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5/15/2014
07:00 AM
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Throwback Thursday: This Old PC

Have a beloved old computer sitting in the attic or garage? It's show and tell time.

When we took our recent look back at the BASIC programming language, InformationWeek readers enjoyed the trip down memory lane: You loved BASIC -- and you loved those old PCs it ran on. You loved the cassette tapes. You loved the floppy disks. You probably didn't love whatever you wore to school or work to use those computers -- but rest easy, we're not going to ask you to share picture of yourselves in plaid pants, feathered hair, or Coke-bottle glasses.

However, in the spirit of Throwback Thursday, we are asking you to share a picture of the oldest, most beloved computer you have right now at home. And if you have a story to share around that computer, we're listening.

Show and tell us about the computer you can’t quite part with, in all its green screen or beige, plastic glory. It's probably in your garage, basement, or attic, keeping its geeky story to itself. After all, you can't hang onto your first car, but your first crush computer will not get you a guest spot on Hoarders. You may even have several of these beauties.

[As BASIC turns 50, here's a nostalgic look back at some of our favorite projects: When BASIC Was Young: Great Memories.

Dump these computers at the local electronics recycling center? That is reserved for the soulless Lenovo laptop that wordlessly gave out on you during a business trip. Your TRS-80 is another matter: You may even hope to pass it to your grandkids someday. (I have boxes of tech magazines that I am saving for my grandkids. Not everyone's grandma got to write about Windows 95!)

Maybe you have a Compaq "portable" circa 1982 in the attic:

Or maybe you hung onto this Apple IIc stunner, similar to the one I used in high school to write columns for my first paying newspaper job:

That computer was a thing of beauty -- and the dot matrix printer that sat beside it was a beast.

In some cases, your old computer may still be in its natural habitat. For example, you may have an ugly home PC desk with a special filing cabinet-esque compartment for storing your huge tower PC. (Remember when we all thought expansion room was so important? Add a big new hard drive!). That whole cloud thing has killed the clunky home office furniture market.

Let's see the classic computers you love. Paste the pictures of your old PCs, including the model name and approximate vintage, using our comments field below. [Editor's note: To copy your photo into comments, choose "select all" to copy your photo, then choose copy, and Control + v to paste. Or, use our "insert picture" button and supply a URL for a Web-accessible image no bigger than 500 pixels.] Also tell us briefly why you love the machine, or why you kept it. I have InformationWeek swag for the winner. Anybody want to kick in a box of floppies, too?

Trying to meet today's business technology needs with yesterday's IT organizational structure is like driving a Model T at the Indy 500. Time for a reset. Read our Transformative CIOs Organize For Success report today. (Free registration required.)

Laurianne McLaughlin currently serves as InformationWeek.com's Editor-in-Chief, overseeing daily online editorial operations. Prior to joining InformationWeek in May, 2011, she was managing editor at CIO.com. Her writing and editing work has won multiple ASBPE (American ... View Full Bio

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mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
5/30/2014 | 5:07:09 PM
not that old, but...

I'm sure many of us remember the old HP Vectras. Not that old really, just a Pentium 3 with 256 MB of memory (not upgradable, I might add).
Nonetheless, I think this kind of computer is the precursor of the home theater PCs, don't you agree?

I really enjoyed this kind of articles and the comments. Thank you
Guitardogg
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Guitardogg,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/20/2014 | 3:34:25 PM
Re: HP 200LX- Trusted companion
I started out with the 95LX, then the 100LX, and eventually the one you show, the 200LX.  There was a lot of software for these guys.  One that I liked a lot was a universal TV remote app.  I still have my 100LX.  It is still the best PDA I ever owned!
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
5/20/2014 | 10:34:20 AM
Re: Another Radio Shack Winner & Journalist's Friend
Definitely the TRS 80 portable is the one I remember -- you could view about 8 lines of text at once, but it was the only real option at the time for filing articles from the road. But the real gem was the "acoustic coupler" modem that suction cupped onto the ear and mouth piece of an old phone. Saying that I used one of those with a pay phone makes me sound about 1,000 years old. 

