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Topic: What was your first OS? (Read 21834 times) previous topic - next topic


lol! i was trying to explin how old my //c was to a guy at work today, mentioned the Oregon trail, and that set off a whole list of OH MAN thats real old school!

everyone loves that "game" even though you really do not do much at all in it (i just beat it again for the billionth time sunday, and could have set a potato on the keyboard and made it)


Apr 22, 2010, 02:50 am Last Edit: Apr 22, 2010, 02:56 am by mem Reason: 1

My first 'personal' computer that had something that could be described as an operating system was a Datapoint 2200 : http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c=596

The 2200 was perhaps the worlds first desktop computer, it was the inspiration for the instruction set in intel 8008, the first 8 bit microcomputer chip.

I still have the 2200.  Its not been fired up in 20 years, I wonder if it still works?


Yooze are all kids.

My first computer was an IBM 1130.  The one we usually got to use only had punch card input and output plus a printer.  I learned to program in FORTRAN II.  One time our 1130 was down, and we got to use the other one that had a disk,  now that was FAST.   With ours, you loaded a box of IBM cards which was FORTRAN Pass 1 along with your source deck.  It then punched an intermediate deck, which you loaded with the second box of cards that was FORTRAN Pass 2, and it punched a binary.  You loaded the binary with a loader deck, then it printed your error, you went back to the key punch and started over.

The disk version had a real "OS" (DMS), and you loaded your deck, and out came your error message.  WOW.

This was around 1966 and I was in high school.  The computers were at the University.

When I got to CMU, they had real systems with real OSs.  The IBM 360-67 ran an early time sharing system (TSS), and the UNIVAC 1108 ran EXEC8.  I helped install the first PDP-10 at CMU, and I had a great time with TOPS-10.

Coding Badly

Vector Graphics CP/M

The "graphics" were crude character graphics: 80 x 25 character display; 6 cells per character; 160 x 75 "pixels" on a built-in CRT.


I got the inspiration for this thread from the one about multiple serial devices, so here's the question: What OS did you start out on in computing? Was is Windows 98 as one very young poster put, or are you a mainframe and punch tape person?

Well well it was windows 95 though i had used DOS you can never call it use. I was forced to as part of my curriculum its windows 95 that brought around the change for me. No, I'm not a fan of MS. Its just that I was at this state level quiz competition and lost the first prize because i didn't know '95! they had this super hard questions - 2 to be exact - 1. What happens to deleted files in windows 95? 2. How do you switch off a windows 95 system? Looking back I was completely bowled over! Man deleted files are deleted! and what kind of a stupid question' How do you switch off?' - you just switch off the power supply! that cost me a lot! and so on I set to learn computers(otherwise i would've been happy playing cricket for the rest of my life!)



A machine called a NASCOM 1.
Built as a kit, it had a Z-80 at 1MHz, about 2K bytes of static RAM (the screen took about 1K, IIRC) and 2Kbyte UV-EPROM, a 300 baud cassette interface, a video display and a proper Hall-effect keyboard.
It didn't really have an OS, but there was a monitor/BIOS that you could call to perform I/O operations.

One "oddity" was the screen RAM - of the 1K, only about 768 bytes were visible, and it was possible to use the remaining 256 bytes, which lived out in the porches and flyback, in packets of about 8 bytes, so the assembler-only programs tended to have odd bits of scratchpad RAM squirrelled around all over the place to make best use of the limited memory.
Playing around with the video timing allowed you the "see" your variables changing.
Some people are like Slinkies.

Not really good for anything, but they bring a smile to your face when pushed down the stairs.


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A machine called a NASCOM 1.
That brings back a lot of joy memories. I seem to recall it having a bit more memory so possibly it was an extended version. Also I had a Pascal interpreter for it (EPROM) and numerous classic video games (PacMan, Space Ivaders ..). I remember fun times programming it in Z80 assembly or Pascal (Pascal being the Holy Shrine of programming languages at the time) and learning the odds and ends of low level programming.


Apr 22, 2010, 09:52 am Last Edit: Apr 22, 2010, 09:52 am by stephen_t Reason: 1
Theres some old beggers on this forum, I wonder if the Arduino attracts 'mature' people because it reminds them of what computers used to be like. (It was a factor in my being here ;) ).  

Hmmmmm, 2kB of RAM........

Coding Badly

it reminds them of what computers used to be like

Bah!  Humbug!  You'll have to pry my 2 GHz Pentium laptop out of my cold dead hand!


Apr 22, 2010, 11:50 am Last Edit: Apr 22, 2010, 11:55 am by GrooveFlotilla Reason: 1
it reminds them of what computers used to be like

It reminds me of a time when hobbyists knew as much as the people who designed the machines.
There was an example bubble sort in Z80 assembler in the Mostek reference manual. It ran to something like 50 bytes of code. I suspect it had simply been translated from the 8080 version.
One amateur took it apart, optimised it for the Z80 instruction and register set, nearly halved the number of instructions and made it run faster.

