With one of the first Apple computers recently selling for an incredible $387,750 or just short of £250,000, it got us thinking about our first ever computers here at Bespoke Computing.
Chris and Matt did end up feeling their age a little when they realised former apprentice Connor and new apprentice Andy both started off with PCs that ran Windows operating systems – which didn’t exist beyond extensions to MS-DOS until the early 90s.
Chris’s first computer was a Sinclair ZX81, launched in 1981 and discontinued in 1984. It had no monitor and its video output had to go through the television. With a 3.25MHz processor and 1KB of memory built in, it ran the Sinclair Basic operating system.
“You could buy only two accessories for it, a receipt printer and an external memory cartridge that gave a whopping 16KB of additional memory.
“When you think the average photograph taken with a modern smartphone is about 1.5MB or 1,536KB, it shows just how things have changed since I was a kid. The cartridge attached to the back and kept falling off,” said Chris.
“I remember my first ever programme was copied out of the back of a magazine and it was basically two rectangles that moved from one side of the screen to the other. It also had a ‘RUBOUT’ key rather than a ‘DELETE’ key!”
The first computer Matt remembers was an Amiga 500 that his dad bought for the family in the late 1980s or early 1990s and was in production from 1987 until 1991. It had a 3.5-inch floppy disk drive built into the keyboard that you used to load the operating system and had no hard drive to install the software to. With 512KB of RAM, the single core processor ran about 7MHz – leaving Chris’s Spectrum for dust in the speed stakes.
“My brother and I mainly used it for playing games and it was the first computer I learnt to programme on using Amiga Basic,” said Matt.
“The programmes I would write were fairly simple but it was the starting point of my interest in computing and IT in general. Had my dad not bought the Amiga, I would likely have done something else in life.”
Matt admits that compared to the capabilities of today’s computers, the Amiga was quite antiquated.
“The word processing software, for example, was nothing more than a glorified electric typewriter. In the 26 years since it was released, you really can see how much computers have changed.
“Mobile phones have significantly more power and capabilities than the Amiga and they fit in your trouser pocket. You’d never fit an Amiga in your pocket!”
By contrast, Andy and Connor both had PCs much closer to those on offer today, albeit with significantly less capabilities.
Connor’s was a Fujitsu Seimens box around 10 years ago, with a P4, 3GHz chip and 512 MB of RAM. It ran Windows XP and had two disk drives – a CD one and a DVD/RW one.
“I used to play all the games you got in cereal boxes for hours and also remember making PowerPoint presentations about complete nonsense,” he said.
“It was a slow PC and I got frustrated with it as the years passed as it didn’t have the guts to keep up with the new games, before I finally replaced it a few years ago.”
Andy had Compaq PC with a tower unit and a CRT monitor. It ran Windows 95 and, as far as Andy is concerned, was “brilliant back in the day”.
“It had all the games I wanted to play as a kid and even had a disk tray. I couldn’t really fault it back then and still can’t to be honest, as it was still working up until last year,” he said.
Our trip down memory lane has led us to remind customers of our Business Technology Review service and urge them not to take their computer systems for granted.
If you have had your system for a while, it might seem to still be working just fine on the outside but potential problems behind the scenes might be going unnoticed.
We all get our cars serviced at least once a year and many of us regularly check the oil levels and tyre pressures to keep them running smoothly and safely.
Likewise, your business is also a finely tuned ‘machine’ that you would make any changes needed regularly to keep it running to the best of its potential.
Why should computer systems so important to your business be any different?
We can look at your current systems and ensure that they are in perfect working order to help you make the most of your business.
Contact us by filling in this online form or call us on 0845 004 3025 to book a Business Technology Review now.