Last Updated: 08/09/2011 12:23:00 PM

Micro-Computer Nostalgia

Micro-Computer Nostalgia

 

You know you are getting old when you come across an obscure magazine cover from 1985 called "Micro Cornucopia: The Single Board Systems Journal" and it sends you into a tail spin of nostalgia.  You have to see this computer magazine from 85! It has articles on Pascal Procedures, FORTHwords, SBASIC, Cooling a Hot Computer. This is what I was reading for fun when I was 14 and I don't regret it one moment.

 

A little background, I was raised in a tiny Georgia town called Zebulon.  The 2000 census has the population at 1,181. If you Google Zebulon GA, I am the 4th hit, right after the zebulon.georgia.gov site. 

 

 

Clearly my access to the outside was a bit limited.  But I did have a Kaypro and my subscription to Micro Cornucopia.

 

 

 

 

My Dad had a family business, manufactoring car cleaning products like waxes, polishes, soap, degreasers etc..  In 84 he bought a Kaypro IV computer it had:

  • Z80 CPU running at 2.5 MHZ 
  • 64 KB of RAM
  • No Graphic Mode, Text Only 80 Characters X 25 Lines
  • It was a color screen with one color: Phosphor Green
  • Sound: Built-in speaker that could only 'Beep' (I later hacked it to play a really crappy recording of my voice)
  • Two 5.25 Floopy drives (to hold all data, there was no hard drive)

 

I spent every waking hour programming this thing, writing BASIC programs, Turbo Pascal, Fortran & DBase programs.  I also learned about how grown-ups like to have language wars. See page 24 where the Turbo Pascal founder says "C is a disease"  I mostly read it for one column, The Kaypro Column which gave tips and tutorials on how to hack the hardware and software of a Kaypro IV.  It taught my Kaypro to do things that is never supposed to do.

 

What did I learn from this life changing experience:

  • There is always a way. It might not be pretty but you can make it work
  • Fear of failure is silly in comparison to the thrill re-engineering your machine.
  • Read everything thing you can, especially the stuff that is too hard. Keep reading it, one day it will be useful and understandable.

 

 

Link to the entire magazine in PDF Format: DOWNLOAD