paper tape readers.  And we were WAY advanced for that time!!!

The second computer I ever used.  Probably around 1980-81.  This was at the computer lab (Lab, my ass, it was a walk in closet run by Mr. Dunn for us young geeks.  Great machine to play with.  My friend Paul Parker wrote a kick ass bowling game for it, we had tons of fun with that!
The amazing advance... a cassette tape reader!!! WOW, blinding fast loading/saving programs.  We did get an expansion interface for it too.

YEAR  1977
BUILT IN LANGUAGE    Basic Level 1 (4k ROM models)
Basic Level II (12k ROM models)
CPU  Zilog Z80
SPEED  1.77 MHz
RAM  4 kb / 16 kb depending on models (up to 48 kb)
VRAM  1 kb
ROM  4 kb (Basic Level 1) or 12kb (Basic Level 2)
OS          TRS DOS - NEW DOS
PRICE  #26-1006 : Model I, Level II, 16K = $1099

My baby... a Vic 20.  After a few years hiatus, I got this in 1981, with my future wife, Pam.  I got the cassette tape drive and a Forth cartridge so I could learn to program in forth!  Wooo hooo.  Pam and I would key in programs from magazines, debug them for hours then play for days....CPU                  Commodore Semiconductor Group 6502A

SPEED                     1.0227 Mhz
CO-PROCESSOR    VIC-I (6560) for sound and graphics.
RAM                        5 KB (3583 bytes free), expandable up to 32 KB

And of course, the logical upgrade to the Vic-20, the Commodore 64.  An amazing machine.  Talk about tons of fun, playing joust and writing games in the incredibly lousy language built into it.  64k of memory, WOW!
CPU                  6510
SPEED                  0.985 MHz (PAL) / 1.023 MHz (NTSC)
CO-PROCESSOR       VIC II (Video), SID (Sound)
RAM                  64 KB

My first real love, still to this day.  Yes, I’m on a 24” cinema screen iMac, but you can bet your booty I’d give a bunch to get one of these again.  Getting it was a real adventure, Pam and I were visiting her Mom in Moline Illinois when I saw this at a Radio Shack store and HAD to have it.  At $1790.00 retail however, it was way beyond pocket money.  We had to finance it, and in those days, loans like that took at least a day to get approved.  I must have drove those two women MAD with my anticipation...  But I got it!!  What a day!!!  It was late 1983 and I was one of the first to have one.  Yes, it was portable, at a mere 28 pounds, you could take it anywhere!!!  LOL. Dual floppy drives - WOW.

I wrote my first piece of real software on this machine, a word processor called V-edit.  It went over pretty well, but then a commercial application came out called Vedit and there was a small fight over the name.  I ended up  moving to Germany and the development of V-Edit stopped.

The picture above is a 5 Mb  (Yes, megabyte) hard drive, and I had one.  List price was $2,495.00 and I paid a measly $700 for it when the local store manager got a better one for his store.  This was one of the first marketed hard disk drives and I had people coming in from MANY miles away to see this little gem work.
RAM  64 or 128 KB

After the 4p, I went hardcore into the PeeCee market.  I started building my own machines as soon as the craze hit.  My first was a homebrew S-100 bus system, but that was the end of my independence.  After that machine, I was a total IBM/Micro$oft fanboi.  I remember for YEARs taking potshots at the whole Amiga and Macintosh worlds.  I considered anyone with something other than a PeeCee as a lower form of life, to be pitied, not derided.  This lasted over 20 years, years of developing software, adopting the internet before most people knew what it was, running a BBS for many years and generally trying to keep up with all the latest hardware.  I went from a 120baud modem all the way to v32.bis, then DSL then Cable.  I worked on friends computers regularly, even flirted with building machines as a business.
Somewhere during all this, I took a cue from Dr. Jerry Pournelle and started naming all my machines.  Most of them had names of dragons from the Pern series, and some names do get re-used, but never if the original is still in the house.

