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Decisive moment you had to get a PC.

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16 hours ago, spacecadet said:

Go watch some videos of the 8088 mph demo to see what it was really capable of on stock hardware

Just looked it up, that is pretty impressive!  It's funny that the demo had the "CGA = ugly colors" slide with the cyan-magenta-black-white colors that I and many others think of when we hear CGA

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I think for me it was sometime in mid 1989.

 

I had an Atari 520ST.  I was at college studying a computer science program.   The college used RM Nimbus PCs, a mostly IBM compatible machine, and we used Turbo Pascal 2.0 for coding.  

 

I found TP to be so much better than any programming language I had on the Atari.   I got PC Ditto for the Atari and used it to boot MS-DOS 3.3, copied TP from school and continued working from home.  The system was slow and tedious.  I got a second disk drive that helped.  I got an SM124 monitor which was so much better than the TV.  I was seriously thinking of spending the money from my part time job on one of the new hardware PC emulators for the Atari when I had a epiphany; if I am spending all this money and effort to make the ST run PC software, maybe I should dump the ST and get a PC instead.

 

I thought about buying the Atari PC1 but I didn't like the lack of expansion slots, so I sold the ST and eventually bought a used Advance 86B, a horrid, crappy British PC-XT clone.  Later I upgraded to a Zenith Z200 (286/hard disk/MDA), then a TriGem 286 (286/hard disk/VGA), then a Zenith Z300 (386/hard disk/EGA), and eventually I salvaged an IBM PC-AT from my first post-grad job which I upgraded (Pentium/hard disk/SVGA/Sound Blaster). 

 

That AT, which I acquired in 1994, remained my main PC until 2005 undergoing several upgrades until they stopped making PC-AT standard motherboards.

 

 

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I had a C64 for a the longest time and was pretty happy with it, though all I did was play games on.  For school, I had a dedicated word processor with (I think) a two-line display.

 

I ultimately decided to get a PC for three reasons

- The word processor was simply not cutting it, as editing on that tiny screen was becoming increasingly intolerable the more complex my assignments became.

- I wanted to get into BBSing and everyone I knew who could help me was using a PC.

- RPGs are my favorite genre, and the moment I saw my friend running games off his HD (no loading! no disk swapping!) with beautiful VGA graphics and Adlib sound, I knew I needed to get a PC.

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On 5/17/2020 at 12:24 AM, oracle_jedi said:

I think for me it was sometime in mid 1989.

 

I had an Atari 520ST.  I was at college studying a computer science program.   The college used RM Nimbus PCs, a mostly IBM compatible machine, and we used Turbo Pascal 2.0 for coding.  

 

I found TP to be so much better than any programming language I had on the Atari.   I got PC Ditto for the Atari and used it to boot MS-DOS 3.3, copied TP from school and continued working from home.  The system was slow and tedious.  I got a second disk drive that helped.  I got an SM124 monitor which was so much better than the TV.  I was seriously thinking of spending the money from my part time job on one of the new hardware PC emulators for the Atari when I had a epiphany; if I am spending all this money and effort to make the ST run PC software, maybe I should dump the ST and get a PC instead.

 

I thought about buying the Atari PC1 but I didn't like the lack of expansion slots, so I sold the ST and eventually bought a used Advance 86B, a horrid, crappy British PC-XT clone.  Later I upgraded to a Zenith Z200 (286/hard disk/MDA), then a TriGem 286 (286/hard disk/VGA), then a Zenith Z300 (386/hard disk/EGA), and eventually I salvaged an IBM PC-AT from my first post-grad job which I upgraded (Pentium/hard disk/SVGA/Sound Blaster). 

 

That AT, which I acquired in 1994, remained my main PC until 2005 undergoing several upgrades until they stopped making PC-AT standard motherboards.

 

 

Did you ever try Alice Pascal on the ST?  Great Pascal implementation ahead of its time from a syntax checking perspective :)

 

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9 hours ago, Goochman said:

Did you ever try Alice Pascal on the ST?  Great Pascal implementation ahead of its time from a syntax checking perspective :)

 

 

In fact I had not heard of it until I read your note.  Checking into this, it seems Alice Pascal is quite impressive, and now free to download.   I just grabbed the disk images and will try to find time to play with it in the near future.

