My start in computing!

My first "computer" was a DECSYSTEM-20 (see top picture). Actually, it belonged to the University of Texas, and my father had a terminal with a keyboard, thermal printer and acoustic coupler called a "Silent700" (see lower picture) that he dialed in with.

One day when I was in 6th grade, I saw that an older student was programming one of the computers at school, maybe an Apple II or TRS-80. At home that night, I excitedly told my father that this kid in 7th grade was actually programming a computer! What an amazing guy!

The next day, my dad brought home an 11x17" piece of paper, a quick reference card for how to program BASIC. He showed me how to log in (it took so long to type in the password that sometimes the login would time out and I'd have to start over again!), and start up the BASIC interpreter. Then he left me alone.

That was the most exciting toy I'd ever played with. I programmed all kinds of stuff like little games and programs to do my geometry homework, and I always had dreams to build huge programs that would do everything for me. I guess I still have those dreams!

dec20_2 texassilent700

Leave a comment

Your comment