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Thread: Old computers - how did they do it?

  1. #33
    Blue Army Member spazman's Avatar
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    the first pc i owned was a 486 cant remember what speed, all i know was thit it was slow, however, orevious to that i used an amiga 500 which by then was slow as hell, were just spoiled now with the speed of PC's. I can remember having to wait 10 mins for word to open.
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    s3v
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    Originally posted by Nox
    how can you class an amstrad as serious?

    Nox
    Hey - CPM ownz DOS man!

    The amstrad was a very tidy bit of kit in its day. 128K bank switchable RAM and a built in floppy drive, colour monitor in all!

    It was fairly expensive too (Im from New Zealand so back then it was worth a lot and we didnt have any other Amstrad products)

    I loved that little machine. I performed my first overclocking experiment on it and replaced the 4MHz Z80 with an 8MHz one. Dont think it worked thught because it was crystal locked
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    could go back to a Spectrum or Amstrad but that would be cheating? they were more toys compared to a computer.

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    My Commodore 64 (had 64Kb of ram/cache) pwns joo all. I had hundreds of hacked/pirated games. I would call the "servers" directly BBS back then, there were a few in my town. 2 of them even had harddrives!! with tons of games. I had demigod access to the hidden subdirectories. For the coolest games & programs. (my friend would freak and call long distance & overseas and download european hacked titles) It would take me all night long to download a game that took up most of a floppy. First I was at 300 baud with a modem that I dialed on an old fashion phone, listened for the other computer to pick up, then unplugged the handset and put the wire in to the modem. Then later I got an incredible 1200 baud modem that even dialed itself.

    Games to name a few: Rampage, Conan (took 2 sides of a floppy!), Outrun, HyperBall, all the old arcade games(pacman, pitfall, poleposition, galaxa, etc), Summer Games, WinterGames 1 & 2, Zork,

    We would use blitz to hide the basic progam that would be the game menu for each floppy with mulitiple games.

    I would lug my 5 1/2 floppy drive (the size of a modern CPU) over to my friends house so we could make copies faster.

    I used CrackerJacks to fix the copied games that wouldnt work after copying (fixes the missing piece).

    100 ?"who rules?"
    200 input s$
    300 if s$="chris" then 500
    400 goto 100
    500 ?"damn straight, I own you bitch"

    & that is why old computers ran well.... (see my program above! )
    Last edited by chrisf6969; 18-11-2003 at 10:30 PM.

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    I first had a cpc 464.

    When i left finished university to start my career, the company i first worked for had 400mhz machines running windows 3.1. THIS WAS IN 2000! I had to take serious backwards steps to learn 3.1.
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  6. #38
    bored out of my tiny mind malfunction's Avatar
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    Originally posted by starside
    I first had a cpc 464.

    When i left finished university to start my career, the company i first worked for had 400mhz machines running windows 3.1. THIS WAS IN 2000! I had to take serious backwards steps to learn 3.1.
    In my first job out of Uni (in 1998) everyone used proper old-style terminals (IBM mainframe - I was a COBOL programmer for my sins). Only the managers had the 'luxury' of proper PCs and terminal emulators...

  7. #39
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    Re: Old computers - how did they do it?

    Originally posted by www.josh.org.uk
    How could people have used computers so slow?!?
    By using something called windows 3.1

    You ever seen it running on anything new-ish? It beats the rubbishrubbishrubbishrubbish outta WinXP for speed.
    And they call this progress

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    Dragon32-->Speccy +2A-->Amiga 500-->Amiga 1200-->Various PC mutations--->Barty 2500+ etc etc



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    First ever computer - Sinclair Spectrum 48k (rubber keys!).

