11 Oct, 2009, flumpy wrote in the 1st comment:
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I was watching this program on the BBC the other day about Sir Clive Sinclair, Acorn and the circumstances around how the home computer market came about. It was a light hearted docu-drama which was entirely fascinating and insightful (if a little exaggerated at times, but quite funny). This made me reminisce about the days of my childhood, spent bent over a ZX Spectrum trying to get it to load stuff and solve one of the fiendish text adventures such as "The Hobbit" and "Sherlock Holmes", and latterly the "Balrog" (a free game on the front of Your Sinclair - hilarious!) - along with other games such as Green Beret, Monty Mole and Renegade.

I doggedly followed that 8 bit machine well in to my teenage years from the age of eight, and it was the best thing I ever did. It taught me how to program, how to think and how to learn. It inspired me to be who I am, and gave me an entire career. Now I don't think much of my parents these days (that's something else entirely) but if there was one thing I thanked my Dad for, sincerely and with deep gratitude, it was for buying me that machine.

Which is what brought me to write this post: what are your memories, if any, of your first introduction to computers and technology? What inspired you to do what you do in life, as a hobby or otherwise?
11 Oct, 2009, David Haley wrote in the 2nd comment:
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I don't really remember when I first started using computers, because I've been using computers for as long as I can remember. Both of my parents are computer scientists, and my father was a tinkerer. We had several computers when I was born, although I don't really remember much about them. Anyhow they started teaching me random stuff when I was quite young (6? 7?), my mother mainly focusing on math (boolean algebra especially – man I had no patience for that so young, I wish she had started a tiny bit later so I could appreciate it more) and my father focusing on programming (I think I started with qbasic?).

There are many things that I could probably name, but I'll try to keep it fairly brief. I got "serious" with modding the various early Star Wars games, and Jedi Knight in particular (it had a custom language called Cog that drove a fair bit of the game logic). Cog was a funny language to learn because (a) I wasn't really sure what I was doing and (b) it was sort of a weird language, not quite a full-fledged language, but not quite a throwaway one either. My next big thing was Quake2, where all of the game logic was encapsulated in a C DLL, so modding it involved writing proper C. From then (and before then), it was a whole bunch of more-or-less-throwaway projects used to explore and learn about a specific thing. Sometime around 2001 I became more heavily involved in MUD coding, and then eight years happened, and here we are.

There was never really any question that I would pursue a degree in computer science, not because I "had to", but because it's just what I liked doing. And from there it made sense to pursue it as a career, although I didn't really expect to wind up in the financial sector until 2006.
11 Oct, 2009, ATT_Turan wrote in the 3rd comment:
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Ooh, memory lane! Well, I had a large gap in my computer experiences - I had an Apple IIe when I was a young kid, and I used that for various games and educational stuff. We had that until I started high school and got a Windows 95 machine (it's boggling to think that my Blackberry is more powerful than that old Hewlett-Packard sitting in the corner of my room).

Like Mr. Haley, I got started with modding games - I remember creating custom ships in X-Wing, good ol' Cog for Jedi Knight 2, lots of game editing for Command and Conquer:Red Alert. About halfway through high school, I came across an RPG-creating tool called Verge. I didn't do much with the programming aspect of it until after I started my C++ classes in school, but it had a MUD associated with it, which introduced me to this addicting realm. Programming is strictly a hobby for me, but I try to continue getting the occasional class under my belt and plunking away at my MUD as I amble through life.

Good thread :grinning:
11 Oct, 2009, flumpy wrote in the 4th comment:
Votes: 0
ATT_Turan said:
Ooh, memory lane! Well, I had a large gap in my computer experiences - I had an Apple IIe when I was a young kid, and I used that for various games and educational stuff.

Cool. One thing I was surprised to hear was that Apple nearly went bust along with Sinclair and Acorn in the computer market slump of the late eighties.. I mean where would we be without them?

Apart from a lot happier, of course, but I jest ;D

ATT_Turan said:
Good thread :grinning:

why thankee kind sir :smirk:
11 Oct, 2009, Cratylus wrote in the 5th comment:
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My first exposure to computers was in the early 80's in elementary school
classrooms. There'd be, say, a TRS-80 in the corner, but it seemed very
rare for them to get any use. In retrospect, I think the teachers just
didn't know what to do with them, or didn't really have time to mess
around with them.

