Oh, Snip It!

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NOVEMBER 24, 2010 7:37AM

Auction of First Personal Computer Stirs Memories

Rate: 4 Flag

applei-101111

~photo courtesy of appleinsider.com and christie's

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 In 1976, I was finishing my undergraduate degree and making plans to enter a Masters Program.  That same year Steven P. Jobs and Steve Wozniak were rolling out what was essentially the first personal computer. Apple sold two hundred of what was called the Apple I.  It featured, of all things, a fully assembled motherboard!

Originally selling for $666.66 - a price that had to have made a Biblical Literalist begin looking for a swarm of locusts - the Apple I was a mind-blowing breakthrough.  Though, as Nick Bilton of the New York Times points out, the Apple I could "barely power a game of pong."

They built the damned thing in the garage of their house!  Meanwhile, back in Kansas, I was typing my last undergraduate assignments on a portable electric typewriter.  I was also using an awful lot of correction tape!

Ah, but then, Jobs and Wozniak rolled out the Apple II.  And let me tell you, when I managed to get one of those I thought I had died and gone to Master's Degree student heaven!  

300px-Apple_II_IMG_4218-black

~photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Now I could store my term papers on a floppy disk!  I could see what I was typing on that weird little screen with it's blinking green cursor and single styled font.  If I misspelled a word, I could simply hit the little back up key and watch the green blinking cursor erase my mistake like it never happened.  (Oh hell!  I still do that!)

Oh, and I could play Pong and Space Invaders!  

 SpaceInvaders-Gameplay

~photo courtesy of Wikipedia 

Trust me, when you are flippin' tired of regurgitating the Existentialists, even a primitive game of Space Invaders is a welcomed relief.  This, of course, was before Al Gore invented the Internet.  But, hey!  I could play Space Invaders at two in the morning when I should have been delving into the nuances of Tillich's Systematic Theology.

The first Apple II I got my hands on featured a whopping 64K of memory.  I had an entire drawer full of floppy disks, all marked neatly with titles like, "Paul Tillich's Discussion of the Ground of Being."  

Little did I know that by owning an Apple II, I was using technology that would become the ground out of which grew my Blackberry.   Or that my cherished Blackberry would be infinitely more powerful than my Apple II ever hoped to be.

So, when Christie's auctioned off the Apple I for an unbelievable $210,ooo plus, I couldn't help but think, "Damn, I am getting old!"  Here I am posting a blog to be thrown out into the Cyber World on a computer that even by today's standards is a bit slow and cumbersome when back-in-the-day I thought I was pretty hot stuff!  I had an Apple II!  With 64K of memory!  

My how the computer world has changed.   

Someday my grandchildren will stumble upon this blog post, shake their heads and say, "Papa Rich sure used some primitive technology back in his day.  Did he really use a computer that had only twenty gigabytes of memory and sat on a desk?"

Yeah, there was also a time when I read email on a Blackberry. 

I sure wish I had kept that Apple II.

 

 

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Our first was a Commodore 64, aptly named for the whiz bang 64k of memory. We opted for the disk drive so that we could use a cassette player for the external disk drive. You needed a Boot Disk to start, one for the game software, and another to "Save Game." All that, for a black screen, white words such as, "go north." Thanks for the memories!
So well done. It's really amazing how fast technology has evolved. Thanks for sharing your experiences with what's now a valuable antique. Wish I'd saved the clunky computer my dad handed me down when I was a kid.... R.
I'm with dianaani, Commodore 64 was my first. I remember having the very first computers in the company I worked for, IBM 286 and everyone thought we were so "advanced". ha. thanks for the memories.
Oh the good ole days!
rated with love
Okay, in 1976, I was in 5th grade, but I do remember in 1982 or maybe 1983, I took one of the school's first "computer" classes. Mostly what I remember is a game where I was this green stick person, and I could "walk" through rooms in a "house". The screen was black, the lines were green and I remember how cool it was moving through the rooms.
I didn't get a home computer though until about 1996 or 1997.
It's crazy how much this world has changed! I wonder what my kids will say when they look back at the computers of their childhoods. ..