My first bleeding edge computer

Discussion in 'Fred's House of Pancakes' started by jerrymildred, Nov 27, 2020.

  1. TMR-JWAP

    TMR-JWAP Senior Member

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    I remember learning computer science using apple IIe machines to program and epson dot matrix printers. That was '84 and '85 I think
     
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  2. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    I was learning a couple years before that to directly peek and poke memory addresses on a Commodore 64 because that was the only way to format a floppy disk.

    My engineering school had me making virtual electronic circuits on a DOS-based program. I usually did it on the 386SX-16 (circa 1990) laptop at work. After making the circuit, you (virtually) input a sine, square, or triangle wave and wait about a minute for the computer to show the resulting output wave. Then we got a 486DX2-66 (circa 1992). The computer gave the output almost faster than I could get my finger off the enter key. The first time I did it, I thought something went wrong, so I tried it several more times before I realized it was just that much faster.

    The 80486 had a whopping 1.2 million transistors. The M1 SoC has 16 billion transistors using a 5nm process. Intel still hasn't managed to get down to 7 nm. (The 486 was 0.8 ┬Ám or 800 nm.)

    (Edit to add: I didn't look up the MOS 6510 CPU on the C-64. It was about 1 Mhz and used a manufacturing process that must have been measures in inches. )

    But the numbers aren't the main thing. User experience is.
     
    #42 jerrymildred, Jan 22, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2021
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  3. wjtracy

    wjtracy Senior Member

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    Hey I still have my old epson printer
     
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  4. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The OTHER One Percenter.....

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    My first "bleeding edge" computer wasn't quite so bleeding by the time I got to my first boat. We used "yuck 20s" in the Nav center for obvious reasons.
    We were also using x286 PCs by then, for paperwork and playing Zork.
    I remember ordering a massive 20mb HDD for the thing before one of my last patrols, but it got "lost" before we got back.
    We actually engaged NIS over it....but it was never found.

    Fun Fact:
    IIRC, The first "yuck" computer (AN/UYK 1 - originally designated a TRW-130) was built in the late 50's for the Transit (NavSat) system because the bleeding edge computers back then would not fit through a US Navy submarine hatch.
    By the time the Yuk-20s came along (mid 70s) they were standardized for use in subs, skimmers, ashore, in some civie ships - and maybe even by some brown-shoes (airdales.)

    Knowing the NTDS......there are probably some that are STILL in use. ;)

    upload_2021-1-22_8-9-31.jpeg [​IMG]

    Core memory, baby!
    [​IMG]

    Used mine yesterday when I filed taxes.
    It's a relatively new RX 500 made in 2004.
    I'm using a $9 Raspberry Pi Zero as a wireless print server....

    My work HP Laserjet 4p (c-1994) got replaced a year or so ago with my Optra T614 of unknown vintage.
     
    #44 ETC(SS), Jan 22, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2021
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  5. wjtracy

    wjtracy Senior Member

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    I bought my Leading Edge 8086 when 80286 were starting already to come out.
    So then the computer store called me back and said I won a little raffle they had: I won an orig IBM 8086 original PC!

    I gave that to my Dad, and we were computer buddies from then on. I suppose that was better than winning the MegaMillions lottery.
     
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  6. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The OTHER One Percenter.....

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    Many lottery winners (I'm told) regret buying the ticket.

    Not sure I believe that....but being PC buddies with your Dad is certainly priceless. ;)
     
  7. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    You guys sound as old as I am!!! :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
     
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  8. Mark57

    Mark57 2021 Tesla Model 3 LR AWD

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    I'm pretty sure I smelled IcyHot when I clicked on this thread. Oh, sorry that's me.:p
     
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  9. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    If blood thinners had any smell to them, you'd definitely have pick up on that. :whistle:

    Back then computers were always a tech adventure. Now they are appliances -- unless, of course, you want to build a Linux box or a hackintosh. Or you were smart enough to have hung on to your old Sinclair or Amiga. (That Amiga was still the coolest computer I ever had. I had a 500 and then a 3000.)
     
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  10. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    statistically it's those with the least amount of financial skills that buy lottery tickets, Ergo they are the Lion's Share of winners. they had a documentary on some of the people that win and they typically blow through all their winnings in record speed. I heard a psychologist once say that instant wealth doesn't give you character, it amplifies the lack of character you've already have.
     
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  11. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    It really is a tax on the mathematically challenged. As you said, tickets get bought disproportionately by low income people who would otherwise be paying little or no income tax. Then the government keeps way more than a casino would. Articles I've read say 40-60% for most lottos vs 5-20% for casinos depending on the game. Then the feds and most states tax the winnings. And then they they tax what's left when the big winner blows it on expensive cars and stuff or the little winner buys a pack of smokes.
    Dilbert Comic Strip on 1994-04-08 | Dilbert by Scott Adams
     
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  12. Mark57

    Mark57 2021 Tesla Model 3 LR AWD

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    If you're using Winbloz, it's a definite tech adventure these days. Windows when I have to and Linux for everything else.
     
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  13. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    I kind of miss my old Canon BJ-10e.

    [​IMG]

    Size of a notebook, would print on anything you could send through the simplest possible paper path (in the bottom, between two rollers, out the top).

    My bank at the time would not accept rolled coin (this was way before automatic coin sorters installed in the lobby) without making me write my name and account number on each roll. (Ever tried to write on a round roll of coins?)

    I used the BJ-10e and just poked the flat coin rolls through from the bottom before filling them.
     