Then, in 2006, I had a bit of an epiphany.  I realized I was spending more time upgrading, tweaking and making my PeeCee’s run right, that I wasn’t USING the computer for what it was meant for.  Hmmmmm, “Self”, I said, “It’s time to go back to the old days, lets look at the Apple store.”  I trundle off to the local Apple store and saw it.  The iMac G5 (PowerPC Chip...)

And here she is, Ramoth, one of the last of the PowerPC Chipped iMac G5s.  This machine opened my eyes in a big way, and showed me that I didn’t have to spend half my time fighting to get the machine to work, and half the time working.  Instead I could spend all my time working on the things I want to work on!
Processor Type:      PowerPC 970fx (G5)
Processor Speed:    1.9 GHz
System Bus Speed:  633 MHz (3:1)
Cache Bus Speed:   1.9 GHz (Built-in)
Original Price:     $1299
Yep, $1299, cheaper, by far, than my 4p and 24 years older...

This, of course, led to...

Mnementh, my Macbook Pro, 15”, 2.2GHz of smooth sailing loveliness.  I got this just as the Vista debacle really got off the ground.  To my amazement, I was able to load some VM software (Virtual Machine) and run Windows XP, on a Mac Laptop, faster than my so called “Screaming” PeeCee.  Yep, I was hooked, I’m an Apple fanboi now, and I’ll never giver ‘em up!  I even conned friends and business associates into Macs, and they have never looked back either!!!

My disenchantment with Vista was so much that I had this in a pseudo-docking station with keyboard and mouse, riser and fans to keep it cool.  It became my business/travel and home machine as my peecee gently wept...

Then I realized...I needed more, I always need more when it comes to computers, but this was getting serious...
And this was my cowbell, when I needed more cowbell... I give you Indigo!

The 24” widescreen, 3.06GHz Penryn equipped dual core bundle of genuine Apple created hotness
Internally, the Aluminum Core 2 Duo models have faster and more energy-efficient 45nm "Penryn" processors -- compared to 65nm "Merom" processors in the original "Aluminum" models -- larger level 2 caches (6 MB compared to 4 MB), faster frontside buses (1066 MHz compared to 800 MHz), and faster memory (PC2-6400 compared to PC2-5300).  All for the low, low price of $2199.
Oh yeah, call me Tim Allen...
This is my main machine now.  Indigo does all the heavy hauling around here, and he does it without complaint, unlike his cousin on the PeeCee side.
Gotta love this guy!

June 2009 - Newsflash!!!
I have, through the amazing services of e-Bay, aquired a working TRS-80 Model 4p again!!  I am a very happy camper.  I got some old DOS disks, yes, floppy disks and it runs like a champ!  I am pumped!

September, 2010
I went and dawg-gone dun it agin!
There’s a new Sheriff in town, and her name is Delphia.  She’s a spankin new-fangly 27" iMac with all them Bells & Whistles...  I’m talkin ‘bout one them thar Intel i7 Quad Core Pro...cessors...
Ok, enough trying to write like an old west dude speaks.
Yes, we are talking Core i7 Processor, 4 dual-cores of screaming speed with 16GB of onboard RAM and all the other stuff you expect from a genuine Apple product.  Wow does this thing scream.

Computer porn to follow...
  1. 2.93GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7
  2. 16GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 4x4GB
  3. 1TB Serial ATA Drive
  4. 8x double-layer SuperDrive
  5. ATI Radeon HD 5750 1GB GDDR5 SDRAM
  6. Apple Keyboard with Numeric Keypad (English)
  7. Magic Mouse + Magic Trackpad
  8. AppleCare Protection Plan for iMac - Auto-enroll

August 2013

Yeah, I felt the need... the need for speed.  one point twenty one gigawatts!!!

Enter Horus, the new 27 Inch iMac.
32 GB Memory
1 Each DroboStore Raid
Second Monitor
Lightning connectors...  ooooooo.
The whole freakin 9 yards.

And I still use a rotating full image backup spread across 4 different replacable drives.  Yeah, I'm that anal!