Open the Pod Bay Door HAL. . . or Computers I Have Owned or Worked With

Open the Pod Bay Door HAL
or
Computers I Have
Owned or Worked With!

Not exactly comforting assistance from a computer/AI blend there, Stanley! SPOILER ALERT – I might give away some movie endings! (Psssssst… did you know there was a sequel to 2001?)

Full Disclosure:Every single computer listed below, with the exception of HAL, really existed!!

DOUBLE Full Disclosure: I have owned and still own, most of these computers, oh, except for HAL! Yeah, I am a real packrat as far as computers go! And most still work too!

HAL: Affirmative, Dave. I read you.
Dave: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
HAL: I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.
Dave: What’s the problem?
HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
Dave: What are you talking about, HAL?
HAL: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.
Dave: I don’t know what you’re talking about, HAL.
HAL: I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow to happen.

Perhaps the  most famous computer in all of film history – the HAL 9000 from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey! But this post is not about how computers or AI go awry! That will be a future post! This post is about all the computers that I have worked and/or owned since the first day I actually SAW A COMPUTER! Yup, life changing moment and it involved … GOLF!

The first computer I ever ‘saw’ was on a trip to a Life Insurance company through the youth program at my church. We were in this huge room and a giant golden tube was behind glass. The ‘terminal’ was a teletype style typewriter and … we played GOLF on it by simply typing a number!

‘1’ was a 1-Wood and you hit ‘Return’ and it typed out something like ‘200 yards. Straight down fairway’. And that absolutely fascinated me!

The first computer I ever OWNED was a kit from Science Fair named ‘SF-5000 Electronic Digital Computer‘! I spent HOURS cutting wire, measuring it to fit the distance between connections and then I was rewarded with a ‘2 + 2 = 4’ on the ‘monitor’ across the top of the kit! And then I would do it all over again on a different project! I don’t have the computer anymore, but somewhere in my basement, is the Owner’s Manual! I will have to dig it out and look at it soon! MADE IN CANADA TOO!

Then in High School, Grade 10, I became the proud owner of a Texas Instrument SR-51A with a ‘Pod Bay Door’ to put in dedicated chips! I was on top of the computing world! I still have it! It doesn’t work. But I still have it!

Then on to the University of Calgary and using the Mainframes there! I don’t remember what KIND of mainframe, only that I had to present my stack of punched cards to the ‘Elders of Data’, they would present my offering to the Oracle (card reader!) and I would then lovingly be handed back my offering. Then wait 15 minutes for the printout and find I had a spelling mistake in my FORTRAN code! Then fix the ONE punched card and … repeat!

But then, I entered the Faculty of Education and was hired as a TA for a grad course ‘Computers in Education’ and had access to a PDP 1170 and my own teletype! It was Nerd Heaven for me! My very own (almost a..) mainframe computer!

And then in the early 1980’s I did some volunteer work and had access to an Apple computer that a high school had bought with the proceeds of a ‘Cake Sale’ Fundraiser and they did not know what to do with it!

Turns out, I used it in my student teaching practicum year and absolutely transfixed all the staff and students in the school I was a Student Teacher in! BEST.TEACHING.RESOURCE.EVER!

And then the dreaded INEVITABLE HAPPENED! I had taken TOO MANY COURSES, HAD PASSED THEM ALL and … they made me graduate from the University of Calgary! D’Oh!

And my first ‘real’ job was working with the finest (and cheapest!) home computing power that has ever been used in the history of computing – COMMODORE COMPUTERS! My first classroom had Commodore VIC-20 computers, then were upgraded to Commodore-64s and I was tech support for all the PET computers as well! Basically – I was The Computer Help Desk for an entire building! LOL! And we even had 3 Commodore PC computers running WordPerfect at the time!

Then I bought my first REAL computer – the Commodore SX-64! 25 POUNDS of ‘luggable’ computing power! And I still have it and it still works! I can play C-64 games on it and can hook it up to my 45″ tv! Still works! Grinds and clunks away and I brought it to our Systems Open House a few years ago!

