My Most Memorable Computer Was…

By  |  Wednesday, April 22, 2009 at 11:03 am

Technologizer on TwitterGot a moment to get all nostalgic over old electronic equipment? Over on Twitter–where I’m @harrymccracken and a feed of all Technologizer stories is available at @technologizer–I tweeted thusly:


Of all the computers you ever owned or used, which meant the most to you? I’ll run the most fun responses on Technologizer and give credit.

More than three dozen folks responded. Here’s the count of memorable computers by brand–two companies dominated:

Apple: 9

Commodore: 8 (no C64s, though–surprising!)

Homebuilt: 4

Atari: 3

IBM: 3

Sinclair: 2

Toshiba: 2

Radio Shack: 1 (hey, where were all the Tandy fanatics?)

Amstrad: 1

Compaq: 1

IMSAI: 1 (archaic!)

NeXT: 1 (classy!)

Osborne: 1

Packard Bell: 1

After the jump are all thirty-eight tweets (and Facebook messages) I got. If you weren’t one of the respondents, please chime in via comments…


My Timex-Sinclair 1000 meant the most to me…she was my first. I still have one. 🙂


Easy. My first: Mac 512K. Dialed in to computer lab. Played Daleks. Wrote papers in MacWrite (SF font?) . Whole new world.


my first – an Osborne 26/27 years ago


A Packard Bell I got in ’94. Not the best computer but I discovered the online world & my Father, whom I had never met.


My MacBook Pro. Bought 4 me by a friend who believes in my dream, utterly destroyed, rebuilt by me, and then lid turned yearbook~


My IBM 5150 + WordStar completely changed my last 2 yrs of college + made the post-grad job search letters/resumes doable


amstrad pc (intel 8086) with 10MB hdrive


Early Compaq “Black & Blue”. Going back +- 23 years & the black & blue refers to marks left on my hip, not color screen.


Def the 1st I built myself @harrymccracken! A blazing fast 386 (66mhz) w/64mb ram & a monstrous 40mb hard drive. I would never outgrow THAT!


My laptop because I had to fight for every dad didn’t want to get the better video card, but after we ordered Toshiba called and said they were out of the low end…sweet victory.


My uncle’s TRS80. I loved the noise of the external fan and tried to play txt games when I didn’t know words like “debris.”


Definitely the Atari 800. Fun to program, great games, and the limits of what it was capable of were constantly redefined.


AMIGA 1000 no doubt


my first selfbuilt computer, on which I tagged -=poop=- on both sides. Still have the tower stored somewhere 😉


My ZX Spectrum. As a teenager I played too many games but also learned to code.


My Most fun PC, my 1st windows PC. Dad cobbled it 2gether 4 me w/spare parts. Had a Doogie Howser style terminal b4 that.


My Apple 6100, because I spent hours playing Power Pete on it – even though I was 24! Wish I could find it for my daughter.


2nd hand Apple ][+. If it crashed, I’d pull out the chips and clean contact points w/ a pencil eraser. I loved doing it!


my first PC. My dad and I built it together. Windows 3.1 on floppy meant a lot of quality time together 🙂


vic-20 that my parents got me in 7th grade – 3.5KB RAM!


My Commodore Vic-20. Had Scott Adams’ “Adventureland” game for it, which inspired me to learn to program.


IBM Thinkpad R50e. Like a good car, was trustworthy, reliable, and sturdy. Learned more with that than anything in my life.


My Atari 1200XL. It looked so sleek and cool and could run my favorite games and a word processing app! Ahh the 80s.


For sure my Mac SE. 512 KB memory, teensy screen, cost a fortune. But it was my first, and the model–SE–was my initials.


My Commodore Vic-20. The first time I ran it out of memory (even with the 3k Super xPander) I thought I was really a stud. Made an adapter so I could save to an old cassette player from Rat Shack parts. Ah memories!


First Amiga. Emru sold it to me, and he was right – lightyears ahead of its time. Apple ][ gets mention for being my first:)


One of the first black NEXT machines – cool stuff in the day.