 

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ErnieSchell
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ErnieSchell,
User Rank: Strategist
5/20/2014 | 9:38:38 AM
AltaVista
In the 90s, before Google even launched, AltaVista was my go-to search engine. I thought it worked exeptionaly well. It was finally shut down July 8, 2013, by Yahoo! and the domain now redirects to Yahoo!'s own search site.
manassehkatz
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manassehkatz,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/18/2014 | 11:14:22 AM
TTY43, Wyse100, Altos 586
First machine (not a computer by itself) was a TTY43 which my evil twin & I used to connect to our Dad's company's minicomputer - we got our own phone line for the 300 bps modem. TTY43

A couple of years later we upgraded to a Wyse 100 terminal (green screen, metal case, great keyboard) and a move up to 1200 bps. Connected to University of MD mainframes:

Wyse 100

And finally our first real computer - Altos 586 running MPM-86 (and a 2nd Wyse 100, and WyseWord EPROMs for the Wyse 100s - the TTY43 became the system printer until we got an Epson):

Altos 586

Not your typical first computer - but we needed a multiuser system and Microsoft had not taken over the world yet, so MPM-86 was a reasonable option at the time.

 
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
5/17/2014 | 2:35:44 PM
Toaster floppy
I wish I had a picture of this thing, but at one of the places I worked they used floppy drives that were as big as toasters... the disks were bigger than a slice of bread.
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
5/17/2014 | 2:32:23 PM
Re: Commodore 64
Oh boy... I had one of these way back when. I used it with a 300 baud modem to connect to Quantum Link, which was owned be AOL I believe.
tkeller852
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tkeller852,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/16/2014 | 2:34:14 PM
Laptop
 

It's called a "Sunshine" and it came out of Taiwan.  It had a big 40 MB hard drive and 2 MB of memory.  It's battery would hold it up for almost 45 minutes.  It was a good little laptop.  I don't remember the exact date but I got Windows 3.1 to go on it as it came with DOS 5.something.  3.1 was just out.  You have to be real interested to appreciate Windows in shades of grey.  I would also show my IBM PC but it is exactly the same model (256K) as the one already shown.  The only thing I had really worked on before that time was a Burroughs 205 (room full of vacuum tubes).  I am now designing into a new product the Intel i7 with Haswell and at only 45 watts.  It's been a fun trip.
ErnieSchell
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ErnieSchell,
User Rank: Strategist
5/15/2014 | 9:29:44 PM
IBM Memory Typewriter
Along with all of the info below, in 1974 IBM introduced the Memory Typewriter, a desktop business unit that stored everything typed and allowed the operator to recall and revise previously typed material. It had a 4,000 character memory, with a 50-page storage capacity.



 
ErnieSchell
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ErnieSchell,
User Rank: Strategist
5/15/2014 | 7:50:52 PM
Three further comments
1) You might wonder why my post on the Tandy 102 is labeled "Amstrad." I was also going to post a picture of very similar but even older flat "notebook" called the Amstrad Notepad. I do have the machine. but you can look it up.

2) Someone mentioned Lotus Word (and 1-2-3-, the original spreadsheet). I always thought Word was so much better than Microsoft Word, and only started using MS Word in the late 90s because it had become a defacto standard, and I had to share a lot of files for business purposes. Personally, I was extremely sorry to give up on the Lotus product, which was WAY ahead of its time (and was probably better for ordinary business writing than MS Word is even today!).

3) My first home computer in 1983 was an IBM XT clone. My biggest decision was whether to get a second floppy drive, or a hard drive. I took the hard drive, which was a wise move. I got a whopping 10 MEGAbytes of storage. With my XyWrite word processor, I could put XyW AND a bunch of files on a 5.25 inch "floppy" and plug it in anywhere! I ran Eliza on the XT clone, too -- the first AI home program: a pseudo therapist (an 8 ball did a better job!). The computer was very similar to the one below:
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