Sunday, November 8, 2015

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - My Computer History

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musing has a new assignment this week:
  • What is your computer history - what have you used, when did you get it, what did you do on it, etc.
I started with computers at California State University, Hayward by taking a computer class given in the Math department. I think it was 1977 and I don’t think there was a computer science department yet. The teacher taught us 3 languages at the same time: BASIC, FORTRAN, and COBOL. We could turn in assignments in any language we wanted. For Basic, we had terminals where we wrote code, however we needed to punch cards to write code in Fortran. Once the cards were turned in, we waited a hour for the result: often some type of typo that caused the program to fail. I never bothered with Cobol.

I liked the orderliness of writing code but couldn’t figure out a way to make use of it outside of school. I majored in Biological Sciences and was graduating the next quarter.

The next year, I was working in the office of a sporting goods store. They had a mini IBM computer that was supposed to keep track of inventory. My job was to enter the data. This job wasn’t nearly as interesting as writing code.

Ours had 2 drives
My first personal computer was a home-made computer that ran CP/M. It had two 8 inch floppy drives, a small monitor, keyboard, and we purchased a daisy-wheel printer. The whole thing cost about four grand. I think it was purchased in 1981 or 82. I used it to write stories, using a program called WordStar. I wrote some programs in BASIC.

By now, I was working at BART. Though I wasn’t using a computer per se, our trains were controlled by computers.

I don’t have any idea when we got our first PC. It might have been an IBM machine running DOS. I was still using the computer mostly to write.  My first time using a Windows computer was at work, where we used group computers to write lesson plans for training. I’d been promoted to the training department. I also had to learn to use WordPerfect. I eventually learned to love “reveal notes” and miss that function very much when the District converted to Microsoft Office programs.

At home, we upgraded way behind everyone else. Usually, it was when a program we wanted to buy wouldn’t run on an old operating system. Because of that we tended to skip operating systems. I remember Windows 3.1 , 98, and 2000NT. We had XP for a long time and I am writing on a laptop running Win7. Our philosophy tended to be “use whatever OS that came with the computer.”

This is my third laptop. I would love to have a desktop with two monitors. Someday when I get an office.

Copyright © 2015 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.

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