Really tough choice but I’d have to go with my Toshiba T-1000. First laptop I ever owned. Have loved laptops ever since.


had to be my Commodore 128, which ran 4 operating systems, including CP/M and GEOS. Used it for GEnie, BBSes, Compuserve.


I think you’ll hear a lot of people say this, but my dad bought an Apple ][e, which set up my nerd life from birth. Thx Dad!


Apple IIe, 1986–It let me work from home, and I got lots more work done in a day than I could using a Wang terminal in the office!

Dominik Grau (via Facebook)

My Atari ST, ca. 1989. 16 bit of pure power- and enjyoing leisure suit larry 1 on the monochrome display for weeks. Ken sent me!

Mick Lockey (via Facebook)

The first color Mac LC: Prodigy screen in 256K colors!

Kevin Krewell (via Facebook)

The IMSAI 8080 I used at my first job. Because it was the first real personal computer I got to use extensively: programming and building an S-100 I/O board for it.

Steve Lawson (via Facebook)

PowerBook 145B, 1993. My first computer. Built like a tank, weighed 6.5 lbs, but I lugged it to Caltrain every day anyway.

Peter Tripodi (via Facebook)

My first, a 286, I think it was a AT/370 some time in late `80’s. someone gave it to me. Back then I was very excited to be part of the future. Every one since then has just been a tool to get stuff done.

Jonathan Hirshon (via Facebook)

My Amiga 1000 – first ever sold in the CT area! The look on people’s faces when I ran the ‘Boing’ and ‘Robocity’ demos in the days when the Apple IIe was still a hot piece of kit – priceless.

Oh yeah–how about me?


My most memorable PC: 1988 $1250 Amiga 500 w/1MB of RAM, dual floppies. Amazed me in store window; got me into PCs again after I’d drifted.

Anyone else? Hey, there have to be people out there who loved their TI 99/4s, Colecovisions, Kaypros, and PC Jrs…right?


Read more: , , ,

46 Comments For This Post

  1. Michael B Says:

    My family bought a lime green iMac when they first came out, and I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen in my entire life. It seemed so futuristic and other-worldly

  2. Randal Says:

    My favorite was my Commodore Amiga 500 which started out with 2 Floppy’s then I added a High Density (1.6MB) Floppy then an external Hard Drive (Don’t remember the capacity) and for a while I ran a little BBS on it for my friends and myself and local people in the early 90’s. Most fun I ever had in computing.

  3. Jochen Says:

    i had a commodore Vc-20 and felt like teh coolest kid in town in 81 or was it 82 … can’t remember exactly the year. but the fun .. .

  4. crash Says:

    IBM PCjr, with sideboard memory expansion and secondary 5.25″ floppy drive (no HDD) — 512KB. Cartridge PC Basic. I taught myself assembly on that box. Originally had an acoustic coupler for it (eventually upgraded to a 1200baud Hayes External) to spend too many nights war-dialing BBS’s and Merit/Michnet.

  5. mss Says:

    Mac 512K. Seeing a GUI, proportional fonts, WYSIWYG layouts, MacPaint, MacWrite, desktop file organization. Compared to mainframe programming and DEC terminals, the Mac was jaw-droppingly stunning.

  6. @RussEby Says:

    The computer that made the largest impact on me was the TI – 99/4A. Oh, how I loved that machine. Tape Deck and all. The voice module, that allowed Parsec to tell me when aliens were coming. I was in 7th grade and had that little puppy giving me my spelling test. The memories it brings back.

  7. Tim Conneally Says:

    load “Commodore 64”,8,1


  8. Jake Seliger Says:

    My PowerBook—pictured here—was my first Mac and blew me away. Not coincidentally, I’m writing this on an iMac and have a MacBook in the closet for traveling.

  9. KM. Says:

    Commodore Amiga 1200

    I remember working one summer and saving up to buy a 100Mb hard drive so the o/s didn’t have to be booted from floppy and an accelerator board that upgraded it with a 33MHz 68030 CPU and 8Mb RAM, from the original 14Mhz 68020 and 2Mb RAM.

