Memories of my first computer

A few weeks ago I splashed out on a 60GB Xbox 360, going for a reasonable 200 Euro in HMV and luckily for me I was able to enjoy the HD graphics of this next gen (next gen? It’s 4 years old now but the hardware specs are impressive!) console. Actually, “enjoy” is putting it lightly. Blown away, gobsmacked and amazed are probably better ways of describing my reaction to some of the graphics I saw this machine throwing about! Sometimes it feels like I’m taking part in one big movie.
I miss the Wiimote, I hope Microsoft do bring out a magic wand sooner or later.

One of the great things about being a late adapter is that I can buy most of the games I want in the pre-owned section. Instead of spending 50 Euro they sometimes cost half that!

I’ve gone searching for Xbox 360 blogs but only found a couple that weren’t full of adverts or blatantly self serving. I must be using the wrong keywords. Xbox fans, what are your favourite Xbox blogs?

30 or so years ago the first computer that I remember was a games console. I don’t remember the brand although my brother says it was an Atari. It was a simple machine, with a slot for a game cartridge. It had two grey boxy analog paddles, each with slender sticks and a small red button. Each controller would slot into a space in the console for easy storage. We only had one cartridge, a compilation of “sports” games, but as the machine used stick graphics they were fairly simplistic.
I remember the tennis game with two bats and a single large white pixel of a ball provided hours upon hours of entertainment for us kids.

What followed after that were more serious computers, the Commodore Vic 20, Speccy 48k, Commodore 64, Amiga 500, various PCs running Win 3.1, win 95, 98, Linux, and finally a Macbook and a Dell laptop running Ubuntu Linux. I didn’t own a console until I bought a Nintendo Wii, and then 2 weeks ago the Xbox 360.

Of the Vic 20, I remember typing in a BASIC programme that displayed a simple animated bird that flew around the screen. As we didn’t have a Datasette I couldn’t save it. I left the Vic 20 on while I went to school!

My son Adam’s first memories of games will probably be the Xbox. A far cry from the black and white stick characters of my youth!


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Donncha

Donncha Ó Caoimh is a software developer at Automattic and WordPress plugin developer. He posts photos at In Photos and can also be found on Google+ and Twitter.

20 thoughts on “Memories of my first computer”


  1. wow – you stole my list of computers!

    my list:
    atari tv-pluggy-in-thing
    vic 20
    speccy 48k+
    speccy +2
    amstrad ppc 640 (my first “laptop”!)
    amstrad pc 1640
    386 with DOS 5.0 I think
    followed by various bits and pieces.

    currently using Linux on a HPG6000 laptop. I don’t own any functional desktops anymore. even my house server is an old laptop with some terabyte drives attached.


  2. but will Adam learn how to write programs in Basic? ;)

    (actually, I don’t think the effect on programming in general has turned out to be as bad as people expected.)

    Personally I had a ZX81, Vic-20, C=64, then straight to the college UNIXes, a Mac Plus, and my own PCs from then on. I’ve been a console gamer for a while though since the Playstation 2, as games and a Linux desktop really are too much hassle to get working.

    re xbox blogs — it’s not a blog, but here’s the best review resource I’ve found: http://www.metacritic.com/games/xbox360/scores/ . The top games on that list are some of the best I’ve ever played.


  3. Ah yes, metacritic.com is great. I’ve used that in the past, even going into town once with my N810 and the metacritic Wii page open.

    I forgot the Unixes at college too. All those green screen monitors, and playing MUD until we were kicked out!

    The two of you will probably enjoy http://www.retroactionmagazine.com/ – have yet to download either issue but it looks really interesting!


    1. Thankfully I never got into Nethack. MUD was bad enough. Back in those days, the idea that you could be sharing a virtual world with lots of other people anywhere in the world was so unusual in Ireland!

      Hope Micheal did ok for himself!


  4. “indirectly” ??

    that game should have a warning on it – “warning: highly addictive”, and an automatic shut-off if your @ is still moving after 3 hours.


  5. My list:

    Oric 48k in 1983 (still works!)
    Amstrad CPC6128 in 1988.
    386SX-16 with 2MB RAM!!
    486DX2-66
    Pentium 100
    Pentium Pro 200
    Various Pentium II’s
    Various Pentium III’s and 4s (still in use)
    2007 Macbook

    In addition I have other more esoteric bits and pieces like two Sun Blade 2000 workstations, an HP9000 with dual PA-RISC cpus, a Dell Poweredge 2800 which is running as my mail server and one hell of an electricity bill!


    1. I remember those at the local secondary school :)

      There’s an article in this month’s Retro Gamer by a guy who owned a Model B. Didn’t turn out to well for him unfortunately!


  6. I think we are talking about the Atari 2600? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_2600
    I had one two… though it was the mark 2 with sleeker black plastic.
    My list:

    Atari 2600
    Amstrad CPC 464
    Amiga 500
    Amiga CD32
    PC – cant remember the full spec
    Gateway PC 600Mhz
    Dell PC
    Dell PC
    Dell PC
    Dell laptop
    Dell laptop
    Macbook Pro
    Mac Mini
    Macbook Pro late 08


    1. Another Amstrad owner? I never thought much of them, but I’ve read a bit more about them recently and they had a few neat features!

      I don’t think it was a 2600. The console I’m thinking of had a mostly grey or silver finish and the joysticks were horrible grey clunky affairs. One of these days I’ll find a photo of it online and blog about it!
      Amazed you can think of all of those PCs. The beige boxes just tend to merge into one another given enough time for me.


      1. Amstrads were great. My CPC6128 came with CP/M on disk as well as two versions of Logo!

        There was some backward compatibility issues with the 464s (Tape), 664s (disk) and 6128s (disk).

        Some of the tape games were so fickle that to get them working I would have to change the 5 pin DIN to 2 x 3.5mm cables just to get a game to load! Once cable would work with one game but not the other..

        And of course if you had a 6128 and a new game on disk chances were that there was two versions of the game on the same disk. One for the 664 and one for the 6128. If you had a 6128 you would type “|cpm” to get it to load the enhanced version. (also the same command used to load CP/M from disk)

        Rick Dangerous 2 sticks out in my mind as a notable example.

        Should anyone feel the nostalgia for playing Rick Dangerous just simply Google Xrick and off you go!


  7. You could say it will be a pity his first gaming memory will be high-end, 60 frames graphics – there won’t be any tolerating of old-school pixelation unless it’s something cheap off of the Xbox Live Arcade :(

    Shame.


  8. I’m such a n00b. i’m ashamed to admit my first PC was a 486 with windoze 95.

    i feel like i missed out on the pre-eternal september days. i’d love to go to some collitch in america in the early 80’s when all this unix workstation stuff was still kick of the ass, write a few RFC’s, become famous?


  9. Great post, you are forgetting to mention the great Apple II machine. I also used to play in that commodore 64 loading from floppies all kind of stuff.

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