 

I guess one of the problems "back in the day" was getting accurate information.  I didn't own a modem and with no local BBS, long distance dialing would have been out of the question anyway.   I relied on Page 6 and Atari User magazine, and the guys at BaPAUG (Bournemouth and Poole Atari User Group).  

 

Thanks for the tip on Alice Pascal.

 

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7 hours ago, oracle_jedi said:

I guess one of the problems "back in the day" was getting accurate information.  I didn't own a modem and with no local BBS, long distance dialing would have been out of the question anyway.   I relied on Page 6 and Atari User magazine, and the guys at BaPAUG (Bournemouth and Poole Atari User Group).  

This is true.  When I had a my college Pascal course, it was on a VAX, so having a PC would not have helped me,  but later I had a course in Modula-2  (which is basically Pascal cleaned up a little with importable libraries) and I did manage to find a free modula-2 compiler for ST from some online service, which was nice.

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I had an Atari 800XL, which worked well for Word Processing (and more fun things), but in 2nd or 3rd year of College (around '88) we pretty much needed one to do programming. The rich kids were spending $2K+ on brand new 286 machines with orange monitor... poor guy here bought a still-expensive $1K "turbo" XT with green monitor - switch on the front changed speed to/from 4.7/8 MHz. The best thing about the machine was the case... push 2 buttons on the side, and the lid lifted up just like the front hood of a car.

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12 minutes ago, 5-11under said:

on brand new 286 machines with orange monitor... poor guy here bought a still-expensive $1K "turbo" XT with green monitor

Wait..  Amber monitors were status symbols over green?   TIL  Lol

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It was presumed that amber was "Easier on your eyes" and had better "Phosphor refresh" (eg, less persistence, and was therefor better for playing games with a Hercules), but I favored the actual WHITE crts.  I remember that I was kind of a minority on that opinion, but I stood by it.

 

 

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8 hours ago, zzip said:

Wait..  Amber monitors were status symbols over green?   TIL  Lol

Well, yah... APPLES have GREEN monitors.  Ugh!

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I held out until 1997! At work I had the latest PCs and fast internet so I would surf there after hours. My Ataris served me well enough at home. By '97 I had a toddler ready to play with preschool programs and another on the way so it was time to upgrade. That year my company downsized and dumped their '486s so I grabbed a low profile one with W95 and a dial-up modem. It made a good family PC for several years.

 

I recall New Year's Eve '99 when I teased the kids to stay away from the PC at midnight in case it blows up. Really had them going!

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None, I didn't go to get a PC, the PC came to me lol. I was a hardcore Atarian, and answered an add in the local paper for a laser printer for $150. My plans were to hook it up to my Atari 1040 STe, but it was a Wang (I think) serial laser printer. He warned me about its difficulties and how it might now work on my Atari, but I didn't listen and bought it anyway. Turns out he was right, and it never worked. However, while at his house and talking to the guy for an hour or so, he was surprised my only computer knowledge was Atari's. He gave me for free an old 5160 ST and CGA monitor, and said I just needed to get a keyboard.

 

After failing to get the serial printer to work, I turned to the XT. I quickly got a keyboard and powered it on. I had no clue what to do with it, since I didn't know any DOS. Luckily for me though I was heavily into the local BBS scene, and had plenty of friends to help, especial one guy in particular: Xodus, also know as Saor. He game me some basic DOS commands and I was completely hooded. I went out and bought DOS For Dummies and the rest is history. I never went back.

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Good topic!!
It was late 1991. 
I had pushed my Atari 1040 ST to the limit. I could only buy software at a store an hour away.

I installed AT-Speed and was able to buy a few EGA an CGA PC games and run them on the ST.

As I looked through the racks and racks of PC games at my local Software Etc.  for CGA/EGA games,

I noticed how many were then 256 Color VGA with SoundBlaster Sound:
Wing Commander.  Might And Magic III.  Links.  Falcon 3.0.   

Games only 2 miles away instead of driving 50 miles.

For my birthday in 1992 my brother and I bought a 386-DX40, 4BM RAM, 40MB Hard drive, 56k modem.

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On 5/20/2020 at 6:43 AM, 5-11under said:

I had an Atari 800XL, which worked well for Word Processing (and more fun things), but in 2nd or 3rd year of College (around '88) we pretty much needed one to do programming. 