  10. Cyber ED Says:

    DEC PDP-11/20 – really cool, I had the ASR-11 all to myself at night. So cool to be able to enter programs and compile and run them myself. Until then it was punch cards in and striped paper out on IBM 360 and ICL-1903. Next best was my Apple IIe, which was more efficient with UCSD Pascal than the VAX 11/780 @ Uni.

  11. Stilgar Says:

    IBM PCjr. How many other PCs had cartridge slots? It also had a wireless keyboard, not bad for 1983.

  12. FlipFlop Says:

    Amiga 500.

    First job and I was looking at getting a PC so that I could do the stuff at work, at home. When some guys in the office offered to show me some alternatives. One guy showed me his Atari ST – and loaded up DungeonMaster (if I remember correctly). It blew me away (PCs at this point were still doing CGA by and large). Another guy booted up his Amiga and showed me something that looked like MechWarrior. Told me some guy made it in his free time. And then he showed me some little animations he created.

    Plunked down my $1500 for a 500 the next day. Probably set back my software career a decade – because it was non-mainstream – but a lot of good memories nevertheless.

  13. Rmaster348 Says:

    Started with an Amiga 1000, then traded up to a 2500. Still have and use it. Also have 2 1200’s one in a tower, and a 2000. My 25mhz A2500 is still boots up and runs faster than my Dell 1.8 ghz 4300.

  14. KC Says:

    First was Radioshack Mod III with a huge printer – Most memorable was Quantex – better built, great support and, best of all, lower cost. It’s been like 20 years and it still runs.

  15. Thomas J Carter Says:

    My first computer was a Kaypro. Two floppy 191K drives and a full complement of “Perfect” software applications including a word processor and spreadsheet. For $1,795 the best money I ever spent.

  16. SalS Says:

    First I began with a Sinclair ZX then upgraded to the Spectrum and then to the QL. The QL was the best personal computer of its time but had little marketing effort in the US. My engineering company used two or three of them for many years.

  17. Rich Says:

    LOL IBM p/s2. I still remember begging daily for a 56k modem because a friend had one and it was sooooooooooooooooooo fast

  18. Chance Says:

    13 years ago, Compaq 2875. 300mHz AMD with 64MB of RAM and a 4 gig HD. Upgraded a few years ago with a network card and Windows 2K and repurposed as a print server.

  19. Gilles Says:

    My TRS-80 model III – with printer, modified audio out – piggy back RAM but the sound of the tape when playback or record was awesome…And basic, where I modified many a program…Could not be touched even by Apple, no matter what anyone says…Apple had publicity all over the world, TRS-80 was word of mouth…TRS-80, how I miss thee!…

  20. Ron Shepherd Says:

    In 1979 I bought the first model Osborne. I managed a mail order business with it running "Wordstar" and "dBase II". It connected through a modem to a typesetting business. Ad copy could be coded, very much like html, sent to the typesetter, decoded by a phototypsetter, output on photopaper and ready for me to pick up an hour later.

    For its time it was a fantastic machine. Actually, it still is. I sold it to a friend who brags it still runs great with no problem ever!

  21. 44meurope Says:

    My very first computer was the Sinclair Spectrum. When I bought it, I doubted : Shall I get the standard 16 KILO byte, or would I go for the MONSTER 48 Kilobyte ? (I got the 48 *S*)
    Then to ATARI … Started with the 1040… OMG … what a power, what a graphics ! 1 MEGA byte of ram … a mouse (that felt like a brick in my hand *L*) … and a garbage can on the screen to dump stuff I didn’t need anymore … Upgraded to 4MB … Hard disk (SCSI !) 80 Mb. Then got the ATARI TT … 32MHz, 32 bit (TT = Thirty two – Thirty two) 26 MB RAM … 200 MB HD… Speed, colors, THE MAX !!! For the longest time I used this computer next to my first PC : Pentium with Win 98² … Also had the ATARI FALCON … the very first computer that was able to do Direct to Disk recording … my my my …
    Still sorry that ATARI stopt developing …

