Yet in his 60s!
I would describe myself as a hoarder rather than a collector who got into computers properly in 1981. That was the International Year of Disabled Persons and the Sumner School For Deaf (now Van Asch College) was donated an Ohio Scientific 8P. Yes the topic "Ohio Scientific 1P, 2P or 4P" is missing a model. It had twin 8" floppy drives. I had already done a Fortran (punch card) course at CPIT in 1976 and helped a student with a CPIT Basic course so was deemed "the one" to look after the computer.
I had fun learning Basic and wrote 2 programs - both educational in a way. One was called Arrows - to help math students with quadratic equations. They had to work out the roots and fire an arrow to hit the target on an x-axis intercept. The other was primarily a joystick game. I wrote a Snake game with a twist. Numbers (1-9) were scattered around the screen. The object was to "eat" each number (which would be replaced randomly on the screen) - but to avoid hitting the edge of the screen. The snake would grow in blocks by the size of the number so you had to approach some numbers from along the edge of the screen. I tried getting the local OSI agents interested in selling it...
The other fun aspect was learning 6502 Assembly Language programming. My memory was that the Basic was ROM based but that the ROM was replaceable by an EPROM. The code had a lot of empty spaces in it and one was able to invent new Basic words or modify existing ones. An understanding of 6502 was something that stood me in good stead when Apple computers took over in NZ education and I became a fully fledged software protection scheme cracker. Many schools had multiple computers but not matching multiple purchases of software! The Apple II cassette port and the Snapshot CopyKit were the tools of the trade along with magazines such as the Hardcore Computist. Later I ran a business repairing or making backup disks for schools. The repairing involved replacing the copy-protected disk with a standard DOS 3.3 version where possible.
The OSI had quite a following here in Christchurch and we would meet regularly. Most were in the electronics industry. I bought my own OSI - about $2200 but didn't keep it - moving on to an Apple IIGS which is part of the hoard I'm about to part with. Moving from school to school provided me with the opportunity to purchase cheaply or be given old computers. Various Apple II's and early Macs joined the IIGS in my garage roof. Some ended up at Molten Media as I rationalized the space.De-hoarding
The ChCh earthquakes have prompted me to de-hoard, as it were, via TradeMe. My IIGS was very much a souped up model - Apple SCSI card. A QS-RAM card - takes 4Mb but I only had 2 Mb. It used to have an AE Vulcan 20Mb hard-drive/power supply combo. The 20 Mb Seagate drive died and couldn't be replaced. An equivalent 40Mb Seagate one wouldn't work either. The set up includes an 80Mb SCSI bare drive, the IIGS, 5.25 and 3.5 floppies plus an ImageWriter II printer. Sadly, while scrolling through a list of files everything froze and on re-start all I get is the blue ROM splash screen. I replaced the CMOS battery, tried removing the cards but couldn't solve it. So a wonderful collection of parts for someone with a IIGS ROM 3 motherboard - or the ability to track and fix whatever it is.
There is also a 1Mb MacPlus with 2.5Mb RAM, working mouse, spare mouse (minus ball - you know what school kids are like!), external 3.5 floppy. The internal floppy needs a thorough clean. Disks load mechanically very slowly and don't read properly.
I had two Color Classic's but discovered one had already lost key chips courtesy of pupils no doubt! I took it down to Molten Media but perhaps should have kept it as spare parts. I'm still getting the other one ready for sale but it will come with an external 500Mb drive, an external Apple CD300 and a StyleWriter 1200. I need to use it to convert a whole lot of old files for use on a modern Mac first.
I've also got a Syquest 45 bare drive with 8 freshly formatted carts.Pre-80's computing experiences
I'd said I got into computers properly in 1981. My first computer experience was as an onlooker in the late 60's. I worked in the actuarial department of an insurance company which installed a large wardrobe sized computer that was programmed by wires. A large breadboard matrix with a wires going from hole to hole creating a large birds nest. This was a step up from the Monroe and Facit(?) calculators that we mere mortals used.
My next experience was in the mid 70's. The CPIT Fortran course had included an exercise in writing a program to determine whether a given number was prime or not. The PDP computer was able to handle this task extremely quickly. The 4-bit HP computer in my father's accounting firm was not. After 20 Minutes waiting I gave up!Thoughts
Looking back I think those of us that got into computing in the 80's were very fortunate. We were able to grow with the whole personal computer world and understand it from the core. I never had the desire (or time) in the 90's to get into 68000 (or beyond) assembly language programming and I suspect the proportion of "tech" owners that would ever want to get their hands dirty has dropped right away from those heady 8-bit days.
Please excuse anything considered non-BBS. This is the first time I've used one.