[vcf-midatlantic] My first computer memory was using a terminal

Bruce freemab222 at gmail.com
Fri May 21 20:46:11 UTC 2021

Man, you youngsters had it good!
Back before dirt, they gave us mechanical calculators in HS to learn on.
Marchant and Monroe are names that come to mind.  This training was *job*
training.  Knowing how to operate these calculators could have secured a HS
graduate of the era a position in a bank or accounting firm.
These behemoths were a step up from my Magic Brain stylus slide adder,
which itself was merely a mechanization of an abacus, which could add or
subtract and could multiply by repeated addition.  (I actually had an
abacus, but never really mastered it.  I did pretty well on the Magic
I distinctly remember entering college and longing for one of the
4-function pocket calculators that had become available by then, but at
$150 (that's $1200 in 2021 dollars), that was out of the question.  So I
enrolled in computer classes and learned FORTRAN programming, which held me
in good stead through about 1983.
Along the way, I used a desk-sized Wang programmable calculator (vintage
about 1971 or so) and the HP-65 pocket calculator, the kind that NASA took
along to Apollo-Soyez.

On Fri, May 21, 2021 at 4:06 PM Bill Degnan via vcf-midatlantic <
vcf-midatlantic at lists.vcfed.org> wrote:

> I vaguely remember when I was in elementary school in the 1970s in
> delaware some U of Delaware students or a teacher gave me access to a
> computer via a terminal.  It was a simple login prompt to connect to
> the library and look things up and play some kind of exercises that
> had conditional decisions to build a story.  It wasn't Plato or
> anything like that.
> That was my first memory of computers, but I must have been very young
> as I don't remember much else.  The thing that impressed me was how
> you could decide what to do next and it changed a story's outcome.   I
> think we had a picture book that went with it (?)
> I always wonder what that was all about.  It was a one-day thing and
> that was it.
> Many years later I heard about something called project Delta at the U
> of Del but I have no idea if that was the same thing or if it was just
> some U of Del student looking for nearby kids to experiment with.
> I remember going to the librarian in elementary school and asking to
> use the computer in the back office , maybe 5th grade, but there were
> no computers for kids to use.
> I started going to RadioShack and using their computers probably in
> 4th grade and the Hallmark had a Timex Sinclair on display there, but
> I did have a family computer until the later 80s.  I somehow knew
> BASIC, which makes me wonder if I was taught BASIC too.  I remember
> making the computer say "Bill is Cool" over and over and I thought
> that was really funny at the time.
> Bill

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