 

Yeah the 800XL was pretty good for WP.   If you could tolerate the 40-column screen.   When I decided to get rid of the ST I actually copied all my First World Plus files to the Xlent Word Processor on the XL using a transfer cable I got from Page 6 magazine.

 

Someone from the local Atari club gave me an Atari 1027 LQ printer, and for a while I used that for all of my official correspondence.  I only stopped using it when the ink ribbon failed around 1991.

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Word processing...

 

Gawd...

 

I remember writing all my school assignments with DOS EDIT in generic text format, then loading them into Claris Works at school to do the pagination and markup, (and wishing my mom would please relent on the hard "NO" on getting ARDI Executor, which would have allowed me to use Mac software on my 486 using limited emulation and mac OS syscall surrogates.)

 

It was so painful to do. 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I did not get a PC, until 1991.  Well, I had one briefly, about a month, but it was on loan for a program someone wanted me to write.

 

Otherwise, I was happy computing and BBSing on an Apple //e, gaming an an Atari 800XL, and programming various things in 256 artifact color (mostly fractals and game ideas, sounds) on a CoCo3.

 

At work I had been using PC machines off and on and had started writing a program to help manufacturers and engineers process precision sheet metal parts.

 

On a drive home, I happened to swing into a thrifty store and they had an Amstrad XT machine for $20!  It had a 20MB hard card too!  It met the minimum specs for that same CAD system, given an 8087 processor, which a family member had and gave to me.

 

They were moving up to a 386, so the 8087 was a freebie.

 

Perfect!

 

Aaaaaaand it sucked!  

 

CGA, 640K, 8Mhz CPU, hard card, mouse, monitor, floppy drive.  I added another one and a three button mouse and was set!

 

It was super slow for CAD.  But, it was a nice upgrade for BBSing.  Full color ANSI was nice and that same year I got a dialup Internet account to get on the net proper.

 

For Usenet, I liked the Apple better.  The nice sharp text and excellent keyboard made a better experience, but I digress.

 

That PC was enough to run CAD and I got a lot of coding done at home, and could sell it properly because I was no longer mooching a work computer.

 

Being super slow actually helped!  Normally on a 386 AT class machine, the program ran fast.  

 

On that Amstrad, I could see it draw line by line, which helped me to optimize the program and debug easier.  Was killer actually.  So long as you didn't want to make a real model with any respectable detail.

 

Got it all done and sold a ton of copies.  The program was fast!  Those funded a 386/25.  Mooched Win 3.1.1, winsock and got online with a browser the moment I could run one.

 

That 386 had 5Mb of RAM!  One on the mobo, 4 more on some card.  It was cheap too.  Project computer I got for a couple hundred bucks.

 

Many "requires 8 Mb" programs would run with 5Mb.  Poorly, but I was fine with that.

 

Used the 386 to write a bunch of Gcode for my former employer and some friends and have funded every other computer I have ever used right through today by doing some serious hobby computing to get more or better machines.

 

So yeah, the moment I had to get a PC, it was complete shit, and was only a 20 spot!

 

The 90s for me were just as fun as the 80's.  I kept using 8 bit machines for various things, mainly communication and some writing, while I got some PC'S and ended up with a job involving high end SGI computers!  Got those the same way I did my first PC.  Saw a screaming deal and went for it, doing project to upgrade along the way.

 

Sometime around 2008, I ditched all of it, going laptop for pro use, 8 bits for fun, and embedded little micros for more projects and fun.

 

Been a nice ride.

 

I still have my 800XL, an old 400 because they look really cool, Apple Platinum (upgraded when my other one got stolen), CoCo 3, and nosc consoles.

 

The high end unix gear was replaced with a nice scope, electronics, 3d printer and various micros and little systems built around them.  I live applying things I learned in 8 bit land to microcontrollers today.

 

Still kind of hate PCs.  But I fund the fun stuff with them, so there you go.

 

 

Edited by potatohead
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When Commodore went under I held on to my A1200 as long as I could until it was obvious that it was time to move on. I remember buying my first Pentium machine running Windows 95. Since then I’ve built plenty of Windows machines but my current everyday machine is a Mac.


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And here's the kicker: I still have my first 800 (1983), but sent my "adult" AT clone (1989), with which I was told to replace my "toy" Atari, off to the donation bin in the mid-'90s. No regrets at all about getting rid of that one.

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Posted (edited)

The machines we keep tell all.

 

I would have my originals but a ton of stuff was stolen during a rushed, forced move.  Fortunately, prices were good, so I just replaced them.  Well, I did upgrade the //e to a Platinum.  Did that mostly for the keyboard and longer potential service life.  I actually use my Apple monthly for writing and some little projects here and there.  I just like having something old that will do a respectable 80 columns.  Looking at the FujiNet work though...  I may have to break out the XL.  That is seriously cool!

 

My PC's all got donated, and I had some really great ones due to what I did for work.  Higher end Intergraph machines mostly.  Was fun to load up Win 98 on those and give them away to people in need.  

 

Fastest Win 98 machines they would ever see, lol.

 

There isn't a single one I would have kept.

 

The Atari, if nothing else, gets kept for the occasional game of Star Raiders.  That was the first, "Oh wow" game for me, and it's fun to play still.  I like the slowdowns on the original ROM too.  

Edited by potatohead
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Recalling when... Oh yeah, I remember vividly! It was a couple months ago I got my first PC. :) A Dell 610 for a small rehoming fee. Got it mainly to run Classic99 to emulate my TI99/4A.

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my uncle showed me Deus Ex and Unreal gold as well as painkiller. Got my first windows xp pc in 2003, haven't looked back, i only play the xbox occasionally

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My brother got a PC around 1991... I didn't actually learn much about it, but I'm guessing it was a 286 machine. He showed me how to dial up local BBS's and that's about all I did with it. I had an Amiga 500 during this era and used Deluxe Paint, and an audio editing application that I can't remember the name of - it was a destructive stereo editor, but you could set and adjust looping points on the fly, so I took some early steps in audio production with that. And I played a whole lot of Speedball!

 

In '94 I got a job at Kinko's on the graveyard shift, and when it was slow in the middle of the night I learned how to use Photoshop. The following year I started using Netscape Navigator and began to get a grasp on what the internet is and how it could be useful.

 

Throughout this time I was playing in bands and using dedicated hardware (e.g., cassette 4-tracks) to record, but some friends in another band started using a PC in '97 to do multitrack recording and the leap in sound quality over 4-track and 8-track recordings was immense. They taught me about their setup, and I started saving up to get my own.

 

Finally in '98 I got a Windows 95 machine of my own! I bought it from a guy who was building them out of his apartment. I wish I remembered more of the technical details... the only stat I definitely remember is that it had a 3.2 GB HDD, which seemed massive. I worked that machine, recording music, burning CD-Rs on its very unreliable CD burner (well, maybe the burner was reliable but the PC struggled to keep the buffer full as it was writing), designing graphics for cassettes and CDs, and building my first websites. At first I was only able to destructively edit 2-track stereo recordings, but I could "bounce" tracks with no loss in audio quality, so I was good to go for a while. After some time, a friend of mine showed me how to do real multitrack recording, and it was off to the races. And aside from all of that fun, I was getting back into gaming with some of the early emulators as well as playing Interstate '76, which completely blew my mind since I hadn't really played games since selling my Sega Genesis in '91. It was just a beige box full of so many types of fun!

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I have a "modern" moment I decided I needed a PC (in addition to the moment "back in the day" I posted earlier in the thread).

 

As much as I had enjoyed DOSBOX over the last many years, I began to get annoyed with two issues:

1) Figuring out CPU cycles settings for each game (a significant number of games that I want to play were developed to run within a very narrow range of CPU speeds)

2) Scaling 320x200 with correct aspect ratio and without uneven scaling.

 

I switched to PCem, and this resolved the first issue, as I was able to configure virtual systems running at specific CPU speeds.

 

This did not resolve issue (2) of course.  You can apply a shader with some slight bilinear filtering to cover up the uneven pixel scaling, but it's not ideal.  It bothered me enough that I slowly started gathering parts to build a P133, and now have a dedicated DOS gaming machine tucked away into the corner of my office.

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Mine was really quite simple. 

 

I had hungered for the likes of:

 

AVP

System Shock II

Command And Conquer:Generals 

Red Alert II

M.O.H:A.A

Freelancer 

Xcom :Apocalypse

Defcon

AVP ii

For years. 

 

 

Picked up an old PC and the games dead cheap, bought a newer graphics card for it and just gorged on games i had missed out on by being a console gamer. 

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