  14. mikefocke

    mikefocke Prius v Three 2012, Avalon 2011

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    I remember Columbia as the first clone priced in 1982 at $2,995. Shortly after, I built my first 8086 clone from chips and boards and taught a class once a month on buying and building a clone to the Capitol PC Users Group (CPCUG) in a big auditorium at NIH,

    Remember the Word vs Word Perfect fights, people were as fanboy then as Mac or Linux users are today. PC users just buy and use and don't seem to be as brand loyal. I know I now buy on price and must have SSD.


    Send in the Clones - CHM Revolution
     
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  15. wjtracy

    wjtracy Senior Member

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    The other memory is the days before Internet we had the local neighborhood BBS (bulletin boards) where you could phone-in modem to get software apps for download onto floppy disks, and discussion. Then you were either a power user on CompServ or we were on Prodigy, which was ahead of its time but got beat up by AOL because Prodigy started increasing fees to keep up with surging demand. Prodigy should have found a way to keep members ( eat the cost) but the rest is history.
     
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  16. t_newt

    t_newt Active Member

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    My first 'bleeding edge' computer was one of the first PC clones with two floppy drives (no one could afford the 10MB hard drives). Actually I had a Sinclair ZX81 to tinker with before that.

    Since I'm doing a lot more work at home, a laptop's small screen was really hampering my work. I got a big 34" curved screen at a Black Friday sale. I figured I'd get a bleeding edge computer to be able to handle the wide screen. I found, to my surprise, that I could get a much better spec'd computer at a much better price if I got a gaming computer rather than an office desktop. It is very fast. The Geekbench score is very similar to Jerry's M1 MacBook Pro. Since it is a gaming computer, it has a glass side and colorful leds inside: computer.jpg . My kids (in college, which means they are actually at home streaming classes) get a laugh at Dad's gaming computer.
     
  17. Ronald Doles

    Ronald Doles Active Member

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    In 1996, I bought my first Pentium processor in a Leading Edge computer. It had a whopping 540 megabyte hard drive. It was the first computer that came with Windows95. I still remember that Win95 chime when it first started. I bought the computer to do a specific job. I was using a desktop publishing software called PageMaker which many users lovingly called Rage Maker.

    I had laid out about 200 pages of my magazine project when the computer crashed. I powered it down and back up and it wouldn't boot up. It completely scrambled the hard drive and I lost all my work. I reformatted the drive, reloaded Win95, then PageMaker and started again. This time doing backups about every 4 hours. When I got to approximately the same 200 page location in my document, the computer crashed again and would not boot up.

    I moved back to my old slower 486 computer to finish the project. I took the 30 day old Leading Edge back to the dealer that was also an authorized repair shop. I explained the problem and left it with them. They called me about a week later and said that they had to reformat the drive and then load Windows95 and all the standard apps back on the computer and it worked fine. This repair should have been under warranty but they charged me $35 because they said it was not a hardware problem The crash was due to the PageMaker software that I had installed on the machine.

    I went home angry because they hadn't done anything that I couldn't do myself and I knew that they didn't fix the problem. I started investigating and discovered that Windows95 used a FAT16 file system that had a 512 megabyte limit on drive partitions. My drive was formatted from the factory as a 540 mb partition. Once the drive wrote something into "no mans land" beyond the 512 mb boundary, it would crash. I looked up the drive specs and there was a plug-on jumper on the drive that would force it to appear as a 512 mb drive. I moved that jumper and then loaded my PageMaker and my complete document and everything worked just fine. One little jumper in the wrong place from the factory. Anyway, problem solved.

    I went back to the authorized repair shop and explained that I found the problem with the computer. I said that I would let them in on the simple fix if I could have my $35 back. I saw that they had two stacks of approximately 20 of the same model Leading Edge computers sitting in front of a workbench. I am guessing that they all might have the problem that I experienced. The tech wouldn't agree so I just left.

    I haven't thought about that for years until you mentioned bleeding edge.
     
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  18. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    I once had a DOS box with a SCSI hard drive in it, may have been around 80 MB. I got an MSDOS 4.01 upgrade, put it in the floppy drive, booted up, and its first message after booting was "Formatting drive C: ...". No prompt, no "I found hard drive, would you like me to wipe everything you have on it?" Just boom, right into the format.

    A SCSI drive keeps its geometry pretty much to itself. Instead of saying "I have so many cylinders, so many heads, so many sectors", it just says "I have a bunch of blocks whose logical block addresses go from zero up to N."

    But parts of DOS at the time believed in cylinders, heads, and sectors, so a SCSI host bus adapter had this weird extra responsibility to look at whatever drives were connected to it, find the LBA count for each, and then make up plausible C,H,S numbers that would multiply out to about the right number of blocks.

    I had replaced the HBA at one point, and the new one had a different way of making up CHS numbers, which caused no problem as the OS was already installed and happily using LBAs to find things on disk. But the old original made-up CHS numbers were still stored in the boot sector as an historical relic that nothing cared about.

    ... except the autostart code on the 4.01 upgrade disk. That had been written so that, if it found any hard drive, it would read the boot sector, and compare any CHS values in it to whatever the controller reported. If they didn't match, it would say "well obviously this drive is unformatted and has no valuable data, so we can just start right in formatting it and not bother the user with a prompt."
     
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  19. wjtracy

    wjtracy Senior Member

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    I thought DOS 5.1 was da bomb.
     
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  20. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    I had been waiting excitedly for DESQview/X to ship, but by the time it finally did, I had grown tired of waiting and just moved to Unix.
     
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