What was your first computer?

I’m always curious to find out how people from our industry got into computers and coding. On what computer you wrote the first line of code and when? It was a mainframe at your workplace or a personal computer at home or school? It was an 8 bit computer or a modern 64 bit PC?

Of course I expect the answer to be generation dependent…

I’ll tell you my experience:

I was about 13 - 14 years old when I got my first computer - a clone of a very popular 8 bit home computer at that time (at least in Europe). It was a HC-90 an identical clone of Sinclair ZX-Spectrum 48K.

It had 3.5MHz Z80 CPU and 64KB of total memory (including the 16KB of ROM and video memory).

It had modest specs by today’s standards but a very clever design. This computer was more than enough to get me and lots of other people from my generation started in coding.

As it happened with other personal computers back in the days, BASIC was the default operating system / programming environment of my computer. So I naturally learned BASIC as my first programming language.

However I quickly graduated towards assembler. Being inclined by the technical side and egger to develop more performant applications I learned Z80 Assembler. That was a very satisfying experience! Writing and debugging assembler code kept me awake many nights in a row. GENS and MONS where my preferred software programs. When I didn’t wrote my own code, I spent the time disassembling and studying various routines from commercial Spectrum games and software.

It was that time when I put the base of VMASOFT.

Since then I still encountered assembly programming from time to time: on PC 80x86 as well as a few microcontrollers.

Nowadays … I’m at the far end of the spectrum involved mostly in hi-level enterprise software architectures as well as management decisions as R&D Manager at Abbott Informatics.

However the experience that I had back in the days with my Z80 based computer and the fact that I start exploring the computer world at the age of 13, shaped by entire professional career and offered me a unique perspective on the overall computer science.

11 May 2017