My first computer

My first computer

My first computer was a Dragon 32, which I think I bought in 1982. With a massive 32 kilobytes of RAM and a proper typewriter keyboard, it was quite advanced for a home computer of the time. The Commodore 64 may have had more RAM, but a lot of it was grabbed by its very basic BASIC. I preferred a computer with an ELSE to go with its IF, thanks. Microsoft Extended BASIC for me, not the crummy old BASIC 2.0 of the Commodore. The Commodore 64 was one of the great consumer electronics sales successes of all time. The Dragon, er, wasn’t. It lasted less than two years before the Welsh parent company went under.

Inside, it was pretty much a Tandy TRS-80 Color Computer. Outside, it was this:

Dragon 32

I cut my coding teeth on this beast. The first thing I did with it was to write a parametric 3D bottle design program. I later spent several all-nighters developing what I thought was an awesome space game in BASIC using its limited graphics. I bought a plug-in cartridge that provided me with assembly language facilities. Real nerd stuff.

I sold it to a co-worker just before the company collapsed and replaced it with a Sinclair QL, another great commercial success story. I still have that QL (broken), and another one I bought much later as a replacement. I must get it out one day and see if it still works.

What was your first computer?


  1. The first one I bought was a Victor 9000, considered in 1984 to be the best computer for running AutoCAD, due to its awesome 800×400 screen and floppy drives that could hold 1.2MB of data each.

    (If you bought a double-sided floppy drive, you could get the Victor to recgonize it by soldering a short wire across two points in the disk drive controller board.)

    My first computer was the Amdahl mainframe at the University of British Columbia, where I learned to program with punch cards in 1975.

  2. R. Paul Waddington

    Now we all gonna date ourselves arn’t we eh!

    As you do Steve, I still have an original (and our first) Tandy TRS-80. 64Kb, an external floppy drive and a pen printer. Shortly after its purchase we upgraded it with an expansion unit (total 128Kb), Tandy dot matrix printer and a dedicated Tandy ‘green screen’.

    I used it to develop a program (in Basic) to calculated heavy vehicle performance – previously only done on main frames in the hands of GM, Caterpillar etc. My brother-in-law used it for accounting purposes with software he wrote.

    Packed-up now: never had the heart (or commonsense) to throw away something that had so much impact on our lives, was still working fine until the day we never turned it on again and, never found any person who actually wanted it, to use, either.

  3. Funny, I was just doing some searching on my original computer: a Sharp PC-1500 Pocket PC.

    I had bought a TI programmable calculator about 2 weeks before these came on the market and I had to have one so I returned the TI and bought the PC.

    This had a 4 color mini printer/plotter attachment and I also purchased at a later date an RS232 modem for it. I used it in my basic programming class and my first assignment which I had printed out on the 2 1/2 ribbon was returned with a comment by the teacher “where can I get one of these”

  4. Earl Kubaskie

    I had HP’s mag-card programmable calculators (HP-65 and -67) starting in ’74, but my first real computer was an Apple II purchased in 1978. 1 MHz 6502 CPU, 48K RAM, single 110K floppy drive (with a big red “PRELIMINARY” stamp on the DOS manual), and a small black&white TV for a monitor.

    It was my first “portable”, too! I made up a foam-rubber cut-out to fit a suitcase for the computer and drive, and carried it back & forth to work every day.

    $2700. Imagine the system I could build with that budget today!

  5. First computer owned:

    IBM PC-XT w/ AST Six Pac Plus & 8087
    Single 5 1/4, 20MB HD, Hayes 1200B
    14″ Amdek (amber)
    Epson wide carriage dot matrix
    DOS 2.xx, I think
    Ran AutoCAD 2.xx

    I still have the machine, packed away in my garage, w/all original manuals.
    Hardware/software no longer original spec.
    Modem upgraded to Zoom 9600 baud
    DO6 6, IIRC
    ACAD 10

    It booted up just fine, last time i tried (some years ago).

    First computer programmed:

    IBM 1130

    First computer paid to program:(1970)

    IBM System 360 model 30
    running IBM Sys 360 DOS
    (the disk drives were the size of washing machines,
    and had removable disk packs which reminded me of the cake displays in coffee shops, complete with clear plastic cover w/ handle on top)

    First computer language:


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