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My first PC was a 486 DX 33MHz machine with 4Mb RAM, for which I paid £700. It was my first purchase with the wages from a part time job I had at the time. I thought it would be useful if I learned how to use a PC properly.

By the time that PC went to the “recycling centre” it had cost:

PC £700
+8Mb RAM £200
Sound Card £50
4x CD ROM £150
56k Modem £200
DX2 66 MHz CPU £25

A total of £1300, a hell of a lot of money for me at the time.

Before adding the 56k modem I had a 2.4k modem given to me by my cousin.

Needless to say this was not suitable for browsing the Internet. At that time an Internet connection cost £10 – £15 p/m for dial up access (plus the cost of the phone call).

Instead I used BBS (bulletin board systems). These were largely run by private individuals whose machines were left running BBS software and connected to the phone line. Once you had the numbers for these systems you could dial in to download files etc.

Residing on these BBS’s was an amateur point to point network known as FidoNet, which allowed mail to be routed through a series of “nodes” and “super nodes”. Small systems would dial into larger ones with direct Internet access, and so information was relayed throughout the network.

Using a client program it was possible to set your machine to dial into a board periodically to send and collect mail.

This allowed pre-runners of today’s forums to develop in the form of mailing lists, there were a lot of groups you could subscribe to covering most interests.

At that time “IBM Clone” PC’s were not as dominant as they are today and Amiga’s were still very popular. Windows 3.1 had not quite dominated the market for desktop operating systems and IBM were still trying to compete in this sector with OS2 WARP.

A couple of friends I had running BBS’s were head-hunted by networking companies to work on Novell networks which was an un-expected spin off for them.

There were of course significant disadvantages to using FidoNet, for example phone lines were often busy, and mail could take a day or so to be relayed to boards in far flung places, but that kind of added to the fun of it.

Once I had my 56k modem I began using the Internet, and although I wasnt too impressed with it at the time, it offered a lot more than the BBS systems.

I started to use FidoNet less after that, I think it finally died in 2003. I know a few BBS systems became accessible via the internet in an attempt to keep going, perhaps some relics still do, but I never really saw the point of that vs using web applications.

Its a shame that these networks dont exist now, perhaps in another 13 years I will look back on the ‘golden age of blogging’ with similar affection!

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    14 Comments

    Comment by Steve

    Jez

    My first Pee Cee was a 512k Macintosh which I got in 1987. I bought it second hand for over £700. Later I upgraded it to a Mac Plus for another £1000 (Ouch).

    The 512k had well erm 512k of memory, and a 400k floppy drive. I was lucky to have another external 400k drive to save disk swaps. Incredibly the whole system and a couple of applications could reside on one 400k floppy.

    Of course there wasn’t any Internet then so I spent my time learning to programme in Pascal.

    Come to think of it I was probably more productive then; the Internet can be a big time waster.

    Cheers

    Steve.

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    Comment by SiteLogic

    Ahh the good old days, the first computer I had was an oric 1

    http://www.48katmos.freeuk.com/oric1.htm

    a failed Spectrum rival… 48k memory ;-)

    I wrote my first programs on that as a kid…

    The internet is both a time waster and a time saver ;-)

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    Comment by Steve

    My first computer was a ZX81. The box picture sold it to me. All futuristic with small space craft on huge buildings (If I remember correctly). I also had an Oric 1 and an Oric Atmos. Others included;

    - Acorn Electron
    - Sinclair QL (Brilliant microdrives)

    Nostalgia is fine unless it gets in the way of progress.

    S

    Comment by SiteLogic

    Cant believe you got through all of those, which was the first apple you had?

     
     
     
    Comment by Discount Web Design

    My first PC was a pentium 1 mmx.
    It was in the late 90′s.
    I used it primarily for playing, till I discover the internet.

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    Comment by Acopic Web Design

    My first computer was also an Oric. I remember saving up my £8 as a kid to go and get the latest game – only for the tape to be duff and I had to take it back and exchange it. Ahh, memories.

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    Comment by Florchakh

    When you were playing with your first PC I was interested only in video games (SNES, then switched to PSX). Sweet memories :mrgreen:

    Also I can say that my first computer was C64. Goddamn tapes :wink:

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    Comment by Florchakh

    I’m still having that C64 hidden somewhere in my basement :!:

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    Comment by David Hopkins

    I just noticed that your Google Ads are content related. Google are trying to sell me on a 32MB RAM upgrade :razz:

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    Comment by Acopic - Web Design

    Check it out – the Oric in all it’s glory:

    Oric 1

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    Comment by Acopic - Web Design

    mmm…last post didn’t work. Maybe the link messed it up. Anyway – great link to the Oric computer:

    http://www.retro-trader.com/oriccomp.htm

    Memories!!

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    Comment by Acopic - Web Design

    Damn – multiple posts – arrgghh – sorry, used the wrong username.

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    Comment by Michael Woo

    I remembered the day when I started computing – using

    PC/XT which god knows how fast it was..

    2 5 1/4 inch disks..

    no hardisks

    512kb ram

    :O It was the technological marvel in the past..

    not to mention the dot matrix printer :p

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    Comment by Web Design Media

    Unfortunately, I never knew these old computers…My first one was a P2, having sufficient memory and RAM develop some C applications and play games as well!

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