[vcf-midatlantic] Great vintage computer article.

Dave McGuire mcguire at neurotica.com
Tue Apr 18 19:09:26 EDT 2017

On 04/14/2017 11:45 AM, Herb Johnson via vcf-midatlantic wrote:
> I refuse to be drawn into the argument that "gaming drove computing".
> It's one of a number of causal agents. I don't care today, to rank those
> agents, or to arbitrate their merits. Reasons not to, will become
> apparent in a moment.
> But what about neglecting pre-1980 or pre-"gaming" vintage computing?
> Simply put: the author very likely entered personal computing at that
> point in time with that class of hardware and software. He/she didn't
> know what happened before that.
> It's really that simple. We remember fondly our early days of discovery;
> we each start at some point in time. The article is a personal
> recollection of a time and place in personal computing. Many others
> share that set of experiences. The brands of software and hardware
> establish the bounds of that set.
> Most with interests in vintage computing, represent their own
> experiences, of their own era.
> An additional consideration. Many tens of millions played 1980's video
> gaming computing, because there were that many systems. The audience for
> 1970's computing was on the order of a few million; many from business,
> academic, industrial activity. And of course, some of us aren't around
> to report about it. Circumstances account for the differences between
> the decades.
> And so, any "vote" for "what drove computing" will skew accordingly, by
> count and by circumstances. I didn't take a vote, for my interests.
> Another reason I work at preserving MY computing era, is that before
> long there will be one less vote for it. I'm busy enough with that, not
> to argue the merits with others.

   This is a very good point.  One reason that I end up personally at 
odds with assertions (and obsessions) about playing games, and the 
importance of games to the earlier years of computing, is that I've 
pretty much never done it myself.  Yes, I had an Atari 800 back in the 
day, and while I used the machine constantly, I had precisely ONE game 
for it (Asteroids) which I almost never played.  I also had an 
Assembler/Editor cartridge, which was in the machine much of the time.

   I didn't have any games for the PDP-11 either.

   Games just weren't a part of my formative years, or my first 
experiences with computing.  As a kid, I was working toward building a 
career in computing, and I knew it.  My parents (actually mother and 
grandmother) taught me early on about the value of being self-sufficient 
and being a productive human being.  Playing games just doesn't really 
fold into that.

   (Yes, before someone waxes pedantic on this, I am well aware that 
people get paid for playing games these days, but the reality is that, 
while they do exist, there are very, very few of them.)

   So my early years were spent learning programming languages, tools, 
and techniques, knowledge gained in my early teen years that still feeds 
me all too well at the ever-ripening age of 48.

   So yes, I must agree strongly with Herb, perspective counts.  All of 
my other childhood friends who were into computers played games on them, 
all day every day.  So that's what they remember, and that's what they'd 
say drove the technology.  Because it did...for them.  Well put, Herb.

   I'll spare you the usual barb about most of those guy still living 
with their parents. ;)


Dave McGuire, AK4HZ
New Kensington, PA

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