Fast forward to moving to Victoria and buying my first Macintosh – the venerable Mac SE with TWO FLOPPY DRIVES AND 1 MB OF RAM! Awesome! What worlds would I conquer with this screaming hot computer! Turns out …. not too many! And again, and this sounds like an echo … echo … echo …. I STILL HAVE IT AND IT STILL RUNS!

And then a sequence of buying only Macintosh computers: Mac LC520, Graphite iMac G3 and 27″ iMac that is now TEN YEARS OLD! Yes, I am still using a TEN YEAR OLD COMPUTER – but as my media centre for Apple TV and other videos and stuff! And … insert echo here … IT STILL WORKS!

Fast Forward to working at home now! Thanks to Allison, Patrick, Adam and everyone AT CHD and I have a nice Dell Latitude laptop, my daughter’s old ‘Zelda ‘ quality monitor and enough computing power to … work from home!

 

If anything, working with computers through the years describes one undeniable fact about technology – there will ALWAYS be a faster and more powerful computer coming … soon. But make use of what you have, use your imagination and you can do amazing things!

You might not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but you can use old computers to do new tricks like YouTube, digital videos, webpages, audio, page layout and watch … The Avengers!

 

And the usual assortment of recently searched interesting links, videos and other walks down memory lane …. literally if the memory involves RAM chips!

PS: And I own an iPhone SE now … but it is 4 years old and ….
IT STILL WORKS! LOL!

Enjoy!

  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey – Wikipedia
  2. Altair 8800
  3. SF-5000 Electronic Digital Computer Kit
  4. Welcome to Steve’s Old Computer Museum!
  5. List of home computers – Wikipedia
  6. 10 Classic Computers You Had as a Kid
  7. 28 Best Old Computer Images – Pinterest
  8. PDP 1170 Mainframe Computer – 1970’s
  9. Timeline of Mac Models
  10. 10 Most Popular Computers in History
  11. 10 Worthwhile Ways to Breathe New Life Into Old Computers
  12. Avoid the Trash Heap: 15 Great Uses for an Old PC
  13. 5 Creative Ways to Reuse an Old Mac at No Cost
  14. Twelve things to do with an old Apple computer

As long as there are words out there, there will be interesting topics! 

    ENJOY!
       
     
  TTFN!

 

 

 

Open the Pod Bay Doors Hal

The Computer That Changed Everything
Altair 8800 – Computerphile

1977 Tandy Digital Computer

Commodore SX-64 Computer Review

1984 Apple’s Macintosh Commercial

 

“It’s a fantastic computer! It’s so old that none of today’s hackers know how to hack it!”

 

Is Your DOSsier Up To Date – Best Do a CHKDSK

Is Your DOS – sier
Up to Date?
Best Do a CHKDSK!

DOS is not exactly a buzzword, nor will it ever trend ever, ever again. SPOILER ALERT – this is REALLY OLD TECHNOLOGY!

Full Disclosure: I have even worked on OLDER technology (punched cards) that made DOS seem like sliced bread when it came out!

DOUBLE Full Disclosure: The single greatest computer program ever used in The CALL Facility for languages … needed DOS! And …. IT IS STILL RUNNING!

Yes, the first ever computer program that was used in The CALL Facility was a package of 4 languages – French, German, Italian and Russian! And the operating system used was called MS-DOS – short for DISK OPERATING SYSTEM!

How can an operating system from the mid-1980’s, still be operating on MACINTOSH COMPUTERS, which did not even EXIT until 1984, and still be useful? It is technological MAGIC!

I really don’t know HOW they work, but they do! And this would have been the LAST summer for McBookmaster French with LMF! Our resident CHD Magician is Patrick F. and he knows all the special commands and magical chants to make it work on dual-boot iMac computers running Windows 10, running DOS Box! THANKS PATRICK! 