My first practical exposure was at friends' houses, and for the most part
the video games were ok, but no more entertaining or easy to play than
my Atari 2600. But what really got my attention on their PC's was this
"adventure game" thing…they weren't limited by the cheesy graphics
of the time, and they engaged my thinking and puzzle solving skills
and got me super interested in the whole "typing stuff into a computer" thing.

My first computers (this and this) I used mostly to tinker with BASIC,
with the dream of maybe someday making an adventure game, never did
finish, kinda forgot about computers in general when I hit high school
and only when I was in college and walked by an open dorm room where
they were playing DOOM did my interest perk up again :)

About that time a buddy of mine turned me on to Darker Realms LP mud, and
a long-asleep part of my brain lit up like a pinball machine, and
the rest just followed from there…I got into computers as a means to
run MUD and FPS servers…the part where I learned enough to make
a living at them was kind of a bonus :)

11 Oct, 2009, Hanaisse wrote in the 6th comment:
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My Commodore 64 is sitting in the basement. I wonder if it still works…. :lol:

Computers have only ever been a hobby for me from a gaming aspect. From the days of DOOM and Quake right up to TES:Oblivion there's something to be said for a machine that lets you escape everyday reality and blow people up.
11 Oct, 2009, flumpy wrote in the 7th comment:
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Hanaisse said:
My Commodore 64 is sitting in the basement. I wonder if it still works…. :lol:

Computers have only ever been a hobby for me from a gaming aspect. From the days of DOOM and Quake right up to TES:Oblivion there's something to be said for a machine that lets you escape everyday reality and blow people up.

Well, through the power of emulationyou don't even have to have it working!!!

Also, some spectrum ones.
11 Oct, 2009, Ing wrote in the 8th comment:
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I'd say the C64 was my intro, but it wasn't 'till much later when my father brought home an old 486 with Basic on it. That's what ultimately started the obsession and got me into writing my own text adventures which later got worse when I stumbled upon the Adventure Game Toolkit. I also got obsessed making wads for Doom. It just went downhill from there and college really didn't help this obsession. My mates and I ran a talker for a few months before the mud bug fully hit and took even longer for me to find myself here, but ah well. It's one obsession I'm thankful for.
11 Oct, 2009, Orrin wrote in the 9th comment:
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I suppose my inspiration would have to be my Dad. He was a computer programmer in the early days and from a very young age I can remember going into work with him and being amazed at all the stuff in the computer rooms. They even had a punch card sorter where he'd always get them to print a card of my name for me (well that's what he said it was!)

I remember getting a ZX81 and a cassette player for Christmas and while I think it was one of those presents my Dad got as much for him as for me, I thought it was a great present. There followed many long afternoons messing around with it learning Basic as well as hours spent typing in programs from computer magazines. I remember thinking how cool it was to go along the lines of display computers at WH Smiths and print my name across the screen. I suppose it's a sign of the times that we never dared print anything rude!

We always had some kind of home computer after that, although frustratingly never anything good that my friends had like a Spectrum, C64 or Acorn Electron. After the ZX81 we had a Memotech computer which nobody else had ever heard of. It did have one thing going for it though; a fantasy text adventure game (I don't remember the name now) which I spent many an evening trying to complete. Around the same time as I was getting into computers with the ZX81 I also got the D&D red box basic set for my birthday and started a gaming group with some friends from school and that was where it all started for me.
11 Oct, 2009, Sandi wrote in the 10th comment:
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My first computer was an IBM 1401.

Around '92 I was doing some network troubleshooting for a small optics firm. During a break, the conversation fell to the LA Riots, and the sysadmin seemed to know a lot of things that weren't covered in the news. I asked her how she knew so much, and she responded that she'd read posts by people that were there, on usenet. That weekend, I bought a modem and signed up with World. It was only $1/hr plus long distance charges. Three months later, I was in serious trouble with my credit card company. :rolleyes: