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I remember the first time I saw a "personal computer". It was the latter end of 1982, and I was in Junior High School. We didn't have computers at my school at all. I went to a friend of a friends house, named Jon. His family lived on a farm, and had a small private school on the premises. His mom and dad were teachers. After school hours, three of us went into one of the classrooms and sitting on a small table, connected to a small televsion set, I saw it. It was a Commodore 64. My imagination went wild, and although I was only 13 years old I knew I had to have one. But I was going to have to wait.

 

By the next year, much had changed. I had moved from Oregon to California, it was Christmas, and the price of the Commodore had dropped to $199. I asked for one for Christmas, and I got one! It was broken right out of the box. We went to KMart where we bought it and exchanged it. They only had one left in stock, they couldn't keep them on the shelf. I took the second one home and hooked it up. It worked, but the red light on the top was broken. I decided to return the second one. My hopes and dreams were starting to shatter around me.

 

Then, on the 3rd floor of the JC Penney in the mall, right next to the luggage, I stumbled upon an oasis. They were selling the competition: Coleco Adam, TI 99/4A and the 600XL and 800XL. I tried them all out, and weighed the pros and cons of each in my mind. I knew I wanted a good BASIC, because I was learning to program. The TI and the Adam were quite pricey for my meager budget. The 600XL stood out to me as great bang for the buck. I liked the look of the thing and the feel of the keyboard. I remember it was $149 or maybe less. The 800XL was $100 more. I couldn't justify the extra expense to my mother.

 

I took the 600XL home and it was wonderful. I still remember the smell of the thing. Now I needed software, and joysticks. There were big glass cabinets full of Atari 8 bit software on cartridge at SEARS. The place was a mob scene. Over the next few months I picked up 10 great cartridges. I couldn't believe how close to the original arcade games they looked. Donkey Kong, Pac Man, Popeye, Frogger, Pengo, and Q Bert. And I programmed. I put all the small programs that came in the Atari Basic Reference Guide into the computer, and saved them to cassette. I wrote my own programs. I loved the graphics modes and sound statements. I was happy.

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The 1st Homecomputers that got some interest was a VIC20 and a Ti99-4A . Years went by . I had a 1st real Computer to handle with, when my brother bought a "fresh" CPC 464.

The Atari 800 XL came after I earned money myself. Mainly for learning programming (hobby). I learned many from magazines, and later I wrote programs for visualisations of electric functions , such as resulting wave forms depending on capacitive or inductive circuits for my "real life" work...

Interestingly, the Atari had been sold with a big lie. It was said, the colours were limited to the TV. You'd need a real Monitor for the available colours, but that's another story. Many real great games arrived later and the will to build a software company was there. From Basic Games to real Relational Database Software had been created. But circumstances stopped all that immediately.

Btw: The only Lucasfilm Game that was available in Stores here was Ballblazer. I wonder how someone could blame "Piracy" for the downing of a computersystem, when customers cannot buy Software they like? I'm also the buyer ( ;) ) of the International Karate Disk in Germany. This one with the Atari version on side a and the C64 version on the back .

Sadly , business and real life kept me away from further software development, at least with the Atari, it was real fun. ST programming was boring as hell.

If someone asks about the most playing fun, still "Boulder Dash" is the 1st in my mind. The feeling, when playing "Encounter", great.

and so on...

Edited by emkay

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Yes, I rember my first computer. A TRS-80 model 1:) Took a long time to get one. My father couldn't seen any point to a computer.. Eventually my mother bought me one for my birthday, and I still have it:) In fact I plan on unboxing it soon and setting it up again full time.

 

In addition to collecting Atari, I've decided to include TRS-80's also. About 15 years ago a friend of my brother's was helping us move and tried to buy my model one, he actually said "Name your price." and the only answer he got is 'not for sale.'

 

Just bought a model 100 on the evil auction site and on the hunt for a model 4. I've already got most of the Atari gear I really want, but will surely add more when I see something interesting.. (money permitting..)

 

Just got to figure out where I'll put them when I find my new treasures:)

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My Dad had a Timex Sinclair 2068. That was the first computer in the family. (IBM PC Jr. was about $5000 in 1980 or so). Then I got $300 for Christmas (1984 or 83?)

to buy a computer (for the kids, ha).

