I’m really not sure when was the very first time I put my hands on a computer. There were of course computers in the form of games from the time I was a tot . . . I have fond memories of seeing Telstar Pong games displayed like they were space-aged technology, in really cool darkened furniture and TV stores and malls in Central Minnesota. We’re talking the mid-70s through the 80’s for reference.
For me, I remember getting super-stoked in middle school when I heard they were going to be incorporating computers, specifically Apple II (original) into math instruction. So my friends and I started hanging-out after school at the Junior High building playing text games like The Oregon Trail and of course getting our hands on some programming in BASIC.
My friend David O. had gotten his hands on a Sinclair ZX-81 kit and was in the midst of soldering it together. I had been reading about programming and computers in general in the issues of Boys Life magazine (I was a very active Boy Scout). This must have been around 8th grade or so and I remember that’s when my family moved to southern New Jersey.
So we get to New Jersey in the middle of the Fall and school was already in-session. Fast-forward through all the new things I got into, there was already the spark of ham radio that was taking up a lot of my hobby time, and computers were a perfect fit since there are so many applications (and at that time, hardly any had been written) where radio and computers have been a perfect fit (your Wifi connection for example, your cell phone, so many things for that matter). It was that Christmas (1983) my parents bought me a Timex/Sinclair TS1000. From that point forward I was always more than just a computer ‘user’.
Learning BASIC, machine language, and then instead of there being the Internet for being a sandbox for interconnecting computers, we had dial-up BBSs (Bullet Board Services) and if you were also a ham radio operator, there was the burgeoning packet radio scene, complete with its Packet BBSs and RTTY MSOs.
It was a very interesting time to grow up. We were essentially going from analog to digital and didn’t even realize the implications. Do we we realize it even now?