And this computer record will never be broken – McMaster French has been running for over 30 YEARS and has never once crashed! NEVER! And it has served its’ purpose well – Beginner French, simple text correction, grammar rules and instant feedback! ALL STATE OF THE ART back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s!

Below are some sample screens of what was presented to a student. And this was WELL before any kind of security involving ANY kind of UVic credentials. You simply turned the computer on and selected from a menu of language programs. Good times, good times!

 

I always enjoyed introducing this software to French students as they would be ‘Time Travelling’ to a distant past where Bill Gates was only a MILLIONAIRE, when the only mouse in the room was a biologic, and that they really needed to know where the arrow keys, CTRL, ATL, DEL and ESC keys were on an ACTUAL CLICKY KEYBOARD!

And to actually exit the program, you had to hit a sequence of keys, then get to the command line and actually type: exit … or logoff … or quit …. I CAN’T REMEMBER! LOL!

And there were no keyboard shortucuts either! Raw computing power harnessed for the good of education! Good times, good times!

To type the answer, the EXACT ANSWER FROM START TO FINISH, required using combinations of keys that often resulted in a sprained wrist, especially for RUSSIAN!

I remember Mary S., the CALL ‘expert’ at the time, fussing and fuming about fonts, .exe, .bat and .cnf files and making sure our ‘network’ of computers were all working! AND THEY DID! Mary did back then, what Patrick does no! LOL!

The Continuing Studies French Summer Immersion La Maison Fran├žaise, relied on this software for MANY years after it was no longer “de rigueur” by any other Instructors. But alas, technology has surpassed even the oldest of computer programs. The last time I spoke with the Instructors using McBookMaster, they were ‘okay’ with not using it anymore, if it could not be installed on pending new hardware/software and operating systems!

The software worked REALLY WELL! And it served its’ purpose and can now go enter as the first member of ‘The CALL Facility Software Hall of Fame‘!

ALLONS – Y!

 

And at the time, we did have other MS-DOS based programs for other languages. We even had an Apple IIe with dual floppy disks to run LATIN PROGRAMS! Sadly, we removed this hardware years ago. Too bad, it would have fit really well with our Systems Open House a few years ago!

What happened after MS-DOS? Not many people remember but the first ever version of WINDOWS in CALL was actually written FOR MS-DOS and was really just a cosmetic version of MS-DOS itself!

Once you booted to DOS, you than would ‘run’ WINDOWS as an executable file! WOW! And then, the rest is history!

And the usual assortment of recently searched interesting links, videos and other walks down memory lane …. literally if the memory involves RAM chips!

 

 

Enjoy!

  1. DOS – Wikipedia
  2. Timeline of DOS operating systems – Wikipedia
  3. MS-DOS – Encyclopedia Britannica
  4. MS-DOS: The Operating System You Loved To Hate
  5. 50 Underrated DOS Games
  6. MS-DOS Commands
  7. HUMOUR for DOS USERS
  8. MS-DOS Characteristics
  9. What is DOS?
  10. DOS (Disk Operating System)
  11. Operating Systems (DOS/WINDOWS)
  12. U.S. Nuclear Weapons No Longer Need Floppy Disks

A master was explaining the nature of the Tao to one of his novices,
“The Tao is embodied in all software — regardless of how insignificant,”
said the master.
“Is the Tao in a hand-held calculator?” asked the novice.
“It is,” came the reply.
“Is the Tao in a video game?” continued the novice.
“It is even in a video game,” said the master.
And is the Tao in the DOS for a personal computer?
The master coughed and shifted his position slightly. “The lesson is
over for today,” he said.
         — Geoffrey James, “The Tao of Programming”

As long as there are words out there, there will be interesting topics! 

    ENJOY!
       
     
  TTFN!

 

 

 

All Versions of MS-DOS
1.0 – 8.0

How to Run DOS Games 
on a Mac

MS-DOS 6.22
Best OS . . . Ever?

Basic DOS Commands

How to Pick the Best
Gaming Laptop for MS-DOS Games

The Computer Chronicles
MS-DOS 6.2 (1993)