January 2nd, 2017

38 years of mucking about with computers 

In 1974, while still in the US Marines I was exposed to computers for the first time.

MCTSSA (Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity) was and still is the development & test branch that is responsible for new weapons and technologies for the future armed forces.

I was assigned right out of USMC boot camp to DTAS (Digital Transmission And Switching) to be a part of a test team to field test a computerized communication system that worked using already deployed military radios.

I could go on about DTAS, part of MCTSSA for a bit but the point is that’s where I was first exposed to computers.

For 3 years I was given a taste of working with computers,  modems & field testing 

After leaving the USMC in 1976 I found out about Byte magazine, the magazine for computer hobbiests.

In Byte I first encountered the concept of owning a home computer (Personal Computer)


Then I encountered the concept of breadboarding/experimental computers.


Originally the breadboarded computer was on the tables but owner’s cat knocked it off (evil creatures) but the computer still worked so owner left it hanging there. 

Then I saw,  in a Heathkit catalog this:


And I bought it and put it together (it was a Heathkit)

The bottom case was the expansion kit that expanded the total RAM to 256k bytes,  had a cassette interface and a video interface + tiny basic for easier programming.

My first computer! 

In 1980 or so I went to a computer swapmeet,  bought the parts I needed for a clone IBM PC XT.  My first computer I could actually do something with (except experiment).

Since then I have had many computers: a 386,  486, a Pentium,  a Pentium II,  an AMD based IBM desktop, and then a gaming system that over the years was upgraded from a Pentium to an AMD dual core system with nVidia graphics

Then for several years I had some bad times,  quit gaming and eventually got a ZTE Android smartphone.

⏫ Which recently crapped out so I went to Radio Shack and now have a Boost Mobile Alcatel Dawn with an unlimited everything plan.


Why mention my smartphone in a post about my history with computers?  A smartphone IS a computer that connects me to news,  social media,  Google & even my blog…

At this particular time in my life,  living in this cabin in Big Bear Lake,  California my phone, which is actually a 4-core computer,  let’s me enjoy the isolation but be in touch.  Even watch YouTube videos while watching the snow fall outside.

The wildest thing for me is being able to put so much anytime,  anywhere Internet connection technology in my pocket and have room for my sunglasses, too


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