  22. spuds Says:

    My first was a RS Color Computer. I doubled the ram by piggy backing the chips. I had fun learning Basic and even back then I had a voice reconition program where I could tell it to turn my lights on and off and amaze my friends. And oh the fun of backing up data to an audio recorder. 😉

  23. David Hogben Says:

    I loved my 1983 IBM 8088 with 2 5¼ floppy drives. I added a 10 MB external Irwin tape backup drive and an external HD system consisting of one 30 MB HD and one 20 MB HD. I had everything and could do almost anything albeit slowly. I parted with it last year with much sorrow even though it was still working well.

  24. markus Says:

    My first computer was a Commodore 64 which i paid my own hard earned money for. 1600 Swiss francs. At that time I made 550 a month as an apprentice. I spent (waisted) hours on that ting trying to figure out how it works and how to program. One example sit there for hours entering code just to get a numbers and letter print out that looks like a PinUp picture of Brigitte Bardot. 🙂 Good times

  25. John Wineke Says:

    Why has no one mentioned the most fun and inexpensive computer of all:
    The TI99-4A! I suspect because most just used the stupid cartidges, but it had a fantastic (extended) basic option that you could program anything in. I wrote games, music, a word processor, data base, assembly language, etc. If it only had 80 screen character support it would have been perfect! I would sometimes work on that thing 12 hours straight, because It was so much fun. I have never found the same experience with newer computers…

  26. Michael M. T. Henderson Says:

    My first computer, bought in 1977, was a Tandy/Radio Shack TRS80 Model 1, an 8-bit machine with something like 64K of RAM and file storage on cassettes. Those were agonizingly slow, of course, and the computer typed IN ALL CAPS. Finally a chip became available so you could have lower case as well as upper, and a thing called the Expansion Interface came along with floppy disk drives. The were single-sided, single density, holding 160K each–but so much faster than tapes that it was magical. I skipped the 16-bit Model II and the Model III (essentially a clone of the model I, but all in one piece).
    My first hard drive was the size of a shoebox with a capacity of 15 megabytes–WOW! Eventually I joined the IBM world with a Leading Edge with 640K RAM and a 20-meg hard drive. Five computers later, I’m on a 64-bit Vista HP machine with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB HD, with a $100 1TB exyernal drive I bought for backups, as well as a 64GB “thumb drive” for transfers between the HP and my Toshiba laptop.

  27. Tim R Says:

    Anybody remember Eagles? In 1983, I had an Eagle II would write using the Spellbinder word processor, which wasn’t half bad. It was a one-piece, with keyboard attached, and the floppy drives were the size of small toasters. It came with an integrated 10-number keypad — one of the first to incorporate one. That year, on the day Eagle stock went public, the head of the company was killed when he crashed his Ferrari after taking a yacht salesman to lunch.

  28. Robert Parish Says:

    My first was the compucolor 11. It was portable yea right!! But it was color and it introduced me to programing and that was early early 80’s.

  29. rocketmouse Says:

    Amiga 1000! Not only did it have color and gui, it could connect to others. Awesome.

  30. Robert L Says:

    SDS9300/CI-5000/AGT-30 hybrid with monocolor graphics, used for aircraft (and other) simulation in the EE Dept at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. The SDS had a whole 32K words (not bytes) of RAM, card and paper tape input, a 10M-word, vertically mounted drum, two huge mag tape drives and hybrid interface to the CI-5000 analog and digital interace to the AGT-30 graphics machines. That was before there was a computer science department so we got a lot of use from engineering and science departments (especially aero!).