I went to the local hardware store, bought a Coleco Adam. It smoked when turned on, or was it the printer that came with it smoked. Took the Adam back, got a second one.

I forget exactly what was wrong with the second one, but it didn't work. My son (about 15) told me to get an 'Atari'. I got an 800XL for $300, and a RANA disk drive a month

later for $325. The initial 800XL was purchased with a 1010 program recorder ($80) and Atari 'letter quality' 1027 character wheel printer. ($325). My son got to use the

computer a little, not much. My wife and daughters I don't think messed with it. My Dad got me a subscription to ANALOG magazine. Typing in the programs. Beginning

of BBS ( I started one with a MPP '300' baud modem.) I think I got a second phone line for it. 30 years ago, and I'm still enamored of it, second only to my marriage (52 years).

Edited by russg

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I was in the Army from 1979-1984, so I was over in Korea while the "big" home computer boom was going on. I do remember my boss (a Major) came to my unit and I became his personal clerk. The nice thing about that was he brought his Atari 800 with him and allowed me to hook it up on my desk and use it for work. Well, I couldnt believe I was getting paid to play with this awesome computer, and this is where I started learning to program. I had to. I wrote a lot of presentation graphics programs and even started a unit newsletter. It was pure awesomeness. When my Major took his mid-tour leave, he brought back an 800XL (he actually hand carried it on the plane, kept it in his lap cuz he didnt trust airline baggage handlers). That was it, I was hooked. My Commander had a clone Apple setup which I was allowed to mess with, but it could not possibly compare to the Atari. When I rotated back stateside, one of the first things I did was get myself an 800XL, and I think I have had an Atari in my life ever since. I like the ease of programming it, tried programming on the PC for a while, but with Windows and everything, the feeling of being in "control" of the machine just wasnt there. Programming the Atari in ML gave you control of the entire computer, and you could do everything the hardware was capable of. I just wish I had some of the newer tech toys that have come out for the ol' Atari8 back in the day. I will own Ataris until the day I die, I really have made them a part of my life and that will never change.

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By the next year, much had changed. I had moved from Oregon to California, it was Christmas, and the price of the Commodore had dropped to $199. I asked for one for Christmas, and I got one! It was broken right out of the box. We went to KMart where we bought it and exchanged it. They only had one left in stock, they couldn't keep them on the shelf. I took the second one home and hooked it up. It worked, but the red light on the top was broken. I decided to return the second one. My hopes and dreams were starting to shatter around me.

I know a stereo store that also sold Atari and Commodore computers in the early 80's, quality control was so bad for the C64 that they would power them up overnight before putting them up for sale. They sometimes had 75%+ dead overnight which were returned to the distributor, this saved a lot of hassle for both the store and the customers.

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I'm pretty sure that the first home computer I ever laid eyes on was the one I got for Christmas in 1983. It was the Mattel Aquarius. Now, I didn't know a computer from a hole in the wall--I was 5 years old, and my grandparents bought it for me. Neither of us knew that the Aquarius had already been discontinued by that point. All I knew was that, in addition to the 2600 my parents bought me for my birthday six months before, I now had a computer. It never could do much, but I did learn some of the most basic aspects of BASIC. (That was all you could learn, as Mattel Electronics didn't include the full MS BASIC in ROM, holding it back for purchase as a separate cartridge.) I also had fun with the primitive version of Night Stalker and the kinda neatish conversions of Snafu and Utopia. My parents bought me a subscription to 3-2-1 Contact magazine and I would try to adapt the BASIC type-ins to work on my Aquarius. It was often merely an exercise in frustration.

 

It was through these magazines, though, that I became aware of the Atari computers. And a local department store used to carry XLs around this time. I knew Atari, of course, via my 2600. "Do you mean to tell me," I asked myself, "they also make computers? Wow!" I tried from then on to persuade my parents to pick me up an Atari 8-bit, right the way on through the XEGS. Never happened, of course. I took care of the XEGS and 600XL over the course of the last year and some more. The 600XL and the Aquarius sit together on my desk now. (The Aquarius is a replacement. Lost the original in a move after 6 or 7 years together.)

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It must have been in the late? 70s' that I read about the microcomputers in which you had to solder your own boards for - and assemble yourself in an American Electronics magazine... I did not know exactly what programs were running and if they were interesting or not? A few years later I attended a microcomputers display at the local university - in which there was a Pet 2001? and ZX-80 computer. I think the Pet was running the text Star Trek game. I wasn't impressed by these ready built microcomputers. I went along to a computer group meeting in which many had the TRS-80 clones - called Dick Smith 80's down in these parts.