    Then on to:
    Commodore 64
    Amiga


    Then, at age 11, my dad found I was tinkering with his PC more than he was, so he said I could have it so long as I forfeited the games computers I had - I took him up on that and I never looked back

    IBM PC XT 8086 4.77MHz, 640k RAM, 20Mb HDD (the kind you had to park the heads on manually before shutting down the computer), EGA 16-colour monitor capable of an amazing 640x480

    Upgraded the CPU to a "Turbo XT" one at 10MHz, got a maths co-processor to help me generate Mandelbrots quicker

    Later got an MCGA colour monitor - 256 colours at 320x200 resolution! The future is now!

    Got Leisure Suit Larry and finished that in 7 hours flat, even figured out the key-combo to bypass the age verification questions


    80286 12MHz came next, 1Mb RAM, 2 x ESDI HDDs (the size of house bricks) - a "proper" 16 bit PC at last!
    Can you say "VGA graphics!"?


    ...80386 33MHz, upgraded to a DX2/66...

    ...80486 DX4/100...

    ...Pentium 100... (first student loan , by now I think I was up to 32Mb RAM and a 120Mb HDD hehe)

    ...Pentium 200 MMX... (I need a FAN for my CPU?!? that's insane!)

    ...P2 266MHz...

    ...P3 500MHz...

    ...P3 1GHz...

    ...AthlonXP 1600+ and P4 2GHz (current systems)

    I've had a couple of dabbles with AMD CPUs somewhere around the time of the first Pentium CPU, but that really put me off anything non-Intel for a LONG time.

    I absolutely love tinkering with PCs and upgrading - these days the damn things are so complex they are tempremental because of it - I swear the old PCs you could toss down stairs, remove bits while they were powered on, etc and they would carry on trooping
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    PMM
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    There is a big difference between a fully optimised compacted
    operating system to be stored in ROM and a software based
    operating system to be loaded into ram.

    You find you get a lot more extra's on those disks installs than
    you find in ROMs i.e. no soltitare game and all the other odds
    and sods.

    I totally disassembled windows 3.1 taking out all the rubbish
    to leave the core 3.1 operating system and the file manager
    all on one 3.5" floppy disk, made a great recovery system.


    First computer was a BBC Model B wonder how many remember
    the first GUI interface for the BBC? bet not many it came late on
    I was amazed at getting it going and having a graphic calculator
    on screen you could drag around with the mouse cursor man it
    was amazing for a machine with 32k of Ram.

    1st PC was a 386DX40 AMD CPU 8meg of ram, 80 something meg
    Quantum Hard-Disk running windows 3.1 it was as speedy as a
    fast thing 8.9mips of processing goodness at a cost of £1500 way
    back in the days of 1992/1993

    The good old days

  11. #43
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    Originally posted by Zathras
    mmm, BBC model B was my first computer. 0wnage. Probably before most of you lot were born.
    Apple II in my case, and that was circa 1979.

    But the first computer I USED was in, IIRC, 1973 (maybe 72). It was an ICL 1905 mainframe with a couple of DEC PDP-10's as FEP's, if I remember correctly. Program input was via a teletype terminal or via batch submission using optical marked cards, and we were very lucky because we could store programs locally on 7-hole punch tape. I've still got some of those punch tape jobs somewhere.

    Any the "kids" that think a 386 was unbelieveably slow ought to have used some of the earlier machines. My first 386 ( a Wyse machine) was a 386/25 with FPU, a 338MB SCSI hard drive, 150MB tape streamer, 16MB ram, VGA grpahics and a 14" colour monitor. That little lot was state of the art and (though I got a discount via contacts) was worth a couple of hundred quid short of £10,000.

    I kid you not - ten grand. And that was the THIRD generation of PC I'd owned

    The thing was, they didn't do as much. You'd be surprised how much CPU power running a GUI like Windows sucks, and the early versions of Windows were a farce. Yet in running DOS-based accounts programs, word processors like WordPerfect, Wordstar etc (and MS Word wasn't even a glint in Gates' eye at that time) the performance was just fine. Mind you, graphics program like CorelDraw and Micrografx Designer were slow, and benefitted immensely from increasing CPU power, and AutoCAD was sheer agony on those those early machines - it could take MINUTES to redraw a complex model, even in wireframe mode. You could almost benchmark the improvements in performance of graphics programs from each CPU generation by using a sundial, let alone a stopwatch.