  31. Denis W Says:

    My first, about 1967-8, was a Texas instruments TI99=4A and I learned basic on that little wonder. My next was a big leap forward, probabvly around 1970-71, when I got an EPSON running CPM. It was great, bullet proof and came with a “What you see is what you get word processer”, a spreadsheet program and database program. Had 2 5-1/2 floppy drives. My son still has it and he says it stil fires up. For its day it was a super piece of equipment and it is too bad that CPM got aced out by DOS as it was ahead of its time,

  32. William A. Lucas Says:

    I was suprised to not see a single person say the Altair. As you know it came in kit or preassembled (for 100 bucks or so more). In my mind it was the first PC. They were used in our “mini computer” course @ CAL POLY. This was in the late 70s and we learned to write programs in assembly language. (my first computer was not mine either, it belonged to the Navy and we learned its operation and machine language developement and coding in the apprentice school at Mare Island Navel Ship Yard and that was in the very late 60s…It was a UNIVAC with a whole 1K (base8, meaning 512 addresses) of memory and a processor spe3d of less than 1 meg, as I recall. The processor and memory cabinets were seperate and the front pannel showed all the reqister contents using little lights that were also state switches.

    One could use the state switches to enter date, select an address, enter code, or to view the contents. It also had a paper tape and a Badot printer (God I thought that was soooooo coooool then) I recall conversations in class who said you could not program a computer to play chess or it you did it could not beat a human.

    The memeory case about 3X3X6 feet and processor used Transistor Transistor Logic ( my little joke) and you could actually see the transistors…mostly flip flops for memory.

    We had core memory panels in the class room and learned how it worked…I rmember thinking that minicore was the wave of the future.

    Well gotta go. Was fun just remembering the boot box S100 buss system and writing programs for it. Wish I had one to play with. My son took assembly lanuage class @ the JC…he’s majoring in Computer Science. I got my BSET/EL out of CAL POLY in 78/79 (depends on who ya ask when I graduated.)

    Bill Lucas

  33. bob Says:

    my first computer was a amd k62 500 with a 10 gig harddrive . 360 something megs of ram .on board video (lame) . a tired 15 inch lucky monitor . i remember trying to play movies on it . i would have to go into the task manager and transfer all processor power to windows media player so the movie would play with out pausing . i was so happy to upgrade ..i look back at that computer now and say ..what a piece of junk .

  34. AliGator Says:

    Are business mainframes allowed? My first was an ICT 1500, essentially a Ferranti-Packard 6000, which had tape drives (no disks) and 20,000 characters of IAS (Internal Access Memory or RAM), 10,000 for the operating system and 10,000 for application programs and data. It needed an air-conditioned room of 1100 square feet.
    My first serious PC was an Amstrad PCW (Personal Computer Wordprocessor) with no hard drive, only tape cassettes. Programmed in Basic and supported by a superb monthly magazine it was capable of serious small office work.

  35. Tom Givens Says:

    My first and most memorable computer was a NorthStar Horizon. It has (I still have it but I don’t use it anymore) a wood cover and I used a Televideo monitor with keyboard built in. This computer was designed mainly for business-type use and had its own operating system and software. I have yet to find a computer system that impresses me like this one did.

  36. D Says:

    I had a GREAT computer in the early 1980’s: a Tandy-Radio Shack Color Computer 2. Had a great keyboard, 64 Kb of RAM (I doubled it to 128 Kb with a piggyback method and -in order to use it- performed a software “bank swapping” technique), external add-on cards (via an external 4 ROM slot) including sound/speech emulator, tape drive, 5 1/4″ floppy drive. It had great software including a Mac Paint emulator… I only wish I could have kept it running forever. Its Extended BASIC language was really good! Miss my CoCo…

  37. Don Kurtz Says:

    I was so computerate illiterate when I first laid eyes on my 400 dollar Commodore Vic 20, I was afraid to touch it – until I read in its manual, “You can’t hurt this computer unless you’re an elephant.” What a great line that was. 🙂

  38. Kizziekat Says:

    Hands down: TRS80 Model 100

  39. Frank Catterall Says:

    My first and favourite computer was a NEWBRAIN bought for £140 it had the best BASIC Programming that took a very long time to be beaten. And taught me how to program. Programes were stored on a tape deck and it had to be plugged into a TV.
    This knowledge became invaluable when my company bought a WANG “desk top” for £18K.
    While this had a massive 36K of RAM a a 2MB removeable hard disk platter its built-in basic was not as good as the NEWBRAIN.