A couple? of years later - I finally saw an Atari 800 computer at the local computer store - and was able to type in some simple BASIC graphics demos. A year later I was in the position of buying a home computer and I still wasn't sure what to buy? I decided that London would be the best place for me to buy one - as I was about to travel from New Zealand, stopping off at LA for a couple of days - to stay in England for some kind of OE (overseas experience) that Kiwis typically do, at some time in their lives. I did finally settle upon an Atari 800 because no other computer at that time was able to better it graphically - 6 months later the C64 did show up - but being so new - little software was available for it.

I never regretted going Atari because in those first few years - it more than surpassed my expectations - and it was only past the mid-80s - because of the dwindling new releases - that any kind of negative feelings would develop...

 

But looking back - purchasing an Atari 800 48k computer in Hammersmith, London was actually the best decision I could have made - and it was exactly at the right time, too. The Atari 800 was starting to drop in price - and I was reading about computers -prior for about 3? years - although I still have only a light understanding about them. I made some pretty good contacts with other Atari users - and if I had the patience to wait for the C-64 (which I did discount because I was completely unimpressed by the Vic-20 - which was never any match for the Atari 400) - I don't think I would have made as good as contacts there.

 

Because it was the Atari contacts I made - that made the huge difference. I partnered up with local Atari enthusiast - Andrew Bradfield - who turned programmer, whom I could design graphics for (because I was always interested in the graphics design aspect) his Laser Hawk and Hawkquest computer videogames - and later on with Paul Lay - whom I have also teamed up with... whom I have re-teamed with again - 2 years ago.. with working on GTIABlast! (now renamed AtariBLAST!).

The latest project completed is a contribution for this year's New Year Disk ...

 

No way was there any C-64 programmer / etc that I could have teamed up with --- and the C-64 computer user group - was completely different to the Atari one...

Oh - I did purchase a C-64 - but held onto it for only a year..

 

Harvey

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As one of the older members here (in body, not mind) I was a kid before the home computer even existed so I have had the privilege to been there when it all happened and even luckier to have had the extreme pleasure of working in the Atari and home computer industry from day one.

 

As I've said before on here, one of the most mystical experiences was walking in to Silica shop in Sidcup and hearing the sounds of numerous Atari's playing everything from Defender to Pac Man, Star Raiders and loads of other stunning games, if I could bottle that experience I would have, its still such a lovely period in my life, their setup was better than ours in Maplin as part of the shop was purely electronic components but come Saturday and my part of the shop was rammed with customers all buying anything Atari.

 

And I've been lucky to have met some of the Atari UK greats via Maplin, even having very early sneak previews of games like Elektra Glide, Bellum etc and reviewed for Atari User..

 

So yes, I remember and they are fantastic memories..

Edited by Mclaneinc
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Nice!

 

I do remember seeing Ataris at Penneys in 1983.

Those were the days. A friend and I would ride our bikes something like 5 miles to the local mall and spend an entire day at J.C. Penney's playing space invaders on their 2600 display.

Then I must have been good that year, because for Christmas I got a 2600. Snow and Atari playing, what a Christmas break.

But it might have been more like 1980 for me....

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My first experiences with computers was in High School as a freshman, back in 1974 in the electronics classroom. We had a teletype terminal like this one

post-26874-0-51355600-1420138746_thumb.jpg

that we used it to connect to the district's mainframe and is where I learned the Basic language. I was quite amazed how easily it was to write programs on that. We spent many hours playing lunar lander, drag race, hunt the wumpus, tic-tac-tie, chess and other games.

 

Then in 1976, I was fortunate to see an Apple-1 computer that one of the seniors bought. He brought it in the electronics classroom and hooked it up for all of us to drool over :)

Edited by AtariGeezer

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I was slow to the uptake as my parents had divorced and getting a computer for Christmas was a big ask. My friends mostly ended up with Spectrums. I wanted a C64 but it was too expensive. In the end my parents relented and bought me an Atari 800XL.

 

For some time before I'd been using BBC micros on a crude network at school. A cousin had an Acorn Electron - that sucked for them.

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