With the NASCOM, if you didn't like the monitor (OS), you simply popped the EPROM from its socket and plugged in your own.
I did this, having been inspired by the Research Machines 380Z amazing animated monitor/software front-panel to write my own.
UV erase and reprogramming cycle times meant that you made absolutely certain your (hand-assembled) programming was up to scratch!
Some people are like Slinkies.

Not really good for anything, but they bring a smile to your face when pushed down the stairs.


I first used RDOS on a Data General Eclipse minicomputer (school project, the machine was in a local college and supported 20 simultaneous users with 64K of RAM).

First microcomputer I had I made so had to write the OS myself(!)  It could read/write cassette tape and had a CRT control panel / single stepper (all based on the Research Machines 380Z micro hardware/software).
[ I will NOT respond to personal messages, I WILL delete them, use the forum please ]


Theres some old beggers on this forum, I wonder if the Arduino attracts 'mature' people because it reminds them of what computers used to be like.

I consider myself one of those "old beggers", at least in spirit, if not in actual age (I am "only" 37 - well, will be this June). I love what computers have become, and I can't wait to see where things will go; the past 20 years have seen incredible changes, the next 20 - who knows! At any rate, while I love my old machines, and the history of computing, I also love my dual-headed, multi-GHz, multi-core, multi-everything box I have at home (coupled with the network and large 800 Gb FreeNAS server - soon to be joined by another and upgraded at the same time). I love that I can carry a computer which thinks its a phone (my G1).

I got into the Arduino mainly because of an upgrade to my workstation; I was on a 32-bit Mandrake install, and jumped to a 64-bit Ubuntu install. At the time I was exploring microcontrollers using an old Basic Stamp 2 kit I had. The Parallax bytecode compiler library for Linux was for 32-bit platforms only, binary only, and to top it off, statically linked to other libraries and the original programmer had "left" and took the source code with him, so Parallax couldn't upgrade it even if they wanted to.

They didn't seem to care about open source, nor about the Linux platform.

I don't remember how I came upon the Arduino, but in some manner I did, found SparkFun, and purchased my Arduino from there, and have been continuing my explorations and fun; mainly geared toward development of my UGV (which was what I was working on with the Stamp).

Really, I have found that Linux captures the feelings of the time period I was in when I got into computers; while I miss the coding magazines, I don't miss the typing in of code (ok, maybe I miss it a little). What I really missed, and found with Linux, and other open-source projects like the Arduino, was the comraderie of the users; the sharing and caring for a single platform. Its there with Linux, and its here with the Arduino.

I am still somewhat active with my old TRS-80 Color Computers, too; while I don't have them hooked up currently, I do purchase new hardware for them (I am waiting for Roger Taylor's new Drive Pak cartridge - truely an amazing device, and a labor of love - I already have his RS-232 Hackers Pak - see coco3.com for more; then there's Roy Justus' VGA interface). I keep up with all the "old codgers" on the MaltedMedia CoCo mailing list - and mourn when one or another of the old guard passes.

Its one amazing machine that still attracts followers, and keeps going, even now almost 20 years after official support from Tandy ended. I am still wondering what new secrets will be found from the CoCo 3 prototype that was unearthed not too long back. The hardware has been found to be pretty amazing in the hands of competent programmers, which users have always known, but lately many weird "barriers" have been broken; for example, recently a "secret 256-color mode" was been found, that appears different (but actually works) than the "original secret 256-color mode" that has been speculated on for nearly 10 years. This new mode works via NTSC artifacting, using the 4-color high-res screen and the four grey-scale values; something which has been "hidden in plain sight" all these years! Officially, the CoCo 3 only has -64- colors!

I have a plan to someday marry my CoCo 3 up (via the new RS-232 pak, which has TTL serial output; or maybe via the bit-banger serial port) to an Arduino, hopefully to control my recently purchased OWI-535 Edge robot arm (and then later, when I find the time to convert it to computer control - no easy task - I will hook up an old Radio Shack Armatron as well).

Well - I've rambled on enough like "old men" sometimes do...

I will not respond to Arduino help PM's from random forum users; if you have such a question, start a new topic thread.


I have found that Linux captures the feelings of the time period I was in when I got into computers;

Absolutely.  Computing went through its dark ages between Microsoft becoming the dominant O/S and the arrival of Linux in the 90's.  I started in Arduino when I was looking around for a real world interface for monitoring my home that would play with Linux.  Besides being the cheapest option I found, it had the added benefit of its own computer attached.  :)


This makes me feel old but a Control Data Corp Cyber 74 with decks of punch cards.  Programming was Fortran IV and APL.  It makes me very grateful for progress!

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