  40. Tom Waller Says:

    Well no mention of the British designed and built ACORN or BBC Micro that swept the UK in the early 1980’s which led to my fav… The ACORN
    RISC PC. produced back in 1984 when most PC users were making the painful transition from DOS to Windows 3 it had DUEL CPU support and was based round the StrongARM chipset, a Reduced Instruction Set Computer which is still around, now owned by INTEL and to be found in just about every battery operated high tech piece of kit, from bluetooth headsets to mobile phones and game stations.

    The Acorn Risc PC had an operating system based in ROM or read out memory, later to be flash memory that occupied JUST 4Mb and it booted up from the solid state ‘Rom drive’. The operating system, RISC OS still is years ahead of Windoze, with contact sensitive menues which come to you, you don’t have to move your mouse to them….!!!

    The mouse had a 3 button system, the left and right pretty well doing the same as a Mac or PC, but the middle button brought you the contact sensitive menu, so when you were for example in a Desk top publishing software, you got that menu. When you hoverd over the disc drive icon’s you got the file system menu and so on…

    But the whole world went Bill Gates way and boy how we have suffered over the years.

  41. Paul Byrley Says:

    I didn’t know how to comment but I wanted to say my fav was a VAX 11-780 where I first sent email over the Arpanet. I think it was in 1986. We thought 5K bits per second was very fast.

  42. Roy Cohen Says:

    My first computer was an Apple II. It was one of the first 1800 made and was purchased in December, 1977. Not a II +, not a IIe. It had an integer basic chip on the motherboard and came with a cassette tape that when loaded, contained Applesoft Basic, which was floating point basic. The disk drive interface card and 5.25 floppy drives came a year or so later.

    I also have a bunch of cassette tapes containing application software for it. Included in the cassettes collection is a 3d graphics package written by Bruce Artwick the initial creator of the program “Flight Simulator”. I also have the original cassette version of “Flight Simulator”. Somewhere in my storage closet is “Visicalc” the original spreadsheet program which was written for the Apple II.

  43. Rick Kephart Says:

    I’m a bit late on commenting, but I wanted to mention my most memorable computer: the Commodore-64, my first computer (1984).

    A friend of mine was an employee at Sears at the time, and he convinced me to choose the C64 for my first computer.
    The one thing that convinced me to get the C-64 was the SID chip. Those were the days when no personal computer could even come close to the musical capabilities of the C64. One of the main things I wanted to be able to do with a computer was play music on it.
    The SID chip had sophisticated controls that I never even knew what they were capable of doing let along how to use them, and I have doubts that the SID chip was ever stretched to the limits of its capabilities.

    Within a year, I was spending hours with my 300 baud modem on local BBS’s, and programming in BASIC and not long after that in Machine Language.
    Even though the Windows XP PC I’m using now has very little resemblance to the architecture of the C-64, the Commodore had the advantage of being simple enough for a human to fully understand, so that could provide a basis I can still rely on in trying to make sense out of how computers work.

  44. Dan Tillmanns Says:

    Favorites were the IBM system 360 and then various PDP-11 machines. The PDM-11 was fun.
    As for the PC Jr, I have a lot of things of the player piano ilk, some dating back before 1880. So when IBM showed up with a little computer I could see that it could be used to play music. Mentioning that to IBM sales people brought expressions of disgust.

  45. mohand Says:

    My first computer is my brain I was able to make soft with Qbasic years before I touch for the first time a computer and I get my first one. It was Intel 286 with 1Mo RAM and 40Mo in disk driver. at that time.

  46. juan duque Says:

    Sinclair zx 81

1 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Linkpost | 4.24.2009 Says:

    […] My Most Memorable Computer Was… – Harry McCracken’s Twitter survey brings back some […]