    So, as has been said, it wasn't that most things on early machines were slow, it's that the more demanding tasks simply didn't exist. Forget watching (let alone editing) movies, forget fancy graphical games and forget things like voice recognition, OCR or biometrics.

    Not only were machines expensive (like that £10,000 386), but so was software and accessories. My first version of AutoRoute was £2500, but was a business tool in those days. My first sound card was over £200, and my first CD-ROM drive was over £300. The 330MB hard drive in that PC I mentioned was worth £1500 on it's own, and I first had a CD burner (Yamaha CDR-100) when a quad-speed burner was almost unheard of, and cost £2500 ..... and the software to drive it (DOS-based Personal Scribe) was a further £2000.

    Yup, £4500 ( ) for a 4x CD-writer (no rewrite), and blank CD's were £15 each wholesale. I even paid £45 once for a box of 10 3.5" floppies, because 5.25" was the standard, and some people were still using 8" floppies.

    Not only that, I was testing inkjet printers before the first colour machine came out, and THAT was only going back to 1991. The original HP Deskjet 500C was a £750 machine!


    It might come as a shock to the younger generation, but the computer revolution is a relatively recent thing. Access to PC's, especially at home, was rare even as recently as 20 years ago, and home computers were all-but unheard of a mere 30 years ago. Life was different then. Believe me, VERY different. No DVD's, no MP'3, no internet. Even the CD revolution (and I mean audio CD's) took some years to get off the ground. Computer games, if you could find them, were very crude indeed, graphically. Anyone remember Wizardy when it first came out? The 'graphics' was a tiny (about 1.5" square) box, with a very simple line-art representation of the corridor you were walking down, yet, my goodness, the HOURS of fun we had from those simple games. They lasted MUCH longer than most modern games do. The graphics may have been simple, but the gameplay was often MUCH better.

    It might age me some, but I've been actively involved with computers and programming for more than 30 years, and I have two older brothers that have been in it for at least 10 years longer than THAT. How's that forgetting in on the ground floor.

  12. #44
    Senior Member oshta's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Howard
    [advar]
    HOward - waht is with your advar!!

    - when ever its on the screen my moniter starts humming like mad!!

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    First 'computer', 1974, Hewlett-Packard 9820 with 1.5K (yes K) RAM, with built-in strip display, thermal printer and card reader. These cost somewhere in the region of $10,000 each. We wrote REALLY lean code in those days. Its amazing what you can pack into 1500 bytes if you try.

    Even today in my office I have a 133 mhz PII system which monitors sensors around the installation where I work. This has run 24/7 since it was last booted into windows (98) about 2 years ago. It never crashes! It also happily surfs the net and does a bit of WP.
    *
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    you know, I am sure I remember reading something about MIT having recompiled windows 95 properly, and removed all the rubbish from it, and got the whole thing down to using less than 5 megs of memory..

    as for cyrix maths co-pro's.. at the time, they were the best.
    Quoth the server... "404"

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    Senior Members' Member Matt1eD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joshwa
    How could people have used computers so slow?!? I just don't get how it could be possible! especially now when everybody has at least 1ghz, 256mb ram, 20gb HD etc! (my slowest computer that i use is a p2-350 - as a firewall)
    My Dad uses a 486DX with Win3.1 (in enchanced mode) with 4MB RAM and a 250MB HDD - all this as his main machine. Runs beautifully. Don't even need a heatsink on it We only got him of his Amstrad PCW a few years ago.lol

    My Mum uses a 600MHz P3, with 128 SDRAM, 40gig HDD with XP Pro (uber slow though)

    Therefore not all people have omething over 1GHz! ...donations welcome

    If you look at the www.computing.net forums, there are people who worship 3.1 systems!

    I love it, no spyware and wot not. But tis not on the net!

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    Senior Member skuzgib's Avatar
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    This thread is ancient!

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