My first computer, 30 years ago…

CP 500So we have reached the year 2013, and this reminds me of my first computer, which I got in 1983, or 30 years ago. It was a Brazilian CP-500, compatible with the original TRS-80 model III. It had 64K of RAM, two drives for 5¼ floppy disks and a monochromatic monitor. Each floppy disk could store 180K on each side, and this was enough for saving several programs.

I was 13 when my father bought me this computer. Of course, it was a gift for my Bar-Mitzvah, and I was one of the first boys in my class to have a computer at home. I was very excited, but did not have any software to run on it. So I did what I could: I read the two manuals that came with the computer, and tried all the commands.

The first manual was for the operating system, the TRS-DOS. I learned everything about manipulating files on the disk. This was useful, but not very fun.

The second manual was for the BASIC programming language. I immediately started writing my own tiny programs, copying the examples from the book and making small modifications. This was much more fun, but still very limited.

SinclairThings got more interesting when one of my friends gave me a book with printed listings of source code for games in BASIC. I tried to copy them, typing line after line, but got many errors. I soon understood that these games were written for the Sinclair computer, which was not compatible with mine.

Then I decided to fix these games so they would run on my computer. I remember spending many hours trying the different instructions, especially the ones related to the graphic display, which was completely different in the two computers.

In the end I was able to convert all games and had them running properly on my machine. It was a double win: Now I had games to play with, and now I had learned to program in BASIC. And this was the very start of my career as a software developer.

I was very effective in my early years as a teenage programmer. I was extremely curious and looking for challenges. My first computer was a great source of new things to learn and problems to solve, and I had lots of free time.

Today I’m still curious and looking for challenges, but now of course I do not have the free time I had as a teenager. Thus I’m very happy to be still learning new things and solving interesting problems at work. Currently, Recommender Systems for millions of users instead of small games in BASIC.

I feel lucky for having this passion for programming, which is already 30 years old. What can be better than your hobby becoming your profession? Is there anything nicer than being paid to do what you love?

About Hayim Makabee

Veteran software developer, enthusiastic programmer, author of a book on Object-Oriented Programming, co-founder and CEO at KashKlik, an innovative Influencer Marketing platform.
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4 Responses to My first computer, 30 years ago…

  1. Allon Guralnek says:

    “So what would be your dream job?” I sometimes ask people after they tell me why they’re unsatisfied with their job. “If you could have any job in world, what would it be?” It takes them a while, but they finally come up with an answer, usually something outlandish. “Well, what about you?” they ask in return, “What’s your dream job?” I just smile and answer “Man, I’m already livin’ the dream.”

  2. Rafael says:

    I´m not sure if it´s a coincidence, but that was also my first computer, exactly 30 years ago! ; )
    I was never fan of it, because it had a few problems of cheating on games, and many times I had to give it a few slaps to put it back on line… Years later I also tried to study Basic, gave up and tried Pascal, gave up and went to the beach, which was pretty close to my house in Rio. Much better!
    But certainly you are lucky (and competent to achieve it) if you work with what you love!

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