Over the next few months, I set off to build a mini collection from craigslist and eBay - collecting up bits of circuit and plastic that would give someone I worked with 10 minutes of joy as they relieved their first computing experiences.
A few months ago, my 11 year old asked, "How do you learn to program computers?" - I pulled out the C64, the disk drive, the monitor, and a few books. Within minutes, he was coding in BASIC and calling over the rest of the family to see his creations.
I'm in discussions with a local museum to display these 8-bit computers as part of an upcoming exhibit. I pulled them all out & took some quick pictures - I thought I'd post them in case you wanted to find a few minutes of nostalgic joy with me. BTW, if you live in Central Florida and want to play with one or all of these, send me a note, I'm happy to share.
(I also have some PC stuff, old handheld games & video game consoles - but that is an entirely different post!)
These are in order of my ownership or encounters with them as a kid.
|It is as small as it looks. No, it is actually smaller.|
|I love a keyboard with BASIC keywords on it.|
|Yes, that label does instruct you to type SYS 32592 - IIRC you needed to restart the VIC without the BASIC emulator in order to have enough RAM for the game.|
|Tape drives - simple, and somewhat effective. I didn't have this model as a kid.|
|This was the tape drive I remember.|
|Prepackaged software even came on cassette.|
|A Jr. High friend (One of the smartest people I've ever met, need to find him again...) had an ATARI 400 - I remember entire nights of playing Ghostbusters on his ATARI 400.|
|These computers all had VERY distinctive looks. I the ATARI 400 design could have influenced the movie TRON IMHO.|
|And the ATARI 400 had METAL in it. That cartridge slot HAD to be MILSPEC!|
|The kid that lived behind my grandparents (where I spent summers) had a TI-99/4A - I'd take the VIC-20 down to my grandparents house, but since they only had one TV, I'd go to his house when my Grandmother's soaps came on.|
|I never owned a "COCO", but a good friend in High School had one, and it was also the first home computer of several coworkers.|
|Some manufacturers couldn't accept the ATARI joystick as the standard...these analog sticks were great for some games, but terrible for others...|